Swinhoe’s Pheasant – wattles & function

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

The Swinhoe’s Pheasant (Lophura swinhoii) male’s wattle is a fascinating ‘ornament’. Many birds have wattles (a caruncle), a fleshy structure, often brightly coloured, that adorns various parts of the head and neck, occasionally hanging. However, their function remains poorly understood and is often thought to relate to sexual differences and mating. Among the functions attributed to wattles in birds include (Wikipedia 2019, Chester 2019, Papeschi 2000, Smith 2009, Baratti 2010):

  1. an ornament for courting potential mates (in junglefowl wattles increased the conspicuousness of the tidbitting signal, enhance signal efficacy, aiding courtship)
  2. large wattles correlate with high testosterone indicating a good mate
  3. wattles are an indicatory of sexual maturity and better developed in adult males
  4. a possible indicator of health and disease resistance
  5. in some birds it is able to amplify the call
  6. a possible cooling mechanism
  7. enhance ability to evade/survive predators (common pheasants males with larger ornaments have higher survival)
  8. some birds use wattles in territorial defence (as armaments).

Coming back to wattles in Swinhoe’s Pheasant. I pooled images from many different male birds I had seen, during this trip and my previous one, to try and understand it further. The above image shows a composite of 6 birds (I have more but they do not add to the discussion). The images are arranged according to maturity. Bird 1 is an immature male (1st year bird with immature plumage) and the wattle is not fully developed. Birds 2-6 are all adult males but you can see variation in the size and shape of the wattle. I suspect the bird 2 is a young male (2nd year male) as adult male plumage is generally attained in the second year (HBW 2019); it was alone with no females in attendance and its wattle is smaller than older males. Birds 3-6 are older birds, all with accompanying females. Bird 6 had a seven female harem and the wattle is so ‘enlarged’ so as to almost obscure the beak. It is known that the male Swinhoe’s Pheasant wattle become engorged when in courtship (Avifauna of Taiwan 2nd edition, Wikipedia 2019). Taking suggestions from the work by Lloyd‐Jones on wattle functions in another bird, I suspect that Bird 6 had engorged the wattle to defend his females from the perceived threat, us – the bird watchers. Bird 3 and 4 show what the wattle should look like when at ‘rest’.

Appreciate any opinions or additional comments.


  1. Wikipedia: Wattle (anatomy) 2019 Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wattle_(anatomy)
  2. Jo Chester. 2019. What are the functions of wattles on chickens? Available here: https://animals.mom.me/functions-wattles-chickens-5568.html
  3. Papeschi A, Briganti F, Dessı-Fulgheri F. 2000. Winter androgen levels and wattle size in male common pheasants. Condor 102: 193-197. Available here: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c0b8/00bbea543752e40765fa46b3d2eda6ef8346.pdf
  4. Smith CL, Van Dyk DA, Taylor PW, Evans CS. 2009. On the function of an enigmatic ornament: wattles increase the conspicuousness of visual displays in male fowl. Animal Behaviour 78: 1433-1440. Available here: https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/publications/on-the-function-of-an-enigmatic-ornament-wattles-increase-the-con
  5. Baratti M, Ammannati M, Magnelli C, Massolo A, Dessì-Fulgheri F. 2010. Are large wattles related to particular MHC genotypes in the male pheasant? Genetica 138: 657-665. Available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/41420365_Are_large_wattles_related_to_particular_MHC_genotypes_in_the_male_pheasant
  6. David J. Lloyd‐Jones,  James V. Briskie. 2015. Mutual Wattle Ornaments in the South Island Saddleback (Philesturnus carunculatus) Function as Armaments. Thesis available here: https://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10092/10111/BScHonsThesisDavidLloyd-Jones2014.pdf?sequence=1
  7. McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Swinhoe’s Pheasant (Lophura swinhoii). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive.
  8. Wikipedia: Swinhoe’s pheasant 2019 Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swinhoe%27s_pheasant
  9. Avifauna of Taiwan, 2nd edition (available at: http://taibif.tw/download/avifauna/flipviewerxpress.html



