“A number of trees in the neighbourhood are flowering or fruiting, hence attracting birds. I saw 4 to 5 Lineated Barbets (Megalaima lineata hodgsoni) coming to feed this morning. They fed on:
1. Tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) – they ate the fruit pod and the flowers for the nectar. This is a new food sources for me. Short & Horne (2018) on Lineated Barbet (Psilopogon lineatus) in Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive describes taking flower petals and nectar as food. See 2 images above for flowers and below for the fruit pod.
Activity was at the crown of the tree and hard to document but I had good observations. More flowers were eaten than fruit pods. It is interesting that they choose this food source when so many other more convenient/conventional food sources were easily available in adjacent trees.
2. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) – a well-established food source, much fruit taken toda (below).
3. African Tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) – nectar taken today, no images.
4. Village Cherry (Muntingia calabura) – fruit taken today.
5. Madras Thorn (Pithecellobium dulce) – fruit taken today.
“Over the years I have seen a number of birds eat flowers and should no longer be surprised, but I must admit I still was with these barbets. I have always assumed birds eat flowers for the nectar but it could be for some other nutritious value, especially when breeding. Young leaves and flowers of the Tamarind tree are consumed by humans in salads or cooked. They have a very high content of protein, minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron) and vitamins (especially vitamin B group).
“Special note: Tamarindus indica is presumed to have originated from India and is well established there. The name “tamrind’ is derived from the Arabic “tamar-u’l-Hind” meaning “date of India”. However, the tree owes its origin possibly to the African continent (see Sammy 2004). Not to forget that famous English Worchester Sauce is derived from the fruit.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
1st May 2018
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment
1. Short & Horne (2018) on Lineated Barbet (Psilopogon lineatus) in Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive.
2. Frank Indiviglio. Using Flowers as Food for Parrots, Finches and other Birds LINK
3. Sammy, Sugumaran, Lee, Wong (2004). Herbs of Malaysia. Times edition.