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Brown-Throated Sunbird Visit Pulasan Tree for mistletoe flowers

on 7th February 2013

“A bird-survey in a traditional Malay village that grows various home plants, fruit trees and flowers, do yield surprisingly some interesting sightings. One tropical and exotic fruit in particular that I encountered, rekindled memories of family-youth days. A fruit lesser known in those days that I naively thought came from mountains of the wild.

“I came across a ‘Wild Rambutan’ fruit tree grown beside a kampong house. For the benefit of city dwellers and non-Asiatics having not yet seen a Pulasan tree (Nephelium ramboutan-ake) or fruit as the Malaysian locals called it, I have attached photographs of the tree (above left) and a close-up bunch of fruits (above right).

“When ripened, the tough, stiff, punky-haired and thicker skinned of the Pulasam fruit turns a purplish liver colour. When peeled, the fruit carries a similar almond sized seed. The flesh is succulently sweet, smooth and softer textured but lacks the crunchy ‘oomph’ to crave for more.

“The 6 metre tall tree with thin branches widely spread out carried medium to scanty green foliage and was fruit bearing in different stages. [Growing on the branches are many Malayan mistletoe (Dendrophthoe pentandra), a semi-parasitic plant LINK.]

“A pair of Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) was prospecting nectar amongst the blooms. Shown here is a male (above).

“On closer examination of this image, [the mandibles can be seen clamped onto the flower bud (above) to apply pressure to it so as to force the petals to unfold (below)]. See also HERE.

“[The image below shows the sunbird slipping its tongue into the opened flower to take the nectar.]

“The pair was also heard call locating each other while prospecting other tree species nearby.
These images were taken in November 2012…”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
26th January 2013
Copyright article and copy Images: Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

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.

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