White-eye for ID – Swinhoe’s White-eye?

posted in: birds, Identification | 0

I overlooked these White-eyes that I saw but had a closer look and would appreciate any support for ID.

I am very familiar with the Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti tahanensis) and these birds are not Everett’s (now called Hume’s White-eye). I am trying to differentiate between Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus auriventer) and Swinhoe’s White-eye or Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus). The added problem is what subspecies? See a discussion by D. R. Wells (2 papers) on ‘Zosterops white-eyes in continental South-East Asia’ in the British Ornithologists’ Club (available online) and an excellent summary by BirdLife International (references). All these recent splits will take time to digest.

Post 1.

Note also that Oriental White-eye (BESG report 2006) and Japanese White-eye (Wells 2007) populations in Singapore are from escaped birds (feral) populations that established breeding populations for decades. I say this as there is very little to separate coastal Johore Bahru from Singapore and birds can cross over easily.

Post 2.

Some key differentiating features from Wells (2007) are summarised in the table.

Feature Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti tahanensis)

(should we be calling them Hume’s White-eye?)

Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus auriventer) Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus) (?subspecies simplex)

(should we be calling them Swinhoe’s White-eye?)

Overall Darker, more green, less yellow Bright, lime green More grass green
Forehead (frontal band) & above lores Darker (green), lacks yellow Yellow Yellow
Median yellow streak on underparts Runs forwards from belly but does not reach yellow of upper breast Lacks median yellow stripe


Post 3.

These 5-6 birds I saw (Post 1-3) have a yellow frontal band and yellow above the lores and lack a decent median yellow stripe (very faint one in some birds). Hence I am inclined to think they are Swinhoe’s White-eye – formerly thought to be Japanese White-eye complex but recently genetic work shows that many of these birds in Singapore originate from mainland Asia (China, Taiwan, Vietnam) (Lim et al 2019).

Swinhoe’s White-eyes are not listed in the ‘Checklist of the birds of Malaysia Dec 2016, v2’. The location I saw these birds is just near the causeway to Singapore.


  1. Wells, D.R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passarines). Christopher Helm, London.
  2. Wells, D.R. (2017a) Zosterops white-eyes in continental South-East Asia. 1: proposed refinements to the regional definition of Oriental White-eye Z. palpebrosus. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 137(2): 100-110.
  3. Wells, D. R. (2017b) Zosterops white-eyes in continental South-East Asia. 2: what is Zosterops auriventer Hume? Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 137(2): 110-116
  4. BirdLife International. Archived 2019 topic: A re-evaluation of the species limits in Asian white-eyes Zosterops https://globally-threatened-bird-forums.birdlife.org/2019/05/a-re-evaluation-of-the-species-limits-in-asian-white-eyes-zosterops-implications-and-an-appeal-for-information-to-assess-the-status-of-the-newly- recognised-sangkar-white-eye-z-melanurus/
  5. Bryan T. M. Lim, Keren R. Sadanandan, Caroline Dingle, Yu Yan Leung, Dewi M. Prawiradilaga, Mohammad Irham, Hidayat Ashari, Jessica G. H. Lee, Frank E. Rheindt. (2019) Journal of Ornithology, Volume 160, Issue 1, pp 1–16


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

Location: Johore Bahru, Johore, Malaysia

Habitat: City garden very near the coast to Singapore

Date: 29th October 2018

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld


Yellow-rumped Flycatcher – new food item and calls

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants, Vocalisation | 0
A new species to add to the birds seen feeding on the fruit of the Macaranga bancana. Saw a male and female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at the tree feeding actively. There was competitive feeding with other Flycatchers and other birds especially the Green-backed Flycatchers Ficedula elisae. Fruit is taken by aerial sallies or hover-snatching, returning to a new perch each time; hence hard to document. One image (below) showing the feeding attached (a dark image, rescued using Viveza 2 software from the Nik collection).
Interestingly the male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was intermittently vocal – something I have not observed in the past (unlike Green-backed Flycatchers which often vocalise at migration sites). The calls were single notes uttered 1.5-2 seconds part. There appeared be another Yellow-rumped Flycatcher responding at times, perhaps the female.
Sonogram and waveform image attached (see above).
Call recording here: https://xeno-canto.org/712171
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
31st March 2022

Pygmy Blue Flycatcher – rare?

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

Hard to determine how common this small Pygmy Blue Flycatcher (Ficedula hodgsoni sondaica) is as it is uncommonly seen in the region; possibly because it tends to forage in thicker vegetation.

A male shown.


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

Location: 1,600-1,700m ASL,Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail through primary jungle

Date: 6th August 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

Pale Blue Flycatcher – juvenile male

posted in: birds, Identification | 0

I was walking a trail today when I spotted this juvenile actively self-feeding. No adults were in attendance and no calls were heard. The bird was feeding largely by aerial-sallying from perches and snatching caterpillars and insects from the tree foliage. Prey was extensively branch-swiped before being eaten and the bird would land on a different perch after catching prey. Prey was taken every 3-4 minutes.

I initially thought, in view of location and common birds there, that this was an Indochinese Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis sumatrensis) [previously included as part of Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae]. However the bird was developing blue plumage on the breast, making this unlikely. Wells (2007) also notes of juvenile Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher that the lores are whitish.

The only flycatcher that fits well is the Pale Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis unicolor cyanopolia) juvenile male. Wells (2007) notes that in juveniles there is a narrow buff eye ring, and this can be seen in some views, especially in lower light. Note that the moulting into adulthood is not uniform on both sides of the body.

