Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot eating leaf galls

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates, Parrots | 1

Leaf galls are caused by very tiny gall-making insects (Family Cecidomyiidae) when the adults lay their eggs in the leaf tissues. Certain chemicals introduced during the process stimulate the tissues to develop abnormally, thus forming the galls seen on the leaf (above left). When the eggs of these gall-making insects hatch, the larvae feed on these nutritive gall tissues. The leaf gall provides an almost perfect place for these larvae to escape predation.

However, there are a few predators that feed on these hidden insect larvae. And bird photographer Chan Yoke Meng documented a Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot (Loriculus galgulus) (above right) feeding on these leaf galls. The parrot has somehow associate these galls with the larvae they host and is benefiting from the insect protein.

Apparently woodpeckers can also locate these hidden insect larvae and regularly prey upon galls. But we have yet to receive any feedback from photographers or even birdwatchers on woodpeckers feeding on leaf galls.

Note: The Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot is seen feeding on the nectar of the golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) in the image above LINK.

Chan Yoke Meng
March 2012

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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.

  1. Bird Ecology Study Group Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot – immature female feeding on Macaranga gigantea fruits and leaf galls

    […] “I checked and they were also found on some of the other leaves. I initially thought this was a viral infestation but a net search for ‘leaf growths’ suggests that they are possibly caused by ‘Gall Midges/Mites’. Gall Midges (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) are plant-feeding flies that cause swellings of plant tissue, called galls. The feeding of the larva cause plant tissue to grow around it resulting in a ‘gall’. The larva then pupates within the gall. See: HERE and HERE. […]

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