Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve: Water Regime Management

posted in: uncategorised | 0

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Have you ever visited Sungei Buloh and seen the two brackish water ponds in front of the Main Hide filled with water? And at other times found that one pond has exposed mudflats while the other is completely filled with water and vice versa regardless of the tide (below)? What is the rationale for this water level regime?

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The idea of managing the water levels in a wetland began with the desire to increase the number of migratory shorebirds that make use of Sungei Buloh. You see, historically and currently, Sungei Buloh acts as both a high tide roost site and a feeding ground for shorebirds but mainly as a high tide roost (top). When the tides are low across the northern coast of Singapore, these birds fly out from Sungei Buloh and forage on the tidal mudflats for polychaetes and mollusc. A few hours later when the water rolls in and submerge these mudflats at high tide, the birds need to find a roost to wait out the tides. Sungei Buloh serves to provide them this roost site within the ponds that have low water levels. And this is possible in Sungei Buloh, a forested mangrove area because of the network of existing bunds that have created ponds whose water levels can be regulated through the use of sluice channels and sluice gates (below).

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Water levels in three brackish water ponds within the wetland are currently managed as a system on a fortnightly cycle generally between the shorebird migratory months of July and April. Outside of the migratory months, the water levels are generally not regulated and natural tidal influences are maintained. At no point in time are any of the three ponds mudflats submerged for more than four days (or left exposed to dry out for also more than four days). For perspective, there are five other brackish water ponds in the wetland whose water levels are not regulated at all and are subject only to natural tidal influence.

What might happen with respect to shorebirds should the water levels in all the ponds be left to natural tidal influences? The first effect would be the loss of valuable exposed mudflats for shorebirds to roost (and to a lesser degree, feed) on during high tide. These birds will have to find other areas to roost since the northern coastal flats of Singapore as well as Sungei Buloh would be submerged under water. And this will directly affect the number of shorebirds that are present (and can be observed) at Sungei Buloh during the high tide period. Should the shorebirds be unable to find alternative high tide roosts within close proximity to their feeding grounds, there is a possibility that the entire high tide roost cum feeding ground system (that is Sungei Buloh – Singapore north coast mudflats) may be abandoned for more suitable alternative systems in the region.

Tha above account and images are from the April 2007 issue of Wetlands, courtesy of the National Parks Board, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Collared Scops Owl: A failed nesting

posted in: Nesting-failed, Owls | 1

Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) is a common resident. It is a small, stocky owl that got its name from the pale collar across the hind-neck. It is typically a nocturnal bird but during the daytime it can occasionally be seen dust and water bathing.

The nest is a tree-hole or hollow stump-top, usually 3-9 m up, devoid of any lining. It usually lays two near-spherical eggs – inside a cavity nest there is no danger of the eggs rolling off. The chicks are hatched blind and with a sparse covering of down. A second, thicker covering of down develops soon after.

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In late March 2007 a nest was located in an old angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) when some pruning work was conducted on the tree in Mount Faber. The incubating bird suddenly flew off, thus exposing its nest site. The bird was nesting in a shallow cavity formed where the main branches develop from the top of the trunk. The image on the left shows the bird well camouflaged in the nest.

Because of the inaccessibility of the nest, it was decided not to document the stages.

Richard Nai of The Jewel Box kept a lookout of the owls and reported their presence throughout most of April. However, towards the end of the month the parent birds were not seen. It rained almost every day and there was the possibility of the nest being flooded.

The birds did not return subsequently and the landscaping workers managed to retrieve a single egg in a semi-flooded cavity.

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The egg is near-spherical, white, plain, smooth and matt. It measures 34 x 29 mm (right top). There is a dead embryo inside, at an advanced stage of development, with traces of early down (right bottom).

Well, not every nesting ends in a success story. A high percentage fails, due to disturbance, weather conditions, egg predation, death of parental birds, etc.

Dr. Fazalur Rahman Mallick discovered the nesting; Richard Nai and Priscilla Pey of The Jewel Box provided progress reports and retrieved the damaged egg.