OBI quotes Mlíkovský (2011) on nomenclature of Cyornis flycatchers to use C. u. cyanopolia – “subspecific name cyanopolia replaces harterti and infuscatus for the birds of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and Borneo”. HBW (2020) uses C. u. harterti.

I would appreciate any opinions about the Identification.


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

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

Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Date: 13th August 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



Long-tailed Rosefinch of Japan

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I have a number of species left unposted from the time in Japan.

Long-tailed Rosefinchs (Carpodacus sibiricus sanguinolentus) are delightful to watch and love feeding on the seeds of the Dandelion (Taraxacum). According to Clement (1993) C.s. sanguinolentus is slightly shorter-tailed and darker (both sexes) than the nominate subspecies. Also in worn plumage the male head becomes white or pale pinkish-white (initially brownish).


Peter Clement, Alan Harris, John Davis. Finches and Sparrows: An identification Guide. Princeton University Press. 1993

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

Location: East Hokkaidō, Japan

Date: 5-7th June 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



Blue-crowned hanging parrot (juvenile) feeding on nectar of Tabebuia rosea pink

posted in: bird, Feeding | 0

A lone, juvenile blue-crowned hanging parrot, Loriculus galgulus, was seen biting into the base of many Tabebuia rosea (rosy trumpet tree or pink poui, family Bignoniaceae) flower buds. The photographer believes that the parrot is taking bites out of the flower ovaries. As the photographs were taken from ~ 10 m away and no access to the tree was available, Wong Kais could not look for evidence of eaten flower buds on the ground. There have been records of the birds taking figs, flowers of Erythrina and Durio zibethinus (durian) and fleshy parts of oil palm fruits. They also feed on seeds and nectar. Read this post that lists the foods taken by various birds, including the blue-crowned hanging parrot.

The photos are all © to Wong Kais. 21 July 2017. The photo gallery below shows the parrot getting around the branches taking bites out of various flower buds of the Tabebuia tree. The other photos of the flowers and winged seeds were taken at other times.

Photo 1.
Photo 2.
Photo 3.
Photo 4.
Photo 5.
Photo 6. The red rump of the bird is visible.
Photo 7.
Photo 8. The bird hangs upside down to reach a flower bud.
Photo 9.
Photo 10. Tubular Tabebuia rosea flower. 5 Jan 2022
Photo 11. Tabebuia rosea flower. Lower portion of fused petals and calyx. 5 Jan 2022
Photo 12. Ventral view of veins in petals of Tabebuia rosea. 5 Jan 2022
Photo 13. Ventro-lateral view of Tabebuia rosea flower. 5 Jan 2022
Photo 14. A fruit pod has split open, exposing the many white coloured winged seeds still attached to the septum of the fruit pod. 27 Dec 2017


Read the following posts:  post 1, post 2 , post 3 , post 4post 5 , post 6, and post 7.


  1. Handbook of the Birds of the World © 1996 Vol. 4
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-crowned_hanging_parrot


Serangoon Gardens.

21 July 2017

Little Cormorant over outskirts of Ipoh city

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I saw a Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) fly over Tambun town (out-skirts of Ipoh city) this morning. With breeding of Little Cormorants well established at the Malim Nawar-Tanjung Tualang area (35-45 km away) I am not surprised to see some come southwards. I expect breeding to be established at limestone-wetlands at the outskirts of the city.


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

Habitat: Semi-urban environment

Date: 7th September 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

Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius – first year

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

This is a first year Black-thighed Falconet (Microhierax fringillarius).


 Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Limestone hills at outskirts of the city

Date: 1st July 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



Orange-bellied Flowerpecker – male

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I spotted this pair of Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum trigonostigma trigonostigma) because they were fluttering extensively to try and get at some item from a tree (prey or item not seen). They both looked very agitated, lifted wings and breast feathers and were flitting about fast – intermittently they would flutter in front of the tree and try to reach some leaves.

There were no other birds around (no competitive Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers), no threat I could see (snake, etc). I was sitting in my car on a trail and they ignored me. Once they had left, I had a good look at the tree and could not see any nest or young.

Some images of the male.

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

Location: Ulu-Kinta, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Mixed Secondary and Primary Forest

Date: 15th June 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED

Small ‘Brown’ Flycatcher for identification

posted in: birds, Identification | 0

While watching the Spiderhunters I saw some small Brown’ Flycatchers at the same location. One was a Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni but I sadly failed in getting images.
This other bird was unusual in behaviour; coming down lower to forage (2 meters) than I am used to with Asian Brown Flycatchers. The breast was also darker than I usually see in Asian Brown Flycatcher.


I considered another Brown-streaked Flycatcher but could not get a proper side view of the wing pattern to confirm. The Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica is an option but the larger pale area on lores, larger eye-ring and pale lower proximal mandible points more to Asian Brown Flycatchers. However there is a suggestion of a ‘pale or whitish half-collar on neck side’ seen in Dark-sided Flycatchers and the bird is more brown than grey (Asian Brown). The subspecies of the Asian Brown Flycatchers Muscicapa dauurica siamensis is usually browner and a consideration here.
Appreciate opinions and ideas.


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

Habitat: Secondary growth adjacent to limestone outcroppings

Date: 7th December 2020

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

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

Leave a Reply to David Thackray Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.