Harassment of Black-shouldered Kites

posted in: Crows, Interspecific | 2

The House Crow (Corvus splendens) is a rather aggressive bird (above). At slightly more than 40 cm from the tip of the bill to the end of the tail, this bird is up to 30% larger than the Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus). The crow moves in small flocks whereas the kite is usually found singly or in pairs during nesting periods. Only outside the breeding season does the kite feeds and roosts communally. Thus in any confrontation between these two birds, the kite invariably ends up the loser. This is especially so during nesting when the kite is vulnerable to attacks by crows.

Allan Teo is one photographer-birder who has noticed the aggressiveness of the crows. In November 2006 he wrote in saying: “I observed many times that the poor Black-shouldered Kite is always getting harassed by House Crows and many raptors.“

Allan observed a single House Crow harassing the three juvenile kites (above). When one of the kites flew above and hovered around the crow, baring its talons in the process, the latter simply ignored it.

Allan also witnessed adult kites being harassed, possibly by Changable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus) – that may well be juvenile Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) (above). Thankfully the attack was only a mock one that concluded with only nerves ruffled. There was another case of these kites being harassed by marsh harriers. He has also seen images of the Steppe Eagles (Aquila nipalensis) that appeared some months ago around the Changi reclaimed areas attacking the nest of the Black-shouldered Kites. In this case the kites managed to chase off the eagles.

Tang Hung Bun reported seeing House Crows harassing White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) in Malacca in March 2006. He managed to capture the action on video with the sea eagles rolling their bodies in flight and occasionally managing to turn the table on the crows, chasing them off in the process (1 and 2).

Input by Allan Teo and Tang Hung Bun. Images by Allan except House Crow by Tang.

Breeding ecology of the Little Tern

posted in: Nesting, Waders | 1


The series on the Breeding Ecology of the Little Terns (1-6) have been incorporated into the publication below. As such, the individual posts have now been deleted. A PDF copy is available HERE.

J. W. K. Cheah and A. Ng (2008). Breeding ecology of the little tern, Sterna albifrons Pallas, 1764 in Singapore. Nature in Singapore 1:69-73.


Alexandra palm

posted in: Plants | 5

The Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) is named in honour of Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who later became the Queen of England when her husband ascended the throne as Edward VII. The generic name comes from the Greek words archon and phoenix, meaning majestic and date palm. The palm is indeed majestic, with a slender upright stem ringed with the scars of the old fronds and topped with a crown of elegant fronds (above).

This palm, considered one of the most graceful in cultivation, originated from the rainforest of Eastern Australia. It was introduced during the early 20th century and is now commonly grown in many urban gardens and along roadsides. It bears large bunches of red fruits throughout the year, attracting small flocks of Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) that descend on the fruiting branches (above).

The fruit has a large seed and a thin covering of pulp, as shown in the cross-section above.

The starlings are attractive in their all black plumage that appears glossy blackish-green or even slightly bluish-tinged under certain light conditions and of course their bright red eyes. The juveniles are less attractive (above). These birds swallow the fruits whole to later regurgitate the seeds.

Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) (female, above) similarly eat the fruits, arriving stealthily to also swallow and regurgitate the seeds.

Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) and Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) can also be seen, feeding singly or in pairs and pecking on the fruits (above).

The stunningly beautiful but extremely shy Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) has also been seen around (above). And just recently three noisy Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa) suddenly arrived to feast on the fruits. I have also observed Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnontus zeylanicus) on the palm.

Input and images by YC Wee.

Dealing with bird poachers ‘my little way’

posted in: Illegal-Irresponsible | 0

This is a short account of some of my personal experiences with bird trappers and how I dealt with them in exchange for freedom of the birds caught and perhaps saved some poachers from falling foul of the law.

1. When to approach a poacher/trapper and when not to do so:
Each situation is unique. Usually a poacher or trapper is a male and if he is found in a somewhat deserted environment or he looks a rough, tough sort of guy and I happened to be birding alone, I would avoid eye contact and make for a quick exit as though he wasn’t there.

