Crested Serpent Eagle: Snakes alive

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates | 3


“True to its name, the diet of the Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) (left) consists mainly of snakes… and lizards. My observations of their feeding habit has been that they are not very particular, as in it being freshly killed. Meaning that snakes that had been run over by cars are also acceptable. I have observed this while driving from Sedeli Besar to Tg. Balau in Johor, Malaysia, on the remote coastal road. The bird would be perched high up in a tree patiently watching the road. I have also taken a picture of the bird standing on top of the telephone pole at Sedeli Besar, staring into the horizon and on the road for sign of food.

“At Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, I have seen the bird slowly walking along the track, looking under the bushes, or along the edges of the garden at the resort proper, inspecting the undergrowth for snakes and lizards.


“But the best encounter comes from Connie Khoo in Bukit Mertajam. While walking alone along the forest patch, she was hit by this loud flapping of wings. She was overcomed as well as stunned by the sight of the raptor carrying a snake of about three feet long. The snake was still alive and was trying to fight back by biting the armour-plated feet of the bird. Once back on its perch the bird started to attack the snake by biting and ripping it apart (above). It was good that Connie was able to regain her composure to capture these valuable scenes for us to enjoy.”

K C Tsang
1st June 2007
(Top image by KC Tsang, bottom images by Connie Khoo)

Mobbing of owl by a murder of crows

posted in: Interspecific | 1


Ann Stewart lives in Lacey, WA, USA, near to the Nisqually Wildlife Sanctuary. Recently her residential area was “shaved of its beautiful Doug fir forest, so some animals have moved into the neighborhood. However, owls were here before that, I assume because yards are open ground for spotting mice, cats, etc. (I don’t know that they’ve actually grabbed any cats, though). I don’t know what kind of owls they are.

On 5th June 2007, after reading the post on Mobbing of a Barn Owl, Ann further wrote:

“I didn’t know about mobbing until today.

“Around noon, suddenly out of the southern sky a huge murder of crows (at least 100) came at my house, bent on attacking something in a tall Douglas fir. Although the fir had been stripped of branches lower down, the crown was dense, so I couldn’t see what they were after.

“I’ve heard owls in those trees before, and now that I’ve done some research on the Web, I’m tentatively concluding that this murder was after an owl. We also have hawks, bald eagles, and raccoons. I don’t know whether raccoons can climb that high (I do know that raccoons on the other side of town have taken up killing and eating cats and small dogs, not that that’s relevant to this comment, but maybe all the woodland denizens have gone mad as the builders have rapidly taken away their habitat).

“They circled and attacked one spot in the tree over and over again for about 30 minutes. Then they all flew off (I wasn’t watching – you can’t see the crown of that tree from inside my house and I was afraid to go outside, as were my cats. I heard them fly away (the crows, not my cats). They scared me, and I had assumed that they killed whatever they were after.

“A couple of days ago I found a dead crow at the foot of that tree. Today after all the crows had left, I found another two dead crows. I’m curious whether the murder was trying to kill the owl or tell it to leave their roosting place alone or getting even for the first dead crow. And the two recently departed – could they have been accidentally killed by their manic compadres, or could an owl under attack have managed to kill them? What do you think?”

My answer: “Many songbirds mob owls when they encounter them during the day roosting in a tree. Most of these mobbing birds are no match for the owls, risking their lives doing so. Yet they continue to mob the latter, chasing them away from their roosting sites. Once mobbing starts, other birds usually join in. Most of the time the owls simply leave without putting up a fight. Too many mobbing birds to deal with? Crows, larger and more aggressive than most songbirds, can be a serious challenge to a lone owl, if there are many of them. Their main aim is to chase the owl away.”

On 08 Jun 2007 Ann Stewart replied: “Thanks for answering my questions. I wish I could climb up in that tree to see if there’s an owl nest there & whether the owl left for good or is still there — or would I be courting an eye-gouging? Anyway, the tree is a full grown Doug fir, and the only way I’d be able to get up it is if I had a pair of telephone lineman spikes. I’ve tried to look up in the tree but the branches/needles are too thick up there for me to see anything definitive. If I had the nerve to get up on my house (2-storey), I might be able to see something, but I’m pretty sure that’s suicidal.”

