Blue-eared Barbet’s prominent black pouch

In the earlier post on the courtship behaviour of the Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima australis) by Adrian Lim a.k.a wmw998, there was a mention of a prominent black throat pouch that the male displayed when making its mating call (below).

The male was described as puffing and blowing to expand his throat pouch. As the pouch expanded, it pushed aside the black feathers that make up the black upper breast band, exposing a smooth, rounded, black sac.

Adrian is of the view that “the sac is only a tool for making the call, I doubt it is for attracting the female. If you look at the shots carefully, you will notice that the breast of the male bird sinks in whenever the sac inflates or puffs up.”

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Dr Geoffrey Davison was consulted and responded: “The throat of most birds bulges a bit when they call, but this looks rather extreme. I would have guessed that its crop is stuffed with food, and then when it is calling as well the upper part of the breast would swell even more.

“I have watched other species of barbets calling, and have not seen such an extreme swelling. On the photo it looks as though part of the patch is bare skin, and black – or is this perhaps a patch of feathers that have got wet and sticky from its food? If it is bare black skin then this does imply a signal function. The bases of the feathers within this patch are black.“

On seeing an enlarged image of the pouch, Geoff added: “Quite dramatic, isn’t it? The black skin is very clear in your tweaked version of the photo. I’m not familiar with the literature on anatomy, but many fruit-eating birds are able to store quantities of food in a gular pouch, for later regurgitation. It’s the equivalent of the macaques’ cheek pouches, though a different part of the anatomy (lower down in the oesophagus). I would be inclined to avoid the word ‘sac’ for such a structure.

“Presumably a female barbet would be able to distinguish at a glance a male who has a supply of fruit ready (bigger black pouch = more food), and more inclined to allow copulation. I remember seeing something recently… about male birds rewarding the female who allows copulation by giving her fruit after she has submitted, rather than using fruit to tempt her beforehand.

“The other possibility is that this is a hollow structure, part of the air sac system, used as a resonance chamber to enhance sound production as it calls. These are not mutually exclusive possibilities (there could be both a resonating chamber in the air sac system and a pouch in the oesophagus) but not quite so easy to visualise how the two would work together.”

Morten Strange had this to say: “Bizarre image… This bird is not calling, the gular pouch seems to be stuffed to the brim with fruits…” while Wang Luan Keng suggested a ventriloquism function.

Yes, the pouch stores fruits, plenty of fruits. This species of barbet apparently has to offer a fruit for each act of copulation and usually a series occur one after another.

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According to the literature, the skin of the throat or the neck on many non-passerine birds is bare, loose and distensible. In many instances it forms a pouch, especially in fruit-eating birds like hornbills (Kinnarid & O’Brien, 2007). The pouch comes in useful in the transporation of fruits to the nest to feed the chcks and/or mate.

In pelicans the pouch is for catching and holding fish for the young birds. That of the male Great Bustard (Otis tarda) is inflated in display (Garrod, 1874). In male frigatebirds (Fregata spp.) (above left), Marabou Stork (Leptoptilus crumeniferus) (above right), among others, similar pouches are inflated and displayed in courtship or social displays.

In grouse and Painted-Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis), the pouches increase the vocalisations by enlarging the sound resonating chamber (Stettenheim, 2000). Morten also pointed out that the Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) produces low-pitched notes by inflating its neck, barring two patches of skin. The puffed-out neck-skin is a conspicuous blue or violet. His image is published in Collar & Robson (2007).

Image of barbet by Adrian Lim, those of frigatebird and stork by YC.

References:
1.
Collar, N. J. & Robson, C. (2007). Family Timaliidae (Babblers). Pp. 70-291 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chikadees. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
2. Garrod, A. H. (1874). On the “showing-off” of the Australian bustard (Eupodotis australis). Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1874, No. 31:471-473.
3. Kinnarid, M. F. & O’Brien, T. G. (2007). The ecology and conservation of Asian hornbills: Farmers of the forest. University of Chicago Press.
4. Short, L. L. & Horne, J. F. M. (2002). Family Capitonidae (Barbets). Pp. 140-219 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
5. Stettenheim, P. S. (2000). The Integumentary morphology of modern birds – An overview. Amer. Zoologist 40:461-477.

An account of this barbet’s gular sac has now been published: Lim, A. T. H., L. K. Wang & Y. C. Wee, 2009. The Blue-eared Barbet Megalaima australis and its gular sac. BirdingASIA 11: 98-101.