AmarAmar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Swinhoe’s Pheasant – wattles & function


Location: Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area, Taichung City County, Taiwan

Habitat: 1,750-2,500 meter ASL, forested region

Date: 17th January 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone



The Eurasian Wren

posted in: birds, Species | 0

The Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes taivanus) is a wonderful little bird that works its way through the undergrowth of the upper montane forest of Taiwan. This Taiwan subspecies is said to be greyer/paler and less rufous but I could not appreciate this. May be split as a species in the future.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

17th January 2019


Location: Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area, Taichung City County, Taiwan

Habitat: 2400 meter ASL, forested region

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone



Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

posted in: birds, cuckoos, uncategorised | 0


Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus sumatranus

Photo 1

Photo taken on 24.5.2020 along Hevea trail,  Lower Peirce Reservoir  in the early afternoon.

Photo 2

Photo taken on 31.5.2020 at  Lower Pierce Reservoir.

Photo 3

Photo taken on 7.8.21 at Lower Pierce Reservoir.

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus sumatranus

They are also known locally (Malaysia and Singapore) as Burong Chenok, Sanok, Krak or Selayak.

Malkoha belongs to the Family Cuculidae (Cuckoos) which has 28 genera and 136 species. This is a very mixed group. Most species are solitary but some live in social groups. Some are nest builders and raise their young as parents (example- Chestnut-bellied Malkoha). Some are specialists in laying their eggs in other species’ nest (Obligate parasitism e.g. Asian Koel).

Cuculidae is divided into six families. One of them, Phaenicophaeinae, contains 16 species of Malkohas. About six Malkoha species are found in Malaysia, while only one is found in Singapore.

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (CBM) is a fairly large bird, about 16 inches in length, of which 9 inches are tail. The long graduated tail has dark green feathers with white tips. This gives it an appearance of widely spaced white bars on its under-surface. From above, it has a dark glossy blue-green color, with dark emerald green wings. However in good lighting, the green changes to a bright blue color. The wings even look iridescently blue. Click on link below to see blue color. https://besgroup.org/2008/05/16/chestnut-bellied-malkohas-sunning/   Dark grey is the color of the head. This grey extends downward to the neck, chest and upper belly. From the central portion of its belly down to its under-tail coverts are colored chestnut brown. However this brown is usually not seen in the field, due to non-optimum lighting condition. This can result in calling it a Black-bellied Malkoha, which has not been seen in Singapore for a long time. Both have the same large, arched, apple green beak and prominent red eye patch. This is an elliptical shape piece of intensely red periorbital bare skin.

CBM is usually found in tropical or subtropical lowland forest, mangrove and swampland, stretching from Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia (including Borneo). However, in Singapore CBM is now only found in the forest of the Central Catchment Area.

CBM usually forages in the mid canopy. It tends to sit quietly on a branch for several minutes waiting for food to come. If no food is coming it moves to a new spot, by climbing up or jumping down to a lower branch. It will also hop along branches, scramble and scuttle about amongst the branches and tangled creepers looking for food. Its long tail aids it in its balancing and maneuverings amongst the dense foliage.  When it is high up in the tree top, it may take a short, weak flight to the neighboring tree top by gliding. All these stealthy, elusive behavior has earned it the description of “long tailed, skulking arboreal cuckoos of the forest”.

CBM is insectivorous. It eats caterpillars, grasshoppers, butterflies, cicadas, stick insects, mantis cockroaches, beetles, and spiders. It is supposed to also eat noxious, brightly colored and hairy caterpillars, avoided by other birds. It removes the hard exoskeleton of insects like beetles and cicadas by bashing them on the hard ground or tree branches before swallowing them. It also eats small vertebrates like lizards, frogs, baby birds, skink, tiny snakes and mice.

