Oriental White-eye eating flower bud of pink mempat

posted in: Feeding-plants | 2

This is another example of the usefulness of images and the importance of the camera in birdwatching.

In April 2006, I posted an account of the pink mempat tree (Cratoxylum formosum) that grows along the road fronting my house. I made mention of the Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) that visited the tree for the fruits of the mistletoe that grows on the branches. I also mentioned that the white-eye takes the mempat nectar as well as the flowers.

It is six years later that I rediscovered an image among my collection. It is of the white-eye with a flower bud of the pink mempat in its bill. For the skeptics – yes I did not see the bird swallowing the bud. Neither did I see it “playing” with it or even dropping it after some time. So I assume it ate the bud for the nectar it contains.

YC Wee
May 2012

2 Responses


    Hi YC,

    One never knows what can be dug up from treasure trove kept until dusts out.

    I think we(readers) need to come to an agreeable concensus that if a bird is photographed with a substance in its beak, it’s action or actions can be assumed and accepted to be either food, nesting material related based on what the photograph shows. As in your pic. shows..yes

    I will also agree with one of our veteran readers that to just have a photograph of a bird perched beside a fruit, flower etc. is not good enough for the reading audience to accept readily and assume the bird actually ate even though the photographer had seen it but no opportunity to photograph the evidence.
    For readers to believe that hear say, one has to earn that credibility based on credible writing records of the past.

    So it is important for contributors to make sure to write only what gets observed and seize that one second opportunity to put observation in photography proof.



    • YC

      Thanks Daisy. With images, at least we have some evidence. Without, we need to have blind faith in what has been reported – whether the bird and the food are properly identified, and that the “food” has actually been swallowed. I don’t recollect any skeptics coming out of the woodwork to raise questions. With photographic documentation, we do get skeptics questioning whether the bird actually swallow the “food” and not throw it out subsequently. Or even playing with the “food”. Well, this is progress!

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