Yellow-vented Bulbul and Singapore Rhododendron fruit

posted in: Feeding-plants, Videography | 2

I was waiting for the attractive Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) to video-record it taking the fruits of Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum). Instead the Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) flew in and ate up all the fruits (above).

We have a number of posts on the colourful Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker LINK but only a brief mention of the Yellow-vented Bulbul eating the fruits LINK.

This bulbul is a common bird of urban areas. As such it has been ignored by birdwatchers and photographers alike. The Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) is similarly common, found along the wayside and considered a weed. I have the plant in my garden, brought by birds that are the seed dispersers.

The flowers of Singapore Rhodendron are attractive in their mauve petals. Bees are attracted to them for their nectar and pollen. The most conspicuous of these are the Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa confusa and Xylocopa latipes). They practice buzz pollination that forces the pollen out of the stamens with their high pitch buzz LINK. Other smaller bees also visit the flowers.

The fruits are berries, the outer skin splits open horizontally to expose the mass of dark purple pulp covered with numerous light brown seeds (above, arrowed). Obviously this was not at the optimal ripeness stage as the bulbul went for the surrounding partially eaten fruits instead. Only when the cap is raised from the pulp is the fruit in its optimum ripeness – the birds taught me this.

YC Wee
March 2015

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