Long-tailed Parakeets eating tropical mistletoe fruits

posted in: Parasites, Parrots | 1

For some time now (September 2010), a flock of Long-tailed Parakeets (Psittacula longicauda) has been visiting the trees outside Johnny Wee’s house at around 11.30 am to feed on the fruits of the semi-parasitic tropical mistletoe, Dendrophthoe pentandra.

The parakeet shown on the left is about to eat the seed covered with a sticky succulent layer. The brownish fruit coat is still attached. When the bird first clamped its bill on the ripe fruit, the sticky inner content slips out (below left). The latter is then swallowed, the seed to be eventually ejected from the other end of the bird. The layer of sticky slime, still present in the excreted seed will ensure the latter is stuck of a tree branch where the bird is perching (below centre).

The seed will then germinate on the surface it is deposited on (above right) to eventually establish into a plant. Flowerpeckers and sunbirds as well as parrots visit the mistletoe to harvest nectar from the flowers. In the process, they help in the pollination.

Johnny Wee
October 2010
(Image of parakeet by Johnny Wee, those of mistletoe by YC Wee)

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