Yellow-vented Bulbul feeding snails to chick

posted in: Feeding chicks | 0


Photographer Wee Hiang Her captured a couple of shots of a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) feeding its chick with a batch of tiny snails and published the images in Avian Watch Asia’s website (left).

These freshwater or terrestrial molluscs, probably Melanoides sp., are usually found around drains, ponds and even moist soils in urban areas. The snails appear empty, and if so, then the adult is feeding its chicks calcium.

An earlier post document a male Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) bringing to the female sealed inside her nesting cavity pieces of snail shells. This is not unusual as such behaviour in hornbills has also been reported in Malaysia

There are enough reports of birds consuming shells as well as other materials for their supply of calcium in the literature. Whether it is for the female during her long period of confined incubation or for the recently hatched chicks, the birds need this element for bone formation and egg laying.

At the same time the shells are useful as grit in the gizzard of the bird, assisting in the grinding of the food. Our field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng says that there were always pieces of shells in the gizzard whenever she dissected this organ.
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Credit: Wee Hiang Her (images), Wang Luan Keng (comment).

Oriental Pied Hornbill: A second nesting at Changi

posted in: Hornbills | 0

While the female Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) was busy sealing herself inside a cavity in an old Shorea tree at Changi in February 2007, another pair was doing the same nearby. This time it was an old angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) by the main road. The cavity was at the point where a branch was originally lopped off from the main trunk.

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The male hornbill was seen making numerous trips delivering lumps of mud to the female inside the cavity (above). In one particular day he was seen doing five sessions within a 30 minutes period. Large pieces of mud were carried in his beak and offered to the female. The female carefully bit off small pieces each time until the whole lump either disappeared or disintegrated. When the lumps were hard, the female would have trouble pecking off pieces. There were no problems when the large lumps appeared softer.

The male would not allow the female to take over the whole piece of mud, especially when it was a large lump. If it slipped from the beak of the female due to her clumsiness, the male would invariable retrieve it to offer it for her again. Sometimes the male had trouble getting the lumps through the opening, trying this way and that for up to eight minutes each time.

The delivery of mud continued from the 17th to 24th February. After eight days of mud delivery, the female had yet to completely seal herself in.

On 24th March the female was seen spending some time nest cleaning. Obviously with so much mud being delivered, there would be plenty of debris that needed to be removed. She continued to ‘shovel’ debris out of the nest at least 26 times on one occasion.

In between delivering mud, the male was delivering food (left). Fruits were delivered by regurgitating once every 4-6 seconds. Each time he would deliver 10-50 fruits, depending on size. With smaller fruits like figs, more could be stored in the male’s gullet. It took some skill to regurgitate the fruits and channel them to the end of the beak, then skillfully transfer them to the tip of the female’s beak that was stuck out of the entrance of the cavity. A number of times the transfer failed and the male had to do it again. Sometimes he had to re-swallow the fruits and regurgitate them again for proper positioning.

Most of the time the food transfer was successful, if not the first time, then a second or even a third try.

During the period when the cavity was being actively sealed (17-24 February), the food delivered was mainly fruits. After this period there were more non-fruits. It was not easy to identify the animal food that was regurgitated and passed on to the female.

Melinda and Chan Yoke Meng.
Singapore
May 2007

Encounter with a poacher’s trap at Changi

posted in: uncategorised | 0

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On morning of 6th May 2007, KC Tsang and Amy came across a poacher’s trap while out strolling at Changi Point (left). “…and at about 0800 hrs came across this poacher’s trap. It has an Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) inside to act as a decoy, and the trap has two compartments in which to trap the unwitting bird. It was suspended about twenty feet above ground from a branch of the tree.

“The trap is located at the bottom left hand corner of the Changi Beach Club, if you are facing the sea from the club house. Below the trap is a Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa) in a cage.

“So what can anyone do about this?”

