Ruby-cheeked Sunbird – frugivory

posted in: Feeding-plants, Sunbirds | 2

“I observed another episode of frugivory by Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds (Chalcoparia singalensis interposita) today.

“Most literature supports insect and nectar feeding for this sunbird but I have observed fruit feeding more often than nectar feeding (insects are most common). In the past I have seen them feeding on the fruit of the Blue Mahang (Macaranga heynei, formerly known as M. javanica), small berries and also taking pieces of ficus fruit (Amar-Singh, 2010).

SunbirdRCH [AmarSingh] 1

“Today I saw both an adult male (above) and an adult female (Amar-Singh, 2010) feed on the small fruit of a tree.

SunbirdRCH [AmarSingh] 2

“The tree was full of many creepers but the fruit was coming from inflorescences from the stem of the tree. Post 2 is a poor image of the bird collecting fruit but better illustrates the fruit and flowers (no identification of tree as yet).”

Amar-Singh HSS (2010). Feeding habits and behaviour of the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis in Perak, Malaysia. BirdingASIA 14 (2010): 46–51.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
13th February 2017

Location: Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Previously logged forest with secondary growth and some primary forest

2 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Though sunbirds of all types are primarily nectivores and insectivores, when hungry, they will take soft fruit. Bird keepers ignorant of their dietary requirements blissfully feed their sunbirds on fruit. The birds eat this out of desperation, (as will shamas, magpie robins, and many laughing thrushes) but will never be in good condition on such a diet.

  2. Amar-Singh HSS

    Dear Lee, appreciate your response. I agree that many fail to understand what birds eat, especially “bird keepers”. But although Sunbirds enjoy nectar as a primary source of food, fruit is not an uncommon choice in my observations over many decades. Not as a choice because there is no nectar but as a preferred choice for some fruit.

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