Black-capped Babbler – Do birds of one species eat the faecal sacs of another species?

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I was watching some Short-tailed Babblers (Pellorneum malaccense) on 28th April 2022 at a mixed primary-secondary forest location at the outskirts of Ipoh when this Black-capped Babbler (Pellorneum capistratum nigrocapitatum) walked out of the undergrowth. What was unexpected was the faecal sac it was carrying. I am used to nesting birds either eating the faecal sac of their juveniles or disposing of it some distance away from the nest. But this bird’s behaviour (and demeanour) appeared to be purposefully taking the faecal sac somewhere rather than removing or disposing of it. The bird was surprised to see me but after a brief pause, it carried on its way and disappeared into the undergrowth further down, still carrying the faecal sac.

I could just be mistaken and the bird is just nesting and this is the ‘conventional’ faecal sac removal. But it got me thinking – do birds of one species eat the faecal sacs of another species? Do birds of one species collect faecal sacs of another species and feed them to their offspring? Especially as we know that the faecal sacs of younger juveniles contain undigested food that may be nutritious.

There are reports of brood parasites like the Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater), which do not care for their own offspring, eating the faecal sacs of nestlings of their host species (Stake, Cavanagh 2001).

I would appreciate any opinions.


Stake, M. M.; Cavanagh, P. M. (2001). “Removal of Host Nestlings and Fecal Sacs by Brown-headed Cowbirds”. The Wilson Bulletin. 113 (4): 456–459.[0456:ROHNAF]2.0.CO;2.short


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

Pink-necked Green-pigeon – miscellaneous images

Post 1 above shows a flock of Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans griseicapilla) in flight at the fringe of the Papan Forest Reserve in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. Often seen in the mornings, traveling together, presumably to feeding sites. Saw at least nine birds on the morning of 27th August 2020, but could be more…

Post 2 above is a male Pink-necked Green Pigeon photographed on 22nd November 2019 at the Perak wetlands.


Post 3 above is an adult male Pink-necked Green Pigeon encountered at a semi-urban habitat in the outskirts of Ipoh on 29th June 2020.

Post 4 above is a close-up of the adult Pink-necked Green Pigeon showing the double coloured iris lavender-pink outside with a bright blue inner ring. The blue and pink are seen in certain lighting and postures and the iris usually looks dark red in the field (Wells 1999). Photographer from a semi-urban habitat in the outskirts of Ipoh on 29th June 2020.

Post 5 above was photographed on 30th November 2020 at the secondary growth adjacent to the limestone outcroppings in Perak, At that time I encountered this large fruiting Ficus benjamina tree that attracted a large number of Pink-necked Green Pigeons – in excess of 120. They arrived in 7-8 ‘waves’ of 20+ each time and this allowed me to get a rough estimate of their number. In the past I have only seen smaller flocks of 10-15 at such fruiting trees.


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

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


White-tailed Robin – Nesting Issues

posted in: birds, Nesting | 0

I was in Cameron Highlands on 25th April 2022 and observed a number of White-tailed Robins (Myiomela leucura leucura) nesting. One of the nesting birds interested me as I had seen this unusual behaviour before. I saw what appeared to be an immature (1st year) bird being a nest helper. I saw the bird bringing food to the nesting site a number of times.

Attached are two images of the bird. Note that the bird has a shining blue forehead which is not described in females (Wells 2007, Birds of the World 2022). If we follow the literature then this should be a first-year male.

I have seen similar nesting behaviour in the past and now am considered some options:

  1. Some first-year birds act as nest helpers. I am spotting the males (easier) but may miss the young females.
  2. Plumage change and development to full adult form in young males is slow (more than 1 year). Hence this could be the male partner involved in the nesting. However, in the past I have also seen full adult males at the same nesting site, so this option is doubtful.
  3. A third possibility is that some females have transient plumage changes during breeding. Hence this could be an adult female. But these are well imaged birds and I would expect more reports.

Appreciate other observations and experiences.

Note: There is one publication on White-tailed Robin plumage that suggests “both a light and darker plumage”. But it does not describe blue in the plumage of females.

Renner and Rappole (2011). Description Of First Basic Plumage Of Three Muscicapid Species Found In The Southeastern Sub-Himalayan Foothills, With Notes On Their Taxonomy And Ecology. Ornithological Monographs, Volume (2011), No. 70, 142–152. The American Ornithologists’.


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


Scaly-breasted Bulbul at a Macaranga tree

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

I often see the Scaly-breasted Bulbul (Pycnonotus squamatus webberi), as on this occasion, at a fruiting Macaranga bancana tree, as well as at other fruiting Ficus; otherwise hard to see this near threatened bulbul in the forest. Note the large white oval patches on under surface of tail.

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

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

Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Date: 2nd January 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


Images of Rufous-tailed Tailorbird

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

The black at the neck of the Rufous-tailed Tailorbird (Orthotomus sericeus hesperius) shows well when calling (Posts 1 and 2).

Post 1.

Post 2.

The black at the neck of the Rufous-tailed Tailorbird is not so obvious or not seen at all when it is not calling (Posts 3 and 4).

Post 3.

Post 4.