I would be hiding in some bush or undercover and looked to photograph his identification. Such as, his mode of transport, his face profile, in the act of setting up traps or with the poached bird.

Photography is great as it shows the official time and date the image is taken. Confrontation with a poacher or trapper that compromises my safety is the last I want to be embroiled in.

2. My identification and who I represent:
When I bird alone, which I prefer to do a lot, I would usually adorn a prominent identification tag that shows my name and the society I belong to. This is so especially when I visit the villagers for it gives them the assurance that I, as a lady birder, am there to watch and study birds only and come with good intentions. The villagers usually reciprocated well with a warm welcome.

This identification tag no doubt small, says it all with no further explanation needed to justify oneself. It is also effective to ward off the guilty conscience, ill intended ones who fear to confront me at the sight of the tag, regardless of whether the poacher or trapper can read or not.

I make a point to wear the tag with confidence and uphold myself to be a good representation of who I belong – no different a feeling from school days when one puts on a Prefect’s badge, wears a Prefect tie and adorns a School Prefect’s blazer and lead by good examples.

This method saved two juvenile water birds from the cooking pot that I found in fishing net of a tractor driver, ploughing the fields.

He saw a lady approaching him with a scope, binoculars and an identification tag round her neck. A friendly discussion issued. I took some opportunity identification shots. He meekly surrendered the Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea) (above) and Slaty Breasted Rail (Gallirallus striatus) (bleow) and we gave the birds freedom.

3. Advise with visual aid – Copy of Wildlife Protection Laws:
Approaching any trapper or poacher is always done at own risk and I make a point to weigh it well that I am confident to approach the trapper in a friendly way and able to win him over with friendly advice for his sake.

The use of a Copy of the Wildlife Protection Laws by flipping the pages, standing beside him to make sure he sees all those listed protected birds (above). Big words, penalty and jail sentences that confronts him is enough to shrink his pupils.

The result is promising with young trappers who on one occasion thanked me for briefing him and left never to be seen again. (A Copy of the Wildlife Protection Laws can be had in any state library of Malaysia for a small photostatting fee).

4. Report to relevant authorities with proof of photographs:
Photographing trappers and poachers are best done discreetly without their knowledge as the fear of them being reported to, drive poachers’ nuts and they will not hesitate to become verbally and physically abusive to defend themselves. (Their strategy of attack is best form of defence).

Having obtained all the evidence I required, the Branch Chairman of my Society is informed and all information required with photographs are posted to him to make a quick report to the Forestry Department.

The recent prompt action by Enforcement Officers in the Forestry Department to remove mist nettings found in the vicinity of the rare vagrant visitor, Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops) in Penang State is an example of good and effective co-ordination from prompt reporting, action and follow through.

It is a good feeling to know, the Common Hoopoe is saved from potentially flying into the net (below). The rare bird was seen again after the mist nettings were removed- two days after my reporting.

As I mentioned, it is only a personal account of what I do in small ways to save birds single-handedly. Others may do better in their different ways – their way.

Some may say, I try to police others or impose others to think my way or whatever code of birding conduct I may drum up and call them ethics to dictate to others.

Say what they will, I am only answerable to the call of birds that continue to reward me with numerous rare sightings and fellow birders who truly love, respect and care for the avian of the wild have all my due respect.


BESGroup’s Blog: Report for 2006

posted in: uncategorised | 0

The Bird Ecology Study Group was formed in September 2005 to encourage local birders to observe birds rather than to just look at them. This weblog, highlighting various aspects of bird behaviour, was started with the aim of making such information available to everyone and anyone.

Postings initially came from a few supporters. Within a few months longstanding birders as well as newbies contributed their observations. Contributors included members of the Nature Society (Singapore) as well as non-members. Photographers were more than generous in allowing us to make use of their images, many being accidental students of bird behaviour.

The blog has so far proved successful beyond our wildest dream. We started off with one to two postings a week and getting around 30 hits a day. By the end of 2005 we had about 4,000 hits or an average of 1,000 a month. By 2006 birders around the region and the world became more aware of the blog (top). The chart above shows the global share of visitors accessing the blog.

