Lineated Barbet, Asian Glossy Starlings and Ceram Palm fruits

It was around 1600 hours in the evening of 12th August 2015. The sky was overcast and it was drizzling lightly. I was keeping watch on the bunch of ripening Ceram Palm (Rhopaloblaste ceramica) fruits in their colourful yellow, orange and red.

I was waiting for the Pied Imperial-pigeons (Ducula bicolor) to arrive as a few were seen in an earlier fruiting feeding on the fruits.

Instead, Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis), adults as well as juveniles, were pecking at the ripe fruits. These starlings were always around, gathering among the fronds just before they fly off to their night roost in some wayside trees nearby.

Then a single Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata) flew in, perching on a branch on the other side of the massive mass of fruiting branches (top image by Johnny Wee from a different location; above video). Immediately the starlings flew off. Although the barbet is only slightly larger than the starlings, its massive bill must have been intimidating. Anyway Piciformes tend to be aggressive, even belligent, especially at food source (Short & Horne, 2002).

The barbet then started pecking on the fruit, trying to detach them but without success. Instead, thin pieces of the outer flesh got torn from the fruits. Some pieces the barbet swallowed while most fell to the ground.

All this time the starlings were nowhere nearby.

The following evenings the Lineated Barbet was absent from the palm. The starlings (more juveniles than adults) thus fed on the fruits undisturbed (above).
YC Wee
November 2016

Short, L. L. & J. F. M. Horne, 2002. Family Capitonidae (Barbets). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 140-219.

  1. Ellen Blackstone

    Hello! I’d like to talk with Johnny Wee. I am seeking permission to use an image on our nonprofit website, Would you please email me and I can explain? Thanks!
    Ellen Blackstone, BirdNote

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