Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS was in Singapore recently “…to meet a close relative from the UK and took the opportunity to casually watch birds in the urban environment.”
Amar observed that “Singapore is such a well kept city that there is very little leaf litter and hence little natural compost. I hardly saw ants, came across one spider and suspect this makes it difficult for the ‘average’ bird in the urban environment to find food. Hence seeing a pair of Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) (they predominate in Singapore) feeding on nectar makes sense (above). This beautiful, planted tree may be an important food source for them. The tree is a golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus), recently introduced into Singapore from Australia (see YC Wee. Tropical Trees and Shrubs. 2003). Seeing it made me want to plant one in my garden.”
The Golden Penda originates from the rainforests in the north-east of Australia. It was extensively planted in Singapore less than 15 years ago and now line many urban roads. The bunches of yellow flowers appear in almost all trees at regular intervals. Large transplanted trees similarly flower, even before the crown is fully formed.
Although not an indigenous species, the Golden Penda attracts plenty of nectar feeding birds. Besides the Javan Myna, the flowers also attract Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) (above left), Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) (above right), Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots (Loriculus galgulus) (below left) and Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) (below right).
Now who says exotic plants do not attract wildlife?
Video by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS and images of birds by YC Wee.