Forensic Birding 2: Bird scats

posted in: uncategorised | 1

After forensic birding was first introduced to local birders in December 2005, a workshop subsequently conducted by “sometime” field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng (above, right) exposed us to its practical side. In addition to feathers, skeleton parts, eggs, etc., we looked at bird scats that are found on the ground (this we usually ignore), on the car windscreen (this we notice) and sometimes on ourselves (this we try to avoid). So we take bird scats for granted until they land on us.

However, it is useful to know their characteristics and be able to identify them. After all, when we see the scats, the birds are usually not around anymore. But how many of us are able to do so? If we are interested to know the bird better, we should also make an effort to know its poo too.

What are the characteristics of the scat? What can we find in the mess on the ground or the car? The shape of the scat can be telling! Whether ants gather for a feast, indicating the presence of sweetish matters? Then there is the white uric acid that most birds excrete. Also the presence of seeds, giving a clue as to what the bird has been eating. Indeed, we can tell much about the bird by examining the scat.

Luan Keng hopes to collect information on these scats. She has asked me to watch birds, especially when they poo and send her images of the scats. But she has specifically asked not to be send the genuine stuff.

So the next time you come across a scat, make a record of it and try ID the mess. Then pass it around for an interesting discussion.

Images of Pink-necke$ Green Pigeon’s scat and workshop by YC.

Of termites and toads

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Reading Subaraj’s posting on Termite Hatch reminds me that only about a week ago I was trying to explain the same phenomenon to my three year old daughter when we were at the carpark opposite Downtown East at sunset. A flock of House Crows (Corvus splendens) and Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) was feasting on a termite hatch. A couple of bats also arrived when it got a little bit darker.

Managed to catch one of the 2 cm long termites to show my daughter as it flew past. When I showed it to her, the two pairs of long wings simply dropped off. All my daughter could manage was. “…what happen to the wings? Gone already!”

The sight of those termites sends shivers down my spine. Why? In 1992 I was posted to an old camp in Seletar. We were doing guard duty that night after a heavy downpour and the termites decided to have a nuptial flight.

Initially it was bearable. A few of them were simply fluttering about around the lights. But later, we got a taste of what the Egyptians might have endured in biblical times. The lights were almost blocked out by the hoards, we had to turn off the standing fan because the metal cage around it was almost stuck full of the termites and it was splattering chewed up termites at us. Looked as if someone took a bottle of mayonnaise and decided to decorate the floor around it.

Many of them quickly lost their wings and were all over us and everywhere else. It was actually raining termites. Then the toads appeared in numbers that I have never seen in my life. Almost one toad per square meter at the peak. They were all over the car park and they didn’t even have to try catching the termites. They would have been stuffed if they just fed on those termites that were crawling on their bodies.

By about 10 pm, the activity died down. Most of the termites found a quiet spot to congregate. A few toads were still having supper. But we still had to contend with termites getting into our clothes when we went to sleep.

The next morning, when the guards were sweeping up the floor, the heaps of wings that piled up were really a sight to behold. Normally it is the tiny leaflets of the rain tree (Samanea saman) that form the heaps. But not that day! We may not have cherry blossoms (Prunus sp.) here in Singapore, but when the wind blew, the swirling detached wings had a similar effect.

Up till today, whenever I see a termite swarm, it still sends the shivers down my spine and I think of those frantic 2 cm long termites running beneath our army uniforms.

Contributed by Jeremy Lee, image by YC.

Mistletoes 4: Observations of a sometime bird watcher

posted in: Plants, Sunbirds | 1

Nearly every evening in early January, from about 6.00 pm, a pair of male Olive-backed Sunbirds (Nectarinia jugularis) (top) would settle down on my neighbour’s bougainvillea bush and spend some free time preening. In between preening they would simply sit tight, stretch their wings and enjoy the scenery. At exactly 7 pm when it was still light, they would suddenly fly off, where to, I do not know. Some days there would only be one bird.