This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

Colourful butterflies and moths: Distasteful to birds?

Butterflies and moths are regularly fed upon by birds. Once caught between the bill, the birds often flick the insect to remove the wings before swallowing the body. The image below (right) shows a bee-eater handling either a butterfly or a moth, with wing parts flying off towards the lelt of the image. The image on the left shows an Asian Paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi) with a butterfly in its bill. Again, parts of the wings have been damaged.

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It has been shown that the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feed on milkweed (Asclepias spp.) that contains cardiac glycosides. The caterpillars store these glycosides as well as pass them on to the adults. Birds find Monarch butterflies distasteful, vomiting shortly after eating a monarch caterpillar or adult. The experience is usually so traumatic that the bird will avoid such insects, even insects that look like it.

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Most of our attractive birdwings, belonging to the family Papilionidae, that inlcude Common Birdwing (Troides helena), Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae), Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus), Common Mormon (Papilio polytes) and Great mormon (P. memnon) are poisonous or distasteful.

Although the caterpillars of some of the above butterflies feed on plants containing alkaloids that may be poisonous or distasteful to birds, those of Lime Butterfly and possibly mormon (above) feed mainly on citrus leaves that may be harmless. So the big question is whether these butterflies are actually distasteful to birds or is mimicry involved?

Addenda:
Steven Chong
: “Generally the Papilio family except Common Rose ie Common Birdwing (Troides helena), Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus), Common Mormon (P. polytes) and Great Mormon (P. memnon) …are not distasteful to birds. But the Danainae family or nowadays called Nymphalidae overall, which include the Monarch and milkweed butterflies are the poisonous models because as mentioned correctly, due to the poisonous sap found in milkweed plants. Even Common Rose these days are taken by birds I wonder if they have adapted to the taste, the subject of some discussion ie why they are taken.

“…forgot Common Birdwing should be considered poisonous, as both feeds also on Aristolochia tagala. BIG chairmain Simon Chan thinks Common Rose ‘nowadays maybe the birds have to eat the poisonous ones too because of lack of things to eat. Personally, in addition to Simon’s, I suspect different birds have different tolerant levels in their stomachs and some will eat, others avoid.”

YC Wee & Steven Chong
Singapore
June 2008
Images by Johnny Wee (bee-eater), Chan Yoke Meng (flycatcher) and YC (butterfly).

Reference:
Huheey, J.E. (1984). [‘Warning coloration and mimicry’]. Pp. 257-300 in Bell, W.J. & Carde, R.T. (eds.) Chemical ecology of insects. New York: Chapman & Hall.

Dollarbird feeding nestling

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The construction of the boardwalk in Changi in 2003 has proved to be a boom to bird photographers, especially that section known as Kelong Walk. Here, nibong (Oncosperma sp.) stems have been used to give this section of the walk a “kelong” look reminiscent of the old fish traps that once were common around the local coasts.

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Due to the weather, the top portions of these posts have worn down, providing nesting cavities to Dollarbirds (Eurystomus orientalis). And bird photographers have been flocking there to document the nesting behaviour of these birds.

In 2007 James Wong a.k.a. Jw73 photographed the adults feeding the recently fledged chicks with insects (top, above). Fry (2001) reports that Dollarbirds take large insects like beetles, mantises, grasshoppers, shield-bugs, cicadas, moths and termites. A recent post shows the adult catching a shield-bug (Cantau ocellatus) to feed its young.

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Insects are caught on the wing (above) and brought back to the perch where they are shaken rather than beaten against the branch (below).

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Reference:
Fry, C.H. (2001). Family Coraciidae (Rollers). Pp. 342-377 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. (2001). Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 6. Mousebirds to Hornbills. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.

All images by James Wong.

This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

Sparrowhawk live on web-cam

posted in: Raptors | 1

Dave Culley runs the Sparrowhawk Island website that captures many species of British birds in the wild on web-cams (web cameras). He has 16 live cams running at the same time, three directed on nests and two on chopping blocks where the birds eat and mate (below).

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These cams are permanently fixed in the woods in Cheshire, England and in Dave’s garden. They have been there for the past three years and Dave has been studying the birds of the area since then. The cams have captured the behaviour of many of these birds, especially the Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), also known as Northern Sparrowhawk (left). This is a shy and elusive bird and by setting up the cam, he has managed to document much of its behaviour that otherwise would go unnoticed. The image on the left shows a female adult Eurasian Sparrowhawk with a kill.

