Common Ravens at play

posted in: Miscellaneous | 1

Corvids (crows, ravens, jays, nutcrackers and magpies) exhibit the most complex play behaviour.

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The Common Ravens (Corvus corax), the largest of the corvids, exhibit play catching, flight play, bathing play, vocal play, hanging, games, allospecific interactions, sliding and snow-romping.

As with most behavioural traits in birds, these are all described from the west. So far, limited play observations have been described from Asia. Brazil (2002) reported raven play in Hokkaido, Japan in winter, indulging in sliding and rolling in snow or snow-romping.

In October 2007, Lin Yangchen observed the evening play of Common Ravens on a small hill overlooking a village (4,400m a.s.l.) on the Tibetan plateau.

These include one flying like “a stealth bomber (left top), another “about to jettison a sheep’s horn” to subsequently land near where it fell on the ground (left bottom). The bird approached the horn but the presence of tourists scared it off. The birds were also gliding “in the way children race down the street on bicycles” (left middle).

He also documented them hanging from the overhead wires with one or both feet, or even by the tips of their bills, then indulging in free falls. The birds could even execute a 360-degree sideways roll in aerial acrobatic (below left) or indulge in “levitation” as Yangcheng aptly describes it (below right).

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Input and images by Lin Yangchen.

Reference:
Brazil, Mark (2002). Common Raven Corvus corax at play; records from Japan. Ornithol. Sci. 1:150-2.

Little Heron chick: 5. The bird has been ringed

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern, Rescue | 0

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On 14th November 2007, our field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng (above right), came over to ring the chick of the Little Heron (Butorides striatus) (above left) 12 days after its rescue. The ring is inscribed “Sungei Buloh Nat Park F0028” (left).

The bird was weighed (175g) and measured (bill length 50.4mm; tarsus 42.1mm; wing length 145mm; and tail 38mm). It is to be noted that the wing and tail feathers are still coming in.

Details of the bird was also noted: primary feathers 10; secondary feathers 16; tail feathers 5 pairs; iris lemon yellow; outer eye ring black; tarsus and toes yellow-green; soles yellow; upper mandible pinkish blue, darker at the tip; lower mandible paler.

Ringing was done on the earlier suggestion of the Singapore Zoological Gardens’ Curator (Zoology), Douglas M Richardson that the chick should be rung above the “knee” and not around the “ankle” so that it may be identified later.

Wang Luan Keng
Singapore
November 2007
(Images by YC Wee)

Durian, squirrel and White-crested Laughingthrush

posted in: Feeding-plants | 3

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Dr Ivan Polunin lives in Hillview, off Upper Bukit Timah Road. Fronting his house is an old and very tall durian tree (Durio zibethinus) (left). For the years he has been living in his current house, he claims that he has yet to taste the fruits.

Every fruiting season the tree gives forth many fruits. These invariable fall when ripe. All the fruits on the ground would have been damaged by the Common Red-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus.notatus), also known as Plantain Squirrel.

During the last flowering season there were numerous flowering buds that developed into flowers. The squirrels came regularly to feast on the fleshy petals. He filmed the flowers one night with the aid of infra-red lamps. The video was on for an hour but there was no sign of any bats visiting the flowers.

As there were no bats pollinating the flowers, Ivan concluded that the squirrels must have done the job. In the process of eating the petals, they must have invariably transferred pollen to the stigmas.

For the record, the literature reports pollination by bats and night-flying moths. Pollinating by squirrels may be something new.

The flowers eventually developed into fruits and when the ripening fruits were at the optimal ripeness (from the squirrels’ standpoint), the squirrels came and gnawed an opening on the spiky fruit wall of each and every fruit – to get at the succulent flesh (below left).

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The squirrels had first priority of the flesh. Then the White-crested Laughingthrushes (Garrulax leucolophus) took over from the squirrels (above right).

So far, we have documented Orange Bellied Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum trigonostigma) and Plain-throated Sunbirds (Anthreptes malacensis) eating the durian flesh: see HERE. There is also a claim that the Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) was seen at the fruit. The Perak Bird Group of the Malaysian Nature Society has documented on video a Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) feasting on the fruit.