Currently, we are experiencing up to 200 and above hits per day. Our postings have been increased to 5-7 a week. The total number of hits for 2006 is in excess of 35,000. The chart below shows the monthly hits or visits and the number of pages viewed for the year 2006.

So far we have posted a total of 285 articles on bird behaviour – from nesting observations to interspecific relationship; and from feather maintenance to feeding strategies. Birders are now well aware that birds do get drunk, they use ants to remove parasites found on their feathers (anting), that many birds other than raptors cast pellets of indigestible matters from their food, and many more.

How has BESGroup influenced birders in general, you may ask? For starters, e-loop discussions nowadays do not always provide list after list of bird species sighted. On and off you may find these lists peppered with snippets of bird behaviour.

However, the best example of our success is the latest posting in the widlbird e-loop that gives an interesting account of the Oriental Honey-buzzard raiding a bees’ hive at Mount Faber (below). Although the loop discourages images, especially “pretty” images, Alan Owyong has thoughtfully directed viewers to a separate web album where viewers can see the exciting images.

Thank you Alan for taking this first step in sharing this sighting with other birders. BESGroup is gratified to know that there are more birders willing to share. After all, isn’t this the time of the year for sharing?

BESGroup wishes all out supporters (contributors, photographers, viewers, etc.) an interesting and successful birding in this new year. Thank you all.

Breeding ecology of the Little Tern 4: Feeding

posted in: Nesting | 0

The plumage of the Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) during the breeding season shows a prominent black cap on the head and a yellow bill tipped with black (above). The plumage of the juvenile is distinct from that of the adult (below).

Normally all the birds would be facing the persistent wind direction, be it morning or evening. Hence, the adults always got into a bit of trouble positioning themselves for landing in the mornings. Fish was sometimes dropped as a result. Passing on the fish to the juvenile were mostly done without problems in the evenings.

The juveniles were normally near-hysterical whenever the parent arrived with fish (above). They would wave their wings to attract the attention of the arriving parent. The other juveniles normally remained patient and waited their turns. The parent that was keeping an eye on the juveniles would then fly off to get food for the other chick. Should the other chick managed to snatch the fish, the rightful chick would normally chased it around until the fish was dropped and retrieved it.

Originally the chicks were fed with bits and pieces of fish. As the chicks grew they were slowly fed the entire fish caught by the parents (above). The parent bird would hold the fish just behind the head and direct it into the gaping mouth of the juvenile, head first. This would prevent the sharp spines of the fins damaging the throat as the fish slithered down the throat into the stomach.

With a larger fish it was not possible to place it inside the gape. The juvenile had to receive the fish, gripping it just below the head. It then had to manipulate the fish so that it was swallowed head-first (below).

Courtship feeding, as described earlier (a, b) continued throughout this period when the parents were continuously feeding the juveniles.

Input and images by Dr Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong.

Note: The complete account of the breeding ecology of the Little Tern has been published in the online journal, Nature in Singapore. A PDF copu is available HERE.

Migratory habits of Black Baza

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 0

Black Bazas (Aviceda leuphotes) were commonly seen in late November 2006 around Punggol, Sarimbun, Khatib Bongsu and Lake View Promenade (Chinese Garden, Jurong). These birds were of course winter visitors.

On the 26th of that month Chan Yoke Meng encountered a flock of ten Black Bazas. The birds were very skittish, hunting insects that they brought back to their favourite high perches to be consumed. And whenever these bazas were around, there was quietness all around. Only when they moved off did the bulbuls and pigeons reappeared and began calling and singing.

Bazas look like mynas when flying but their flight pattern is distinctly different. Once you are familiar with the two flight patterns, it is easy to differentiate the two birds from afar.

This baza encounter brought back memories of an exciting earlier encounter more than two years ago. On the morning of 31st October 2004, Tang Hung Bun was fortunate enough to witness the spectacular sight of a flock of more than 30 Black Bazas circling the sky above Sime Forest.

