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.


“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.)


“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).


“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’.


“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).


“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.


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?


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).

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.

Roosting of Barn Swallows and Purple-backed Starlings

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 1

Birds roost communally for a number of reasons. Coming together reduces their vulnerability to predators. And roosting in a central location allows for information exchange regarding feeding grounds. Roosting also enhanced protection from the weather.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) has a worldwide distribution, breeding throughout North America and from Europe eastwards to China. It migrates in large flocks southwards. The birds that we see in Singapore possibly come from eastern Asia (above). Many are juveniles, with a duller plumage and a less distinct breast band.

According to Chris Hails (Birds of Singapore, 1987, Times Editions), they can be seen in almost every month of the year but scarce in June. However, they are more numerous during August-April. In Peninsular Malaysia they can be seen in towns roosting on high tension wires.

Dr Wu Eu Heng and YC were at Yishin Street 71 in November 2005 to experience the roosting of masses of Barn Swallows on pulai trees (Alstonia spp.) along the road (above).

Individual birds grouped at pre-roosting sites nearby before moving on to roost communally. At around 6.30 pm the birds began to arrive (top). They could be seen flying from all around, to suddenly arrive amidst the flutter of wings and chirpings. They came in waves after waves, to land on the branches of the trees. Upon arrival there were much flying, chasing and vocalisation as individuals vied for choice roosting positions.

By 7.00 pm they had all settled down and quiet returned. It was quite an experience to be there, bringing back memories of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 movie, The Birds.

Early next morning the birds would prepare to fly off to their foraging grounds. This would involve another bout of squabbling before they fly off just after sunrise.

The noise they generated sent residents up the wall. Not to mention the droppings that they left behind. During bad weather the birds would congregate along the corridors to add on to the nuisance. Naturally there were numerous complaints and this resulted in the Town Council sending workers to trim the trees. This had limited effect on the roosting birds, but then there were other trees around for the birds to roost.

Over at nearby Chong Pang, the Purple-backed Starling (Sturnus sturninus) roosted in the sea apple trees (Syzygium grande) lining the road (above). As with the Barn Swallows, these starlings arrived after 6.30 pm in waves, gathering on certain trees before finally moving to the sea apple trees. Many of these trees were earlier trimmed to discourage the roosting of these starlings. So the birds moved on to those trees that were not trimmed. They obviously preferred full foliage trees for better protection from predators and the elements.

The Purple-backed Starlings were joined soon by Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) and Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus). The former gathered at roof tops while the latter in nearby trees before joining the waves of Purple-backed Starlings that moved on to their permanent roost (above).

Input by Dr Wu and YC, images by YC.

Sentosa’s owls

posted in: Owls | 0

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj sent in this item after reading an earlier posting on Sentosa’s Buffy Fish Owl (above).

“Actually, while the Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu) encounters are the first records for Sentosa and the Southern Islands, all the other four local resident owl species have been recorded for this island (below).

“Two species reside on Sentosa, with the Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) being fairly common. The other resident, the Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo), is rare with only one pair confirmed on the island.

“There are a couple of fairly recent records of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and it may still be resident. I have been told verbally that the species used to be commoner on Sentosa but most perished due to rat poisoning.

“The final species is the Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata). The resident sub-species, N.s.scutulata, is confined to and around the central nature reserves (Bukit Timah and Central Catchment) and Pulau Tekong Besar. Records from elsewhere in Singapore, including Sentosa, are of migrants from the north, probably of the subspecies N.s.japonica.

Regards, Subaraj”

Ilsa Sharp from Perth, Western Australia, adds: “I can confirm, as I’m sure Yeow Chin can too, that there were Barn Owls on Sentosa and that they died because of poisoning of the rats they ate – I remember well how we all #@*& the authorities for putting down the poison when they had been made well aware of the owls’ presence at the time! Must have been about early or mid-80s, do you think, Yeow Chin?”

Check out Owls in Singapore for a full list of species.

Input by R. Subaraj and Ilsa Sharp, image of owl by Chan Yoke Meng and of Sentosa by YC.

White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Grey Heron

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern, Interspecific | 10

Allan Teo was with his fellow photographers in Changi on 3rd February 2007 when suddenly a juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) appeared in the sky chasing a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) (above). Taken totally by surprise, yet he was ready with his equipment to record a few dramatic shots of this exciting aerial chase.

Although the eagle is a superior hunting machine, the graceful but cumbersome heron succeeded in out-maneuvering the raptor by zigzagging in the air to eventually dived into a patch of low growth and thus escaped the latter’s talons.

In Allan’s very own words: “The heron swept back its outer wing panels to reduce drag and increased airspeed (below). It allowed the White-bellied Sea Eagle to come in closer. Whenever the eagle extended its claws towards it, the heron always twisted and turned in the air, out flanking the eagle.

“The chase ended when the heron let the eagle come in close once again before it suddenly levelled out and dived into the bushes.”

The heron’s sudden crash among the vegetation disturbed the House Crows (Corvus splendens) that were foraging around the shrubs. These crows instinctively flew up and chased the eagle away. A lone Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) that was around, normally an enemy, allied itself with the crows and joined in the chase.