Oriental White-eyes are still a popular cage bird among the Chinese and the Malays. The latter call the bird mata putih, meanging white eye. Does this attempt at trapping the bird indicates that there is a well-organised syndicate at large as suggested earlier? The bird is getting common and actively breeding (1,2,3). Trapping it should be strongly discouragerd.

As in our earlier posts on Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus) (1, 2), the public should contact the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) during office hours as follows :

AVA Wildlife Regulatory Branch: Ms Lye Fong Keng (6325 7349); Mr Gerald Neo (6325 7290); or Ms Yvonne Low (6325 7626).

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However, Fang Sher Chyet has written: “The problem with AVA is that they are not working on Sat and Sun, and most of these poachers are active during the weekends. I have e-mailed them poacher activities at Jalan Halus with poacher’s photo and traps (above), but I did not hear from them even after follow-up e-mails. Till today, I still see poachers (sometimes 4 or 5) at Jalan Halus.”

KC Tsang, Amy Tsang & Fang Sher Chyet
Singapore
May 2007
(Top images by KC and bottom two by Fang Sher Chyet)

Chestnut-winged Babbler: Courtship ritual

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 3

The Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) is an uncommon resident of the forest. The bird is nationally vulnerable due to its small, localised population.

KC Tsang reported seeing the male babbler in an unusual courtship ritual on 22nd April 2007. He observed that whenever the bird calls or sings, he displays “a white/bluish skin patch on both sides of the puffed up throat. Unlike that of the Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) that has two orange/yellow tuffs of feathers extended out from its shoulders in the mating dance.

“I am quite sure this kind of display by this bird had not been observed/recorded before…”

Yes, KC is right, this type of courtship ritual has not been reported or recorded for the Chestnut-winged Babbler.

*However, there is a paragraph in Birds of Borneo by Smythies, B. E. (1999), [Kota Kinabalu: Natural History Pub. (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. & The Sabah Society. 4th ed, revised by G. W. H. Davison] on the Rail Babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) that states:

“In Sumatra KS Bishop observed one displaying in response to imitations of its voice. It approached to within 4m, hopped on to a fallen tree and after a few minutes turned head-on and slowly bowed, tipping its bill to the ground whilst at the same time broadly expanding its chest to exhibit an almost iridescent halo of brilliant blue and deep chestnut-red. This continued for several seconds with the bird slowly bowing and expanding its breast, then raising its head once again, before it scuttled away (KD Bishop, in litt.).”

It is gratifying to see that birders are now paying more attention to bird behaviour than before.

KC Tsang
Singapore
May 2007

*PS (020607): Our field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng has just pointed out to me that there is a note in Smythies’ book (page 512) on the blue patches for Chestnut-winged Babbler.

Red-breasted Parakeet: fasciata or alexandri?

posted in: Parrots | 1

Robson’s Birds of South-east Asia lists the subspecies of the Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) occuring in the region as fasciata. Local birders have never been seriously interested in the bird, probably because it is an escapee. Also, with a pair of binoculars, it is not easy to seriously study the detailed characters in the field. However, with many photographers now showing an interest in birds, we have begin to accumulate a collection of excellent images that can be closely examined and even sent to the relevant experts for ID confirmation.

With the assistance of Joseph M Forshaw, an international expert on parrots, we have established that in at least one population of these birds in Changi, the subspecies is alexandri. In the image below, the two males on either side of the mating pair are distinctly alexandri. And according to Forshaw, the mating male shows a slight tendency towards fasciata as the breast is slightly darker.

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The mating female, however, cannot be alexandri as the lower mandible is black, and the female of that subspecies has coral-red bill. However, according to Forshaw (2006): she has “the deep pink of breast… continuing up side of neck in front of emerald-green hindneck;” and this indicates that she is a female fasciata (left, arrow). The adult female of this subspecies has “bill entirely black” while this bird has red upper mandible but black lower mandible, indicating she may be a subadult.

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We subsequently located another mating pair: the male was an alexandri while the female a possible older subadult fasciata with black lower and slightly black upper mandible (right). As the juvenile of this latter subspecies has red bill (below), it is most probably that with maturity the lower mandible turn black, soon to be followed with the upper also becoming black. With full adulthood the female develops a fully black bill.

