Yellow Vented Bulbuls drinking nectar or eating insects from the African Tulip flowers?

posted in: Feeding-plants | 0

“I have shared on birds feeding on the nectar of the African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) in the past LINK.

SunbirdBrTh-AfricanTulip [AmarSingh] 3

“The Brown-throated Sunbirds and Yellow Vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier analis) are regulars. But I have also seen Little Spiderhunters (Arachnothera longirostra), Jungle Mynas (Acridotheres fuscus) and Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis).

SunbirdBrTh-AfricanTulip [AmarSingh] 4

“In most plants that produce flowers with nectar, the birds insert the beak into the flower to access nectar or pierce the base of the flower.

SunbirdBrTh-AfricanTulip [AmarSingh] 1

“The African Tulip Tree however releases copious amounts of nectar into the erect cup of the flowers. The birds have to dip down into the ‘cup’ to drink. It is hard to see the actual action of these birds as these are tall trees, so all you see are the head and neck of the bird disappearing into the large flowers (above, below).

SunbirdBrTh-AfricanTulip [AmarSingh] 2

“I say this to suggest that perhaps some birds may not only be after the nectar but also insects. An article by Bob Luttrell on the impact of the African Tulip Tree on bees LINK suggests that stingless bees and other insects are killed by some toxin in the flower/nectar. Hence these flowers may be a rich ‘captive source’ of protein for birds.

“Nectar, insects or both?

“Appreciate thoughts and opinions.”

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

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: City, urban environment

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