Birds feeding in a Ficus benjamina tree

on 17th December 2013

In early December 2013 Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS encountered a fruiting (Ficus benjamina) tree growing along a trail through the mixed secondary-primary forest of the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve in Perak, Malaysia. The tree attracted flocks of noisy birds that were feeding on the figs.

He first noticed three Yellow-vented Green-pigeons (Treron seimundi seimundi), an uncommon green-pigeon that are not commonly seen in the lowlands (Wells, 1999) (above male, below female).

Feeding together were two adult female Thick-billed Green-pigeons (Treron curvirostra) (below).

These two species of green-pigeons were seen feeding for two consecutive days, making Amar “…wonders if social interaction and communal feeding is possible between these two species. May just be the attraction of the fruiting tree (however I have not seen either bird here over many years despite seeing may fruit ficus). The fruit is crushed and swallowed. Large volumes can be consumed in a short time by a single bird. This particular pigeon [Thick-billed Green-pigeon] has a characteristic and frequent behaviour of ‘waging the tail’.

There were also Thick-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum agile remotum) feasting on the figs. “Hard to be sure of the full number of these flowerpeckers, I was sure of at least 8 but could be up to 12, as there were 30-40 birds in the tree.,” added Amar. “Have rarely seen them at this forest reserve and not in such numbers. At least two were adults but the majority was immature as seen from the orange-yellow gape (above).”

“They were very friendly and I had close views and many images,” continued Amar. “There was a lot of variability of breast streaks (possibly as many were young), iris colouration and olive on wing . But none seem to fit any other flowerpecker – I had considered the Brown-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum everetti). Appreciate feedback if anyone thinks otherwise of this identification.”

Aslo present were two “smaller flowerpeckers who unfortunately kept to the higher canopy. “I have seen Plain Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum concolor borneanum) at this forest reserve occasionally but imaging has been difficult due to location (height).

The finer, slightly down curved beak and dark eyes with plain plumage support the identification,” wrote Amar. “Surprisingly able to pluck whole ficus fruit, to feed on, off despite their size (above).”

According to Wells (2007): “There are no reports of gathering a fruit crops.” According to Amar “…I must say this is my first observation of this bird at fruiting Ficus benjamina with other birds.”

Check out Amar’s eatlier posting on birds feeding in this fig tree HERE.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
December 2013

Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.
2. Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.

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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