The fig tree at Bukit Timah: 1. Efforts at documentation

posted in: Plants | 3

A figging fig tree is heard long before it is actually seen. This is exactly the situation with the old fig tree growing at the summit of Bukit Timah. This Benjamin fig or waringin (Ficus benjamina) figs rather irregularly. But each time it figs, the tree attracts numerous birds, in terms of number of birds as well as number of species. At such times the tree generates great excitement among local birders. They all flock to it to watch the birds having a feast, to record the number of species that are attracted to the tree and to make a count of each species.

This has been going on for years and generations of birdwatchers continue to get excited by the event. With so many species of birds congregating in one tree, trampling around the countryside to see the different species becomes unnecessary. And each time the tree figs, one or a few enthusiastic birders will make available a list of species that visit the tree.

This year’s figging happened during the last week of September and lasted for less that two weeks. The tree is once again silent. This time Yong Ding Li, an enthusiastic new-generation birder who provided the list, enthused: “The famous fig tree at the summit, known to be of sacred importance to many birdwatchers ‘fruited’ the last three days and activity is still on with massive clumps of orange red figs. The bulbuls and bluebirds are actively making their gastronomic pilgrimage there, and so should we! (avian pilgrimage I mean).”

Ding Li’s list of the birds and their numbers (in and around the vicinity of the tree), recorded on 25th September: Oriental Honey Buzzard 1; Japanese Sparrowhawk 2; Great Hornbill 1; Rhinoceros Hornbill 1; Thick-billed Green-Pigeon 2; Himalayan Swiftlet 5-7; Edible-nest Swiftlet type 20-30; Asian Fairy Bluebird 15; Lesser Green Leafbird 2; Greater Green Leafbird 2; Blue-winged Leafbird 5; Red-eyed Bulbul 12; Cream-vented Bulbul 6; Olive-winged Bulbul 8; Black-crested Bulbul 2; Asian Paradise Flycatcher 2; Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 3; Arctic Warbler 4; Eastern Crowned Warbler 18; Hill Myna 10; Tiger Shrike 1; Chestnut-bellied Malkoha 2; Dark-necked Tailorbird 2; Crimson Sunbird 1; Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2; Orange-bellied Flowerpecker 3; Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 2; Large-billed Crow 2; and Blue-throated Bee-eater 2.

This is an impressive list of 29 species of birds that joined in the fig feast or were around the area. I am sure birdwatchers are appreciative of his efforts.

Thank you, Ding Li for compiling the list. Image of the tree (top) and longi-section of a ripe fig (bottom) by YC.

Tiger Shrike and the caged white-eye

posted in: Interspecific | 4

Tiger Shrikes (Lanius tigrinus) are small, harmless-looking songbirds that are far from harmless. In fact they are aggressive predators, behaving like small raptors when hunting. No doubt about it, they are carnivorous and their diet includes large insects, small rodents, reptiles and mammals. They also eat small songbirds. Their upper mandible ends in a strong, hooked bill that they use with great efficiency to kill and dismember prey.

Chan Yoke Meng was recently witness to a juvenile Tiger Shrike trying to get at four white-eyes confined safely inside a cage. As the shrike landed on one side of the cage, the captive white-eyes panicked and fluttered to the other side. The shrike then flew to the other side, sending the white-eyes panicking to the opposite side.

Even after shrike gave up and perched nearby on a nylon rope, the white-eyes were still in a state of frenzy. I suppose the white-eyes could consider themselves lucky to be inside a cage that day.

Melinda Chan sent a link that shows a Long-Tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) killing a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) and successfully airlifting the carcass to its nest after several tries. This was photographed at Candaba Swamp, Pampanga, Philippines on July 17, 2004.

Input and images by Meng and Melinda Chan.

Poaching of Straw-headed Bulbul

posted in: Illegal-Irresponsible | 0

The following account and images were received on 9th September 2006 from some nature lovers who wish to remain anonymous:

“We met two poachers at Mandai yesterday morning. They were using a live decoy of a caged Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus).

“We were walking along a trail when we heard the song of the Straw-headed Bulbul. There was a pair perching high up on a branch of a tree. But the bulbul’s singing was coming from a patch of vegetation nearby. As we came nearer to the patch, someone cleared his throat. We immediately realised that there were poachers around. Two of them were hiding among the vegetation – with a small cage.

