Olive-backed Sunbird entangled in the nest

on 27th June 2018

“On the morning of 19th February 2018, I was alerted to the excitement around the nest of the Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) in my balcony.

“To my dismay I found that the chick that was about to fledge, was hanging outside the nest. It was dead and held by strands of human hairs, entangled around one of its legs.

“From my deduction I think the chick must have died before being fledged as the feather developments were not fully formed for the chick to be able to fly.

“So the parents must have tried to extricate the dead chick from the nest and found that one of its legs was caught among some human hairs that was used as nesting material.

“I think the use of human hairs is a mistake as these are not as pliable as natural materials from plants. Human hair tends to maintain it straightness and not easily stitched into the mass of other natural fibres. Thus human hair tend not to conform to the structure of the inside of the nest and sticks out forming trap situations that the chick will be caught in. Human hair unfortunately nowadays can be easily found everywhere in our urban environment.

“On another occasion immediately following mine, my wife’s cousin living two floors up also found that the chick’s leg was also caught and the bird was hanging upside down trying to fly away. Lucky for the chick it was freed from the deadly situation, when the hair holding onto the leg was snipped off and the chick flew off to live for another day.

“As for my situation I had to snip off a bit of the hair entangled around the dead chick’s leg to enable the parents to dispose of the carcass.

“My pictures show how difficult it was for the parent birds to try to remove the carcass before my intervention. The other thing I noticed was that the female was doing most of the hard work.”

K C Tsang
19th June 2018

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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