“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).
“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.
“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.
“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
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).