Dr Ivan Polunin
Singapore
November 2007
(Images of durian by YC and of squirrel-durian and laughingthrush by Johnny Wee)

Monitor lizards at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

posted in: Habitat | 1

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The Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) has made Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve its home. Once relatively scarce, it is now common to see them along the main paths, in ponds and even around the entrance, so much so that the lizard is a minor attraction (above).

The lizard is an excellent swimmer, in fresh as well as saline waters. It can remain submerged in the water for up to half an hour. It can move with good speed relative to its size on land. It also climbs trees when the situation demands.

This is one of the larger lizard in the world and can grow to over 2 metres long. Shy by nature, it does not appear to be shy in the reserve. Most of the times it will back off when approached too near. However, visitors should leave the monitor lizard alone and not confront it, as larger ones can be dangerous and their bites can cause serious injuries.

It is a carnivore as well as a scavenger. Most of all, it is an opportunistic predator. It will eat almost everything that it can swallow. Its diet includes small mammals, snakes, lizards, young crocodiles, tortoises, birds and their eggs, fish, crabs and molluscs. However, it prefers carrion.

The lizard hunts by pursuing, rather than stalking or ambushing prey. And it regularly raids bird’s nests.

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It has been brought to our attention that its presence in such numbers at the reserve can be detrimental to nesting waterbirds.

The Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) (left top) has never been sighted in the reserve. Can its absence be due to the presence of the lizards? The Lesser Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna javanica) used to breed in the area but no more. However, its absence, according to Wang Luan Keng, can be due to the presence of the snakehead (Channa sp.). Some years ago she saw a duckling being swallowed by the fish in a freshwater pond. The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (left bottom) was sighted recently by KC Tsang but whether it is nesting in the reserve is another matter.

A pertinent question is, should the population be culled to a manageable level?

Input by KC Tsang and YC, images by KC (montage: top left, bottom right; Common Moorhen), Chan Yoke Meng (Little Grebe) and YC (the rest).

References:
1. http://www.cyclura.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=104
2.http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/
Varanus_salvator.html

Heron chick: 4. Teach the bird to fish…

On 13th November 2007, the Little Heron (Butorides striatus) has been under care for 11 days. All this time it was fed pieces of fish fillet, later pieces of whole fish. The bird was offered the pieces at the end of a pair of tweezers. It lunged at the pieces and immediately swallowed them, taking two to three pieces one after the other, although sometimes it had difficulties getting them down its throat.

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Then it was transferred to a large cage (left). The sides of the cage needed to be lined with newspapers as it kept on trying to squeeze through the wires. Here, its behaviour changed. Every time it was fed, it took the first piece offered, refusing subsequent pieces, until an interval of time.

On the 13th evening I tried a strategy suggested by Victor Lee: “…As to learning to forage, what I used to do at Jurong BirdPark was to put birds like these inside a paddock with a small pool, etc. Put in live fish, tadpole, frogs, etc. and get them to work it out themselves. When they are hungry enough, they will forage and learn to pick up the live food. Hope this helps.”

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So I purchased a bag of mixed guppies and mollies sold by aquarium shops for feeding predatory fishes kept by hobbyists. Two dishes, each with nine fish were placed inside the cage. One was a shallow dish (right), the other deeper.

The bird, not fed for the last six hours, simply stared at the fish in one dish, not moving a step. When I dropped a piece of the usual fish inside the dish together with the swimming fish, it took the piece and swallowed it after about ten minutes.

One of the live fish jumped out of the dish and died. This dead fish was placed on a spoon and left inside the cage. It was subsequently eaten.

Three hours later when I looked inside the cage, the shallow dish was devoid of fish. The bird had eaten all the eight remaining fish, leaving the fish inside the deeper dish uneaten. Overnight, the nine live fish in the deeper dish were also eaten save for a dead one floating in the water. This was removed from the dish and offered to the bird who immediately took it.

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The images above show the sequence of the bird taking the fish from the deeper dish the following day.

When the guppies and mollies were all eaten, I got small goldfishes that were slightly larger. When offered in a dish of water, the bird went straight for one but the fish slipped out of its grasp before its head could be positioned for swallowing (below). It had to try again a few times before it succeeded in swallowing it. Subsequent attempts also had to be repeated.

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After eating more than 30 goldfishes, the bird became well versed in handling the fish. Just before posting, I fed the remaining five and it took every one of them head first and swallowed them on the first attempt.