And a few weeks later, he had the opportunity of seeing a few Black Bazas foraging in the wooded areas behind his office. There were at least three of them. They hid themselves behind the branches and leaves. When they found something, they flew to it and landed in a rather awkward manner on a bunch of leaves to catch it. They would then fly to a branch to enjoy the meal. As Tang recounted, “The little green insect that you see in the black baza’s beak in one of the photos (above) must be the black baza favourite food. I have seen the black bazas eating them quite a number of times.”

Tang’s earlier posting of his experience attracted the attention of R. Surachai who wrote to inform that Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network (ARRCN) Thai volunteers counted thousands of these bazas flying south towards the Thai-Malaysia border towards the end of October of that year. This would mean that the birds were heading towards Peninsular Malaysia. The few birds that Tang encountered were obviously part of the large flocks that the Thais counted, birds that ended far south into Singapore.

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to add: “I have personally seen a single flock of 100 birds spiralling on a thermal over Mount Faber. They can be seen anywhere in Singapore, with the largest flocks recorded over southern and central parts of the island. Many are also seen along the east coast at places like Loyang and Ubin.

“Small wintering flocks have always over-wintered at sites like the Central Catchment, Pulau Ubin and Sungei Buloh, to name a few.”

Input by Chan Yoke Meng, R. Surachai, Tang Hung Bun and R. Subaraj; images (from top) by Yoke Meng, Johnny Wee and Tang (lower two).

Breeding ecology of the Little Tern 3: Life and death

posted in: Nesting | 0

Things are not always smooth sailing for the chicks of the Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) once they hatch. There is no guarantee that they would develop normally to eventually fledge. In fact not all chicks survive the 20 odd days to fledging.

When Jonathan Cheah was documenting the breeding ecology of the Little Terns (1,, 2), he noticed a larger chick limping through the viewfinder of his camera. As he moved closer he noticed one leg bleeding as the chick hobbled over a sand mound. He went over and found it lying motionless, a usual reaction when a chick is approached. Lifting the chick off the ground, he noticed a foreign object lodged on the chick’s webbed foot. After removing the object he gently placed the chick on the sand and it scuttled off happily (below).

And he also experienced death of chicks. As Jonathan recounts, “The first two days of hatching are very crucial to the survival of the chicks. Failed nests can occur by bad choice of nesting grounds, too many eggs, even stress of parent by predators. Once the chicks can move, the survival rate increases.“

Around the nesting grounds he observed chicks dying (above) but the parent birds do not normally accept the fact that the chicks were dead. In one instance the parent covered the chick’s beak with a rock to prevent ants from entering the carcass. It even continued to sit on the remaining egg and dead chick, whilst being harassed by the sudden increase in flies and ants (below).

Unfortunately the remaining egg did not hatch, most probably due to a super heated ground. Obviously a poor choice of nesting location.

Input and images by Dr Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong.

Territorial Nightjars

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 2

“The Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus) is an uncommon but annual migrant to Singapore. It breeds from northern Thailand all the way up to Siberia. Like the Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia) it is a nocturnal bird that is usually silent away from it’s breeding grounds. In recent years, a few birds have been observed throughout the “winter” period (October – March) around the MacRitchie and Sime Forest areas of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, proving that the species winters here. One to two birds have wintered around the Treetop Walkway area for the past two years or so and have been seen and photographed, during the day, roosting on branches of adjacent trees.

“In all my years of local bird observation, I have only heard this nightjar calling twice… at Sentosa. Calling may be an indication that the bird is holding a winter territory.

“On November 16th, 2006, while conducting an evening bird survey at the Treetop Walkway (above), I was pleased to hear a Grey Nightjar calling loudly at dusk. The call was a quickly repeated “tuc” note in a series of several in a row. The call was coming from a large Terentang tree (Campnosperma auriculatum) where this species has been regularly seen roosting before. Along with Benjamin Lee and Janet Hong, who were with me at the time, we quickly moved closer. What followed was both unexpected and exciting.

