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Yellow-vented Flowerpecker – feeding behaviour

on 27th January 2017

Fl'pkerYV-mistletoe [AmarSingh]1

“Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum chrysorrheum chrysorrheum) (above) are reported by some as primarily frugivorous (Wells 2007); others note also nectar and beetles in its diet (Cheke & Mann, HBW 2017). I have often seen it take figs (variety of types especially Ficus benjamina), and berries, especially Straits Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) and the Village Cherry (Muntingia calabura).

Fl'pkerYV-mistletoe [AmarSingh] 2

“Today I observed it feeding on the fruit of the Rusty-leaf Mistletoe (Scurrula ferruginea) (above, below); I was unsure about nectar feeding on the flowers.

Fl'pkerYV-mistletoe [AmarSingh] 3

“The Rusty-leaf Mistletoe produces a 1cm long, hairy fruit (below: flowers and fruits). Mistletoe fruits are known as pseudo-berries, true berries by definition have many seeds. Mistletoe fruits have only one large seed, a drupe or stone fruit.

Fl'pkerYV-mistletoe [AmarSingh] 4

“Most flowerpeckers either discard mistletoe seeds prior to the fruit being eaten, or the seed passes through the gut undigested. This depends on the species of mistletoe and the species of flowerpecker. Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers swallow the fruit whole, with the seed.

“Mistletoe seeds are coated with a sticky material called viscin (adhesive mucilaginous tissue) which adheres to trees. I saw this sticky material excreted but failed to document it. I also saw the bird wriggling the rear end to enable the removal of a seed.

“The word ‘mistletoe’ is supposed to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon words ‘mistel’ meaning ‘dung’ and ‘tan,’ meaning ‘twig’. Hence referring to birds feeding on this fruit and depositing seeds in their droppings on branches – one mechanism of seed dispersal.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
1st January 2017

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Useful References:
1. A Guide to the Common Epiphytes and Mistletoes of Singapore. Yong, Wei, Khew, Rong, San. 2014.
2. Mistletoe. From Wikipedia LINK.
3. Ron Yeo. Mistletoes of Singapore. LINK.
4. Wells, D.R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passarines). Christopher Helm, London.
5. Cheke & Mann. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrysorrheum). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 1 January 2017).

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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