Rescuing Yellow-vented Bulbul chicks…

on 14th April 2013

“It is with great sadess that I write this email.

“Last week, I pointed out two Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) nests around the condo. The kids were excited and were looking forward to getting a chick to raise again. Our loyal companions, a YVB that I saved from a window strike and another chick both passed away last year from strange circumstances. One started having week legs and started shutting all over himself and finally passed on after a long fight with the illness. I suspect it was due to pollution from the newly completed condo next door. The dust from the polishing was all over the place and could have affected the bird. The second bird passed soon after, probably from the loss of the companion. His illness was short thankfully.

“This year, there were far less bulbuls in the neighbourhood. I think due to the pollution, there is less food and the birds have to spread out. I have not observed any bulbul evening fly-in gatherings for a long time too. Maybe after the breeding season I will check again.

“This morning I set out to retrieve the single chick from this nest. I was shocked to find the palm bushes in the process of being botaked [=clean shaven]. The bush bearing the nest was already thrown in a pile. It took me a while to extricate the chick. If I had been a few hours late, that would have been it.

“This pruning exercise was a knee jerk reaction for the appearance of a small snake in the lift lobby two days ago.

“I asked the workers if the the palms in the next block were destined for the same fate. Confirming the inevitable, I also retrieved the two chicks from that nest. Unfortunately they were very much younger and it will be a challenge to pull them through.

“However if they are not saved, that would be the end for them too.

“It is sad that we don’t have space for the YVB who has shared our gardens for decades. Mornings will not be the same without their morning calls, which has also been taken over by foreign talent (the Joel).

“I hope to post a happy follow up in a few weeks time.”

Jeremy Lee
28th March 2013

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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4 Responses

  1. I, too miss the morning calls of the YVB. We used to have Camwood (Baphia nitida) planted all over our condo as hedges. These attracted the YVB for their roosting and nesting sites. Since the arrival of a new gardener some time back, his regular over-enthusiastic pruning meant very few roosting and nesting site are left for the YVB. I still hear their courtship song once in a while, though.

  2. Hi, I have a YVB nest just beside my windows in the air well for a month. There is a nestling just like the one shown in your photo.
    I heard the parents’ distress call this morning and only found the little bird on ground. It looked very frightened. I put it back to the nest (with hand gloves on). And it kept quiet for a good 30 min. Even the parents didn’t know that it was back. They kept looking in the air well. Another 30 min, the parents were very noisy again. I went to check out of concern. And there it was, out of the nest again.
    Is it a flying lesson?
    What should I do? There is a cat family on my rooftop. The kittens “fall” down occasionally when they see something desirable. That’s why I’m so worried about the nestling.

    Really appreciated if you could advise me on this.

    1. If the chick has fully formed feathers, then it is trying to fledge. If there is an older sibling in the nest, the sibling may be responsible for ejecting it out. If it is alone, it may be just too active and accidentally fell out. In this case place it in a shoe box or whatever and leave it near the nest but out of reach of the cat. The parents will take over and care for the chick.

  3. It is not easy to raise Bulbuls so small. Three things you have to know.
    1) They need a humid 39-41 Degrees Celsius warm cover. Our skin temperature of 37 is too low for them! They can die of too low temperature and lack of humidity! You fill a rubber water bottle with 41 degrees warm water and put a humid towel around it Put the bird on it and cover the bird with a humid piece of cloth. Look at the chick only when you give it food.It is smart to have two water bottles so you can change when the temperature goes down to 38.
    2)They need food every 5 minutes the whole day until the sun goes down! Food is flies in the beginning! You catch flies by holding a plastic sandwich bag upside down over a fly. You can find them on dog shit or on fresh bloody meat that you put outside. You make up a short bird name and each time you feed the fly to the chick you say this name.Like bip bip bip or Pyk pyk pyk etc You open the peek by pressing very light on both sides of the peek on the white swollen ends. After a few times the chick will open it’s mouth just by hearing you say Bip bip bip. Put the crossed fly deep into the peek with an ear stick. When the bird has opened the eyes add minced fruit to the food. All ind of fruits are welcome but they prefer red fruits like strawberries or Watermelon. Feeding up a chick is hard work and be prepared that you can do absolutely nothing else when having to brake up what ever you do each 5 minutes! And this starts the minute it gets light in the morning!
    3) Third thing is the chick can not shit by itself, when it is very young.You need to stimulate the anal lips with an ear stick.You can check that the chick gets the right food if the Shit comes out in a small transparent bag and it should be white and black! When my chicks were very young I chewed a little Fruit and gave them. The bird need to drink and You have to be very careful not to get water on their Nostrils, then the bird drown. I would dip an ear stick into water and when the bird has the peek open I would squeeze the stick so a drop fell into the throat. During the night you need to wake up often and change the water bottle or have an electric pillow that you put the bird on ,but check the temperature over 41 will kill the bird and under 38 will also kill it!

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