As Forshaw added: “Juvenile fasciata does have an all-red bill, and the adult female has an all-black bill, so we can expect subadults to have varying amounts of red and black in the bill.

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“Of course, it is probable that alexandri x fasciata adult females will retain permanently the mixed red-black bill, or this could apply even to adult female alexandri with some past gene flow from fasciata. I am more confident that the Singapore population is a mix of the two subspecies, even though alexandri-looking birds now may be becoming more prevalent.”

Our population of Red-breasted Parakeet originated from the caged birds trade. Both alexandri and fasciata must have escaped into the wild and are now breeding successfully, resulting in hybrids between the two subspecies. Obviously we need more field observations, especially the developmental stages of the female fasciata bill.

Joseph M Forshaw & YC Wee
May 2007
(Images by Chan Yoke Meng)

Reference:
Forshaw, J. M. (2006). Parrots of the world: An identification guide. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press (Plate 42).

Avian mansions: Marathon flights

posted in: Nests | 0

Human beings build houses to live in, many turning them into homes to raise a family. Birds build nests to breed their young; well… most of them do anyway. They fledge their chicks and then, let them go.

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Bird nests come in different shapes, sizes, of variable nesting materials and in different conducive habitats. Such as Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) of Antarctica – they build their nests using rock chips as shown in this image (left).

There are birds that build huge nests that are suspended from tree canopies. Some birds build on ‘Y’ forks of tree branches and many bigger birds like raptors, choose tree canopies. There are also ground nesters, cavity nesters, nesters on water reed clumps, nesters on cliff edges, roof edges of buildings or birds that build no nests at all.

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A few rogue species choose the easy way out by parasiting eggs on nests of another species. They leave their eggs to be incubated and their young to be fed by their unsuspecting hosts, who in addition to raising an oversized, ugly chick, risk their own being pushed out by the parasitic chick.

The image on the right shows the ground nesting site of the Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) in a Malaysian tropical fruit orchard.

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In Malaysia, Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) of approximately 15cm, reign supreme in building large nests in comparison to their sizes (left top). Let us take a closer look at a Baya Weaver’s nest. The used nest was retrieved from a jungle environment before it had to give way to housing development (left bottom).

If we are to dismantle the nest and start counting the number of straws that made up this nest, how many trips does one think the male bird or birds have to make? Assuming that one straw is equivalent to one trip – a ‘to and fro’ from the nesting site, we are talking in terms of hundreds of trips, if not, into a thousand easily.

Surely, one can just sympathise with birds for having to make marathon flights to build just one avian mansion and for one time use only!

That’s how hard and intensive birds have to function in the name of reproduction; which genetically, what all living things are designed primarily for. The Avian Kingdom is no exception.

Most of the time, the female birds get to choose their partners in ensuring the fittest will only do for the survival of their species. As in the case of the Baya Weaver, the female gets invited to view his weaving skills for her approval. An ideal and successful suitor seems usually the one who claims to build a strong, pear-shaped nest with a long funnel opening at the bottom.

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The total length of the nest could be a minimum 48cm as shown in the image (right, scale in inches). (Unfortunately, much of the funnel trimmings have disintegrated over time). What happens if the nest does not meet the approval of the female? Below is an image of a half built ‘avian mansion’ – an anatomically looking human uterus – with a dejected, perhaps inexperienced male weaver whose body language said it all. “You got to be kidding to think you can get me into that human bellows” bellowed the females.

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Another abandoned nest shows a forgetful, avian architect leaving out the floor plans for an entrance door, to an almost complete mansion (below). The female bird took off aghast without another look!

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Broadbill species are a much sought after by bird watchers and photographers alike as looking for their nests is like a treasure hunt. When found, the depilated looking mansion is really nothing much to admire but rather, a scrappy, untidy extended oval nest with a side entrance (below).

