In September 2010 Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS was in East Malaysia (Borneo) on official duties. One evening when he was at the waterfront in Kuching city, he encountered a male Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) foraging along the trunk of an old tree.
Rather than looking for insects among the thick growth of lichens and bryophytes on the trunk, the sunbird was targeting the epiphytic dragon’s scale fern (Pyrrosia piloselloides). It meticulously turned over a number of the sterile oval fronds of the fern to look for insects hiding underneath (above).
Incidentally, the fertile fronds of this fern are long and narrow rather than oval, and lined with masses of brown spore cases along the edge.
The dried slender stems of the dragon’s scale fern are a favourite nesting material of birds like the Dusky Broadbill (Corydon sumatranus), the Banded Broadbill (Eurylaimus javanicus) and the Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier).