Feeding Spotted Dove: 14. Papaya seeds

on 23rd November 2010

The fruits of the papaya (Carica papaya) are a favourite with many species of birds. These birds peck on the fruits as soon as they are ripe on the trees. As there is always an abundant supply of flesh, there is no need to eat the seeds, if at all these birds do eat the seeds.

I am not sure whether anyone has ever reported on any species of birds that actually prefer the seeds to the flesh. But I did try to find out whether the common garden birds would actually eat the seeds when offered a ripe fruit cut open with the seeds exposed – see HERE. The result? A few seeds were eaten but probably taken accidentally. But these birds, mainly Yellow-vented Bulbul (Acridotheres javanicus) and Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) are not true “seed-eaters”.

Then one day Tan Teo Seng mentioned to me that Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) do eat papaya seeds. And with the pair of doves still visiting my garden, I was eager to prove him right.

Seeds from ripe papayas were placed in a dish and offered to the Spotted Doves. But they would not come near the container, being suspicious of any container, even when it contains birdseeds.

So I scattered papaya seeds on the ground and then sprinkle birdseeds over and around them. This attracted the Spotted Doves as well as the Eurasian Tree Sparrows. The former preferred the birdseeds but every now and then would peck on the papaya seeds. Not so the sparrows, who go only for the birdseeds. But lately, a Spotted Dove appeared and apparently prefer papaya seeds to birdseeds (above).

“It is to be noted that any papaya seeds taken by a Spotted Dove would be thoroughly crushed in its muscular gizzard, as commented by Prof Richard Corlett HERE. As such the bird would serve no purpose to the plant as the former would not be able to help disperse the seeds.

YC Wee
November 2010

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YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. I can confirm that some doves of the genus Streptopelia do eat papaya seeds, and seem to prefer them to the flesh. My flock of domestic Collared Doves (descended from hybrids of various Streptopelia species, the origins of the family tree being lost in history)were housed in a large aviary with various frugivorous softbills. I would serve a slice of papaya every morning, with the seeds still attached.

    The doves, being the tamest birds, would be first at breakfast. They would select the papaya seeds and swallow them whole. If they did eat papaya flesh, it would be by accident.

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