It is a quiet bird. Occasionally it makes a “tok, tok, tok” sound (like hitting a hollow block of wood with a stick). It is also known to make a high pitch meowing sound.

Both parents share in building their own nest and raising their own youngs. The nest consists of a substantial platform of sticks, built in the fork of a tree, near its trunk. Two chalky eggs are laid in it. There is a very interesting article about the brood care of a local pair of CBM in Mandai Orchid Garden in 2008. Please click link here to see.  https://besgroup.org/2008/09/24/brood-care-in-malkoha-a-collaboration-with-a-photographer/

Click on the first LINK in the BESGroup article above, to get a PDF copy of the original article in the Nature in Singapore magazine by Alvin Lok and Lee Tiah Khee (16.9.2008).

In general, cuckoo nestling is known to grow rapidly, leaving nest in a little over ten days. They are also known to excrete a foul smelling liquid from their cloaca when they are disturbed in their nest.


Article by Wong Kais

Photos Courtesy of Mr Allan Fong and Dr. Tan Ai Ling

Grey-breasted Spiderhunter – Juvenile Feeding

posted in: uncategorised | 0

The Giant Mahang (Macaranga gigantea), when fruiting, is a great location to observe the feeding behaviour of a large number of bird species. On this occasion there were a number of Grey-breasted Spiderhunters (Arachnothera modesta), some with juveniles present, as well as many Sunbirds and Flycatchers.

Although the juveniles were self-feeding at times, their primary food was still from parents. It was interesting to observe that the parent would collect a number of Macaranga gigantean fruit in its beak (above) and with fruits still in its oral cavity, collecting more (below).

The fruit was then ‘regurgitate’ to feed juveniles. I missed most of the feeding images as the parent would call the juveniles over, often in partly hidden locations (behind leaves), to feed them. I am not aware if fruit feeding to juveniles has been recorded previously. The image below shows two of the juveniles present.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

20th September 2021


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

Habitat: Primary forest

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


Grey-breasted Spiderhunter – feeding behaviour

posted in: birds, Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants | 0

Grey-breasted Spiderhunters (Arachnothera modesta) are competitive when feeding at a fruiting Giant Mahang (Macaranga gigantea). They actively chase away all smaller birds, like Sunbirds and Flycatchers. They have 2 feeding techniques. The common one is holding onto a leaf stem or a branch and leaning over to reach fruit (above); often upside down. The second is ‘fluttering’ to reach fruit and snatch it (below). Fruit is moved from the tip of the beak downward using the aid of the long tongue.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

20th September 2021


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

Habitat: Primary forest

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


Taiwan Barbet – sexing?

posted in: birds, Sex | 0

In Taiwan, there is only one barbet, the Taiwan Barbet (Megalaima nuchalis). This bird is a beauty. Locally called the ‘five-coloured bird’ because of the 5 plumage colours: green – overall plumage, red – loral spot and lower breast band, blue – breast band and cheek and forehead, yellow – chin and lower forehead, black – eyebrow (below).

In addition, there is a red patch on the nape. Of this nape patch, Hsiao says of females “red patch on nape indistinct or lacking” (Mu-Chi Hsiao, Cheng-Lin Li. 2017. A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan. Wild Bird Society of Taipei). Other sources like Brazil 2009, Avifauna of Taiwan (2nd edition), Handbook of the Birds of the World (2019), all suggest sexes are similar. In addition a paper on the ‘Breeding Biology of the Taiwan Barbet (Megalaima nuchalis) in Taipei Botanical Garden’ by Lin, Lu, shan, Liao, Weng, Cheng & Koh (The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 122(4):681–688, 2010) state for their study that “The gender of the adults was ascertained by observing their positions during copulation (male mounting the female from rear) and was identifiable by learning the key features between individuals in the pair.” Having observed 28 breeding pairs, no mention was made of this plumage difference.

