Dragon’s tail

posted in: Plants | 6

Most of us are familiar with the money plant (Epipremnum aureum). This creeping plant with smallish leaves is a favourite indoor plant, usually placed in a container of water. However, when planted in the ground, the leaves can grow large indeed. The plant seldom flowers, if at all.

The dragon’s tail (Raphidophora korthalsii) is a close relative. It became popular some ten or more years ago when the local Chinese claimed that the leaves, boiled in water with rock sugar, made a healthy drink. There were many who claimed that the drink could cure various ailments. Suddenly each leaf cost a few dollars apiece and people began planting them. The plant grows rapidly, creeping along the trunk of trees or even walls. Even today, there are those who use the leaves to cure certain skin allergies.

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I have a plant growing along the trunk of my Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae). It was so unruly that I tried to kill it off. I lopped off portions of the stem from the palm trunk and peeled them off. But I was not able to remove the upper part of the stem. It kept growing, sending down aerial roots that entered the ground to obtain water and nutrients. Finally the plant flowered. And flowered regularly.

One day I noticed a few Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis) feeding on the fruits (above). And apparently enjoying them. These birds are usually very shy, flying off whenever they noticed my presence. But not this time. They remained eating until they had their fill, allowing me to photograph them.

YC Wee
Singapore
March 2007

Striped-Tit Babbler’s nest site

posted in: Nests | 4

On the morning of 25th February 2007, KC Tsang and wife Amy must have been feeling energetic. They took a long trek from Venus Drive car-park to the Ranger’s Station, and from there, to the Central Catchment area. Their walk paid off when they had a pleasant encounter with a pair of Striped Tit Babblers (Macronous gularis) actively building their nest within the dried resam (Dicranopteris linearis) thicket (below left).

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What looked like a mass of dead leaves within the thicket was actually a meticulously constructed nest. It was perfectly camouflaged and if the birds were not seen building it, it would not be detected at all. In the middle of this mass was an entrance. Both birds were busy bringing pieces of dead palm fronds from a pile further down. And every minute or so one of the two birds would appear at the entrance, popped inside and deposited its piece. The moment one left, the other would appear with its piece of dried frond.

The whole morning that KC and Amy were there, the birds were busy lining their nest.

As KC said afterward,”From a photographer’s point of view, the nest site has no distinct unique feature, and to take pictures of the inside of the nest, I would have to borrow camera equipment that is being used for colonoscopy, to thread it through the fern thicket without having to cut a path to it.

“The nest is on the left of the picture, the whole place appears a mess. Well I guess it is a form of camouflage to not attract attention from predators.”

Striped-tit Babbler is supposed to be a common resident. Yet there is hardly any information on it. According to birder Alan OwYong, the last record of nesting was by Ong Kiem Sian many years ago. Our resident field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng says that “this is the earliest nest-building record in my database. There was only one other record in March 2004. A couple more in June and July. The nest is so difficult to spot.”

Image of nesting at top left by KC Tsang, that of the babbler in the nest (top right) is courtesy of Dr Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong – see comment.

Leaf bathing

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 4

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It was raining on and off but never too heavy. I went to the back of the house to survey the plants around the backyard. There, perching on a bare branch of my curry-leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) was a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier). It was apparently enjoying the slight drizzle that was still on. It fluttered its body feathers, fanned out its tail and shook its body. It even raised its wings and indulged in some wet preening. It remained there for some minutes before it spotted me photographing it.

Then it flew off to a nearby kantan or torch ginger plant (Etlingera elatior) and enjoyed a leaf bath.

Leaf bathing is the term used when birds make use of the water droplets accumulated on large leaves to bathe. The water in this case came from the rain but it may well come from dew, condensed fog or even from the garden sprinkler or water hose.

Leaf bathing was first reported by L.F. Baptista. In 1971 he observed a Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps) bathing on leaves of an eucalyptus in Berkeley, California. The leaves of the tree were covered with water droplets from a sprinkler that had been on earlier that morning. The sparrow would bend forward touching the wet leaves with the breast and belly, and flutter the wings rapidly. It continued this behavior for about three minutes, at which time its body feathers appeared quite soaked. The bird then flew to the ground beneath the tree, ruffled its feathers, preened, and scratched its head.

Locally, Serin Subaraj reported as early as November 2005 that Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) and Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) leaf bathed as soon as his grandfather finished watering the plants in the garden.

Johnny Wee has similarly observed Olive-backed Sunbird and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) (below left) bathing on the leaves of yellow simpoh (Dillenia suffruticosa). [NOTE: Apparently, this is a male Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma), not Scarlet-backed – see comment by Tou below.]