On other days there would also be a pair of lovey-dovey Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) (bottom). I presume this was a pair, as the two birds would often sit close together, sometimes indulging in allopreening.

The Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) sometimes visit the bush but stayed only for a short while, never resting on a branch for more then a few seconds. They are the ones regularly visiting my noni tree (Morinda citrifolia).

These birds, together with Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) and Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) were always around the mistletoe Macrosolen cochinchinensis when this plant was flowering and fruiting. This semi-parasitic plant grows on the branches of a nearby mempat tree (Cratoxylum formosum) that, thankfully have been left alone and not pruned away by the maintenance crew of the National Parks Board. When the mistletoe plants were flowering and fruiting, these birds enjoyed the copious nectar secreted by the flowers and the succulent berry-like fruits.

Being a regular perching bush of these birds that feed on the mistletoes, the bougainvillea obviously shows signs of the presence of their germinating seeds. These can clearly be seen growing on the stems of the bush (see germinating seed, above), no doubt in time to come, will weaken the flowering bush unless they are removed.

YC Wee
26th February 2006

PS: About a month after the above piece was written, my neighbour’s bougainvillea bush was heavily trimmed by her gardener. The mempat tree was similarly pruned and most of the mistletoe plants removed, but not completely. I await the return of the birds when the plants grow back to their former glory.

Caterpillars and birds

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates, Hornbills | 3

Caterpillars are regularly eaten by birds. However, most birds avoid the noxious ones, especially those that are brightly coloured and hairy. Cuckoos (Cuculidae) specialise on caterpillars as these are their favourite food and they have no hesitation eating even the noxious ones. The arboreal species generally perch motionless on a branch looking for caterpillars. When a one is spotted, the bird grabs it and returns to its perch to eat it. Because caterpillar guts may be filled with indigestible and toxic leaf matters, the bird carefully removes the contents. This is done by biting off one end and gently thrash it against a branch. Once the gut contents are removed, the bird swallows it whole. Sometimes the caterpillar is passed back and forth through the bill to remove the contents. Hairy caterpillars are similarly swiped against a branch, not to remove the hairs, but to empty it of its gut contents. The birds apparently eat the caterpillars together with the hairs, the latter forming a mat in the stomach. These hairs are regularly regurgitated as pellets.

We give below two personal accounts of how two different species of local birds handle large caterpillars.

Robert Teo reported seeing an Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) in Pulau Ubin that caught a caterpillar of the Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas). This moth is the largest in Southeast Asia and possibly in the world. It’s bluish green caterpillar has a series of dorsal and sub-dorsal spines. The hornbill had the caterpillar in its beak and was vigorously shaking it before finally swallowing it.

Tan Hang Chong tells of another incident: “As I was birding along Lorong Sesuai some years ago, I chanced upon a Crow-billed Drongo (Dicrurus annectans). The bird was perched on a tree at eye level and I had the opportunity to observe it for a long while. What caught my immediately attention was that it had one of the largest tan-coloured caterpillar I had ever seen in its beak! The caterpillar was easily 15 cm long and as thick as my finger.

“The drongo started to move the caterpillar along its beak (ala cartoon characters eating a cob of corn). I initially presumed that the drongo was trying to flatten the caterpillar, the better to swallow it later. Thereafter, the drongo turned the caterpillar around, held it on its end and proceeded to swallow it whole. It surely looked like a most uncomfortable feat as the drongo’s torso was not much longer than the caterpillar!”

Contributed by Robert Teo and Tan Hang Chong, additional input by YC; image of Atlas moth caterpillar by Angie Ng and of hornbill by YC.

Interspecific interaction of birds at Pasir Ris

posted in: Interspecific | 5

The place: near the Pasir Ris MRT Station, Singapore. The time: around 8 am. The date: 22nd December 2005. I noticed this whole assemblage of different species of birds on the grass, some foraging, others just looking around. There were crows, mynas, egrets and rock pigeons. More were continually joining in, especially pigeons and crows. The egrets didn’t really seem to mind and almost seemed oblivious to the 30-40-strong gathering before them.