So the experiment is a success, thanks to Victor Lee. The bird should have a reasonable chance of survival when released into the wild.

“Give the bird a fish and you feed it for a day. Teach the bird to fish and you feed it for a lifetime.”

Victor Lee & YC Wee
Singapore
November 2007
(Images by YC Wee)

Hibiscus and nectar harvest

posted in: Plants, Sunbirds | 2

An image by Melinda Chan shows a male Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) robbing nectar from a hibiscus flower by probing his bill through the base of the flower (left).

Now why did the bird do that?

The natural pollinator of hibiscus has been reported to be the hummingbird. The sunbird is not adapted for hibiscus pollination, so to harvest the nectar in the flower, it has resorted to the unconventional method of probing the base of the flower. This is referred to as robbing, as by doing so the bird is not doing the flower a favour, i.e. assisting in its pollination.

Hibiscus or China rose (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is native to continental Asia, probably China. The species has been in cultivation in various forms for centuries and the species itself has never been found in the wild. In Singapore, the plant never produces any fruit or seeds.

Melinda Chan
Singapore
November 2007

Little Heron chick: 3. Problems of release

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern, Rescue | 1

The Little Heron (Butorides striatus) chick rescued from the Bukit Timah campus is now more than a week under my care: see 1 and 2.

The wings are now well developed but it is still unable to fly. But it can easily run off if left unattended. Soon, it would be time to set it free. The one big question is how to do it.

Many birders are of the opinion that newly fledged birdlings need to be taught how to forage for food and herons are no exception. It had been hand-fed until now and whether it can fend for itself, hunting for fish and insects, is foremost in my mind.

It can be released at the Eco-Lake in the Singapore Botanical Gardens, around where it was found. Hopefully it may be able to observe other Little Herons hunting. Or it can be handed over to the Jurong BirdPark, where there may be more of its kind around.

The image below was taken on 6th November, four days after taking it home. Will we be releasing the chick to meet its death in the wild?

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A number of people very kindly sent in their views/experience/advice in response to our earlier post and we reproduce them below:

Lin Yangchen has this to say: “Afraid I have no sure-fire recommendations but I think the problem is not so much when to release it as whether it will survive after release. The problem is that it has no parent to demonstrate what kind of food it should look for and how it should catch the food. Just based on these deductions, I think that the best thing to do might be to find a place where there are adults of this particular species and release it, hoping that it would be ‘adopted’ by one of the adult birds. Although we know that many species usually ignore young that are not their own, I think there are occasional incidents of adoption in animals whether birds or not. Otherwise, the next best options might be either to let the bird loose in an appropriate habitat and let nature take care of itself through natural selection, or keep the bird as long as possible and take the opportunity to study aspects of its biology and behaviour.”

Charlene Yeong, Conservation and Research Officer, Singapore Zoological Gardens wrote: “I saw your message on the BESG blog a few days ago; apologies for the late reply. How is the little heron doing? I’m not sure if you’ve already received much advice from others who have experience with raising birds, but here is a message from one of our curators.

“I don’t believe the vet department has raised a heron before, although we recently raised a stork. It was hand-reared on fish (as mentioned in Doug’s email below) in the ward, and eventually mixed with our other adult storks. It was full-grown by that time. I think it may have been better if he had been raised in an area with visual/auditory/olfactory access to other storks. Having said that, though, he seems to be doing well with the other storks. If you’d like to get more details, you can get in touch with our head vet, Dr Serena Oh, whom I am copying this email to.

“I hope all is well, and the heron is well and not causing too much trouble!”

Charlene appended the notes from Douglas M Richardson, the Zoo’s Curator (Zoology): “If the chick was very young when found and/or reared in the absence of other birds, which it seems it was, it is likely that it may not recognize other herons as members of its own species. If the bird is at least old enough to feed itself (it should at least have some experience of catching fish in a small pond or similar area) it should be released in an area that is frequented by other herons. The bird may readapt quite quickly, as the hand-reared stork from the lab that was mixed with the others in the new holding cage did. Of course there is a good chance that it may be predated upon by a python, monitor or crocodile, depending on the release site, but it is worth the gamble and carnivorous animals need to eat as well. Prior to being released, which is when it no longer has downy feathers, it should be rung above the “knee” and not around the “ankle” so that it may be identified later.”

