Asian Brown Flycatcher – fruit feeding (frugivorous behaviour)

on 29th December 2013

“This is a rather long post to describe an unusual and poorly described frugivorous behaviour (fruit feeding) of the Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica).

“Asian Brown Flycatchers are common winter migrants and the ‘classical’ feeding style is described as a ‘sallying insectivore’ i.e. feeds on tiny insects especially by spotting then from a branch, then flying out to catch them and retuning often to the same perch. It does eat larger animal prey and may pick up caterpillars [see “Wells, DR (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 Passarines” and “Philip D. Round, George A. Gale & Warren Y. Brockelman. A comparison of bird communities in mixed fruit orchards and natural forest at Khao Luang, southern Thailand. Biodiversity and Conservation 2006:15”. Article available HERE – for more details].

“Photographic or other documented evidence of frugivorous behaviour:
[Note: I searched available literature on the internet using the search term: “Asian Brown Flycatcher” alone, and “Asian Brown Flycatcher” in combination with “fruit”, “feed”, “diet”, “food”, “frugivore”. Images were also reviewed with these search terms.]

1. An article from Japan: ‘Yoichiro Takanose, Tomohiko Kamitani. Fruiting of fleshy-fruited plants and abundance of frugivorous birds: Phenological correspondence in a temperate forest in central Japan. Ornithol. Sci. 2: 25–32 (2003).” In the article they list the Asian Brown Flycatcher as a “frugivorous bird species observed from May 1995 to April 1997 at the study site’. Article available (pdf download): HERE

2. One video observation by Josep del Hoyo from Southern Thailand on 7th April 2008, showing an Asian Brown Flycatcher feeding on berries. See: HERE (you have to slow down the video to see the fruit feeding at the beginning)

“Apart from these two, I am not able to find any other references in local Malaysian bird literature or international publications. I am of course not able to search every image uploaded especially if the activity in the picture is not labelled.

3. On 31th October 2011 I documented an Asian Brown Flycatcher feeding on a Blue Mahang or Macaranga heynei (formerly known as M. javanica) [Image available on OBI].

4. Today, 20th December 2013, I was fortunate to see 3 feeding episodes on the fruiting Common Mahang (Macaranga bancana). Images are limited in quality but clear. The ripe fruit is taken whole and swallowed without crushing.

“There is now sufficient evidence to state that fruit is part of the diet of the Asian Brown Flycatcher.

“List of birds feeding on the fruit of the Common Mahang (Macaranga bancana) (Updated 20th Dec 2013):

Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon),
Green Iora (Aegithina viridissima),
Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis),
Lesser Green Leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon),
Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus),
Cream-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex),
Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmus),
Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps),
Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki),
Narcissus Flycatcher (Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula narcissina elisae),
Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica),
Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti),
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus percussus),
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera modesta modesta),
Purple-naped Sunbird (Hypogramma hypogrammicum),
Plain Sunbird (Anthreptes simplex),
Red-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes rhodolaemus),
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (Chalcoparia singalensis).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
20th December 2013

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: A trail through mixed secondary & primary jungle of the forest reserve

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. Very interesting, I too have observed him for a long prods , but this is the first time I have come across a written statement about fruit feeding habit,
    Thanks for posting this information.

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