Extinct birds of Singapore: Trogons

posted in: Species | 0

Trogons (Family Trogonidae) are a small group of rainforest birds. They are shy and difficult to see, unless you are familiar with their calls. They remain in the interior of the forest, sitting quietly on a horizontal branch, waiting patiently for prey. Once spotted, the bird seizes the prey in a matter of seconds to return to the perch to eat it quietly. Movements by these birds are thus minimal.


The bird moves to the ground only to catch prey. On the ground, it has difficulties walking, as the legs are short, the tarsus (that section of the foot between the heel and the toes) being shorter than the longest toe. However, the toes are specially adapted for gripping branches, like parrots, cuckoos and woodpeckers, as trogons spend most of their time on the branch.

Asian trogons eat a mixture of animals and fruits.

Once upon a time, Singapore was home to two species of trogons: Red-naped Trogon (Harpactes kasumba) (top left) and Diard’s Trogon (H. diardii) (top right). Like most trogons, their plumage is stunningly colourful – a combination of red, black, white and blue. Now, local birders need to travel north to Peninsular Malaysia to catch a view of these spectacular birds.


Morten Strange & YC Wee
February 2008

Images from the book “A Passion for Birds” courtesy of Ong Kiem Sian.

Himalayan Swiftlet: 1. Sighting

posted in: Swifts-Swallows | 11

On 7th January 2008 at 1047 hours, KC Tsang was witness to a number of Himalayan Swiftlets (Aerodramus brevirostris) among a flock of swifts and Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) hunting for insects stirred up by grass cutting activity at the grounds of Turf Club City. The number of birds hovering around was about 50.

The occurrence of Himalayan Swiftlet in Singapore has been mired in controversy since the 1990s when R. Subaraj, among others, first reported it as an uncommon passage migrant (Wang & Hails 2007). Unfortunately these observations were not authenticated with notes and thus not included in the latest Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore.


Now, KC has provided hard evidence in the form of an image. He posted his image in BirdForum.Net and got a response from Sean in Hiroshima, Japan, who noted:

“…think there are four possible swiftlet species in Singapore. …Two are resident – Black-nest and Germain’s while two are migrants – Glossy and Himalayan.

“I have only seen three of the species, Black-nest, Germain’s and Himalayan, but Himalayan seems right to me for the following reasons.

“Glossy can be ruled out, as it is very small, has dark throat that contrasts with white belly and a slightly forked tail. Black-nest is darker underneath and has no notch in the tail. It also has a pale rump band, though this cannot be seen in the picture. Germain’s is possible as it is light underneath on throat and belly, but as it only has a shallow forked tail this seems unlikely. This species has a very obvious wide white rump, though again this is not viewable in the picture.

“So Himalayan with its relatively pale underparts and deeper notched tail seems most likely, They do have a paler area on the rump in some races, but never as white or obvious as Germain’s or even Black-nest.”

Most of the experienced younger birders are confident that it is Himalayan but the older ones are rather hesistant to give their outright support.

Except Subaraj, who is naturally jubilant, that he has been right all along: “Nice shot! Pity that you did not manage a shot of the upperparts as well but based on the curved, pointy wings and prominent tail notch, I would agree that this is a Himalayan Swiftlet.

“I cannot be certain of which race you have photographed though as there is no view of the upperparts and the colouration of a photo is not always the exact colour of the actual bird.

“Based on my observations over the years, the Himalayan Swiftlet is one of our commonest migrants. Most pass through on passage but birds can be seen throughout the wintering months. They can be seen anywhere in Singapore and Johor. Birds on passage can regularly be observed at various sites including MacRitchie, Changi Reclaimation, Serangoon, Tanjong Piai, Bintan or even on a boat between Singapore and the Riau Islands. At the Gap, at Frasers, hundreds can be observed moving through with Fork-tailed Swifts during passage.

“I have identified two races here; the nominate race brevirostris, which is very common on passage and in smaller numbers during the mid-winter period and the race rogersi (sometimes treated as a separate species called the Indochinese Swiftlet), which is mainly a passage migrant in small numbers.

“The nominate race appears slightly larger, is darker above with a narrow wide rump band, and a longer trail and wings. C.b.rogersi is slightly shorter winged and tailed, has a brownish wash to the upper plumage and the broader rump is buff. Both are prominently notched, in the tail.