We appreciate the above feedback that will come in useful when the heron chick is ready to be released into the wild.

Image by YC.

Sleeping nocturnal beauties

posted in: Owls, Roosting | 3

There are 23 SE Asian species of typical owls that befit the description of nocturnal birds with rounded heads, large forward-facing eyes circumvented by feathered facial discs. Their plumage mostly brown and cryptically patterned, they hunt by night and roost by day.

While their roosting hide-outs are difficult to find, bird watchers at times when lady luck visits, do accidentally run into them.

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Thus, finding a night bird in daylight hours is not only an infrequent encounter, the ability to digiscope them with no flash photography allows the bird to continue sleep without rudely being awakened. Such images are valued and carry good credits. That’s my opinion anyway and for which I am generous to show in image but not to be asked at source.

The Brown Boobook (Ninox scutulata) previously known as Brown Hawk Owl, decided to give me that privilege in one of my birding trips.

I was unable to tell the sex of owls but this 30cm bird suddenly flew in and perched on a low tree canopy. At 10 feet away, the Brown Boobook was head gyrating and sizing me up with its golden-yellow eyes (above).

“Oh.. I don’t know this bird and it is a lifer to me.”

Armed with birding luck which seems remain in eternity with me, the second bird showed up. As though not enough…. the third flew in and perched beside each other.

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Soon, I was digiscoping three sleepy maids in a row (above).

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Then…. beyond the wildest dreams of any birder who would dare ask for the fourth, this cute ‘Johnny 4’ showed up to make a foursome (right)!

What can I say more but sighting Pittas and Trogons that showed in twos and threes paled in comparison with encounter of this fourth kind.
I remembered being told that some birds sleep with their eyes opened. Now I am able to bring those bird eyes closer to readers to see for themselves if it is true.

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The white covering over their eyes are called nictitating membranes. They help to protect the eyes and from drying out while birds sleep. At the same time, by keeping an opening eye or eyes opened, birds remain watchful for predators in their sleep.

To sleep-wink at readers, let me introduce Natasha – the juvenile Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo) as the closing sleeping bird image that looks like a Russian doll (left).

Good night baby!

DAISY O’NEILL, AVIAN WRITER, PENANG, MALAYSIA.

Birds mobbing snakes

posted in: Interspecific | 6

Birders are familiar with the mobbing behaviour of birds, especially when it is directed at raptors and owls (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). However, they are less familiar with birds mobbing non-avian predators.

There are enough reports in the avian literature to show that this is not an uncommon phenomenon. One reason for this lack of awareness can be because the snake being mobbed would most probably be among the vegetation and not easily visible. And birders may mistake the ruckus as mobbing of a raptor. The other reason would be the obvious one, that local birders are unaware that mobbing can extend to predators other than birds.

With the present posting, it is hoped that birders will be more aware of this phenomenon and be more vigilant when in the field.

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On October 2006 KC Tsang was observing an Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) stalking a Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja). Just when the snake was about to strike, Ping, who is Amy Tsang’s cousin, saved the bird by grabbing it (above right). A close up image of the snale is shown on the left and KC has specifically pointed out that the person handling the Oriental Whip Snake is not Ping, considering the hairy nature of the arm.

Yes, snakes commonly catch birds, their fledglings and their eggs but there have been few, if any, documentation of such activities. And it would be natural for the parent birds to raise an alarm when a snake is about to raid their nest.

But mobbing by a number of species and working together?

Some two years ago, Amy and KC Tsang saw a huge Red-tailed Ratsnake (Gonyosoma oxycephalum) being mobbed by birds in the Central Catchment area (left). (These snakes can grow up to 240 cm in length.) The birds involved in the mobbing included Striped Tit Babblers (Macronous gularis), two Greater Racket-tailed Drongos (Dicrurus paradisus), bulbuls and some others which KC was not able to identify. The forest was just alive with screaming birds, hopping from branch to branch just out of reach of the snake. Squirrels were also there chattering away.

Another incident that KC encountered was with an Oriental Whip Snake, also a fairly big one, gliding from branch to branch that had attracted the attention of the forest birds.

