“Over the years, I have noticed the flight corridor of the Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot (Loriculus galgulus) but do not have a chance to record its presence. It’s flight path is usually along 3 blocks of apartment in the same row. The gardens of the ground floor units of these blocks are bigger and some units have fruit trees like mango, chiku, papaya and guava.
“A fellow resident recounted to me how this illusive colourful bird has been raiding his chiku (Manikara zapota) in his garden (about 100m from my unit).
“My guava tree (Psidium guajava) started fruiting more abundantly early this year. I noticed some bite marks on one of the about-to-ripen guava in mid-February, and suspected it to be the work of the ubiquitous Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) (below left).
“Further observation did not ally my suspicion; the bulbuls were more interested in the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) fruits at my neighbour’s garden. The guava rotted within a few days as its core was heavily infested with fruit fly larvae. There was no further bite marks on this rotting fruit.
“I decided to treat the garden with pesticide (neem oil, and synthetic pyrithoids) to get rid of the heavy infestation of white flies, aphids and fruit flies. The guava fruits matured healthily this time, and in early April I noticed some scouring bite marks on the biggest fruit. This was probably a taste-sampling by the Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot. No further bite marks were observed until 3 days later when the fruit was more ripe (but not ripe enough to attract other birds like the bulbuls, and the Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) commonly seen in the garden (above right).
“I had the luxury of sitting in my living room and patiently waiting for the arrival of this illusive bird to feast on the guava for the next 3 days. This bird, as its name aptly describes, hangs upside down to feed. It’s larger upper hooked mandible will anchor on the fruit while it’s lower mandible will scrape off small pieces of flesh before nibbling on it in an upside down position (above). This bird eats mainly the outer core and leaves the inner core, where the hard small seeds are, largely untouched.
“Its visit became more frequent on the last day; probably it sensed the competition of other bird species on this ripen fruit. As the feeding continued, the guava inner core eventually dropped to the ground, leaving a small morsel still attached to the stalk.
“It still came back for the last bit at sunset, and the last bit was finished off by some bats that night, thus ending my encounter with this beautiful bird.”
Goh Juan Hui
1st May 2012