“Most birders here live with an old-fashioned mind-set and still refuse to accept that this species can be readily identified in the field. That is why you will not find it on the NSS BG’s checklist. It has been on my personal bird checklist for nearly a decade now. Elsewhere in the world, birders have no problem identifying this species in the field. They work hard with better optics and field id guides, to resolve the field characteristics of similar species. I spent years doing the same here but the so called “powers to be” scoffed at anything that they themselves have not bothered learning to identify!

“I will continue operating outside the box and am glad that you have chosen to do so too.”

KC Tsang & R Subaraj
February 2008
(image by KC Tsang)

Olive-backed Sunbird: Collecting nesting materials

posted in: Nesting, Sunbirds | 0

Fronting my house is a Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) tree that was replaced many months ago and the newly planted tree is supported by posts. The posts are being secured to the tree trunk with red nylon ropes. In an effort to ensure that the bark is not damaged, a piece of synthetic fabric was wrapped round the trunk.

The piece of fabric has since worn away by sun and rain, such that the fabric is fraying and the white fibres sticking out all over.


Of late, a female Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) has been seen around the tree fluttering about collecting the fibres, obviously for nesting materials (above). The moment it has a few fibres, it flies away, to return a few minutes later. It has been at the job for weeks now but I cannot say for certain whether it is the same bird or different birds.

The bird would fly to the tree, perch on the rope and vigorously peck at the fibres to dislodge them from the piece of fabric. It then flew off to add the few pieces of fibres to line its unfinished nest. Sometimes it would flutter around the piece of worn out fabric to collect a beak-full of choice fibres.

This is the beginning of the breeding season and time to start a family and the female sunbird is hard at work collecting nesting materials and constructing her nest, probably somewhere nearby.

YC Wee
February 2008

Bird watching in Bali: 2. Ubud & Bedugul Botanic Gardens

posted in: Travel-Personality | 0


Bali, an Indonesian island west of Java, has always projected an image of a tropical paradise to visitors – sun, sea and sand. The island is picturesque, the people friendly and the culture rich and at the same time mystifying. Besides, the cost is always affordable to budget tourists.

Standard packages offered to tourists wishing to visit Bali seldom cover bird watching. In fact when Connie SY Khoo and Lim Phaik Imm, suggested bird watching, travel agents invariably responded that Bali is not the place to bird-watch. In exasperation, they tailored a trip for their specific needs and returned to Malaysia fully satisfied with it – see earlier posting on White Herons of Petulu.

“We landed at Ngurah Ria International Airport on 8th November 2007 and travelled an hour to Ubud. Situated along the slope leading up the central mountains, this is the cultural and culinary centre where Balinese paintings and woodcarvings are plentiful.


“The standard tourist itinerary includes watching the Pemaksan Barong Denjalan (Barong & Kris Dance) based on the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabarata, a visit up the mountain to see the active Kintamani volcano with a spectacular view of Batur Lake (above left) and of course the terraced rice fields of Bukit Jambul and Tegalalang (above right).


“Despite these distractions, we managed to bird watch around our bungalow at Ubud and saw the following: Brown-throated Sunbird, Plaintive Cuckoo, White-breasted Waterhen, Javan Munia (above, juvenile right), Spotted Dove, Peaceful Dove, Eurasian Tree-sparrow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Streaked Weaver and Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker.

“Along the way we stopped by paddy fields and Bong Kasar Village where we saw some endemic species like Javan Kingfisher, Javan Munia and Bar-winged Prinia. Other birds seen include Wood Sandpiper, Scarly-breasted Munia, Long-tailed Shrike, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Javan Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Zitting Cisticola and White-bellied Swiflet.

“The guide suggested a stop mid-way at Bedugul Botanic Gardens or UPT Konservasi Tumbuhan Kebun Raya ‘Eka Karya’ Bali. Bedugal, a mountain village quite similar to Cameron Highland, is about 70 km or 1 hour 30 minutes from Ubud. Here, we bird watched for 2 hours and spent more time on our return journey.



“This is a good birding area with scenic view and cool refreshing air. Species seen include: Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) (above, top left), ?Brown Honey Eater (Lichmera indistincta) (above, top right), Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon (Treron griseicauda) (above, bottom left), Short-tailed Starling (Aplonis minor) (above, bottom right).