I am curious why Hsiao made this comment. He is an experienced bird watcher and must have some good reasons/observations to support this opinion. On one evening, during our recent trip to Taiwan, we came across 5 adult Taiwan Barbets that were trying to feed on some berries. Above is a composite of 4 of them focusing on the nuchal region. You can see that the degree of red at the nape varies both in colour, intensity, size and presence. I also looked at images in OBI database, online and my older images of adult Taiwan Barbets. There is colour and intensity differences between birds; in some it is very apparent and bright red; in others it is more orange or yellow; in some it is not very apparent.

I would like to make some comment about Hsiao’s observation:

  1. Photographic imaging (of visual watching) of this red nape patch is not easy as often birds turn towards us when being watched, so it may not be seen so often.
  2. In addition the posture of the bird affects the extent the patch is ‘displayed’. It is better seen when the neck is flexed forwards. So, the patch may be poorly seen in a bird with an extended neck.
  3. I wonder if the difference we are seeing is due to breeding changes? Or else Hsiao may be right and there is a real sex difference.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

16th January 2019


Location: Taichung City County, Taiwan

Habitat: Recreational area

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


Close-up of a Crested Serpent-eagle

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop., Raptors | 0

Our neighbourhood Crested Serpent-eagle (Spilornis cheela malayensis) that we hear calling out while foraging most days around 10.30-11.30am. Today was resting almost at eye level around 9.30am (pre-feed) and allowed me some close images. One wing feather was displaced (above).

Some close-ups of face showing nictitating membrane (above) and the magnificent feet (below).


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

21st January 2020


Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: fringe of primary jungle

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


Nesting of spotted doves (Spilopelia chinensis) Part 4: Parent-chicks interactions

In this video by Wei Siong and Wenyi, both parent birds continue to feed and groom the chicks. Chicks are starting to groom themselves and flap their wings more strongly. The feathers on the wings have grown longer and feathers have started appearing on other parts of their bodies.  There are more chick-initiated interactions with the parents. The chicks are sometimes left by themselves. The nest is still very neat, tidy and clean.

White-breasted Waterhen – behaviour series

The following series on the different behaviours of a White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus phoenicurus) are based on observations by Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh HSS made on different days around an urban habitat in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

Waterhen on a wooden fence.

On 29th April 2020, the above White-breasted Waterhen hopped up on this wooden fence in front of me and allowed close observation and images. It was feeding on insects on the foliage.

Waterhen feeding on insects.

Waterhen foraging in a pond.

On the early morning of 2nd May, a waterhen was seen foraging in the centre of a pond covered (coated) with Lemna minor (Common or Lesser Duckweed). It was sieving through the aquatic plants looking for snail prey, some were tiny as seen in the image below .

Waterhen with snail prey.

Waterhen with nesting material.

On 21st May a waterhen was seen with a nesting material. It’s short tail often flicked when nervous.

Waterhen flicking its short tail.

An older video and DSLR images of a White-breasted Waterhen (Uwak) making less commonly heard calls. Many of us would be familiar with the ‘classical’, calls these birds make – a cacophony of loud, raucous notes that are answered by the mate – often sounding like its local name “uwak-wak-wak-wak”.

Sonogram of waterhen’s call.

The bird also has larger repertoire of other calls. One that I hear infrequently is the one shown in the video and sonogram (above). They are discrete, repetitive calls made every 1.2 seconds (16 calls in 19 seconds) and last 0.2-0.3 of a second. Few authors describe them. Craig Robson (Field Guide to Birds of SE Asia 2002) alludes to them as contact calls and describes them as “pwik”. Bird that made calls in Post 2 seen below.

The waterhen that made the call.

Video recording here: https://youtu.be/ELHfqhO3Cqo

Edited audio recording here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/474096


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

April-May 2020


Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED or Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone



Silkie Chicken

posted in: birds, Blue, Color, ear lobes | 0


Silkie chicken

Gallus gallus domesticus Brisson is also known as Chinese Silky Chicken or Black bone chicken


Photo 1


Silkie Chicken

Gallus gallus domesticus Brisson

Silkie chicken is also known as the Chinese silky chicken. It is a very old breed, originating in China and later spreading to Europe, then America, mainly as a novelty.