For such pretty birds, I consider them not very intelligent. Their choice of nesting sites indiscreetly overhang from canopies, often along walking trails or above water course for the whole world to see.

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Considering their breeding season which stretches variably from February to September for most species, yet their population is small and sightings are far and few in between. Could low population rate be due to broadbills’ indiscrete choice of nesting sites, resulting in their nests becoming easy targets to predation from wild animals like squirrels, monkeys, snakes, other birds and most of all – Homo sapiens? (That’s us! That’s us!)

Imagine a gang of avian paparazzi with bazooka lens, with hoods as big as baking tins, flashing to their hearts’ content at nests to get just that perfect shot? If nests were within the reach of uncaring hands, would anyone care to think what would have happened to the parents, eggs or the chicks?

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Their cousin, the Dusky Langur (Trachypithecus obscurus) with a painted looking ‘Black & White’ Minstrel’ would behave no better (right). Birds’ eggs for breakfast is very much on his mind.

Let’s take a rare glimpse of a nest executed by a pair of Silver-breasted Broadbills (Serilophus lunatus), Luke and Lucy. It was a lucky opportunity to be able to observe the progress of nest building on three consecutive days during a short a birding retreat.

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The images on the left show two vines tied together to form the anchor support for the nest. The entwining process is interesting. It was a pity to have missed observing that initial stage. When the first observation was made, the pair had it completed and was

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already beginning the second stage of making the proper nest. Lucy, the female broadbill is recognised by a thin silver gorget like a thin white necklace over her upper breast. She played the role of inspection as well (right).

Imagine, if humans were to be given a ten metre rope and be asked to have it wrapped around a tree trunk firmly with just one hand. I would be running in circles and going nowhere! In the case of the Silver-breasted Broadbills, only a pair of beaks were required to transform straws, foliages, twigs and moss into a made-shift home to last good for a month or so.

The second and third day of nest building proceeded well and the nest was taking shape. Observation was kept at a distance, a minimum of 10 m away, without disrupting their routine. I left on the third morning (below: a,b).

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I kept my pledge to send no images to anyone prior to chick fledging. I informed no one of the active nesting site, apart from two birding pals and guest I was birding with, when Luke and Lucy’s nesting site was discovered.

Twenty-one days later, I returned to check on Luke and Lucy’s progress. This was what I saw. A completed nest laced over with moss and a matured bird inside the nest (above: c,d).

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This closing chapter was written on the 38th day (Counting from day one of nest building) – my final visit to Luke and Lucy’s mansion. There wasn’t anyone at home. No sighting of any chicks seen in any of my, out of town, trip visits- total 4, over a 38 day period (left).

Did the chicks fledge? Or…. were the parents incubating dud eggs and decided to have a quick break together to reconcile their failure? Readers decide…. For such is the tough life of builders of avian mansions on marathon flights.

SUBMITTED BY DAISY O’NEILL (Avian Writer), PENANG, MALAYSIA.

(No flash photography used in any of the provided digiscoped images. On site observations of the broadbills were carried out in least time spent possible. Images of nests shown were those of chicks that had fledged or abandoned)|

Anatomy of a nest: Olive-backed Sunbird

posted in: Nests, Sunbirds | 2

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Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis, formerly Nectarinia jugularis) is a common garden bird that nests near human habitation (left). I have seen it building its nest in parks by paths that are regularly walked by visitors. I have also seen a nest attached to the frond of a tall palm within the confines of Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The nest is built entirely by the female bird, or so I am told. The male simply perches nearby and seems to either give instructions or urges her on. It is securely attached to the mid-portion of a frond or even a clothes line and looks like an oval purse-shaped pouch with a hooded side-entrance. Hanging down is a long beard or tail of vegetable matters.

The nest varies from 300 mm long to twice as long. It is usually 0.5 to 1.5 metres above ground, or even higher. The abandoned nest that is in my possession measures 250 cm long, including its tail. The actual nest is 110 cm. The widest breadth is 60 cm.