“We pretended not to see them and casually walked past to avoid any unpleasantness. From a distance we managed to snap one of the two poachers (top image). There were two vehicles parked at the start of the trail. We suspected the white van may be the poachers’ vehicle.”

October 2006

Bird waves

A birdwave is a gathering of insectivorous bird species that move together to stir up insects. This is a common happening in forests, from the lowlands to the mountains. The more birds involved, the more insects are stirred up and the better chance of having a buffet.

My first encounter with a birdwave was at Hindhede Park, by the western edge of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I was walking towards the edge of the wooden walkway when suddenly the air was filled with the sounds of numerous birds flying above. Being then not into birdwatching, I was not able to identify the species except for the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradisus) (above). The birds were flying in waves through the treetops, picking out insects one by one. After a few minutes they suddenly dispersed and all became normal again.

We are all familiar with birdwaves in forests. But it apparently also occurs in the Housing Board’s heartland, as Yong Ding Li, an up and coming birder describes it: “…white-eyes are frequent participant of the many HDB birdwaves consisting of Olive-backed Sunbirds (Nectarinia jugularis), Brown-throated Sunbirds (Anthreptes malacensis), Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos moluccensis), Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), Pied Triller (Lalage nigra) and the occasional Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis) on yellow flames.”

Ding Li has promised to provide a more detailed account of birdwaves in the HDB heartland and we are eagerly looking forward to it.

Input by YC Wee, Yong Ding Li and bird specialist R. Subaraj. Image by YC Wee and Johnny Wee (drongo).

Faecal sac

posted in: Waste | 1

How do birds deal with wastes generated by their nestlings? Those of the Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata) seen on the left obviously do not practice sanitary hygiene, soiling their nest with their faeces.

Some parent birds actually eat the faeces during the first few days after the nestlings hatch. At this early stage, the droppings are rich in partially digested food as their intestines lack the necessary bacteria for complete digestion.

As the nestlings grow older and the bacteria set in, the faeces need to be disposed of. Many nestlings simply turn around, point their posteriors away from the nest and fire away. Depending on the aim, they may keep the nest clean or end up fouling it.

Others dispose of their waste via faecal sacs. These sacs are made of strong mucous that the parent birds can easily pick and dispose of some distance from the nest. Robins and bluebirds have been reported to fly off and drop the sacs some distance away. Grackles almost always drop faecal sacs over water but when they nest in backyards where there are no rivers or streams nearby, they tend to drop them in swimming pools.

A recent study in Georgia, USA found that Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) places these sacs on electric wires, wooden fence posts, tree branches and even on top of a utility pole. Why? To reduce the chance of predators locating the nests through visual or chemical evidence.

Local birders have always been aware that certain species of birds dispose of the nestlings’ wastes via faecal sacs. The image above shows a female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) removing a faecal sac full of mistletoe seeds from a nestling. We take for granted that these sacs are disposed of some distance from the nests. But we should keep a look out on exactly where these sacs are disposed.

In November 2004, Tang Hung Bun observed an off-season nesting by a pair of Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers. He videoed the feeding and removal of the faecal sac which was extra large. This large sac contained green, undigested mistletoe seeds.

Input by YC, images by YC (top, middle) and Tang Hung Bun (bottom).

Link to video provided by Tang here and another videoed by Prof Ng Soon Chye here.

Attack of Dollarbirds’ nest by starlings II

posted in: Interspecific | 0

On 16th September 2006 we posted an account of the attack by a small flock of Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) on an open Dollarbirds’ (Eurystomus orientalis) nest in Lim Chu Kang. Unfortunately the account was not accompanied by images. The photographer has since found and forwarded these images to me. Captured on film, the attack of the starlings and the panic defense of the dollarbird pair make for awsome viewing.

6.38 pm: One of the Dollarbirds was by the nesting hole while its mate was on a branch nearby. The former noticed the arrival of the starlings and gave alarm.

6.39 pm: The bird on the nearby branch immediately flew to join its mate by the nesting hole.