It is most popular as a pet because of its completely white fluffy plumage. Its hair-like feather feels silky soft, hence its name. Feathers also extend to its legs and feet. It is described as a very quiet, gentle, friendly, calm and docile bird. All  these make it very suitable as a pet. Life span is about 7 to 9 years.

For Birders, this is an example of a Leucistic bird. It has a completely white plumage and black eyes. However, no one is excited over it because it is not the odd one out, it is the norm, the whole flock is white.

In spite of the above, this is a good example of a Leucistic bird that is not caused by a lack of black melanin pigments. The feathers are white because of a defect in the transport of melanin from skin melanocytes to the feathers. In fact, it has so much melanin that it is called black chicken. Its whole skin beneath the white feathers is black, including its feet, beak and comb. The excess melanin has even gone inward, causing the bones and muscles to becomes black. All the internal organs like heart, intestines and connective tissues are also black.

The only part of its body that is not black is its ear lobe, which is curiously blue. So far no blue biological pigment has been found in the skin or feather of birds. It is also very rare amongst animals, only found in two species of fish. But there are no shortages of examples of blue colored birds, like the beautiful blue peacock. The reason for this contradiction is that the blue color in birds is a structural color. This means that the blue color is the result of light interacting with microscopic/nanoscopic physical structures in the feather (extra dermal) or in the skin (either within dermal cells, or in the extracellular space of the dermis e.g. hexagonally arranged collagen fibers). When the blue segment of visible white light hits the collagen bundles the blue light is reflected more intensely because of constructive wave interference. Light of other wavelengths (e.g. red, yellow) are reflected out of phase because their wavelengths do not fit the spacing within the collagen bundle. This destructive wave interference results in the annihilation of red, yellow etc. color, leaving only blue. Any light rays not hitting the collagen bundles pass through and is absorbed by the underlying black melanin layer. This makes the blue color more intense and prominent.

Photo 2.


Photo 3.


Photo 4. Blue ear lobe is visible.


Photo 5.


Silkie’s feathers look and feel like soft fur. This is due to the absence or non-functioning of the barbules in its feathers. The vane feather has a central keratin shaft with a broad flat web on either side known as the vane. The vane is made up of paired keratin barbs growing out from the central shaft at an angle e.g. 45º, on a single plane. The barbs in turn have keratin branches (barbules) growing out from them in similar fashion. The opposing barbules then meet each other at an angle, producing a crisscross pattern. The barbules from the distal side of a barb usually have hook-lets along its length. Barbules from the proximal side of a barb usually have saw-tooth undersides.  Each upward pointing barbule will grip tightly onto several downward pointing saw-tooth barbules. Thus, each barb is securely bound to its two neighbors. This construction results in an effective flight feather. If the barbules and their hooks become defective then the whole fixture unravels. The feathers become hair-like silky feathers and are unable to support chicken flight. However, they provide good heat insulation.


Silkie  has five toes on each foot, in contrast to four toes in most birds. The fifth toe is usually smaller and less functional. The wings are still in the standard tridactyly  (three digit) arrangement.

Silkie lays cream-colored eggs, about 100 per year. This is less than half what an average layer-hen does. The reason is because Silkie has a very strong mothering instinct. It gets broody frequently and then egg production is halted. This is also the reason why the Broody tendency is selectively bred out of egg production hens. Since Silkie hens accept eggs from other hens (even of other species), the farmers exploit the silkie to raise the offspring of other birds.

Another economic importance of Silkie is in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Silkie, a black bone chicken, is highly regarded in TCM for its potency in improving immunity and general wellbeing. This is especially so in China and South East Asia. Recently some western scientific studies have shown high levels of Carnosine in Silkie muscle cells. This is more than twice the level found in other breeds of chicken. Carnosine is an imidazole dipeptide with strong antioxidant ability. It scavenges oxygen-free radicals, thus protecting mitochondrial membranes from damage.