Input and images by Allan Teo.

Hornbills at Changi: Looking for a nesting cavity

posted in: Hornbills | 6

As early as November 2006 Angie Ng reported a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) checking out a cavity in an old, 22 m high damar hitam gajah (Shorea gibbosa) tree in Changi (left). This cavity probably resulted from faulty pruning of a side branch many years ago. The cut surface was healing but apparently not fast enough. The exposed wood rotted, resulting in this cavity high up on the side of the main trunk, about 3 m from the top.

On the evening of 7th February, Meng and Melinda Chan saw the male bird trying unsuccessfully to entice the female to the cavity by placing some food inside. When the female refused to fly over, the male retrieved the food and flew off to join his mate.

KC Tsang was over at Changi the following day when he saw the female trying to enter the cavity with difficulty. She was enlarging the cavity, doing most of the work (below left). But the male, who was bigger, did also contribute to the labour (below right). Most of the time he was flying off, collecting lumps of mud and bringing them back for the female who was beginning to seal herself up, a little inside the circular opening of the cavity.



This continued for the next two day. The male was still very active bringing mud to the female, sometimes swallowing the mud and then regurgitating it to the female. The female can sometimes be very fussy and rejected the mud by throwing it out of the nest. The mud that was regurgitated by the male seemed to be a bit on the wet side, maybe that was how he made the mud pieces softer. The mud was collected from the near by field (above).

Throughout this period the male was flying to and fro bringing food and lumps of mud for the female (left top). His arrival varied from once every 10-15 minutes to 20 minutes. All this time the female continued enlarging the cavity and at the same time continued sealing herself in. She was observed throwing out pieces of debris. And the male continued to bring materials for her to seal herself in.

Finally, the female was sealed in (left bottom).

Images by Chan Yoke Meng, KC Tsang, Chan Yoke Meng, Allan Teo and Chan Yoke Meng.

Bitterns and their vision


Bitterns, members of the Arfeidae, are medium-size to large birds, usually with long legs, necks and bills.

The bittern eyes are placed on the sides of the head, giving the bird a monocular vision. However, unlike most other birds, the eyes are found low on the sides. This has the advantage of allowing it to look for food below in its normal foraging posture with its head stretched and the body and neck parallel to the ground (above). This so-called “crouched” posture makes it more cryptic, besides having the bill closer to the intended victim. At the same time the position of the eyes allows it to see ahead.

The bird needs to move its head from side to side as well as back and forward to improve its binocular vision. These movements also help to compensate for refraction, as the prey is in the water.


When the bittern is alarmed, it stretches its head and neck up, pointing its bill to the sky. This gives the bird a slim silhouette, blending it with the surrounding vegetation, usually water weeds like grasses and sedges. This is commonly known as the “Bittern-stance” and the bird can maintain the posture for several hours (above:middle and right).

In this defensive posture, with its head pointing upwards, the position of the eyes allows it to have a clear vision of the sky above as well as in front.

The images of the Yellow (Ixobrychus sinensis) (above: left and middle) and Cinnamon Bitterns (I. cinnamomeus) (above: right) show the birds in both postures and the positions of the eyes.

The image of the Yellow Bittern on the left by Heng Fook Hai clearly shows the excellent camouflage of the bird among the reeds.

When Meng and Melinda Chan observed the Yellow Bittern and captured the images, the bird was alarmed and in a defensive posture. Suddenly it flew off, after which a large raptor was seen flying overhead.

Images by Chan Yoke Meng except bottom image by Heng Fook Hai.

Encounter with the Greater Spotted Eagle in Penang, Malaysia

posted in: Raptors | 0

Tan Choo Eng from Penang, Malaysia wrote in on 12th February 2007 after reading an earlier posting on an eagle attacking a kite’s nest. Choo Eng and a few friends spotted an eagle at the Permatang Pauh ricefields on 3rd February and was wondering whether it could be the same eagle. Thought the bird was a Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), they also misidentified it earlier as a Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis). According to Choo Eng, the Singapore bird is a juvenile but the Penang bird looks like an adult. It needs a more experienced birder to settle the issue.

This is Choo Eng’s story: “On 3rd February 2007 around mid-noon while with another three birders from Kuala Lumpur, we spotted this big dark eagle perching around a just harvested rice field. We managed to observe and photograph it (above).

“It was being harassed by an unidentified raptor, probably a marsh harrier (right).

“On a subsequent visit I saw it swooping down and killing a rat with it’s talons (below).

“A pair of White Bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) attempted to steal it’s rat but was scared away by the huge eagle.

“A single crow similarly attempted to steal it’s rat (below left).

“Later the eagle managed to swallow the rat after tearing it apart with its beak and talons (below right).


“The eagle will usually hunt during mid-afternoon and other raptors will attempt to harass it but to no avail. The Greater Spotted Eagle is a rather uncommon visitors to mainland Penang. Could the eagle from Singapore from the earlier post be the one at Permatang Pauh ricefields?”