Note: Crows live in a group called a murder. This is a fanciful usage for a group of crows. However, most people, especially ornithologists, may use the more generic term flock or horde.

In the absence of an image of Douglas Fir (Pseudotsega menziesii), I have added one of Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) just to give an idea of the size.

Melastoma and flowerpecker I

posted in: Plants | 3


The Malays call the plant sendudok while the early colonial botanists misleadingly named it Singapore rhododendron or straits rhododendron. The plant is neither a rhododendron nor confined to Singapore. In fact it is found throughout Southeast Asian.

The scientific name is Melastoma malabathricum, the genus is from the Greek words melas, meaning black and stoma or mouth, alluding to the ripe fruits that splits open looking like an open mouth exposing the blackish pulp (left bottom). The specific name means from Malabar, India.

This is a common plant of the wasteland. Its pretty purple flowers with bright yellow stamens attract one’s attention (above top). The fruits are sweetish and the black pulp stains the mouth of children that once sought after them. These fruits are also eaten by monkeys, squirrels and birds that in turn spread the seeds all over the open country.

Carpenter bees can often be seen pollinating the flowers. The bees’ wingbeats cause the anthers of the stamens to vibrate in tandem and this results in the latter discharging their pollen on to the bees. These pollen are then transferred to the stigma of the next flowers the bees visit.

This is an excellent plant to grow to attract birds. It is easy to grow. Just dig out any seedlings that sprout in your garden or anywhere else and either nurse them in pots or directly transplant them to wherever you want top grow them. They grow fast, flowering and fruiting within months. Flowering is continuous, meaning that you get fruits throughout the year. However, the flowers last only a day.


But with flowering comes fruiting. And then the birds they attract. I have yet to compile a list of birds visiting the plant but the most attractive bird that comes a few times a day is the colourful Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) (above). You know it is visiting when you hear its tik-tik-tik calls.

The flowerpecker goes straight to the ripe fruit, takes a beakfull and moves to the nest fruit in the same bush or another bush. Normally shy and moving rapidly from plant to plant, it tends to be less shy and less impatient when going for the fruits.
The plant is a short shrub but if allowed to grow unchecked, it can develop into a small tree. However, proper pruning can easily keep it short and bushy. This is definitely an excellent plant to grow in any garden that wants to attract birds.

YC Wee
June 2007

Oriental Pied Hornbill: Nesting distractions

posted in: Hornbills, Interspecific | 0

The trees around Changi where the Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) were nesting are also roosting and nesting sites of other birds (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The cavities used by the hornbills are similarly sought after by Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua goffini), Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) and Red-breasted Parakeet (P. alexandri). These are competitors for the limited nesting cavities available in urban Singapore.

Over at the angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) the nesting hornbills were regularly harassed by Tanimbar Corellas (left top) and Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) (left bottom). The former were loud, noisy, and aggressive birds. A few times one or two pairs of corellas came to the hornbills’ nests to check. They were always curious, sliding cautiously, nearer and nearer to the nest on a nearby branch. The female sealed inside, at times poked her beak out of the opening to counter the curious birds when one got too near for comfort. Invariably, this gave them a fright. Once, the male hornbill suddenly appeared, frightening the corellas away. There was a time when the corellas tried to mob the hornbill but without success. The mynas were not as aggressive but curious just the same.


The same thing happened with the Red-breasted Parakeet that came too close to the cavity (above). The female hornbill was in the process of sealing herself in but stopped working to counter the intrusion, poking her beak out of the nest opening.


Over at the shorea nest the situation was just the same. The noisy corellas were just as curious. And there were more of the troublesome birds (above).

Melinda Chan & YC Wee
June 2007
(Images by Chan Yoke Meng)

Chestnut-winged Babbler: Courtship and nest

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 0


The Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) is an uncommon resident. It is designated as nationally vulnerable due to its small, localised populations. However, the species is relatively common in the Malay Peninsular and the island of Borneo. This is a forest species and in Singapore it is confined to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment forest.

Earlier, we posted a seldom reported courtship ritual where the male, whenever he calls or sings, exposed a pair of bluish patch around his throat.