This sparrowhawk has been nesting in his garden and a footage can be viewed HERE, showing a female incubating her eggs; and HERE showing nesting and courtship.

You can subscribe to Dave’s live footage and view the activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year for a nominal sum to contribute to the cost of running the video cams.

Image of sparrowhawk by Steve Magennis; Chris Sperring MBE provided various assistance.

Note: Web-cams are useful in the study of breeding behaviour without disturbing the birds unnecessarily. The Singapore Hornbill Project has been able to record the first case of parental infanticide among the Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) breeding in the offshore island of Pulau Ubin by such monitoring.

The recent postings of the nesting of the rare Malayan Whistling Thrush (Myophonus robinsoni) in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia and monitored in Singapore is another example of its use.

Courtship of the Blue-eared Barbet

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Adrian Lim a.k.a wmw998 documented a pair of courting Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima australis) in Malaysia sometime in May 2008

The female was perching on a branch of a tree doing nothing in particular. Suddenly there was a loud call, made by a male nearby. He had food in his bill but this did not prevent him from making “such sweet music” as described by Adrian (left). The male was puffing and blowing to expand his throat pouch. As the pouch expanded, it pushed aside the black feathers that make up the black upper breast band, exposing a smooth, rounded, black sac.

The female was attracted to the male’s display but waited for him to come close and make his courtship offering of food. Only then was there copulation. Each act of copulation was preceded by an offer and actual transference of a succulent fig to the female (below). No fig, no sex! *

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This courtship feeding of fruits followed by copulation went on for a number of times, as is typical of barbets (below).

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In the image below the male is covering the female with his wings in another act of copulation.

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The courtship feeding of the Blue-eared appears different from that of the Coppersmith (M. haemacephala). Whereas the former offered one fig per act of copulation, the latter often got away with less number of fruit as compared with number of copulations – often getting away with two for the price of one. Such behaviour was confirmed by another observation where the Coppersmith managed to copulate with the female, to only release the fruit after and not before. And then he mounted her a second time without offering a second fruit. Two for the price of one!

During mating, singing by the pair is incessant and simultaneous, with head bobbling, side to side tail movement, all these in an aggressively looking manner (Short & Horne, 2002).

Adrian confirms the above with his statement about the male: “Blue-eared Barbet seems to make very loud noise most of the time, when it is not having a female or attracting a female… Normally, it sounds like ‘CHIOK CHIOK’, and it can be doing that for minutes at a time. I have a feeling that it is trying to make its presence known to other males. This is a ‘territorial behaviour’ perhaps!

“However, when it is courting a female, or trying to attract a female to a certain perch or tree, the noise is much gentler and softer, and totally different from the ‘CHIOK CHIOK’. I can’t describe the sound to you in words, but in both cases, you can see the black sac.”

There seems to be no mention of the prominent black throat pouch in the literature. As such, this can be a first record in the Blue-eared Barbet, or any barbet for that matter. Discussion of this throat pouch will be posted in the next few days. So stay tuned!

Addenda:
“I have to clarify here that the courtship is a process that is likely to continue for a few days at the least, between the pair. It is not a case of a male going out to have a ‘good time’, spotted a female and making a lot of noise to attract it! In my opinion, the birds had already ‘accepted’ each other, and so the offer of food was like feeding a young, nothing spectacular, no noise making at all, even when the ACT was over. The only time that the gentle sound was made was when the female bird flew off for reason such as disturbance by other birds or animals, and the male wanted to call it back to the same tree.” Adrian, 1st June 2008

*Adrian has written in to clarify that there were occasions when “…the male bird would feed the female continuously, and only once in a while, got on top of her, though still with the food held in the beak and about to offer her.” 4th June 2008.

Reference:
Short, L. L. & Horne, J. F. M. (2002). Family Capitonidae (Barbets). Pp. 140-219 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.

All images by Adrian Lim.

An account of this barbet’s gular sac has now been published:
Lim, A. T. H., L. K. Wang & Y. C. Wee, 2009. The Blue-eared Barbet Megalaima australis and its gular sac. BirdingASIA 11: 98-101.