“We also managed to see a Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher (Rhinomyias olivacea) (left)

Input by Connie SY Khoo and Lim Phaik Imm, images by Connie.
Map from http://images.google.com.my/imgres?imgurl=http://www.overseas-campus.info/images/map_Bali.jpg

Java Sparrow conservation 060108


The Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora) is indigenous to Java and Bali, from where it spread throughout the tropical world as a result of deliberate release and escape of captive birds (above).

In its home country of Java, the highest concentration of the sparrow is around the Prambanan Temple area in Yogyakata. This temple, the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia, was built during the Sanjaya Dynasty around 732 and is currently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


As a heritage site the complex is regularly maintained. The surrounding vegetation as well as any growths on the temple walls are cleared. Nests of these sparrows among the archeological complex are similarly removed. Such maintenance obviously affects the nesting sites of these sparrows.

The continued capture of the birds for the cage bird trade again has an effect on the overall population.


Kutilang Indonesia Foundation, an NGO, has initiated a conservation programme to ensure the survival of these beautiful Java Sparrows. One of its activities has been the provision of artificial nest boxes to give alternative nesting sites (left).

In 2007 two pairs of birds actually occupied these boxes and successfully raised a total of seven chicks, a sure sign of success for the efforts of the Indonesian NGO.

Input and images of the birds-nesting box by Sunaring Kurniandaru, image of Java Sparrow (top) courtesy of Peter Ericsson.

Saraca and sunbirds

posted in: Feeding-plants, Plants, Sunbirds | 2

James Heng was at Lower Peirce in late January 2008 when he came across a sarcaca tree, possibly yellow saraca (Saraca thaipingensis), in full bloom:


“There are about five pairs of Purple Throated Sunbirds (Nectariniua sperata) feeding voraciously on the flowers of a tree at Lower Pierce Reservoir (above).

“That flowering saraca tree is a magnet for the birds of the Nectariniidae family. At one point in time this afternoon, there were four species of sunbirds – Olive Backed (Cinnyris jugularis), Brown-throated (Anthreptes malacensis), Crimson (A. siparaja) and Purple Throated, feeding together on the flowers’ nectar at the same time.

“A pair of Scarlet-Backed Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum cruentatum) also decided to join in the buffet. They plucked off and ate the saraca small green fruits.

“The feeding frenzy rose several notches just before and immediately after each of the intermittent episodes of rain.”


There are a few species of saraca trees planted in Singapore, originating from nearby Malaysia. The image above shows the yellow saraca with its attractive purple young leaves hanging like tassels from the ends of branches. It would take a few days before these leaves stiffen up and turn green. The tree is just beginning to flower. When in full flowering, the large bunches of yellow to orange-red flowers appear in dense clusters from the main branches and trunk. The flowers are faintly fragrant, each with a crimson eye-spot that darkens to blood-red.

The tree attracts many species of birds that visit for the flower nectar and fruits.

James Heng
January 2008
(Image of sunbird by David Tan and of tree by YC Wee)

Save our albizia trees

posted in: Conservation, Plants | 3

Albizia (Paraserianthes falcataria) trees have been in the local news since the recent spate of tree falls that resulted in a number of people being injured and even killed – locally as well as in neighbouring Malaysia. As a result of the bad publicity in the media, various government agencies have been quick to remove these large and graceful trees from wastelands all over Singapore.

The tree is native to countries in east Malesia to the Solomons. It was introduced and grown in the Singapore Botanic Gardens in the 1870s. It has been flourishing in wastelands ever since. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are found growing in the roots help the trees to proliferate in these nutrient-poor soils.

The tree is fast-growing, capable of attaining 20 metres in three years or more. It bears compound leaves, bearing small white flowers that develop into pods. It grows tall, with wide-spreading branches and as such was once commonly used as a shade tree in coffee and tea plantings. Because growth is rapid, the wood is soft and earlier used in the manufacturing of matches and packing boards.

Since the start of Singapore’s Garden City Campaign in the 1950s, albizia has never been used as a roadside tree. In fact, any found growing near roads were removed. The shedding of branches during tropical storms and the aggressive roots that grow near the soil surface make it dangerous for such use.