Could the spot be a designated meeting ground for birds? After all, birds sometimes do communicate and discuss eating places, like Singaporeans. Or could the spot, judging from the seemingly limited interspecies interactions, be just a good spot for forage or rest? If the latter, it is amazing that there is no or little competition or observable territorial behaviour among different bird species!

Text and image by Lim Junying.

Comment by our bird specialist, R. Subaraj: I am glad that you were observant enough to notice this. Most people, including many birdwatchers, would have simply ignored the gathering as it mainly involved common urban species.

Based on the photo and what you have written, I would think that the area is a good feeding site. The Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) normally hunt insects in fields and the mynas and crows are opportunists who would also catch and eat insects. The patch of grass may be rich in invertebrate life due to some unknown reasons (dampness, freshly cut grass, etc.). As for the pigeons, they may focus on seeds but could be eating invertebrates as well, being highly adaptable.

As for competition, if there is plenty about there should be no problem. However, it may be interesting to study if they are working as a team, in a birdwave of sorts. A birdwave is a gathering of insectivorous bird species that move together to stir up more insects. This is a common occurrence in forests, from the lowlands to the mountains. The more birds involved, the more insects are stirred up and the better chance of finding a buffet, such as a tree of caterpillars.

Does this behaviour occur on the ground and in more open country or urban settings? Should be fun finding out.

Keep at it and nature never fails to amaze!

Yellow-vented Bulbul does swallow some fruits but not others

posted in: Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants | 8

In an earlier posting it was said that Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) does not swallow Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) fruits. It pecks on the outer pulp, leaving the fruit on the branch with patches exposing the seed.

With the MacArthur palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii) (above), I have noticed that this bird does swallow the fruits whole. Although I have not seen it regurgitating the seeds, I did find a few patches of faeces with seeds on my driveway. It is possible that the bulbul passed out the seeds?

However, I have been puzzled by the presence of many individual seeds of this palm, cleaned of pulp, scattered along my driveway (left). I do not grow this palm in my garden. These seeds must have been regurgitated by some birds. Can it be the Pink-necked green Pigeon (Treron vernans) that regularly perch on the overhanging ceram palm (Rhopaloblaste ceramica) fronds?

And why does the bulbul swallows fruits of the MacArthur palm but not those of the Alexandra palm? The answer lies in the size of the two seeds. Alexandra palm fruits are nearly round, 12×10 mm, with a single large round seed that is about 9×8 mm in dimension. The flesh is a thin layer of 2-3 mm thick. Although the fruit of the MacArthur palm is of similar size, the seed is very much smaller. It is 10 mm long but only 5 mm broad.

Obviously we have much to learn about the feeding habits of our common birds.

Transverse sections of fruits of MacArthur (left) and Alexandra (right) palms.

Seeds of MacArthur (left) and Alexandra (right) palms.

Scale in mm.
All images by YC.

Forensic Birding 1. Introduction

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

We were introduced to forensic birding by Lin Yangchen when he wrote on 30th December 2005:

“Birds are usually identified by sight or sound. It may also be possible to identify them from the tracks, feathers and droppings they leave behind. It is not always possible to pinpoint the species but the genus or family may be established. Looking out for signs is one challenge and interpreting them is another.

“For example, tracks can divulge much information through the presence or absence of claws and webbing, the number and apparent relative lengths of toes, angle between toes II and IV etc. The arrangement of a series of tracks can reveal characteristic gaits and whether the bird was walking, running or hopping. Slightly unfortunate, bird tracks are usually found only on the ground in silt, mud or snow.

“Cracked nuts, half-pecked fruits and pellets might tell us about diets and feeding guilds while the condition of a bird skeleton might tell us how the bird met its demise (cat, bird-eating spider, car accident etc).

