Bip, my White-eyed Bulbul

on 11th July 2016

Check out my encounter with my first chick, NYP HERE. Then read about my second chick BIP below.

BulbulWE 2-3d [PiaYair] 2-1

“At first I didn’t know what kind of chick it was! I have never had such a young chick before. Notice that they only get feathers on a very limited space of their body! (From top down, chick about 1-2 days, 3-4 days and 7-8 days old.)

BulbulWE 3-4d [PiaYair] 2-2

“I carried it around for days all the time making my hand wet so the chick would not dry out! In the night it slept on a rubber bottle with warm water covered by a piece of cotton that was humid on the side towards the bottle. I set the clock to wake me each hour so I could check on it and see the temperature would not drop too low! It was fed flies with wings and legs removed.

BulbulWE 7=8d [PiaYair] 2-3

“It was a White-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos), my second [ref-1st] that I named BIP. It is now more than a month old. I forget to take pictures. But I made lots of discoveries about their (NYP, my first and BIP, my second) language by just paying attention. They have several sounds for danger of different kinds. Cats are one sound, crows another, scary car sounds a third. Aeroplane sound a fourth and so on. The bird has a sound for ’no’ and one for ‘give me or I want’. It has a sound for ‘come and sit with me’. And one ‘asking for flies’.

“It has a song when it is tired and another when it is relaxed! It has greeting sounds that are different for different kind of birds! It can call another bird to come or for help. I will try to record some of those many different sounds!

“I read that there are discussions about territories for these birds. And there is a kind of territory that they keep. The 3 bulbul chicks that were born on my roof come back and see the roof garden as their territory [link] so the new bird I have now get attacked. But the old bulbuls are afraid of me and it is hard to tell if their attacks are made in order to move my young chick out of danger as it was too close to me, or it is a ‘fight for food attack’ where the new bird is taking their food and must be driven away.

“I don’t spray any poison on my roof garden so it is full of all kind of crawling insects. And that is a heaven for the birds.

“Today I woke up early. My new bird waked me at 5.30 am so I went out on the roof garden with it. I noticed that it ate something from the ground and noticed when putting on my reading glasses that the whole floor was full of some crawling 1,000 legged tiny creatures.

“When I was looking down the bird again got attacked by the 3 grown up bulbuls who are around 6 years old now. They are clearly the family who grew up on my roof since they often visit the old nest that I never removed. Also Nyp, my old bird, tried each season to convince his mate that this was the place to build a nest, but she was afraid of my cats. So they went elsewhere. But they return to the roof now with a new chick that is a bit younger than my Bip. So either it is still their territory or Nyp has a strong bonding to the place! I find him often sitting outside my living room window trying to stare into the room trough the glass! These 6 bulbuls are the only bulbuls that come to my roof. But I have honey birds as well and they can coexist and are not hunted away.

“To an untrained ear it is impossible to differentiate the different sounds made by each bulbul since they all sing more or less the same melodies and make the same sounds. I guess they would say the same about us that we all sound the same. But my bird is toned in on my voice and will not fly to my kids if they call him. Likewise I can differentiate my birds’ voice and also the old birds’ voice from all the others that are so similar that it is impossible to differentiate by looks.

“Something else, if given the opportunity, these birds love water and will take baths all day long. My little chick took 6 baths yesterday, one after the other. He dried himself in between baths and when finished went into the bath again. This went on for one hour until I got tired and took away the tray with water!

“These bulbuls can see colors by the way and they are very attracted to red and orange! They can spot an air plane that is just a dot on the sky.”

Pia Yair
22nd May 2016

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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