A pair of courting birds was recently seen in the forest by Dr Jonathan Cheah (above). The male was perching upright and singing. At the same time he was continuously bobbing his head. On either side of his neck was a patch of iridescent light blue, obviously showing off his skin colour.

The patches were even aparent when he had his head down. The female by his side was crouching low and paying full attention to what was going on by her side.


There was a nest nearby, not at all apparent, looking like a mass of dead leaves (above right). The opening to the nest was also not obvious at all, probably hidden somewhere behind.

As Dr Cheah recounted: “The birds appear tame during the breeding season, meticulously choosing dead leaves and oblivious to threats. The fledglings participate in nest building, building practice homes that are not used. Most of the time there are more than one nest, in fact in a space of a small room, you can have like four to five nests, all of which may not be used. If a used nest is found, care must be taken not to disturb it. Even though the bird inside appears undisturbed and not fly out, the next day the nest would be abandoned, as safety has been compromised. Hence, finding a stable CW Babbler nest is truely a gem!


“Babblers normally move round our waist level, hopping amongst vines, dead leaves, and other thick vegetation in search of morsels (right top). When they feel threatened, they will change their calls from the ho… ho ho ho ho ho ho to the raspy screeching and chattering. They will then move higher before flying over to another spot.

“The birds are normally in pairs or in groups of four (family) onwards, as observed in Upper Pierce (right bottom). The leader of the pack would make the first move and one by one the rest of the family would follow. This behaviour is similar to that of the White-crested Laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus seen in the Bukit Batok Nature Park areas.”

According to our field ornathologist Wang Luan Keng, “The appearance of the blue patches on the throat while the Chestnut-winged Babbler was singing has been reported in Borneo. But there is no mention of whether that is a courtship display or just a singing display. Dr. Cheah’s photo of another bird staring at the blue patch of a singing bird is interesting observation.”

For the records, MacKinnon & Phillipps (1993) mention the exposure of the patch of pale blue skin on the sides of the neck whenever throat is puffed out. Smythies (1999) has this to say: “The blue naked patch behind eye is diagnostic… eye and throat skin blue… Ordinary call a Stachyris run of about ten notes on the same pitch, very rapidly, others in the party making churring notes; soft rolling huh-huh-huh-huh-huh on a high note followed by ho-ho-ho-ho-ho on a lower note made by vibrating their throats like barbets, fully revealing blue patches of skin on either side of the throats. Others huskily rolling their “r”s and churr.”

Input and images by Dr Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong.

MacKinnon, J. & Phillipps, K. (1993). A field guide to the birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali. The Greater Sunda Islands. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Smythies, B. E. (1999). Birds of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu: Natural History Pub. (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. & The Sabah Society. 4th ed, revised by G. W. H. Davison.

Black-Naped Monarch: Nesting defense strategy

posted in: Nesting | 1


KC Tsang was recently out birding with wife Amy when they came across Black-naped Monarchs (Hypothymis azurea) nesting in Sukau and Gua Gomantong, Sabah.

“In all cases the monarch has the same or similar nesting defense strategy against predators. The nest is constructed resting on the upward pointing fork of a fairly thin hanging branch of the plant (left). The site of the nest is fairly distant from the next branch, thus not allowing a predator to launch itself horizontally onto the nesting bird. Having the nest on the thin hanging branches would allow the bird to feel the vibration of a predator descending onto the nest, and especially at night when snakes are most active hunting.”

The species of monarch is a resident of the rainforest of Borneo. The male has a beautiful azure-blue plumage, somewhat darker on the back and a narrow black band across the upper breast and a whitish belly and vent. The female appears like the male except the blue is duller and confined mainly to the head and the black breast-band is lacking. Because of the small size and the bright blue plumage, these birds have sometimes been referred to as blue fairies of the forest.


According to Symthies (1999), the bird builds a small, neat, cup-shaped nest of twigs, fine roots and fibres plastered together with the help of cobwebs. Nests are typically slung from a single hanging twig or creeper, or between two such slender verticals.

KC Tsang & Amy Tsang
June 2007

Symthies, B. E. (1999). Birds of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu: Natural History Pub. (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. & The Sabah Society. 4th ed, revised by G. W. H. Davison.