“The calling Grey Nightjar was being harassed by a resident Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) (above). The latter may not have been pleased about this visitor calling loudly within what it considered it’s territory. Instead of retreating and going silent, as expected, the Grey chased off it’s larger cousin before returning to the tree to call loudly from a branch. This scene was replayed twice or thrice more, before the Grey chased the Large-tailed away. We could see the chase below us before they both disappeared into the darkness. Subsequently, the Grey was heard calling loudly again from a different tree.

“What can we make of this scene and the behaviour witnessed? Well, many migrants do not call because they are not at their breeding grounds defending their territory or seeking a mate. However, there are many others who call constantly while here. Why the difference? In many cases, this may be the difference between passage migrants and wintering visitors.

“A passage migrant simply passes through Singapore, on its way to further south… probably Indonesia. They may stop to feed for a few days or if the weather is unfavourable (as well as when there is a thick haze in the way) but they do not stake out a feeding territory for their short stint here, hence no need to call. Some, like the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia), may stopover for a bit longer and sets up a temporary territory by calling from selected perches. Others, like the Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) (above) only call once or twice, at dawn or dusk… contact call to any of their kind that may be about? Who knows?

“A winter visitor actually spends the cold northern winter here in tropical Singapore, often staying a few months before returning to their breeding grounds in spring. As they are here for quite a while, they set up a territory in which they feed and sometimes drive away others of their kind, like the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (above) does. Throughout the “winter” months (this period varies from species to species), we are treated to the calls of Arctic Warblers (Phylloscopus borealis), Asian Brown Flycatchers (Muscicapa dauurica), Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus) (below), Siberian Blue Robins (Luscinia cyane) and many, many more northern visitors.

“So, the calling and aggression displayed by the Grey Nightjar on Thursday may simply be further proof that this species is now a winter visitor in Singapore.”

Submitted by Subaraj Rajathurai, 18th November 2006

Images by YC (Treetop Walkway), Chan Yoke Meng (Blue-winged Pitta, Brown Shrike), KC Tsang (Common Kingfisher) and Tang Hung Bun (Large-tailed Nightjar).

Moulting 1

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0

On and off I have been picking up various types of feathers in my garden and along my driveway (above: Javan Myna contour feather, top left; down, top right; tail, middle; Black-naped Oriole tail feather, bottom). During the time when I was interested in plants (and not in birds), I considered these as discarded feathers, detached as a result of fights between birds. Now that I am a “sometime-birdwatcher”, I am slightly more enlightened.

I now know that these feathers have been discarded naturally as a result of moulting. Now why do birds discard their feathers?

Feathers are important to birds. They insulate them from the cold and enable them to fly. But feathers undergo wear and tear. They become brittle, frayed and sometimes get damaged by ectoparasites. Worn and damaged feathers cannot function well and this can prove fatal if the bird cannot fly properly.

As feathers are dead structures, they need to be replaced regularly. And this process is known as moulting. In moulting, the growth of the new feather pushes out the old from its follicle.

Moulting may be partial or complete. Partial moult occurs when only certain feathers or groups of feathers are replaced. Complete moult occurs when all the feathers are replaced. Thus when birds develop their winter plumage or change from juvenile to adult plumage, moulting was at work.

The image below is a moulted breast or more likely belly feathers of a Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu), picked up below the owl’s roost by Melinda Chan.

Our field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng has this to say: “Birds do have a season to moult, usually after their breeding season. In Singapore, most birds breed from Feb/March till July/Aug, maybe Sep. Many species here overlap moult and breeding slightly so they will start moulting in July/Aug and end by Oct/Nov when the NE monsoon starts. Many species, especially passerines, have straight forward sequential moult; others like cuckoos, hawks, herons, fruit doves etc have very complicated multiple moult series and yet some species like rails, grebes and probably bitterns moult all feathers at once and go flightless during that period. And mind you, we are only talking mainly about primary feather moult. We know even less about other flight feather moult and almost nothing about body feather moult.”

Input and images by YC; expert information by Wang Luan Keng and owl’s feather provided by Melinda Chan.

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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