6.39 pm: Both birds were aggressively defending their nest, screaming loudly. One starling approached…

6.39 pm: Then there were two starlings…

dollarbird-starling [Meng]  - 5 (1)

6.40 pm: One of the Dollarbirds lunged an attack…

6.40 pm: …to chase off the arriving starlings.

The second Dollarbird joined in the attack. The nesting hole was left undefended. The rest, as they say, is history…

Thanks Meng and Melinda Chan for making available these dramatic images.

Tale of the Stork-billed Kingfisher

Seeing a kingfisher fishes for its meal in swift, precision manoeuvre is always a joy nature provides. Witnessing a ruthless kill of the catch by whacking the fish to death against a thick branch beside which the bird perched, sent me speechless. Having that one rare opportunity to digiscope a Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis) trying to swallow a catch bigger than his head, sent tremors to my fingers as I nervously raced against time to capture this gorgeous and disproportionately colourful bird framed in that moment of time – time that stood still… just for me.

The Stork-billed Kingfisher belongs to the family of Alcedinidae and is one of the 86 species in the world under the sub-family description of Halcyon. The word ‘HALCYON’ is derived from Greek mythology. How it was given this name is told in the following and interesting ‘Romeo & Juliet Grecian-style legend.

‘Halcyone’, once Goddess of the Winds married a Trachisan king called Ceyx. Soon after their marriage, the king drowned in a stormy sea. The grieving queen having learnt of his death in her dream was overwhelmed with sorrow and took her own life by jumping into the sea close to where King Ceyx’s ship was wrecked. The Gods felt sorry and took pity on Halcyone and resurrected Ceyx, changing the King and Queen into kingfishers so they may live happily together, always close to the element of water. It was also promised by the Gods that when Halcyone and her descendants were hatching eggs in their nests, which were to be lined with fish bones floating on the tide, the winds would be stilled and the waters calmed.

It was also promised by the Gods that the seven days before the shortest day of the year in December was the time to build their nests and the seven days afterwards to hatch the eggs. Keeping in mind that the legend came from Greece, the Mediterranean Sea is usually calmer during the shortest days of the year. This ties in with the old stories, hence the term ‘halcyon days’ refers to a period of contentment and calm.

It would also be interesting to research the Chinese Almanac to determine when the shortest day would be for those who aspire to search for nesting sites of the Stork-billed Kingfishers in Asia. Should you come across a nesting site – a hole lined with discarded fish bones, you should know that it belongs to the Halcyon subfamily of kingfishers, one that lives on fish provided as promised by their mythological Gods.

If you see and photograph a nesting site of the Stork-billed Kingfisher and be unseen, one has to be born under a lucky star.

Submitted by: DAISY O’NEILL (Avian Writer), PENANG, MALAYSIA. All images by Daisy.

The Osprey and the White-bellied Sea Eagles

posted in: Interspecific | 2

Allan Teo was at his friends’ farm in Kahang, Malaysia, recently when he noticed an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) flying towards the fish pond. The pond had more than 1,000 fish and was the territory of the White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster). Such a rich fishing ground was too tempting for the Osprey but the sea eagle were not about to allow an intruding Osprey fish there.

The Osprey started fishing and two eagles immediately gave chase. This did not deter the Osprey. It eventually caught a fish even though it was harassed by the two eagles. Not satisfied, the eagles chased the Osprey for more than a kilometer until it was out of sight.

As Allan noted: “When I returned to examine my photos, I noted this perfect mirror image shot that I did not notice in the field.

“I was told that raptors do not do ‘loops’ in the sky. However this photo shows that to be not true. Again the camera captures what the eye cannot see. Even when one-meter wingspan birds are fighting over your head.

“So the Osprey can fish while being harassed. I was glad this happened as it allowed extended camera opportunities.”

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to say: “The White-bellied Sea Eagle featured is not a full adult. Ospreys are not residents but visitors to our shores. Confrontations between competitors for fish are not as rare as we think and more observations should produce more stories of such encounters.

“I remember back in the late 1980s watching a White-bellied Sea Eagle continually harassing an Osprey carrying a fish over Kranji Reservoir until it dropped its prey, which was then taken by the eagle. This is almost a form of kleptoparatism, like what frigatebirds and skuas normally indulge in.

