How I located a Red-crowned Barbet preparing a nesting cavity

on 14th August 2018

“Whenever I ask around for the location for the Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii), almost all the replies referred me to the coffee tree (Canthium glabrum: Kopi Utan, Green Coffee) LINK. However I did not know the exact location of this tree. After asking friends and fellow birders, I got the location and decided to go down and take a look at this famous tree but was still unsure which was the actual tree.

Red-crowned Barbet digging a nesting cavity.

“Then came May when I heard the coffee tree was fruiting. I went that morning, but before I could see the tree it started to rain heavily. So I spent the whole morning sitting in the shelter waiting for the rain to stop. Finally, the rain stopped after 3 hours. The workers there had ended their shift and went home. I walked alone to look for the tree but at the very end of the road I saw a monkey running towards me so I backed off and went home.

Red-crowned Barbet getting rid of the wood chips.

“The next morning I got my husband to accompany me. We walked along the road, passed the coffee tree and reached the end of the road where we met 3 familiar birders. Suddenly the Red-crowned Barbet flew in and started to peck at the rotting portion of a tree trunk, creating an enlarge opening in the dead tree trunk (below).

“The barbet was hard working, pecking all the time. It entered the cavity to remove the pieces of wood inside (below). In all, it took about an hour to complete the job, taking only two breaks in between.

“Did this barbet chose to chisel the cavity after the rain as it might be easier to do so? He did not choose the correct location on the trunk as you can see there is a long crack leading to the opening. This will allow the rain to seep inside the cavity.

“Finally, this Red-crowned Barbet abandoned this nesting cavity.

“I did not return to the site. Warning, I saw 15 monkeys passing us during the time when we were there. Wild boars may be sighted, besides snake.

MeiLin Khoo
29th June 2018

NOTE: The barbets will most likely return to nest in the next few days. They may encounter an intruder. If so, there will be a battle for the nesting cavity.

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.

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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