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I myself have always witnessed sunbirds bathing on noni (Morinda citrifolia) as well as kantan leaves. They are regularly there after the rain, sometimes after the leaves become wet through watering. At one time I saw a Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) bathing on the elongated leaves of the orchid keng hua (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) after I watered the plant (above right). All these plants have large leaves that usually collect droplets of water, but I have yet to see leaf bathing on smaller leaves or a collection of smaller leaves.

I am sure other species of birds also leaf bathe and urge birders to keep a lookout and report back. If you have previously seen other birds leaf bathed, please submit your record in this blog.

Reference:
Baptista, L. F. (1972). Leaf bathing in three species of emberizines. The Wilson Bulletin 85(3): 346-347.

Image by YC except Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker by Johnny Wee.

Eyelashes in birds?

posted in: Morphology-Develop. | 10

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On 9th February 2007, Heng Fook Hai posted a close-up image of the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) and he noticed something he did not see before. So he posed the following questions:

“I seldom see birds with long eyelashs until my recent photo of the hornbill (left). I searched my other bird photos but did not find any other birds showing eyelashes. Is there other bird with such long eyelashs?

“I remember BESGroup did show a kingfisher with eye membrane to protect their eyes. Just curious what function do the eyelashes serve?”

This got me curious, so I looked up the relevant literature. It seems that these are actually bristles, highly specialised contour feathers in which the rachis or feather shaft lacks barbs. Such bristles are found at the base of the bill. Ornithologists term these rictal bristles. And rictal bristles are seen in many species of birds that catch insects, like nightjars (below), flycatchers, owls, swallows and hawks.

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So what are the functions of rictal bristles? Some suggest that they help to funnel insects into the mouth, but this has no experimental basis. And what about the bristles around the eyes? There appears to be consensus that they protect the eyes from flying insects and other debris. Especially when the bird catches large scaly insects like butterflies and moths. Rictal bristles also help the bird to detect movements of insects held in the bill, just like the whiskers of some mammals.

Images: Fook Hai (hornbill) and Chan Yoke Meng Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus acrurus).

Why does a bird scratch its head?

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 2

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Yes, why does a bird scratch its head? Can we assume the head is itching? I suppose so. The presence of ectoparasites may be be the cause of the itch!

The real reason for scratching can be to arrange those feathers on the head and neck that cannot be reached by the bills.

Birds preen their feathers, spreading a fatty secretions obtained from the uropygial or preen gland located somewhere on the rump. This oil is spread over the feathers, possible to waterproof them, although there are no proofs that this is so. Ornithologists now believe that the oil is a sort of conditioner that maintains the skin supple, which in turn prevents the feathers and scales from turning brittle. The oil may also help control growth of undesirable fungi and at the same time encourage the desirable. These latter fungi are claimed to inhibit the presence of lice on the feathers.

Anyway, spread of this oil is usually done with the help of the bill. But it is not possible for the bill to reach the feathers on the head. So the oil is rubbed on the bird’s foot with the help of the bill and the bird in turn scratches its head, transferring the oil to the head feathers.

The Grey-faced(?) Buzzard (Butastur indicus) in the picture at the top is obviously enjoying its scratch. Note that the eye is covered by the nictitating membrane as scratching is going on. This is probably to protect the eye.

Text by YC Wee, image by Chan Yoke Meng.

Note: The bird is probably a honey buzzard (Pernis sp.), see comment.

Herons in flight

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern | 0

It is a joy to witness herons taking flight. As the birds take off, they bend their legs as if crouching, then jump up into the air. As they do so, they open their large wings and begin flapping until they reach their flight level. The image on the right shows a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) taking flight.

Flight is slow, not agile, but strong. Wings are flapped to maintain altitude. In flight, they take a characteristic silhouette. The wings are fully outstretched, legs and feet extended straight back, and the neck is completely retracted so that it rests fully on the bird’s back.

The two images of Little Heron (Butorides striatus) (below left) and Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) (below right) illustrate this beautifully.

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Such flights can carry the birds long distances when migrating or during their daily flights to and from feeding, breeding or roosting sites.

As the birds prepare to land, they begin to glide, gradually losing altitude. Just before landing they extend their necks, drop their legs, adopt a more vertical body alignment and then begin to flap. This acts as a brake against their forward movement, to allow them to gently land.

Generally, larger species beat their wings at a slower rate than smaller species.

Herons are very capable of landing on water and taking off again immediately.

Images of Grey Heron by Heng Fook Hai, Little and Purple Herons by Allan Teo.

Hornbills at Changi:Why does the male present a snail shell to the female?

On the morning of 15th February 2007 KC Tsang was at Changi documenting the food the male Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) was bringing to the female who was actively walling herself up inside the nest cavity. The bird brought the usual pieces of mud, insects and lizards for the busy female inside.