“As for the aerial acrobatics, raptors often lock talons in mid-flight during courtship displays, with one upside down like in the photo. They can also invert themselves during territorial battles or when fending off harassment from pests like crows. Excellent photos though!”

Account and images by Allan Teo, September 2006. Osprey on the right (top image), left (centre image) and top (bottom image).

Blue-throated Bee-eater

posted in: Bee-eaters, Nesting | 0

Like all bee-eaters, the Blue-throated (Merops viridis) is an earth-hole nester. It excavates a tunnel in the sandy ground, often from a slight incline, but also on flat lawns. The one metre or more tunnel enters the ground at a shallow angle, ending in an egg-chamber. And seldom does the bird reuses it the next year.

The sharp, hooked claws and long tail of the bird adapt it well to perching on vertical banks. From this position it excavates its burrow, using its bill to stab at the compacted soil and its powerful claws to dislodge the loosened earth. As the cavity deepens, the bird clears the loosened earth by using both legs, supporting itself on its ‘wrists’ and bill tip. Invariable a small heap of soil forms in front of the nest hole entrance

These strong fliers are mostly long distance migrants and have complete mastery of the air. They are accomplished aerial hunters with their wheeling and gliding flight on long, pointed wings, and with twists and turns in the chase or slow pursuit.

Although the bird spends most of its time in the air, it comes to the ground for short periods to preen and to sunbath. It lies spread-eagled on the ground with its wings fully extended and tail feathers fanned. At the same time it pants to cool itself.

Input and images by Joe Yao,

Small home high off the ground: Nesting ecology of the Grey-rumped Treeswift.

posted in: Nesting, Swifts-Swallows | 3

I work in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Grey-rumped Treeswifts (Hemiprocne longipennis) do well here. Outside the Visitor Centre they perch in the big trees, they always select the tallest branches, often dead exposed ones. From there they sally for insects, and I presume they nest, although I have never had a chance to study it. But in 2006 I got the chance. A friend who comes in our shop told me about a nesting pair she had near her home, a high rise development nearby off North Buona Vista Road.

The treeswifts form a small family, Hemiprocnidae in the Apodiformes order which includes three families: treeswifts, swifts and (maybe a bit surprisingly) hummingbirds. Hemiprocnidae is only in the Oriental region and only has one genus with four species. Treeswifts differ from true swift in that they can and often do perch on branches, they are arboreal birds. True swifts form a much larger family (92 species world wide); they spend almost all their time in the air, they even sleep and mate on the wing. They cannot perch on a branch or on the ground, they can only grab a vertical surface with their small, weak feet; therefore they only land when they have to nest, which they do in caves or under cliffs, or under man-made structures like buildings and bridges (a few species fly into tree holes), using the only building material available to them: their own saliva and feathers.

The Grey-rumped Treeswift forms a superspecies and was previously considered conspicific with the Crested Treeswift (H. coronata). The former occurs in the Sunda subregion plus Sulawesi, the latter replaces it in Thailand and Indochina into India. Incredibly, for these widespread and fairly numerous two species there are big gaps in our knowledge of their nesting biology, neither incubation nor fledging periods have ever been recorded (Handbook of Birds of the World, Vol. 5, p. 465).

The North Buona Vista pair built a small nest in some dead branches in a tall tree, some 20 meters off the ground, it was clearly visible from the balcony of a nearby building. The nest was a tiny cup made of hardened saliva mixed with minute pieces of what appeared to be bark or moss (above, chicks in nest). When the adult sat on the nest the whole structure was invisible, covered by the bird! We know that the egg was laid somewhere between 7th -11th May 2006, it hatched 3rd of June. I visited the nesting site with my son Adam on 5th June. He took some photos with his digital compact camera – the chick was then 2 days old. Both female and male (recognisable by the rufous ear coverts) took turn attending to the chick and feeding it with a regurgitated substance, presumably somewhat pre-digested insect matter.