Common yellow stem-fig and white-leaved fig

posted in: Plants | 4

I stumbled upon a 2003 paper by Kelvin S-H Peh and Chong Fong Lin, that appeared in the Ornithological Society of Japan’s journal, Ornithological Science 2:119-125. I was fascinated by their observations of two fig species and the birds they attract at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Birders are always excited whenever large fig trees are in fruits. This would be followed by list after list of birds that visit the trees. Yes, these two authors also generate a list of birds that visit the two fig plants. But the study was more than a list of birds.


The two plants observed were common yellow stem-fig (Ficus fistulosa) (above left) and white-leaved fig (Ficus grossularioides) (above right). The former is a small tree, sometimes planted along roads. It bears large, 25 mm diameter figs in bunches along the trunk and main branches. According to Angie Ng, the figs are enjoyed by bats and squirrels. I have always wondered whether any birds at all go for these figs. The latter is a shrub of forest edge and secondary growth, with smaller, 12.5 mm diameter figs.

A total of 15 species of birds were observed visiting the two species of figs. These birds either swallow the figs whole or bite off pieces. Apparently some birds mash up the figs before swallowing but none of the birds observed did that.


Four species visited the common yellow stem-fig, the most common being the Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans) (above: bottom left). The others were Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) (above: top left), Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) (above: top right) and Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) (above: bottom right). Of these birds all are biters except the hornbill who is a swallower. The hornill is a large bird and is the only one capable of swallowing these large figs.

Birds that visited both species of figs were the pigeon, Black-necked Oriole and Asian Glossy Starling. There appear to be more species as well as number of birds that visited white-leaved fig than common yellow stem-fig.


Of the 14 species that visited the white-leaved fig, the Pink-necked Green Pigeon was again the most common visitor. This was followed by Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) and White-vented Myna (Acridotheres javanicus). All these are swallowers, including Black-naped Oriole Oriolus, Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus), Asian Glossy Starling, Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) (above: bottom left), Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii) (above: top right), Asian Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella) (above:bottom right), House Crow (Corvus splendens) and Eyebrowed Thrush (Turdus obscurus).

Obviously because the figs are small, these birds are capable of swallowing them whole.

The three biters include Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) (above: top left), Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma) and Short-tailed Babbler (Trichastoma malaccense). These are small birds, the flowerpeckers being less that 10 cm in length and the babbler 14 cm. The swallowers are all longer than 20 cm except the Coppersmith Barbet whose length is 17 cm.

Input: Peh, Kelvin S.-H. & Chong, F. L. (2003). Seed dispersal agents of two Ficus species in a disturbed tropical forest. Ornithol. Sci. 2:119-125. All images by YC except Red-crowned Barbet by Chan Yoke Meng and Asian Fairy Bluebird by Johnny Wee.

Note: Angie Ng has pointed out that the previous image was not the white-leaved fig. It has been replaced by the current one supplied by her. Thanks Angie.

Oriental Pied Hornbill: Parental infanticide

posted in: Hornbills | 1


Among birds, siblicide refers to the killing of younger, weaker nestlings by the older, stronger ones through direct attack or by pushing them out of the nest. Parents normally permit such attacks because of scarcity of food. After all, it is better to have two large and healthy chicks than three smaller and weaker ones.

As eggs are laid at intervals of one a day and the parents start incubating immediately after the first egg is laid, it is inevitable that the first chick to hatch will get an advantage over its siblings in terms of size and strength.

Infanticide on the other hand involves adult birds killing chicks of the same species, not necessarily their own. The term parental infanticide refers specifically to the parent birds killing their own chicks.

Most birders are familiar with siblicide. We encounter it regularly among the common Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier). In recent months we have also seen this in the Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus). In these cases the youngest of the chicks invariably get pushed off the nest.

Infanticide and parental infanticide are less well know among local birders.


The Singapore Hornbill Project, initiated by Marc Cremades and Prof Ng Soon Chye (left) using close circuit cameras to monitor the nesting of the wild population of Oriental Pied Hornbills at Pulau Ubin as well as captive birds at the Jurong Bird Park has shown the first ever case of parental infanticide in hornbills. Originally thought to be a rare occurrence, subsequent observations have shown that this is more common than generally believed.

