© Grey Treepie’s Passion For Chinese Tallow Nuts

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“Loud, raucous calls of Grey Treepies (Dendrocita formosae formosae) are commonly heard in parks, edge of forests, suburban green corridors and woodlands in consistent to broadleaved, evergreen, mixed and deciduous growth habitats.

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“In Taiwan ROC, this endemic sub-species have been observed in different locations showing variations in tail plumages. They exhibited extensive to minimal whites in its upper tail coverts. Here are three examples (top, above, below).

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“The strong, chunky and black bills of these birds appeared no less inferior in functions to other nut-cracking, avian specialists (below).

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“Grey Treepies have been observed to break branches and cracked nuts of Chinese Tallow Trees (Tridica sebifera a.k.a. Sapium sebiferum) (below).

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“Let us revisit ancient city of Hengchun, Taiwan ROC where ornamental Chinese Tallow Trees grace side by side with Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) trees as described in my previous article, “Styan’s Bulbul Foraging Chinaberry in Hengchun Taiwan’ LINK. A native of southern China, the former mentioned line sidewalks running parallel to the ancient wall.

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“Foliages turn a myriad of colours during autumn and greenish- yellow flowers evolved to 3-celled capsules. When ripened, those brown and hard casings burst to disperse wax layered seeds (above).

“The usage of Chinese Tallow Trees and its nuts are well documented. In addition to providing biodiesel feedstock, the wax and oil extracted from the nuts have extensive usage to include a waxy finish in the manufacture of British paper currency as broadcasted in the BBC. While its foliages and plant sap are ill reputed for its toxicity and decaying leaves from plant are toxic to other plant species, edible seed arils are debateable.

“Can eat or cannot, here are some proof pictures of Grey Treepie indulging in Chinese Tallow seeds.

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“Above image shows a left foot, strong grip of a broken off bunch of nuts.

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“Images above and below show bird proceeded to have a crack at a nut.

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The image below shows bird successfully cracked open a section of nut to reveal its fleshy content.

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“The image below shows the prized and nutritious nut in bill of a Grey Treepie.

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“There are food records of Warbler species, finches and dove species in USA eating exposed seeds. No photographic, published food eating records of Dendrocita formosae formosae to my knowledge is available to show bird cracking up nuts and eating its fleshy contents whole or otherwise.

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“It was also observed Grey Treepies to be foraging on ground (above).

“These birds aid in seed dispersal when dried seeds got ingested and defecated.

“Further article reading may be had at “©A Rendezvous With Grey Treepies in Taiwan” (Part 1 & 2).

“Join me next… for another bird episode adventure in the city of ‘Everlasting Spring’”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang Malaysia
14th July 2017

Copyright article and all copy Images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

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