Nowadays, many colors have been bred into Silkie chickens: black, orange, lavender, red and cuckoo pattern.

Photo 6.


Photo 7.


Photo 8.


Photo 9.


Photo 10.


Photo 11.


Photo 12.


Photo 13. Also known as brown Silkie.


26 Responses

  1. kris

    I just found a young dollarbird in the garden.. It seems to have left the nest too early and cannot fly yet. How am i to keep and feed it for a few days untill it can fly.???

  2. Iwan

    We have a small pond in our garden surrounded by trees and steep bedrock. The other day we saw a heron flying over and attempting to land – I guess to try to eat our small stock of fish. We managed to frighten it away before it landed, and have since installed trip wires around the pond in order to dissuade the bird. The amount of shelter around the pond means that a heron would have to land practically vertically. Does anyone know whether these birds have the agility to hover and land in this way, or do they always need a “glidepath” in order to land successfully?

  3. Khng Eu Meng

    Today, at the former Bidadari Cemetery, there was a buzz about a sighting of a Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). I heard some birders say this nightjar isn’t commonly seen in Singapore. After some hunting, we spotted it asleep on a tree branch, some 15 m above ground. This was rather interesting as my previous encounters with nightjars have been on either terra firma or on low branches.

    Is this perching so high up the tree normal or is it unusual? I have posted a photo of it on my Facebook Timeline: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151125012234135&set=a.108191464134.96538.617499134&type=1&theater

  4. Jess

    Bird Sanctuary At Former Bidadari Cementry

    1)Which is the best spot in Bidadari cemetery for bird watch?

    2)Where this bird usually resident at?

    3)What are some of the rare bird species that can be found at Bidadari?

    4)Where is the particular hot spot for the hornbills, eagles, kingfishers and some of the rare migratory bird?

    5)Which part of Bidadari are richest in it wildlife?

    6)Can you name me the 59 migratory bird species found?

  5. YC

    Why not search the website using the word ‘Bidadari’ to obtain the information you need. There should be sufficient info in past postings to satisfy you.

  6. Firdaus Razak

    Hai, I just want to ask did anybody had an experience bring bird from oversea via MasKargo? Did the bird will stress at high altitude?

  7. Chung Wah

    Hi, I am new to bird photography! Could anyone advise a good pair of binoculars to get for this hobby?

  8. Geam Liang

    I ‘acquired’ a female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 5 days ago – was in a public place when the bird flew overhead hit the wall and dropped right in front of me dazed. I picked it up, it appeared unhurt but could not sustain it’s flight. I have since constructed a fairly large ‘cage’ for it, about 4ft x 2fx x 2ft and placed it there last night. I temporarily placed her in a normal bird cage until I had completed the build.
    From what I have read up, it’s a fruit, seed and insect feeder and also nectar, flower buds. It’s doing as well as it can on bananas, papaya, jack-fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loves to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as it easily succumbs to infection.
    Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on it’s upkeep? I suspect this bird is an escapee – as far as I can read up, it’s not common, if at all, found in Georgetown, Penang where I am. I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain it’s flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.
    I can attach some pictures but not sure how to do this…

  9. Lee Chiu San

    The blue-crowned hanging parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You would raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.

    The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix.

    How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker. Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up.

    In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day.

    Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a blue-crowned hanging parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken.

    If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.

  10. Lee Chiu San

    About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily.

    If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.

  11. Geam Liang

    Thank you Chiu San for your inputs. Thus far, bananas and papayas work well. I’m not sure why it did not take to grapes – will try again. Am I supposed to peel it? I didn’t the last time, basically skewered a couple of grapes to a satay stick and positioned it as I did for the sliced and skinned papaya and peeled bananas.
    I have yet to try rice and certainly not nectar but will try out your concoction – have half a mind to go to a pet shop to see if they carry nectar for birds. The ice-cube freeze method is a good one, will try that. I might be mistaken on the sunflower seeds… not touched but it did eat the much smaller roundish, mixed colored seeds. Will remove the sunflower seeds.
    I’m sure it’s a female blue crowned hanging parrot.. it sleeps like a bat every night.