I visited the site again on 16th June. The chick was bigger of course but still covered in down, still fed regularly and still sheltered completely by one of the parents between feeds. Later on it started to develop feathers, it moved away from the tiny nest and perched on the branch on its own, feeding became less regular. On 1st of July 2006 it left the nesting branch, almost the same hour in the afternoon that it hatched. We now know the fledging period of the Grey-rumped Treeswift: it is exactly 4 weeks! (above, male tending to young; below pair tending to young)

So, how is the Grey-rumped Treeswift doing? Well, none of the four treeswifts are globally threatened with extinction. However, the HBW states that ‘Pesticides are suspected to be behind recent population declines in Singapore’. David Wells states something similar: ‘Declining in some suburban areas, including on Singapore main island where the largest party of non-breeders recently recorded was of only five birds’ (The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula Vol. 1, p. 473).

Luckily, in the Singapore Botanic Gardens we still have many more treeswifts than that. The treeswifts like to interact and fly around high together while calling, often late in the day; it is not unusual to see 10-12 birds at one time during those occasions. One evening during ‘winter’ a few years back I was at the exercise ground around 6 pm when a Japanese Sparrow-Hawk (Accipiter gularis) flew quickly by towards the rainforest area, and out of the blue congregated a large flock of treeswifts to mob it. I managed to positively count 35 individuals in the air at one time, but there must have been more, maybe 40. They swerved around excitedly for a few minutes after the hawk had disappeared before they gradually dispersed, many settling around the edges of the rainforest.

Text by Morten Strange; images by Adam Strange.

26 Responses

  1. kris

    I just found a young dollarbird in the garden.. It seems to have left the nest too early and cannot fly yet. How am i to keep and feed it for a few days untill it can fly.???

  2. Iwan

    We have a small pond in our garden surrounded by trees and steep bedrock. The other day we saw a heron flying over and attempting to land – I guess to try to eat our small stock of fish. We managed to frighten it away before it landed, and have since installed trip wires around the pond in order to dissuade the bird. The amount of shelter around the pond means that a heron would have to land practically vertically. Does anyone know whether these birds have the agility to hover and land in this way, or do they always need a “glidepath” in order to land successfully?

  3. Khng Eu Meng

    Today, at the former Bidadari Cemetery, there was a buzz about a sighting of a Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). I heard some birders say this nightjar isn’t commonly seen in Singapore. After some hunting, we spotted it asleep on a tree branch, some 15 m above ground. This was rather interesting as my previous encounters with nightjars have been on either terra firma or on low branches.

    Is this perching so high up the tree normal or is it unusual? I have posted a photo of it on my Facebook Timeline:

  4. Jess

    Bird Sanctuary At Former Bidadari Cementry

    1)Which is the best spot in Bidadari cemetery for bird watch?

    2)Where this bird usually resident at?

    3)What are some of the rare bird species that can be found at Bidadari?

    4)Where is the particular hot spot for the hornbills, eagles, kingfishers and some of the rare migratory bird?

    5)Which part of Bidadari are richest in it wildlife?

    6)Can you name me the 59 migratory bird species found?

  5. YC

    Why not search the website using the word ‘Bidadari’ to obtain the information you need. There should be sufficient info in past postings to satisfy you.

  6. Firdaus Razak

    Hai, I just want to ask did anybody had an experience bring bird from oversea via MasKargo? Did the bird will stress at high altitude?

  7. Chung Wah

    Hi, I am new to bird photography! Could anyone advise a good pair of binoculars to get for this hobby?

  8. Geam Liang

    I ‘acquired’ a female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 5 days ago – was in a public place when the bird flew overhead hit the wall and dropped right in front of me dazed. I picked it up, it appeared unhurt but could not sustain it’s flight. I have since constructed a fairly large ‘cage’ for it, about 4ft x 2fx x 2ft and placed it there last night. I temporarily placed her in a normal bird cage until I had completed the build.
    From what I have read up, it’s a fruit, seed and insect feeder and also nectar, flower buds. It’s doing as well as it can on bananas, papaya, jack-fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loves to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as it easily succumbs to infection.
    Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on it’s upkeep? I suspect this bird is an escapee – as far as I can read up, it’s not common, if at all, found in Georgetown, Penang where I am. I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain it’s flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.
    I can attach some pictures but not sure how to do this…

  9. Lee Chiu San

    The blue-crowned hanging parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You would raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.

    The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix.

    How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker. Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up.

    In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day.

    Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a blue-crowned hanging parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken.

    If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.

  10. Lee Chiu San

    About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily.

    If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.

