Australian Mulberry (Pipturus argenteus): More birds taking the fruits

posted in: Feeding-plants | 3

“Went back to observe the Native/Australian Mulberry (Pipturus argenteus) and watch which birds feed on the fruit. I saw more species of birds feeding on the fruit and have suspicions about other birds that were harder to watch.
“Birds feeding on Pipturus argenteus fruit (not all imaged):

1. Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus pattani) LINK.

Yellow Vented BulbulYV-AustMulberry [AmarSingh]

2. Yellow Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier analis) (above).

Asian Glossy Starling-1a-Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia-31st August 2017

3. Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis strigata) feeding was seen in large numbers of adults and immature birds (above).

Oriental Magpie Robin-1a-Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia-6th September 2017

4. Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis musicus) are very common at the fruiting Australian Mulberry but one of the hardest to image. They are shrew and avoid the camera. They take fruit from the branches and not fallen fruit. In the past I would have considered frugivory by the Oriental Magpie Robin as uncommon, but I have now seen a number of episodes of different fruit. In this latest occasion I have seen 4-6 Oriental Magpie Robins feeding on the fruit on each of my 4 visits (above).

Blue Rock Thrush-2a-Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia-31st August 2017

5. Blue Rock-thrush (Monticola solitarius madoci) continue to be active feeders, especially at locations were there is rock cover and the trees are smaller. The male Blue Rock-thrushs were particularly territorial over the fruit, chasing away other males. They seem ignore or tolerate other species (above). 

Red-eyed Bulbul [AmarSingh]

6. Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus brunneus) (above).

Stripe-throated Bulbul-3a-Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia-3rd September 2017

7. Stripe-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus finlaysoni finlaysoni) (above).

8. Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus crassirostris) – I was not surprised to see a Blue Whistling Thrush fruit feeding as many thrushes do so. A single bird was observed foraging low down, in the darker, low hanging branches. Seen fruit feeding but no images available yet; very shy. Fruit not describe in food sources in Wells, D.R. (2007). Collar, N. in HBW (2017) notes berries in the diet.

9. Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica indica) – feeds on fallen fruit (not seen taking fruit in tree yet).

Pin-striped Tit Babbler-1a-Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia-31st August 2017

10. Pin-striped Tit-babbler (Macronus gularis gularis) had previously been observed feeding on fruit of the Blue Mahang (Macaranga heynei, formerly known as M. javanica), hence was not surprised to see a pair feeding on the Native/Australian Mulberry. They were hard to image, keeping to the dense foliage and fast moving (lots of blur images with fruit). They were rapid feeders, devouring 4-5 fruit in 60 seconds. These babblers show the behaviour of smaller birds handling this soft sticky fruit best. They will snatch a fruit and then place it on a horizontal branch. It will be eaten piece meal followed by cleaning the beak on the branch (above).

11. Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus torquatus). 

BarbetC-AustMulberry [AmarSingh]

12. Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala indicus) (above).

IOraC-AustMulberry [AmarSingh]

13. Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia horizoptera) (above). I had recently observed and posted what was possibly the first image documentation of frugivory by the Common Iora. Hence was surprised to fairly quickly see another fruit feeding episode. An adult pair feeding on the Australian Mulberry. Both were actively taking fruit but, as mentioned, smaller birds need to manipulate the sticky fruit by using branches. Note: Robinson HC (1927) Birds of the Malay Peninsula Volume I. H.F. & G. Witherby, London describes the Common Iora as ‘… is mainly insectivorous, though it certainly occasionally eats fruits and berries, especially those of the mistletoe’ but this has never been confirmed in the past. Wells, D. (2017) on the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona quotes ‘rumoured to take small fruits, but this unconfirmed’.

Black-naped Oriole-2a-Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia-3rd September 2017

14. Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis maculatus) (above).

15. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum cruentatum) – see HERE.
“Birds seen in Pipturus argenteus trees but unsure if taking fruit:
1. Java Sparrow (Lonchura oryzivora
2. Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius maculicollis)
3. Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica longicauda)

“These three are not known to take fruit, especially the tailorbird and fantail. These were seen in the trees foraging, possibly for insect prey stirred up by the many other birds. I have, over the years, seen that birds take a variety of foods that were not previously documented and hope to continue observations.”
NB: Squirrels and Monkeys were also feeding on the fruit.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
31st August 2017

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Limestone outcroppings at outskirts of the city with secondary growth 

3 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    By the way Amar, I did not know of this tree in Singapore as recently as 20 years ago. But, as I mentioned in my earlier post about the Hornbill feeding on its fruit, it spreads very rapidly. There is one mature tree, two smaller trees, and seedlings can be found constantly in my garden. When did you start noticing the presence of this tree in the vicinity of Ipoh?

    • Amar-Singh HSS

      Dear Lee, have spotted the tree for many years (>10 yrs) in Ipoh but never paid much attention because did not see the fruit or birds eating until this season. The place I saw these has more than 10 trees. Most are mature and tall, a few smaller, like bushes.

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