  12. Lee Chiu San

    When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts. As to your remark that the bird sleeps hanging upside down like a bat, yes, that is the way blue-crowned hanging parrots sleep.

  13. Geam Liang

    Thanks… I need to think like a bird – yup. She has probably not seen a grape much less know that it’s edible, unless the previous owner has fed her with grapes… even then… Today she’s done pretty well making the most of the banana and all of the papaya plus quite a bit of seeds. Will try the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup.
    Will regular honey do instead of rose syrup?

  14. Lee Chiu San

    About making nectar to feed birds. Most aviculturalists do not use honey for two reasons: 1. It is expensive and does not seem to give any added benefits. 2. Honey is made by bees, and the composition varies wildly. Some honeys are also known to cause fungal infection in birds.

    If you do not want to buy a huge bottle of rose syrup just for one tiny bird, there are cheaper alternatives. The first is plain table sugar, though most don’t seem to like it very much.

    What many birds will accept quite readily as a sweetener is condensed milk – the type with sugar that coffee shop owners use.

    Many, many birds have a sweet tooth (or should I say sweet beak?) Besides the usual suspects of lories, lorikeets, sunbirds and hummingbirds, for whom it is an essential part of the diet, nectar mixture is readily consumed by mynahs, leafbirds, fairy bluebirds, barbets, doves, parrots of all kinds, and a whole host of other species.

  15. Geam Liang

    I tried the condensed mild, placed in in a small bottle cap.. only the ants showed interest. Am I supposed to dilute it? I didn’t =( I took you advice and refrained from honey. Have yet to find Rose Syrup from the shelves of TESCO… will try to mix the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup/sugar syrup this week…

  16. David Thackray

    Can anyone help me identify a bird I saw in Singapore last week. Size of a smakll dove or thrush. Dark metallic back. Grey breast with red throat, chest.

  17. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers

  18. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers.

  19. Mahadevi Bhuti

    One of best souce for the bird watcher’s enjoying knowledge about ornithology

  20. Martin Nyffeler (PhD)

    Dear Sir / Dear Madame,

    I am a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at a University in Switzerland and I urgently need to get in touch with photographer Chan Yoke Meng, who takes beautiful photographs of birds near Singapore. Would you please mail me the email address of this photographer!


  21. Wee Ming

    Hello Besgroup,

    Trust this email finds you well. We chance upon your photograph on your website and found the amazing image of the Laced Woodpecker and durians. We would like to explore the possibility of getting permission to use them for a new Bird Park in Singapore.

    Spacelogic is a company based in Singapore and we have been contracted by Mandai Park Development to carry out design and build works relating to the exhibition interpretive displays in this new Bird Park.

    Some background of the new Mandai Bird Park project; it will build upon the legacy of the Jurong Bird Park – https://www.wrs.com.sg/en/jurong-bird-park.html by retaining and building upon a world-reference bird collection and creating a place of colour and joy for all visitors. The new Bird Park will have a world-reference ornithological collection displayed in a highly immersive way with large walk-through habitats. To enhance visitors’ experience with storyline and narrative of the bird park, transition spaces are added to display exhibits that provide a varied type of fun, intuitive, interactive and educational experiences for all visitors. One of the habitats features the Laced Woodpecker on a flora panel It is in this flora panel that we are seeking your permission to feature the Laced Woodpecker. We are looking to use the first image on the link here.
    Link can be found here: https://besgroup.org/2012/06/28/laced-woodpecker-and-durians/

    We would like to ask if this is something that we can explore further and if yes, how can we go about with putting through a formal permission request. Thank you so much for considering our request and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Warmest Regards,
    Wee Ming
    SPACElogic Pte Ltd

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