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©Meet Six Bulbul Species Foraging Berries – Callicarpa glabrifolis

on 15th November 2014

“A revisit to Lambir Hills (Approx.465m a.s.l.), Sarawak in August, 2014 with a seasonal difference did not disappoint me.

“The highlight of the birding trip turned out to be – a three metre tall bush, roundish in contour with green, luscious heart-shaped foliages. The mature bush planted in vicinity of Park Headquarters’ compound was crowned with a profusion of clustered berries in three stages of coloured maturity- green, white and black.

“Here dripping in rain drops, the berry bush was simply looking stunningly fresh and full of life and vitality (left)

“In collaboration with Park Warden Januarie Kulis, a name was provided to this post-flowering bush – Callicarpa glabrifolis.

“On three consecutive mornings, I made a point to show up and observed who the visitors were that arrived for breakfast at the bush. Some came in pairs, some in a family, some solo – they all came rain or shine.

“The first to arrive was a family of Red-eyed Bulbuls (Pycnonotus brunneus). The adult wasted no time heading for the black, ripened berries; at the same time providing foraging tutorials to their pale eyed juveniles (above, below).

“The Bulbul family was also seen resting in between foraging at neighbouring trees while other bird species took their turns (below).

“A heavy drizzle was no deterrent. A pair of Buff-vented Bulbuls (Iole olivacea) soon made their foraging debut (below).

“Skittish Black-headed Bulbuls (Pycnonotus atriceps) arrived next; made some hovering stunts and swiftly partook of ripe berries. One bird was seen not with one, but collected TWO berries in its bill and flew away with them (below).

“Often mistaken for their cousin brunneus, Cream-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus simplex) endowed with ruby coloured eyes – peculiarly different in colour to their peninsular counterparts – made no mistake about collecting only succulent, black berries for afternoon tea (above, left).

“An inconspicuous Olive-winged Bulbul (Pyconontus plumosus) did not escape my zooming ‘Third Eye’ to observe a bird simply overwhelmed by the surrounding of countless branches. They were all endowed with multiple clusters of berries. Bush was simply berries’ galore.

“Foraging continued into evening with Spectacled Bulbul (Pyconontus erythropthalmos) spoiled for choice, contemplated which berry will it have before eventually took flight with pre-dust dinner (below).

“It took just three days to have the Callicarpa glabrifolis’ bush stripped off its fruits by visiting birds.

“Party over…” said this blurry eyed, bulbul as it gazed blankly at the remnant branch. I wasn’t quite sure whether it was a late arrival or an over satiated bird that needed sobering up (left)!

“The common factor these six species of bulbuls have is, they are not wasteful foragers. Each juicy berry picked was consumed either on the spot or flown off to be consumed at a safe perch.

“Other visiting birds were Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), a mottled looking sunbird and a lowland endemic, Dusky Munia (Lonchura fuscans).”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill & Januarie Kulis
Penang, Malaysia

Copyright article and all copy bird 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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