This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

Sightings of Himalayan Griffon in Singapore

posted in: Raptors | 0

“The Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis) is a proud and magnificent raptor that feeds on carrion. The image at left, reproduced from the late Dato Loke Wan Tho’s book, A Company of Birds, shows these raptors feasting on a cow’s carcass in their home territory in the Himalayas. Dato Loke was an early pioneer birder-photographer and Nature Society member.

“The Griffon is a resident of Central Asia and the Himalayas. It is a high altitude bird, found mostly at 1,500-4,000 metres but can sometimes be seen at lower altitudes, especially in Nepal where a few juveniles may wander down onto the plains.

“These vultures do not normally migrate south during winter but small numbers appear to be doing so during the last decade or so. The first sighting was in December 1989 when four birds were spotted in south-west Singapore. Subsequently, there were reports of their presence every few years or so. The last sighting was in January 2008 when three birds were spotted flying over the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

“All the recent sightings have been in December and January, coinciding with the northern winter. These were either juvenile or immature birds, suggesting that they probably strayed away from their normal flight paths due to navigational inexperience.

“Most of the birds spotted appeared weakened by the long flight and lack of food. There was always the fear that they might end up being predated, considering their state of health. As the lesser of two evils, the few that were captured ended up in the Jurong BirdPark, to become caged exhibits.

“A bird was also reported to be captured in the Indonesian island of Bintan in February 2008 and displayed in a local resort. When I was in Bintan recently, the vulture was looking well and healthy (right). However, my attempts at getting information were not successful.

“Lack of expertise and funds obviously saw these stray vultures ending in Singapore’s Jurong BirdPark, Indonesian Nirwana Gardens Resort aviary or even Thailand’s zoos, with no chances of being released

“However, there is hope. The Kasetsart University Raptor Rehabilitation Centre, in partnership with the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and the Thai Raptor Group, has recently set up an “Adopt a Raptor” programme. Their first success was the care and subsequent release of a Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and four starving Himalayan Griffons.

“Singapore and possibly Indonesia could study Thailand’s success and develop programmes of their own so that future weakened and injured raptors need not end up being captive exhibits.”

The image of the Griffon feasting on carrion has been reproduced courtesy of Cathay Organisation. Please note that the copyright belongs to Cathay Organisation and shall not be reproduced/disseminated without the owner’s written consent. The Griffon in the cage is by KC Tsang.

KC Tsang
Singapore
May 2008

Reference:
Loke Wan Tho (1957). A company of birds. London: Michael Joseph.

Thailand’s Adopt-a-Raptor Programme

posted in: Raptors, Rescue | 1

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Since January 2007, Thailand’s Kasetsart University Raptor Rehabilitation Centre, in partnership with the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and the Thai Raptor Group, has launched an “Adopt a Raptor” programme.

The scheme was started when a Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) was found exhausted in south-east Thailand in early January 2007 and handed over to Dr Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua of Kasetsart University.

Around the same time, four Himalayan Griffons (Gyps himalayensis) were caught in various locations in southern Thailand (top). They were likely members of a flock of five that were earlier seen at Doi Lang in mid-December 2006. All four eventually found their way to the Kasetsart University Raptor Rehabilitation Center.

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Plans to release the Cinereous in South Korea was not possible due to a number of reasons. As such, it was released, together with the four Himalayan on 10th May 2007 along the Thailand-Myanmar border in Chiang Mai province (above).

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The Centre continues to rescue injured or weakened raptors, especially vagrants that stray during migratory flights. Rescued birds are cared for until they regain their health and vigour. They are then tagged with a leg band, wing tag (left) or satellite telemetry prior to release to enable subsequent monitoring of their movements. Release will be done at the appropriate habitats and seasons to ensure maximum possible survival chances.

To participate in this “Adopt-a-Raptor” programme, contact Ms. Pajaree Intravooth, Assistant to the Executive Director, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (e-mail: pajaree@bcst.or.th). A nominal sum to cover food, medical and other expenses is all that is expected.

A video clip showing the actual release can be seen HERE.

All images courtesy of Thai Raptor Group.

Sudden increase in Singapore’s hornbill population

posted in: Hornbills, Nesting | 22

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In a talk to update the public on the Singapore Hornbill Project on 22nd May 2008, Marc Cremades, who initiated the project together with Prof Ng Soon Chye, announced that the population of the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) in Singapore has seen a sudden explosion.