Matheus et al. (1996) reported seeing a snake grabbing the fledging of a pair of adult Golden-hooded Tanagers (Tangara larvata) in Eucador. The alarm calls the parent birds made attracted the attention of other bird species that flew in to mob and dive-attack the snake. Although the snake swallowed the fledgling within 5 minutes, the mobbing continued for half an hour. A total of 14 bird species joined in the mobbing, scolding and attacking the snake.

Input by KC Tsang, images by KC except the hairy arm by ?YC.

Reference:
Matheus, J.C., Wittmann, U., Olaf, J., Leutfeld, M., & Schuchmann, K-L. (1996). Reactions of birds to nestling predation by a snake. Ornithologia Neotropical 7:163-4.

Little Heron chick: 2. Feeding

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The Little Heron (Butorides striatus) chick, rescued on 2nd November 2007 has grown fast.

It outgrew the cardboard box and is fast outgrowing the larger metal container it was transferred to. I have to cover the top, least it climb out and scamper away. Previously, it just perched along the edge of the container and remained there, not daring to jump down (left).

On 7th November, five days after beinging it home, I got the chick to stand on a weighing scale that was placed about a metre from the ground. The scale showed 150 g whereas it was only 100 g when first rescued, four days before. I left the scene to fetch my camera. When I returned, it had jumped more than a metre down and wandered off the garden. Sneaking through the chain-linked fence, it nearly fell into the drain outside. I managed to catch it without falling into the drain myself and kept it restrained inside the metal container.

The bird was about 20 cm tall when fully stretched.

In the previous appeal for help, Victor Lee consulted Dr Gloria Chay, a vet who has experience in bird rehabiitation, and sent in the following: “Don’t bath birds at this stage as they can loose too much body heat. In fact, if the weather is cool, it may be necessary to use a heat lamp for them at night.

“…Gloria says that you need to supplement with Vitamin E as this is found in the live food they get in the wild. Unless you are able to get live fish for this chick. Otherwise, try using multi vitamins for birds that you can get at pet stores. If you are feeding this chick fish slices only, you will also need to give it calcium supplements once a week or so. If you are using whole fishes, like ikan kuning, etc., then this is not required.”

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Originally fed with small pieces of fish fillet without bones (above), I have started feeding it with strips of ikan kuning or yellowstrip scad (Selaroides leptolepis), which is about 10 cm long. Each fish was cut into four longitudinal pieces, with the backbones and head removed. All fins were similarly removed initially but later left in place. When there was a lateral fin still attached, the bird gave out a soft cry when swallowing the piece. But it managed.

At each feeding, twice or three times a day, it took three to four pieces.

When it was bigger (nine days after bringing it home), I left the fish head on but still removed the backbones. The bird had difficulty swallowing pieces until it learnt to swallow it head first.

I am aware that herons can handle bones. It has an efficient digestive system, incapable of digesting only insects’ exoskeletons, birds’ feathers and mammals’ furs. These have to be regurgitated in the form of pellets.

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The bird initially passed out only a white liquid, consisting of uric acid. This is the bird’s urine, a product of metabolism. When I started feeding it fish with bones, I found a small white piece of pellet at the bottom of the container. The next day there was another, slighter bigger pellet. Can these be regurgitated pellets, a consequence of eating the pieces of fish with side bones and fins? I did not witness the actual casting of these pellets but the fact that they were clean and dry, not mixed with uric acid, makes this a possibility.

Later, I found bigger lumps of brownish matters, clean of uric acid. Subsequent to this the white uric acid passed out began to include lumps of similar brown matters, probably products of the digestive system. No more clean, white pellets were than found.

The image above shows a collection of white, possibly regurgitated pellets and brown pieces that could be regurgitated (scale: mm).

The bird now weighs 200 g (11th November), double its initial weight. It has been transferred to a larger cage. It now exercises its wings, no doube preparing for the time when it can fly.

YC Wee, Dr Gloria Chay & Victor Lee
Singapore
November 2007
(Images by YC Wee)

Reference:
Martinez-Vilalta, A. & Motis, A. (1992). [‘Family Ardeidae (Herons)]. Pp. 376-429 in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 1. Ostrich to ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.

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…
    thanks.

  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?
    Thanks.

  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!

    Thanks,
    Martin

  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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