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

Food of the Asian Koel: Pipturus argenteus

posted in: Feeding-plants, Plants | 4


An image of the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) eating the fruits of Pipturus argenteus (Family Urticaceae) was recently submitted by bird photographer Chan Yoke Meng (left top).

This is a shrub with unisexual flowers and small, black fruits in a white foamy and fleshy receptacle (left bottom). The entry in Keng (1990) states: “A fairly recent introduced weed of the Pacific Isls., found in waste places in city areas.”

Unlike most cuckoos that feed on insects, this koel feeds largely on fruits. This is another example of birds adapting to exotic plants in their search for food.

Input and image of koel by Meng and Melinda Chan; Angie Ng helped in identifying the plant and KF Yap supplied the images of the plant and reported that he has once seen an Asian Koel eating a ripe papaya (Carica papaya) fruit.

Keng, H. (1990). The concise flora of Singapore. Singapore University Press.

Atlas moth caterpillars: Food for birds?

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 1


December 2007 was a time when masses of Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) larvae were seen munching through the crowns of the roadside tree, Senegal mahogany (Khaya senghalensis). Jeremy Lee reported hearing a low crunching sound as they work their way through the foliage, to totally defoliate a few trees along Loyang Way (above). There were hundreds of them and many ended on the ground below, to slowly die from lack of food.


Those that remained on the trees soon turned into cocoons (left middle), hanging from the twigs like miniature roosting fruit bats, as Jeremy puts it.

Othere reported seeing the caterpillars at the Chinese Garden, Jurong and at Pulau Ubin.

The spate of wet weather may have triggered the egg laying. Whether this is so or not, December is generally the month when these caterpillars appear.

The larvae are large, growing to 7 cm long or more (left top). They make a juicy meal for any reasonably sized bird, especially when they are so conspicuous – when the tree is totally defoliated. Why then are there no reports of birds taking these juicy caterpillars – except for one lone record from Pulau Ubin of an Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) enjoying them?

Can it be that birders are less interested in observing a tree covered with caterpillars for potential hungry birds than a tree covered with birds?

KF Yap believes that something is definitely eating the caterpillars. He came across a batch of caterpillars happily munching away in a tree. He returned a week later to find not a single caterpillar around, not even a trace of the cocoons.

Jeremy Lee & KF Yap
January 2008
(Images – caterpillars in tree, top and pupae, Jeremy Lee; caterpillar, KF Yap; moth, KC Tsang)

Baya Weaver: Nest building, hornets and poaching

posted in: Illegal-Irresponsible, Nesting | 5

March 2007 was a busy period for the male Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus). This was the beginning of the breeding season and they were all busy building their nests. Nests are normally in colonies, attached to the twigs of trees that grow in overgrown undergrowth.


The birds had been building for the last week or so and the nests were at the helmet stage (above: bottom images). They flew in and out, bringing strands of grass and tirelessly weaved them into the incomplete nests (above: top images). Some nests were brown, probably having been completed earlier. Others were green, freshly completed. Yet others had green strands on the surface, indicating that they were being repaired.

The birds got excited at times, chattering noisily. Once in a while one would fly to it’s neighbour and pick a fight. But such fights never lasted long as the birds soon went back to work.

Whenever a female appeared, all the males around became excited. They flew from the nest they were working with to be near the female, chattering and fluttering their wings rapidly.

Once the female flew off, the males returned to work. The images below show the males working tirelessly on the helmet-stage nests while that on the extreme right shows the female inspecting the completed nest.


Then tragedy struck. Within days most of the nests were harvested by poachers. These would probably be sold as garden ornaments. However, there were a few nests that were spared. Nests that the poachers did not dare take. These nests were built near to the hornets’ nest and this probably saved the nesting birds.

Well, the hornets did serve a purpose after all (below).


Gillie” commented on 16th September 2007 after reading the post on the hornets’ nest: “On a bush walk today we were moving a fallen branch that shook the hornet’s nest (unbeknownst to us) and then I heard this buzzing like a humming bird. Next thing a hornet hit my head and stung me on the top of the head in one swoop. It flew off then came back for another swoop at my hiking partner. He didnt get stung – luckily for him.

“Its now 9hrs since the sting and it still hurts like hell. These guys are aggressive and their sting ain’t fun. Its not super painful, but it just doesn’t stop. It hurts now just as much as it did when I got hit.


“Steer clear of these nests at all costs!”

Poachers are aware of what hornets can do, but how about birders?

Johnny Wee, Melinda Chan & “Gillie”
January 2008
(Images by Chan Yoke Meng, top panel, top right, bottom panel and hornets’ nest) and the rest by Johnny Wee)

Birding in Bali: 1. White herons of Petulu

Connie Khoo SY and Lim Phaik Imm were in Bali in November 2007. While there, they made a side visit to Petulu, a small village well known for the thousands of herons arriving each evening to roost. During the day there were already more than 10,000 birds around and almost everywhere were loose feathers and faecal matters. The smell must be distinctive.

By evening the birds would arrive by the hundreds, then by the thousands. And before long all the trees in the village would turn white as the Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) settle on all available branches. The noise made by the birds can be deafening, reaching a crescendo before darkness descends when quiet returns.


Connie and Phiak Imm report: “At Petula Gunung Village, approximately 5km from Ubud, we were treated to a spectacular sight of thousands of birds arriving every afternoon. By 4 pm, thousands of Cattle Egret were around, resting and flying about. And just before dusk, they arrived in the hundreds to roost. We estimated that there were about 15,000 by 6 pm, a huge number! According to our bird guide Sumardi, there are usually about 20,000 every evening. The image above (left) shows two males in their first year breeding plumage. That on the right is a female.


