Hairy-backed Bulbul and Bridelia tomentosa

on 27th February 2022

Apart from fruiting ficus trees, a number of jungle trees attract diverse birds species in large numbers. One tree I have observed for years, but failed to report (had no identity until now), is the Bridelia tomentosa. This is a small tree (6-12 meters) that is often more like a “scrambling shrub” with slender braches that trial downwards. When fruiting the tree is profusely filled with small fruit (4-6 mm) that is green when unripe and dark blue-black when ripe. It is favourite of many birds, especially most of the flowerpeckers. Large birds also feed there but have a little more difficult due to small size of the fruit. Many birds use the fruit to feed juveniles. Among them, but less commonly seen, is the shy Hairy-backed Bulbul (Tricholestes criniger criniger).

Latest list of birds that I have personally observed feeding on the Bridelia tomentosa fruit in this season alone (March 2020) include:

  1. Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos mystacophanos)
  2. Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon laeta)
  3. Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans griseicapilla)
  4. Streaked Bulbul (Ixos malaccensis)
  5. Buff-vented Bulbul (Iole charlottae)
  6. Cream-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex simplex)
  7. Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus plumosus)
  8. Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus)
  9. Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmus)
  10. Grey-bellied Bulbul (Pycnonotus cyaniventris cyaniventris)
  11. Hairy-backed Bulbul (Tricholestes criniger criniger)
  12. Black-headed Bulbul (Brachypodius atriceps)
  13. Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier gourdini)
  14. Asian Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella malayensis)
  15. Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati zosterops)
  16. Lesser Green Leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon)
  17. Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)
  18. Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis musicus)
  19. Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis strigata)
  20. Green-backed Flycatcher (Narcissus Flycatcher, Ficedula narcissina elisae)
  21. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (Anthreptes singalensis interposita)
  22. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
  23. Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus percussus ignicapilla)
  24. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrysorrheum chrysorrheum)
  25. Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus maculatus)

Other have also reported Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Straw-headed Bulbuls, Jambu Fruit Doves, Javan Myna and even Tiger Shrikes. See: Wee YC (2017). Plant-Bird Relationship (Version 3.0). Bird Ecology Study Group. Available here:

I am certain continued observation, and a review of older reports, would yield even more birds.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) = Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Date: 6-9th March 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

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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