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

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Broken primary forest with secondary growth

Date: 11th January 2021 and 23rd November 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


Pied Triller – a bird often overlooked and unappreciated

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

The Pied Triller (Lalage nigra striga) is a bird that is often overlooked and unappreciated. The bird shown here is a  female.


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

Location: Malim Nawar Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with pond/lakes, wetlands, fish farming

Date: 2nd January 2019

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

Frugivory by the Streaked Spiderhunter

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants | 0

Records of frugivory by the Streaked Spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna) have been limited (see my references). Most have been staged feeding sites where the fruit has been cut and offered at a bird feeder. In the past I have seen two Streaked Spiderhunters feeding at an Orange-Berry tree (no images) that attracts a host of bird species (no identification of the plant but appears to be a hybrid of the Buddleja globosa). I have also documented four lowland Spiderhunter species that have fruit in their diet.

Today I was able to document more frugivory by Streaked Spiderhunters. I saw a bird feeding on the fruit of a tree (see first 2 images above). The small orange fruit arises from the stem and it appears to be some Ficus species (trying to identify the tree). Many other bird species were also seen feeding on this fruit including the Hume’s White-eye (Zosterops auriventer), Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii) and others.

Other food items observed for the Streaked Spiderhunters during this trip included:

  1. Ipomoea indica (Oceanblue Morning Glory), an exotic – nectar robbing technique was used.
  2. Cannaspecies (Orange-red cultivars), an exotic – conventional feeding technique (see image above).
  3. A spiderweb was carefully searched for prey (see image below).

One other observation of interest, that I missed while in the field, was a possible nesting bird with a fecal sac. I was watching a nesting pair of Lesser Shortwing (Brachypteryx leucophris wrayi) in a very dark location when a Streaked Spiderhunter caught my attention – I thought it had collected prey but when reviewing images today it looks like a fecal sac (see image below, the item was not eaten).


Amar-Singh HSS. (2020). Diet and Foraging Behaviour of the Streaked Spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna). BirdingASIA 34: 114–120.

Amar-Singh HSS. (2013) Frugivory by spiderhunter Arachnothera species in Peninsular Malaysia.BirdingASIA 20: 76–81.


Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Green-backed Flycatcher feeding on Bridelia tomentosa fruit

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

Observed a male Green-backed Flycatcher (Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina elisae) feeding on Bridelia tomentosa fruit. Often after other birds have left and usually by using a snatch-past method. Close up you can appreciate the thin yellow eye-ring (above).


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


New nectar source for Black-throated Sunbird  

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants | 0


Black-throated Sunbird taking nectar from Ipomoea indica.

Yesterday, 25th April 2022, at Cameron Highlands, I saw a female Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata wrayi) feeding on the nectar of Ipomoea indica (Ocean-blue Morning Glory, an exotic) using nectar robbing technique. The images are poor as the bird is often hidden behind the large petals.

Previous nectar sources I have seen/documented for this species include:

  1. Abutilon pictum– commonly known as Redvein Abutilon, Red Vein Indian Mallow, Redvein Flowering Maple or Red vein Chinese lanterns (native to South America). Nectar robbing technique used.
  2. Abutilon megapotamicum– called the Trailing Abutilon (native to South America). Nectar robbing technique used.
  3. Canna– often called Canna Lily. Nectar robbing technique used.
  4. Numerous Hibiscusspp. Nectar robbing technique used.
  5. Euphorbiaspecies (very much like Euphorbia pulcherrima – Poinsettia). Conventional nectar feeding.
  6. Callistemonspp. – commonly known as Bottlebrush. Conventional nectar feeding.
  7. Poikilospermum suaveolens(family: Urticaceae) – seen feeding on the flowers (they eat the flowers to get to the nectar).
  8. Lantana camara. Conventional nectar feeding.
  9. Fuchsiaspp. Nectar robbing technique used.
  10. Pyrostegia venusta– commonly known as Flamevine or Orange Trumpetvine (originally from Brazil). Nectar robbing technique used.
  11. Thunbergia mysorensis– commonly called Lady’s Slipper Vine, Mysore Trumpet-vine or Indian Clock-vine (native to southern tropical India). Conventional nectar feeding.
  12. Malvaviscus arboreus – resembles a partially closed hibiscus flower. Nectar robbing technique used.
  13. Rhododendron malayanum. Nectar robbing technique used.
  14. Buttonbush – a flowering plant is in the family Rubiaceaecloser to the Cephalanthus occidentalis.

There are many other wildflowers where I am not able to ID the plant.


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




Pacific Swallow – social behaviour while nesting

posted in: birds, Nesting | 0

I saw a pair of nesting Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica javanica) in an urban/public setting. One bird was incubating. The other was nearby and would intermittently visit the nesting site and appeared to feed the incubating bird. I saw this on 4 different occasions in an 8 minute observation. The bird would fly around to collect prey and after 5-7 were collected, it would come over to the nest and appeared to give them to the other bird (above and below). I am not aware of such behaviour previously and do not know if this is common behaviour. The bird on the nest is an adult to my observation and was not begging for food as juvenile usually do. I did not watch for too long as I did not want to bring attention to their nest.

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

Habitat: Urban environment

Date: 15th May 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


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:

  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 – 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:

    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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