  11. Geam Liang

    Thank you Chiu San for your inputs. Thus far, bananas and papayas work well. I’m not sure why it did not take to grapes – will try again. Am I supposed to peel it? I didn’t the last time, basically skewered a couple of grapes to a satay stick and positioned it as I did for the sliced and skinned papaya and peeled bananas.
    I have yet to try rice and certainly not nectar but will try out your concoction – have half a mind to go to a pet shop to see if they carry nectar for birds. The ice-cube freeze method is a good one, will try that. I might be mistaken on the sunflower seeds… not touched but it did eat the much smaller roundish, mixed colored seeds. Will remove the sunflower seeds.
    I’m sure it’s a female blue crowned hanging parrot.. it sleeps like a bat every night.

  12. Lee Chiu San

    When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts. As to your remark that the bird sleeps hanging upside down like a bat, yes, that is the way blue-crowned hanging parrots sleep.

  13. Geam Liang

    Thanks… I need to think like a bird – yup. She has probably not seen a grape much less know that it’s edible, unless the previous owner has fed her with grapes… even then… Today she’s done pretty well making the most of the banana and all of the papaya plus quite a bit of seeds. Will try the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup.
    Will regular honey do instead of rose syrup?

  14. Lee Chiu San

    About making nectar to feed birds. Most aviculturalists do not use honey for two reasons: 1. It is expensive and does not seem to give any added benefits. 2. Honey is made by bees, and the composition varies wildly. Some honeys are also known to cause fungal infection in birds.

    If you do not want to buy a huge bottle of rose syrup just for one tiny bird, there are cheaper alternatives. The first is plain table sugar, though most don’t seem to like it very much.

    What many birds will accept quite readily as a sweetener is condensed milk – the type with sugar that coffee shop owners use.

    Many, many birds have a sweet tooth (or should I say sweet beak?) Besides the usual suspects of lories, lorikeets, sunbirds and hummingbirds, for whom it is an essential part of the diet, nectar mixture is readily consumed by mynahs, leafbirds, fairy bluebirds, barbets, doves, parrots of all kinds, and a whole host of other species.

  15. Geam Liang

    I tried the condensed mild, placed in in a small bottle cap.. only the ants showed interest. Am I supposed to dilute it? I didn’t =( I took you advice and refrained from honey. Have yet to find Rose Syrup from the shelves of TESCO… will try to mix the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup/sugar syrup this week…

  16. David Thackray

    Can anyone help me identify a bird I saw in Singapore last week. Size of a smakll dove or thrush. Dark metallic back. Grey breast with red throat, chest.

  17. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers

  18. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers.

  19. Mahadevi Bhuti

    One of best souce for the bird watcher’s enjoying knowledge about ornithology

  20. Martin Nyffeler (PhD)

    Dear Sir / Dear Madame,

    I am a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at a University in Switzerland and I urgently need to get in touch with photographer Chan Yoke Meng, who takes beautiful photographs of birds near Singapore. Would you please mail me the email address of this photographer!


  21. Wee Ming

    Hello Besgroup,

    Trust this email finds you well. We chance upon your photograph on your website and found the amazing image of the Laced Woodpecker and durians. We would like to explore the possibility of getting permission to use them for a new Bird Park in Singapore.

    Spacelogic is a company based in Singapore and we have been contracted by Mandai Park Development to carry out design and build works relating to the exhibition interpretive displays in this new Bird Park.

    Some background of the new Mandai Bird Park project; it will build upon the legacy of the Jurong Bird Park – by retaining and building upon a world-reference bird collection and creating a place of colour and joy for all visitors. The new Bird Park will have a world-reference ornithological collection displayed in a highly immersive way with large walk-through habitats. To enhance visitors’ experience with storyline and narrative of the bird park, transition spaces are added to display exhibits that provide a varied type of fun, intuitive, interactive and educational experiences for all visitors. One of the habitats features the Laced Woodpecker on a flora panel It is in this flora panel that we are seeking your permission to feature the Laced Woodpecker. We are looking to use the first image on the link here.
    Link can be found here:

    We would like to ask if this is something that we can explore further and if yes, how can we go about with putting through a formal permission request. Thank you so much for considering our request and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Warmest Regards,
    Wee Ming
    SPACElogic Pte Ltd

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