Albizia trees are now confined to wastelands where they proliferate, helping to reduce soil erosion and providing refuge to a wide variety of wildlife (above). Yes, there is always the possibility of branches falling, but away from human habitation and in areas where few, if ever, any people venture, they should not pose any threat to life and limb. Their presence thus should be tolerated. To chop down these magnificent trees and replace them with other species is a waste of resources.



According to an article by Dr Ho Hwa Chew, these trees are rich in wildlife. There are at least 40 resident and migratory bird species that make use of the trees, either seeking food, nesting materials or a place to build their nests. Prominent among which are the Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense) (right), Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda), Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) and Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa). The White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus) and Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus) make use of these trees to nest.

At the same time, natural cavities that develop in these old trees provide potential nesting holes for hornbills, as seen in an old and magnificent tree at Eng Neo. Although the pair of hornbills, Great (Buceros bicronis) and Rhinoceros (Buceros rhinoceros), are both escapees, not to mention that they are also both females, the fact that they were prospecting for a nesting cavity points to the value of albizia to the bird life of our Garden City, if not a City in a Garden – see 1 and 2 for details.

Also, an old, rotting albizia trunk nearby, that was never a danger to anyone, was the centre of a busy and exciting community of birds that fought for the privilege of making use of the few cavities for nesting, posted earlier: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

So, where these large and beautiful trees pose no danger to anyone, can the authorities please leave them alone?

YC Wee & Ho Hua Chew
January 2008

(This post has been commissioned by Yong Ding Li, who is concerned that these trees would continue to be indiscriminately removed. Images by YC Wee.)

A sparrowhawk crash-landed in Hougang

posted in: Raptors, Rescue | 3


A bird flew onto the balcony of Daniel Koh’s apartment in Hougang on the night of 17th January 2008 at around 2200 hours. The bird did not appear to be physically hurt but in shock. Daniel kept it overnight in a large cage for observations.

Initially thought to be a cuckoo, Daniel soon realized that it was a raptor, from the looks of the claws. He later identified it as a Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis).

The next morning the bird appeared restless and so it was released at around 1400 hours at Lorong Halus. Once released, it immediately flew towards the secondary forest where it disappeared.

This is a common winter visitor and passage migrant. The bird could probably be tired and disorientated after its long flight from the north and crashed onto the balcony. Or it may be chasing a prey…?

The sparrowhawk breeds in East Russia, Southeast Siberia, Japan and China. It migrates southward from late September to December to winter in Southeast Asia. From mid-March to mid-April it moves back north.

Daniel Koh
January 2008
(Images by Daniel Koh and Chan Yoke Meng)

Mobbing of Spotted Wood Owl at Toa Payoh

posted in: Owls | 3

The loud cawing of crows outside her apartment window alerted Gloria Seow to an exciting spectacle of an owl being mobbed…

“Unbelievably, a Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo) appeared at 2pm on 19th January 2008 in the most unlikely of places – on a tree just outside my 12th floor flat in Toa Payoh, a housing estate in Singapore with towering flats up to 40 stories high. However, my house happens to be located just beside a grove of shady mature trees providing thick leafy cover ideal for an owl’s daytime roost.


“This grove is also the home to dozens of other birds. Over the last two years, I have recorded 31 species seen in Toa Payoh itself, from migrants like the Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus), Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis), Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica) and Crested (Oriental) Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), to residents like the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos moluccensis), Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) and Pied Triller (Lalage nigra). All these birds were seen in the trees right at my carpark. Even the concretised canals hold water birds like the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) and Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris).

“Still, the appearance of this rather rare owl was a huge surprise to me. I was alerted to its presence by the loud and persistent caws of House Crows (Corvus splendens) emanating from just outside my study’s window.

“I took a quick glance and saw a curious brownish bird which I thought at first to be a female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) (as seen from afar), and it seemed to be at the center of the crows’ attention. Since I’m one that makes a habit of peering at birds outside my windows through my binoculars, I decided that a closer look was in order. Imagine my shock and utter delight when I realized that the Koel was actually a Spotted Wood Owl.

