Birds feeding on fruits of Macaranga bancana

on 28th December 2013

The Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Perak is a mixed secondary-primary forest. In mid-December 2013, Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS located a fruiting Common Mahang tree (Macaranga bancana) along a trail through the forest. This is where the tree thrives as it needs light to fruit.

This is an excellent “bird tree” as the fruits attract many species of birds LINK. Feeding of the fruits is always competitive as the more aggressive species will chase away the timid ones. A good example is the Narcissus Flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina elisae) that was repetitively chased away by the Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki).

Two years ago Amar documented more than a dozen species of birds attracted to the massive amount of deep purple-red fruits (10-11mm in size) covering the branches LINK.

Amar’s current species list includes:

1. Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera modesta modesta) (left), Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon), Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti), Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus percussus) and Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis ochinchinensis).

2. Three species of sunbirds: Purple-naped Sunbird (Hypogramma hypogrammicum), Plain Sunbird (Anthreptes simplex) and the near-threatened Red-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes rhodolaemus) (below: female left, male right).

3. Bulbuls were plentiful: Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus), Cream-vented Bulbul (P.simplex) and Spectacled Bulbul (P. erythropthalmus).

4. Flycatchers. The Mugimaki Flycatcher (above left), according to Amar, maybe “…a First-winter male as the throat and breast are too rich/bright for an adult female. Also a clear supercilium.” Another “Mugimaki-like” Flycatcher, that can be either a Mugimaki Flycatcher or a Rufous-chested Flycatcher (Ficedula dumetoria) as according to Amar, “…the throat is rather pale. Possibly an adult female (above right).”

Yet another flycatcher seen was the Narcissus Flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina elisae) (left). This is a variant of the Narcissus Flycatcher which is called the Green-backed Flycatcher (Ficedula elisae) in the 2011 Checklist of the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia. Oriental Bird Images Taxonomic Notes state: “The subspecies elisae is sometimes treated as a separate species Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae. However, a recent study recommends retaining it as a subspecies of F. narcissina. Töpfer, T. Systematic notes on Asian birds. 60. Remarks on the systematic position of Ficedula elisae. (Weigold, 1922). Zool. Med. Leiden 80-5 (12), 21.xii.2006.”

5. Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) – possibly fruit feeding as the bird was seen in the tree. Furthermore, according to Amar:

a. This was in the deeper jungle location and there was little space on the ground for it to do its conventional ground feeding (definitely none at the base of the tree).
b. It returned to the tree “purposefully” while I was there.
c. Emerald Doves are known to feed on “fallen” fruit (Wells 1999).

However, Amar had “no direct observation of fruit feeding in the tree but felt this was worth sharing for more detailed observation. No images as it was very shy.”

But stay tuned for Amar’s latest observations on this Emerald Dove…

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing some quality birds and painstaking write-ups at your favourite patch, Amar.
    All best and more for the New Year.


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