What puzzled KC was a non-food item the male brought in his bill. It was the upper part of an empty snail shell (left). The male displayed it to the female and then gently dropped it inside the cavity. Was it a gift of a ”toy” for his mate to play with?

This behaviour has been documented in Kg Gajah, Perak, Malaysia some years ago. As Dr Chan Kai Soon wrote, “…we noted the same thing (shells of snails) being delivered into the nest. We also thought that the male did this to provide calcium in the diet.” The shell piece was that of a land snail.

There is also an old report in the literature that the male Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis) of Africa regularly brought inedible objects to the nest, like pieces of tree bark and sticks. Why? Probably as playthings.

It has now been established that calcium is an essential element in the diet of birds, especially those that do not obtain it from their primary diet. They thus seek out sources of this element during the egg laying and nesting periods. Various species of birds have been known to seek out calcium, the best example being the Scarlet (Ara macao) and Red-and-Green (Ara chloroptera) Macaws that take chunks of mineral-rich clay from steep river banks in Peru.

There are also published accounts of Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) eating ash that is high in calcium and Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) feeding on calcium-rich sand. And Arctic sandpipers use the teeth and bones of brown lemmings as a source of calcium.

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The favourite food of hornbills is figs (above left). And figs are rich in water, carbohydrates and calcium. The presence of fig wasps inside the tiny fig flowers/fruits (above right) may provide added calcium. But I suppose, during breeding, the female needs more calcium than usual, thus the extra supply in the form of snail shells. And there are also the developing chicks to cater to.

Input by KC, YC and Dr Chan Kai Soon. Image of hornbill by KC and that of figs by YC.

Tameness in birds

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Birders need binoculars to watch birds and photographers use 600 mm lens to take pictures of birds. Why? Because birds fly off when approached. Birds do not trust humans as invariably we cause them harm or deprive them of their freedom.

Many among us have the instinct of trying to catch a nearby bird, even though we may not be poachers. Remember the saying: “A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”? In many third-world countries birds are actively caught for food or to be sold as cage birds. Is it a wonder then that birds avoid people?

Most people would be familiar with tame pet birds, and I do not mean those pet birds that are caged. Pet parrots, for example, can be trained to be tame, as seen in the bird perched on the head of the girl above.

House Crow (Corvus splendens) and Javan Myna ( Acridotheres javanicus) learn fast that there is food to be had around humans and exploit the situation. They soon learn to forage around people. We can approach them but they are always aware of us and fly off when we approach too near.

MY early experience with tameness was when I tried to photograph a sunbird. It allowed me to move to a metre of its perch without trying to fly off. I found out later that it was an immature Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis), recently fledged, yet to experience the negative behaviour of the people around them. This is developmental naivety.

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Besides the above examples, there are birds that are truly tame. My experience with ecological naivety was when I visited the Galapagos archipelago. All the birds there are not familiar with predators as they have been living in these isolated islands that have no predators. This type of tameness is a serious threat to them as introduced predators like cats can cause havoc. Threats from humans have long been removed as the islands are now protected. The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii excisa) shown above is so tame tha you can walk by it while it is incubating its eggs. Only when you come too near will you be scolded. It was the same with the Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata) (above).

I am sure there are many other causes of tameness and I welcome comments from viewers.

Oriental White-eye: Nesting Cycle II

posted in: Nesting | 2

Yen Lau has been twice lucky. She had two families of Oriental White-eyes (Zosterops palpebrosus) nesting in her potted Australian Bottlebrush trees (Callistemon rigidus) – the first family in sunny June and this second in wet Dec/Jan.

According to Yen: “This is what happened with my second white-eye family…

“On 16th Dec 2006 a pair of Oriental White-Eyes were seen inspecting my Australian Bottlebrush trees (left). Seven days later they started building their nest. White cobwebs were wrapped around slender branches about 2 metres or more from the ground. Eleven days later the nest was about ready when they incorporaterd grasses into the nest structure. This continued for the next two days. The nest was very thin but had a nice cup shape to it (below).

“As it was raining every day for the next one week, there were no activities. During a dry patch, one of the white-eyes appeared and sat in the nest. It stayed there all afternoon seemingly not doing anything. I didn’t look at the nest after about 6:30pm and it was still there then. On hindsight, it was probably laying eggs!

“As there had been a bird sitting in the nest constantly the last couple of days, I was sure eggs had been laid. I was skeptical of this at first because the nest was awfully thin. I peeked inside the nest. The bird very obligingly got up and perched on a nearby branch. I was greeted by the sight of 3 beautiful glossy white eggs measuring roughly 6mm X 15mm and snapped a few pictures (below left). The bird then casually hopped back into the nest again. Strange behaviour?

“The eggs could be seen through the thin nest (above right). Building materials were probably hard to find in the rainy season. (It poured heavily just about every day in December 2006 and the first week of January 2007.) The female was probably anxious to lay her eggs as well.