“This is a fascinating subject either for research or for fun, as the eggs of the warring crows and koels have demonstrated.

“Since the days when the wild regions of the Malay Peninsula were largely unknown, explorers have taken a keen interest in the evidence left by animals. For example, *Skeat (1908) observed ‘peculiar open spaces several yards square and absolutely devoid of leaves and rubbish’ along a ridge on Gunung Tahan. The footnote reads, ‘they are nothing more than the playing-grounds of the Argus Pheasant'”.

Responding, Benjamin Lee wrote, “Thanks for the enlightening account of avian CSI. And let’s not forget the application of avian forensics in determining species causing aircraft engines to fail during a bird strike. Dr Jon Baldur Sigurdsson, who used to teach ornithology in the former Department of Zoology, National University of Singapore, was a consultant to bird strike cases at Changi Airport. He had to determine what sort of birds were killed by looking at the remains of feathers, bones and bits of skin.

There is an excellent review article here on everything you want to know about aircraft and bird strikes. This article is reproduced from “The Auk”, an American ornithological journal, and was authored by Prof. Navjot Sodhi from the National University of Singapore.”

See also “Tales of a Birding Pilot”.

Wang Luan Keng followed with a workshop on 20th January 2006 when she brought specimens of feathers and wings, eggs, skeleton pieces, whole bird specimens, etc for participants to handle and ask questions. The evening proved to be an exciting introduction to forensic birding with participants showing much interest and asking numerous questions.

Obviously there is a wide-open field out there for birders to look into. Birding is not and should not be confided only to identifying birds and counting them. Birders, when out in the field, should also look out for bird tracks, splats, discarded eggs and shells, make the necessary records and bring them up for discussion later.

Input by Lin Yangchen, Benjamin Lee and Wang Luan Keng. Image by Lin Yangchen.

*Skeat, W. W. 1908. A personal reconnaissance of Gunung Tahan. Journal of the Federated Malay States Museums 3:77-90.

Angie’s nesting crows 5: Final chapter

posted in: Crows, Nesting | 0

After only three days trying to incubate their eggs, the House Crows (Corvus splendens) gave up on the morning of 28th December 2005

Thereafter, it was open house for the Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea)! They were increasingly daring, stealing into the nest throughout the day, but the height of activity was always in the mornings and late afternoons, and one female even stayed in the nest for more than 10 minutes. There were two occasions when the male koel took an interest, hopped into nest, looked around before hopping off again.

Although the crows seem to have abandoned their nest, they are not averse to visiting it every day, and sometimes twice or three times a day – to check on the contents? Once I saw presumably the female pecking, pushing and pulling some of the twigs. It seemed to be tidying the nest or doing some house-keeping! However, on another day one crow actually took away some fine twigs from the nest!

I would know they were visiting because often they would caw but other times I just happened to look up and there they were! The crows would still chase away the female koels if they chance to see them approaching the nest, but I think they are losing interest. They behave as though they have another nest somewhere else. Lately, they sometimes fly overhead by-passing our tree. Female koels still visit the nest, though not as frequently.

And throughout the days I was home, a lone male koel would spend long periods sitting on the lower branch mournfully calling ‘koe-ell koe-ell’ its pitch gradually rising in desperation.

The nest looks a little thread-bare/twig-bare this morning.

If each time a female koel visits and lays an egg, we’d have more then two dozens eggs in nest. But do they necessarily lay eggs at each visit?

This is the end of koel-crow watching, I hope. Maybe I will still watch to see when the nest will drop its load of eggs!

Just after writing the above and when I was sweeping the floor, four crows flew up to branches near the nest. One had some food (?) in its beak, flew into the nest, moved around and came out before another crow went in. This crow cawed and fussed around, unsure whether to sit in or leave. While the other three crows left, this crow hopped to an adjacent branch, sharpened its beak, looked around, spied a female koel hiding in the far end of tree and chased it all the way to Lewis Road.