There is a roundish opening 30 cm diameter that faces towards the palm stem. Above the opening is a porch, built at a slight angle and not right above the opening. This no doubt helps shield the opening from prying eyes along the path. The image below (left) shows clearly the porch over the opening with the incubating/brooding bird looking out. That on the right shows the nest cut longitudinally with an unhatched egg left inside. Note the make-up of the nest interior. The upper portion consists mainly of plant materials – dried leaves, stem pieces, etc. The lower portion is a thick layer of plant floss, making up a rather comfortable nest lining.

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The outer layer of the nest is constructed of dried pieces of mainly water weed leaves, as evidenced by the presence of air cavities in the leaf tissues, clearly seen in the dried pieces. Silk, probably spider’s webs, are liberally used to attach the leaf pieces together. The arrows in the top image on the right show portions of unidentified fruiting/flowering pieces incorporated in the nesting materials.

The interior of the nest is a 3 cm thick layer of floss that makes up the egg chamber (left bottom). There are three distinct layers, indicating floss coming from different sources. I have only managed to identify floss from the seeds of the lalang grass (Imperate cylindrical) (berlow left). An earlier nest showed the absence of lalang floss.

It would appear that the birds collect whatever floss is available at the time of nest construction. There are a number of alternatives, like bulrush or cattail (Typha angustifolia) and kapok (Ceiba pentandra).

YC Wee
Singapore
April 2007
(Top image by KC Tsang, all others by YC Wee)

Oriental White-eye: Feather development

posted in: Morphology-Develop. | 2

The chick of the Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) is hatched blind and naked (top left). The natal downs or down feathers that usually cover chicks at hatching are generally absent here, as in most passerines. Traces of these downs can still be seen around the head as isolated tufts of light green (top right, arrow). The absence of natal downs allows the parents to warm the chick more efficiently, than through an intervening layer of feathers. Not wasting energy producing these natal downs would also allows the chick to develop more quickly.

The chick is not naked for long. By the next day traces of emerging pin feathers become apparent along certain defined tracts on the body (above middle). These black, pencil-like structures elongate (below left) and the developing feathers enclosed within the sheath breaks out eventually, to emerge as juvenal feathers (below right). These juvenal feathers are light green and branched.

According to our field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng, the green juvenal feathers (below) are of poor quality: “The bird will change into its first year plumage after it is out of the nest. They look branched because it is poor quality (meaning the barbs are loose, the vane incomplete). This is a strategy for growing quickly but they are poor quality, meaning they do not afford much insulation and must be changed into better quality plumage.

“We know very little about feathers, really. Very few documentations are available. Any bird is capable of growing low quality feathers. Most try not to. In nestlings, it is a strategy in response to environmental factors, a life history trade-off – to grow quickly and get out of the nest and be independent. In adult birds, we sometimes see fault lines, especially in the flight feathers (both wing and tail). It is due to feather growing in poor environmental conditions (which means low nutrition, which means poor feather growth).

“Birds usually grow their feathers very slowly, about 2-6 mm a day. This is because feather growth is very energy demanding. In unfavourable environmental conditions (even for a day), birds can still achieve the same amount of feather growth but the new part of feather grown is much thinner (fewer/looser barbs). When the feather is completed, the thinner part of the feather shows up clearly as a “fault line”.

For nestlings, we have very little baseline studies on how fast the feather grows. If we have the photos of the white eye nestlings in last June, Jan and this March (1, 2), and all taken on Day 7 (this is the day the Jan clutch left the nest – the earliest so far), we can enlarge the feather and see if the Jan clutch indeed grow much faster by growing poor quality feather).

Fascinating isn’t it?”

Yes, it is fascinating and we know so little about it. But with the cooperation of photographers documenting chick development, as in the case of the white-eyes, we are slowly accumulating information on feather development in chicks. The image above shows a chick with its juvenal plumage all developed and allready to fledge within a few days’ time.

Images by Chan Yoke Meng except second from bottom by KC Tsang.

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…
    thanks.

  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?
    Thanks.

  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!

    Thanks,
    Martin

  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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