This is an interesting question that is not easy to answer. We need someone to first settle the question of whether the eagle in the earlier post is the same species as this eagle. Then whether they are actually a juvenile and an adult. If not, then the intriguing question of whether they are the same bird can be debated.

Input and images by Tan Choo Eng.

An uncouth ‘Avian Cowboy’ comes to town

Within a total of 16 species of Asian barbets and a size not more than 17cm, the Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) has to be about the smallest barbet species in South East Asia.

While it looks cute with colourful face markings of yellow, red, black and white to look like being painted up for a circus parade (left, below right), this species of barbet while similar in looks in both sexes shows courtship behaviour to be blatantly different from their cousins.

Known to be intelligent birds, the Coppersmith Barbet has the capability to exhibit rogue behaviour with astute strategy and sly. I chanced upon this uncouth behaviour during their ‘courtship’ recently, well… if the courtship was anything worth describing at all!

The image of the pair I saw appeared to be two black dots high up on a skeleton tree, at least 200 feet away from my naked eye. The dead tree at the edge of town and devoid of all foliages provided full views of the pair of green, feathered barbet in copulation behaviour seen through my spotting scope 30x.

I had two opportunity blue shots and a few after images to show the expression and behaviour of this mainly frugivorous species and I delight to share with you the sequence of events of this lucky opportunity and uncommon observation.

The big headed male flew in swiftly and perched near a female barbet on the skeleton tree. He had in his large beak, two dark and round looking fruits that looked like berries. I was anticipating courtship feeding but that did not take place.

Instead, the male barbet wasted no time to mount the female as though to say, ‘Come on, let’s get on with it!’

Copulation took place for about a second and showed the image of the male still clutching on to the berries and won’t let go (below left). The female was seen having to arch her neck backwards trying to reach for the berry above with her pleading body language of, ‘I want that berry! Gee… me that berry!’

The next image showed the male released only one berry to the female, who gobbled it up very quickly, while he kept the second berry in his beak possessively and ready in waiting to commence a second copulation session (above right).

The female bird knew what she had to do to get that second berry. Without any persuasion from the male, with her short legs and zygodactylous toes (two toes pointing forward and two backwards) she crept up to him along the branch and performed a somersault with her head hanging down, like a circus trapeze artist and in a ‘69’ position, in readiness to receive another bonk (left).

The moment the male barbet dismounted, it was noticed that the female was abandoned and left to swallow her price and pride while the male wasted no time to fly off to another perch, his back facing the female and vainly began preening himself (below left). There was no ‘lovey, dovey’ affection seen like doves or pigeons do before or after copulation.

Perched at a good vantage view and baring his red band across his upper chest for the world to see, he scanned around with roving eyes through his black eye stripe (above right).

As though having had not enough, he turned towards the direction of the female barbet, wondering if he could have another chance with her… this time, free without any berry!

By the time the third session had finished (Sorry folks, ‘Bird Censorship Board’ disallowed further scoping of illicit blue images!), both male and female barbets commenced preening themselves, cocked up their tails and pooped.

The gallant male then flew off without much a do having ‘bought two and got one free.’

The naïve looking female was left bewildered on the perch with an image expression, wondering why she received only two berries and succumbed herself to three bonks.

‘Mmm…just don’t add up’ said the female barbet with her little brain behind her hallmark patch – a red fore crown.

Does the behaviour of Coppersmith Barbets sounds familiar?


Sentosa’s Buffy Fish Owl

posted in: Owls | 4


On 2nd February 2007, Angie Ng wrote: “Did I wake up the owl with my trampling on the leaf litter? Aren’t owls supposed to be asleep in the day? What owl is this? It gave me a fright! I thought I saw a gremlin starring at me, for trespassing into a forest which will soon be destroyed to make way for an Integrated Resort! (above left)”

The bird in question, a Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu) (above left), was perching on a branch of one of two Dracaena maingayi trees (above right) in the coastal forest of Sentosa. Angie spotted splashes of dried white droppings on the saplings and twigs under the tree. On looking up she spotted the owl.

This owl is most probably the same as that spotted on the morning of 23rd June 2006 by Yury Averkiev, a member of Club SNAP photographic forum. It was then seen along a footpath from the underwater world to the orchid gardens.

According to our bird specialist R. Subaraj then, “A most interesting location as the habitat there isn’t really typical fish owl habitat. This is indeed a scarce and localised owl in Singapore with records only from Pulau Ubin, the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the western side of the island including Sungei Buloh. There are also a couple of records from near the Singapore Botanic Gardens but these could be strays from the nearby nature reserves.

“Sentosa is fairly far from the nearest known location. There are two possibilities for this occurrence. It can be an escapee (maybe even deliberate, considering it’s Sentosa) or a stray or dispersant from somewhere in Singapore or the Riau Archipelago (where the species was reconfirmed at Bintan about 12 years ago).

“There is no way to be certain, but a good record nonetheless. This is a first record for Sentosa.”

See also Joesph Lai’s account.

Input by Angie Ng, YC and R. Subaraj, images by Angie.

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…

  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 – 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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