These large and impressive birds have been slowly increasing in number over the last decade or so. When the project was initiated in 2006, the hornbill population was below 30 birds, with about 20 in Pulau Ubin.

The use of nesting boxes in the offshore island of Pulau Ubin has contributed to this sudden increase in population. The birds have been accepting these nesting boxes and using them to breed, and to raise a number of chicks successfully (top).

According to Marc, there are at least seven breeding pairs in Ubin and about 19 juveniles around. He estimates that the total population for Singapore is around 50.

Soon, these artificial nesting boxes will be tried on mainland Singapore. And hopefully, more Singaporeans will get a see these large and impressive birds.

The Bird Ecology Study Group is proud to be associated with the Singapore Hornbill Project.

YC Wee
Singapore
May 2008
(The above image is courtesy of the National Parks Board, Singapore)

Common Iora collecting spider silk for nest material

posted in: Nests | 2

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Willis photographed this Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) collecting spider silk for its nest (left). It can be a messy job as seen in the image but spider silk plays an important role in the makeup of small nests of many small birds. The silk helps bind up the nesting materials, making the nest a more sturdy structure.

An earlier post on the Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) nest shows whitish spider cocoon silk on the nest surface together with mosses and liverworts.

Now, there is a difference between spider silk and spider cocoon silk. Spider silk comes from the web proper (below left). It is commonly believed that the sticky silk helps bind the superficial nesting materials together, just like in a sticky tape. However, according to Hansell (2007), only some spiders coat their webs with sticky droplets to trap prey, but these soon dry out. So the sticky tape idea is out.

It appears that the silk is used according to the Velcro principal. The silk provides the Velcro “loops” and the tiny leaves of the mosses and liverworts the “hooks”.

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Another interesting point is that most of the silk that are seen on nests come from spider cocoon silk, the silk that is used to enclose the spider eggs (above right). Thus we see masses of white rather than single strands of white silk.

Image of iora collecting silk by willis; those of spiders by YC.

References:
1.
Hansell, Mike (2000). Bird nests and construction behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
2. Hansell, Mike (2007). Built by animals. Oxford University Press.

This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

Noisy Miners harassing a Spotted Dove

posted in: Interspecific | 10

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In April 2008, a group of Noisy Miners (Manorina melanocephala) was attacking a helpless Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) in Centennial Park, Sydney while Dr CH Lee a.k.a. lchxian was trying to photograph a frogmouth.

“The Noisy Miners were harassing the dove, flying over it and using their claws to grab the dove. I was not convinced at that point that the claws of Noisy Miners could do much harm.”

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The miners spread their tails as if in a war dance and surrounded the poor dove that was totally intimidated. One by one the miners made individual aerial attacks, leaving the dove injured.

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“There was this urge arising from deep in me… maybe I should be compassionate and help the dove out of danger. But craving for good action photos, I struggled with the decision to stop photographing and start to intervene with the natural world.

“…As I walked towards the birds, a couple walked by. They turned their head to have a look at the commotion and walked on… Later they turned again, seeing this Chinese boy standing near the injured dove, fending away the noisy miners. I wonder what they were thinking…

“As I stood near the dove, it looked scared and badly injured. There were hardly any feathers left in its tail. Surprisingly, as I stepped back to take this photo…, the Noisy Miners attempted another aerial raid. I had to pretend to kick them, to fend them off.

“Standing over the injured dove, I was hoping that it would gain enough strength to fly away. But it just sat there. The Noisy Miners were still loitering around, waiting for their chance to finish up the dove.

“At this point I decided to pick up the dove and send it to a vet. As I held the dove in my palms, it struggled and flew off. One Noisy Miner started to chase after it, luckily the dove managed to fly for cover in a bush nearby.

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Noisy Miner is a common Australian bird. Its typical diet consists of nectar, fruit and insects. Occasionally it feeds on small reptiles or amphibians.

A territorial and gregarious bird, it lives in small groups and aggressively defend their area against larger invaders such as magpies, currawongs and crows. They may attack smaller birds inside their territory, particularly in suburban environments that favor them. Although adapted to urban areas, it faces competition from the Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), an introduced species to Australia. It is also commonly mistaken for the Common Myna.

For a more detailed account, please go to Ichxian’s site.

All images by Dr CH Lee except portrait of Noisy Miner by Dr Eric Tan.

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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