Who are these four crows? Obviously two couples. Is one pair the owners of the nest?

Contributed by Angie Ng, 14th January 2006; image by YC.

Cats in Australia

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Cats are an absolute no-no in Australia, where essentially they are non-native and imported by thoughtless white settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries, who even more thoughtlessly let them go ‘feral’ in the wild (believe me, these seeming pussy-cats are like wild leopard cats if cornered, hissing masses of aggression!) etc. They have wreaked havoc with small native mammals (mostly nocturnal) and birds. In several eastern states, owners have to have licences for them and must observe a legally enforced ‘curfew’ banning them from wandering outdoors by night on pain of fines and other penalties, within the confines of a defined ‘metro’ urban area – in the countryside, they have been banned completely in several cases – and should be. There have been suggestions that ordinary owners only be allowed to keep cats if they are sterilised and only licensed breeders may actually breed cats.

When I first arrived in Western Australia, my garden came with about 6 dependent stray cats attached! And I had kept a couple of my own, with dogs, in Singapore before. But as I learned more about the Australian ecology, I came to the conclusion that I must harden my heart and get rid of my own cats – I took them one by one to the local Cat Haven, whence they were ‘re-homed’ (a bit of a cop-out, I know, since they were still in the Australian ecology!). The payoff has been abundant birdlife in my garden, where I cultivate native plants to attract the local birds.

It’s an interesting example of how animal welfare concerns often have to be traded off against conservationist concerns.

I wonder if all countries need to consider similar measures for the protection of wildlife? And I wonder how much research has been done on how ‘native’ domestic cats are to SE Asia?

Contributed by Ilsa Sharp, from Perth, Western Australia

Additional input by R. Subaraj: Unlike places like Australia and New Zealand, cats in Singapore are largely confined to more urbanised areas and feral cat populations are almost entirely found in the city and housing estates (see Cat Kill. Apart from the very occasional individuals, one does not come across cats in nature areas. Perhaps our Reticulated Pythons have something to do with that….! Dogs on the other hand are a problem with stray populations in many nature areas including our reserves of Bukit Timah, the Central Catchment and Sungei Buloh. They form packs and hunt our native birds and other wildlife. The first Lesser Mousedeer (highly endangered and a distinct endemic subspecies) I ever encountered in Singapore was one being pursued by three feral dogs within our Central Catchment Nature Reserve!

To swallow and regurgitate? Not the Yellow-vented Bulbul!

posted in: Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants, Plants | 5

My Alexandra palms (Archontophoenix alexandrae) are fruiting again. The large bunches of red fruits invariable attract Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) that are a delight to watch, what with their iridescent dark plumage and bright red eyes. I was pleasantly surprised to observe earlier that these birds swallowed the fruits whole but soon regurgitate the seeds after the pulp had been removed in the gut.

Reviewing my earlier images of koels caught in the act of raiding these fruits, I found that I have evidence that Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea) regularly swallow the fruits (see above) but have yet to actually see them regurgitate the seeds.

Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) are similarly attracted to these fruits, but only when the starlings are not around. But these bulbuls apparently have a smaller gape than the above two birds as they are not able to swallow the nearly rounded 10×12 mm fruits. Instead, they peck on the red fruits to remove pieces of the soft outer covering, leaving the fruits with patches exposing the seed surface still attached to the bunch.

Obviously the starling, koel and bulbul are inefficient seed dispersers as far as the Alexandra palm is concerned. Depositing the seeds at the base of the parent palm is not advantageous to the plant at all.

I wonder whether there are any animals that actually disperse these seeds. As an exotic palm introduced from the warmer regions of Eastern Australia, it is very possible that the seed dispersers are absent in Singapore.

YC Wee
9th February 2006

Comment by R. Subaraj: It would be interesting to find out if some of our local animals like plantain squirrels, actually help disperse the large seeds of some of our exotic palms.

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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