“Two of the three eggs hatched on 17th January.

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“The parent birds took turns feeding the chicks. Unlike the parent birds in sunny June who appeared with food within 15mins each time to feed their ravenous young, these monsoon parents took as long as 25mins. These January chicks seemed more laid back too (above). They didn’t ever really stick their necks out and (quietly) scream like the June chicks did (left).

“By 23rd January the two chicks were starting to fill the nest and the nest was looking quite stretched (below). The chicks had grown more adult feathers. One looked more developed than the other. Two mornings later I found the remains of the unhatched egg. The birds had tossed it out. There didn’t seem to be much yolk and no white. The “yolk” I found was rather dense with one tiny but obvious dark spot in it.

“At around 1pm and exactly eight days after hatching, the bigger of the two chicks flew out of the nest (below). It did not get very far. First, it flew down to a shelf just a metre away. After some coaxing by the very excited parents, it flew back to the tree and stayed there for about half an hour. After that, accompanied by both parents, it flew off into the (nearly) blue yonder. (It didn’t pour that day – it drizzled on and off.)

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“A few minutes after the first chick flew, the second chick followed suit. It flew an even shorter distance – barely a third of a metre away from the nest. It then fluttered around to various branches of the tree for the next half hour. (The parents were coaxing both chicks to fly in this frenzied half hour.)

“The parents came back after flying off with the first chick and continued to coax the second into flying off too. They brought bribes. I could see they had things in their beaks which they first showed to the baby before flying off a little distance.

“The second chick refused to budge. The parents gave up after a while and fed it.

“This chick seemed less developed than the June chicks when they started flying. Here’s a comparison… Our monsoon baby is the one on the left and a sunny June chick on the right (below).

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“Here’s another picture of our second chick compared with a June chick (below). The feathers on our monsoon baby’s head aren’t anywhere near as developed as those of the June chicks’.

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“Poor thing… The second chick was still there at 5:30pm, fluffed up against the wind and drizzle (below). It stayed in the same spot for the next six-and-a-half hours. All that time the parents continued feeding and coaxing it to fly. At one stage, I even saw one of the parents remove something white from its behind. Faecal sac?

“At 7:00pm this baby decided it was ready! It hopped up the highest branch and tried out its wings (below).

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“Then, together with its proud parents, it flew off. Literally into the sunset!

“With the June family, I never saw or heard much from them after they left. With this family, I was still seeing them three days later. (If they are the same birds that is.) One of the birds I saw on 28th January was a young bird, probably one of the babies. (Something tells me it was actually the second chick but I can’t say why I thought that.) It had grown a tail but it’s still more rounded than an adult and slightly fluffy.

“It chirped very loudly and very insistently before flying off after its call was answered by an adult. Tut! Tut! Was it still calling for Mummy and Daddy?”

Input and images by Yen Lau; the above account obtained through the good-office of KC Tsang.

Anatomy of a nest: Baya Weaver

posted in: Nests | 1

Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) build their nests attached to branches of trees and shrubs and even fronds of palms. These nests are expertly weaved from long thin strands of leaf blades that can come from the Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) (left), strips of palm fronds or other tough fibres – see earlier post.

A completed nest looks like an upside down flask with a downward pointing entrance chute. Within the swollen portion is the nesting area.

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If the female does not approve of the construction, he will abadon it. Obviously a strong and properly constructed nest is crucial to successful breeding as otherwise the nest may fall off before the chicks fledge.

The male bird usually builds the nest half way, up to the so-called helmet stage that consists of partly of the living chamber (right). He then tries to get his mate to be interested in the half-built nest. Once he has her approval, he will continue with the construction, completing it with a tube-like structure below the entrance.

The up to a metre long neck of the nest is tightly weaved around the support, in this case the thorny stem of a bushy sensitive plant (Mimosa sp.).

Found within the neck of the nest were a few fruits, probably those of the mason bee tree (Commersonia bartramia), a common weedy tree of abandoned areas (below). Why these fruits were placed there is anybody’s guess – probably to strengthen the neck area?

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The closely weaved nest (below left) needs regular repairs, as with use and the extra weight of the chicks, the neck gets overly stretched. Repairs consist of weaving in new grass materials to tighten the nest and to secure its attachment. The presence of green strands in a mostly brown nest shows evidence of such repairs, rather than recycling of the nest. Lumps of clay have also been found plastered on the inner wall of the nest, probably to stabilise the nest (below right).

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Recycling is rare, if at all, as used nests harbour the complements of parasites that the weeks of incubation and brooding brings. The nesting materials will also have been weakened through slow rotting. Generally, used nests tend to elongate as the materials get stretched through wind and rain, to eventually fall off.

Text by YC Wee, old nests provided by Tan Teo Seng.

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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