“However, I soon realised that my Owl was under siege. The crows were mobbing it relentlessly and mercilessly throughout my 40 minutes of observation, dancing around the poor, agitated Owl, taking turns to jab and jeer at it from all directions. The Owl in turn followed this threatening display with increasing irritation, swiveling its head all 270 degrees as it tracked the movements of these aggressive warrior crows. It also attempted to lunge back at the black menace, snapping its razor-sharp beak in turn, but no actual physical contact was made between the birds. There was a point when the Owl almost lost its balance trying to defend its perch. In the end, the crows won the battle, successfully asserting their territorial claim by chasing my beloved Owl away. The video of this avian drama has now been uploaded to youtube.

“This Spotted Wood Owl could be the same one recorded at the former Bidadari Cemetery (now transformed into a jogger’s park), which is located about 3 km away. It could also be a post-breeding dispersal juvenile trying to establish new territory. My house is near the fringe of the Central Catchment Area, with MacRitchie Reservoir, a potential owl roosting ground, being just 1.5 km away.”

All over the world, predator birds are regularly mobbed by smaller birds. Over in Singapore, owls are often mobbed, especially when seen roosting during the day: two cases involving Spotted Wood Owl (1, 2) and one with Barn Owl (Tyto alba) have earlier been posted.

Input and image by Gloria Seow.

Common Tailorbird: Another failed nesting

posted in: Nesting-failed | 4

On the morning of 7th November 2007, Tan Teo Seng brought me a cutting of a creeper with a Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) nest still attached to it. Inside were three damaged eggs.


The nest was attached to a number of aerial roots of the creeper and a single leaf of the climber, an araceous plant. A single dried avocado (Persea americana) leaf was sewn to the leaf of the climber to complete the shell within which the nest was lodged (above left). Copious cobwebs were used in the construction of the nest, as shown in previous posts (1, 2). So good was the camouflage that the gardener did not notice the nest when he trimmed the plants growing along the wall of the porch.

When Teo Seng discovered the gardener’s mistake, he immediately took the nest, still attached to the plant stem and hung it back. There were three small, light bluish eggs covered with various sized chestnut blotches and speckles.


The next day when he examined the nest, he found a small puncture in each of the three eggs. When he handed the nest and contents to me three days later, the openings were large and the eggs empty (left).

A few questions need answers. Did the parent birds returned and punctured the eggs, considering that the nest and eggs were disturbed? Could it be predation? In which case why were the eggs not seriously damaged? Are there any animals capable of causing a small puncture on the egg to extract the contents?

If any reader has an answer, please share with us.

An earlier failed nesting of a pair of tailorbirds was due to the parent birds not feeding the two chicks that eventually died in the nest.

Tan Teo Seng
January 2008
(Images by YC Wee)

Orange-headed Thrush: Observations on a rare winter visitor

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 2


On the cloudy morning (1000-1100 hours) of 15th January 2008, Tan Gim Cheong was at Hindhede Quarry, Bukt Timah Nature Reserve when he encountered an Orange-headed Thrush (Zoothera citrina)…

“Arrived at Hindhede to the sound of a large group of people having team building activities.

“Looked around and located the beautiful Orange-headed Thrush (which betrayed its presence with its singing) on the ground. Moving about on the ground, it sang for about 10 minutes, foraged a bit, sang a bit more, then settled to preen. It flew three or four times, some of which were to avoid foraging squirrels/treeshrews. Its flight was swift and direct. During the first flight, it flew onto a branch at eye level and preened itself a bit. Even when the big group of people moved near, the OHT didn’t seem too concerned.”

Gim Cheong returned to the site the next day, this time from 1600-1700 hours when it was partly cloudy before turning sunny…

“Quiet today, very few people. OHT did not sing today. Foraging on the ground, it ‘poped’ across the openings in the vegetation every now and then allowing for unblocked views. As I thought about its behaviour, the day before and today, I get this feeling that as it foraged nonchalantly, it was also curious and was observing me as much as I was observing it!”

This thrush breeds in the Himalayas, South China, through to Southeast Asia. It winters in the Malay Peninsular, Java, Sumatra, Bali and Borneo. It is a rare visitor to Singapore.

The above is an interesting piece of observation by a young perceptive birdwatcher. It is heartening to note that more and more birdwatchers are now sending reports of bird behaviour to e-groups like pigeon-holes, BESG and even wildbirdSingapore. Obviously competition is good for everyone.

Tan Gim Cheong
January 2008

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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