“This rare phenomenon reminds us of Lake Temenggor when a big flock of hornbills were flying pass from upper Belum to lower Belum, heading towards the Thai border to roost for the night. What a spectacular sight!

“We re-visited the village the next evening and observed the nesting and courting behavior of these birds. It was not a problem watching them copulating because in every tree there would be one or two pairs busy mating.

“The birds were in their colourful breeding plumage. The male’s lore is deep purple and the bill is orange red (left top), whilst the female’s lore is beige or light yellowish and bill dark yellow (left bottom).

“Many of the egrets nest in the 5-8 metres, full bloomed pinkish frangiapani tree (Plumeria sp.). Some of the trees are growing close to the roof of the wooden terraced houses of the villagers.

“The villagers believe that these birds come with the blessing of God because during


the breeding season their plumage changed from white to very dark orange and golden. They believe that every year from September to December or so, the villagers are blessed with good health and luck. They thus revere the egrets and cause them no harm. They even pray to the birds. Amidst the colony of Cattle Egrets, we also noted one Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and one Intermediate Egrets (Egretta intermedia) (right), both in full breeding plumage.

“Birdwatchers need to take precautions least the egrets’ poo land on their head. So a hat or cap is necessary.

“The day when we were there happened to be a holy day. All the women and children except man and boys, dressed in their colourful lacy transparent “kebaya” with “batik sarong” matching and walked to the temple to provide simple home made offerings, such as sticky rice and flowers to the Hindu Gods. The offerings were neatly arranged in colourful, hand-woven straw baskets of various sizes stacked on top of their heads (below). On this holy day, they believe that the deities and ancestral spirits descend from heaven to visit earth.


According to local legend, the herons appeared after one of the worst massacres of suspected communists in Indonesia. This was immediately after the downfall of Sukarno in 1965. Villagers believe that the white herons are the souls of the slaughtered Indonesians.

Input and images by Connie Khoo SY and Lim Phaik Imm.

Nesting Failure of the Red-wattled Lapwing

posted in: Nesting-failed | 1


On 21st December 2007 KC Tsang was birding with Wang Luan Keng at Tuas. This is KC’s report:

“…as I have not gone to that place for quite some time. The place was quite wet, or flooded up to about knee deep in some places, and it was after some heavy rain during the night (above). Knee high gumboots, or wellington boots are required for the exploration of such a terrain.


“Snipes, Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) and Red-wattled Lapwings (Vanellus indicus) are bountiful, however getting a picture of anyone of them is really difficult, and especially if one has to balance oneself in knee deep water, and undulating ground. Here is one Savanna that did not get away (left).

“Having enough of chasing birds for the morning, decided to return back to the car, and pack up for the morning. On the walk back I noticed that there were four eggs in a nest just above the water level. On closer inspection the nest was wet just beneath the eggs (below left).

“So without further-a-do, took some pictures of the eggs, and nest. The nest is hidden somewhere in just above the water (below right).


“Returned the next day to have a look at the nest, everything looks alright with the four eggs still on the nest.

“However on 28th December, two eggs went missing, so we came to the conclusion that a snake might have eaten them. So went about trying to see if we could find a co-operative Snipe who will pose for a portrait shot, no luck there.

“Our final visitation was on 6th January 2008, and to our dismay there were no eggs in the nest. On closer inspection we found them to have also been rolled (?) off the nest, four of them, one broken, and other three intact. So what most probably happened was the first two missing eggs were pushed out of the nest and left submerged under water. And the later two were also then pushed off the nest and left to drown in the water. By the time we came back the place had dried out and thus we were able to see all the eggs on the ground. So on placing them all back into the nest, flies came buzzing around the eggs, which is a bad sign.

“So could it be that the birds had noticed that the first two eggs had failed to develop and decided to remove them from the nest so that it will not affect the other two? The failure of the eggs to develop could also be the result of continuous daily heavy rains, which prevented the eggs developing as a result of insufficient warmth from the sun, or the nest could have been temporarily submerged because of the heavy rainfall, which subsequently killed the eggs.

“According to a knowledgeable birder, a very high percentage of nesting end up in failure.”


Wang Luan Keng has this to add: “KC made an interesting find. It’s unfortunate that the eggs did not hatch. They are really rotten and I have to master enough courage to blow out the contents.


“1. The eggs and clutch size matched the size and description of the Red-wattled Lapwing (above). See also Jonanthan Cheah’s photo (right). KC’s eggs have larger black blotches than Jon’s eggs but I think that is just variation.

“2. According to literature, the nest of the RW Lapwing is an unlined scrape in short grass, soil or sand. The nest Jonanthan found was like that – a scrape on the stoney ground. This is where I am a bit puzzled. The nest that KC found was unlined, formed by a clump of grass folded to form a slight platform, where the eggs sit. Rails and bittern typically do that but the eggs do not match the colours of bittern or rail eggs. I thought it might be common moorhen but the colours are also wrong. It is possible that the Tuas lapwings have adapted to using the grassy patch for nest or a slight possibility that that it is something else.

“3. Many reasons would have caused the failure of the eggs. We know it’s not a predator, which would have eaten the eggs instead of dropping them. KC’s idea that the nest got flooded and the eggs were washed away by the water is possible. Another possibility is that the parents are not experienced or disturbed by humans and somehow dropped the eggs.

“4. KC is right that a high percentage of nests fail in the tropics. Unfortunately, local birders do not follow up on individual nest and do not report nesting records regularly, especially if the nest failed. So we don’t have absolute data.“

Images by KC, except image of egg and chick by Dr Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong.

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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