In 2006, one of the nests under 24 hours monitoring at Pulau Ubin showed that the youngest of the four chicks at 4-days old appeared weak but alive. It failed to vocally respond to its mother, so the latter picked it up, crushed it with her beak and tried to feed the dead chick to the others. The remaining three chicks tried to swallow the dead chick but failed until about 30 minutes later when chick no. 2 finally succeeded. The images below show the sequence of the action. For a detailed explanation, I am afraid you need to wait for the publication of the scientific paper, due to appear in the August 2007 issue of Forktail, the scientific journal of the Oriental Bird Club.


Observations made in 2007 showed the practice prevalent in both the wild and captive birds. In both groups, instances of the female hornbill killing the weakest chick were recorded. In one case involving captive birds, there were two cases within the same nest. In one case when the female bird failed to feed the dead chick to one of the living chicks, she swallowed the dead chick herself.

The practice of parental infanticide is probably the first record for a hornbill. And the Singapore Hornbill Project, of which BESG is an official partner, is proud to be the first to report this.

Input and video sequence by Marc Cremades and Prof Ng Soon Chye, Singapore Hornbill Project. Image of hornbill by Chan Yoke Meng and of the two personalities by YC.

Anatomy of a nest: Common Tailorbird

posted in: Nests | 3


The nest of the Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) was collected from my neighbour Sheng Lau’s garden towards the end of April 2007 after it was abandoned (left). From the outside the nest appeared empty, even when turned over and shaken. It was only after the nest was cut open did the two mummified chicks became apparent.

The nest was found among a group of short, herbaceous ginger plants (Family: Zingiberaceae) grown along the driveway with a dividing wall on the other side. It was about 200 cm from the ground. Two green leaves, 20 x 8 cm, were brought together to form the shell of the nest. The upper leaf was pulled down to merge with the lower and stitched together. The upper leaf formed the base while the lower the front of the nest shell. That half of the lower leaf towards the stem provided a sort of a porch over the nest opening (above). The image below (left) shows the nest from a different angle while that on the right shows the opening.


The bird/s apparently made holes along the leaf margin, about 4 cm apart, mostly towards the further half of the leaf. Pairs of holes from the two leaves were sewn together using mainly silk from spiders or caterpillars, the ends fluffed out to form knots. There were five stitches about 4 cm apart along one side of the nest and eight stitches on the other (above).

Build snugly within the shell formed by the two leaves was the conical nest. The nest proper was 10 x 5 cm, with the 4 cm diameter opening facing the stem. The nest was made up of plant parts – twigs, pieces of leaves, fibres and a number of plant floss that were not identifiable (left). There were even strips of plastic.

The nests of these tailorbirds are usually built with the help of two leaves. If the leaves are smaller, then three leaves are employed. An earlier account reported nesting in the simpoh air (Dillenia suffruticosa) bush, where the birds used a single large leaf to construct their nest.

YC Wee & Sheng Lau
June 2007

Birds and molluscs

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 2

During the last few months we have been receiving images from various photographers of different species of birds taking molluscs as food or as a calcium supplement. We have now managed to identify the molluscs with the help of Dr Chan Sow-yan.

The Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) nesting in Changi was often seen bringing fragments of snail shells to the female who was sealing herself inside the nesting cavity (left bottom). The snail has now been identified as the Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica), a common garden snail (left top). The snail was introduced from Africa a long time ago and is now a pest. Empty shells are commonly found littering the ground in various stages of disintegration.

The Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) was seen feeding an empty Dyakia (Quantula) striata to its fledgling (below left). The Oriental Pied Hornbill was also seen with this snail, but this snail appeared to be alive (below right). This is a native species, common in gardens and the only land gastropod in the world capable of true bioluminescence. And according to Sow-yan, it “was first discovered… for its light value in September 1943 by Mr. Kumazawa (entomologist) at Goodwood Park Hotel, Scotts Road. This snail is normally found in secondary forest, lawns, rubbish dumps, under concrete slabs and also in crevices along walkways especially after rain. Because of this curious and unique luminous character it is probably the most observed species as compared to other landsnails locally.”

The Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) was observed feeding on another land snail, Subulina octona, to its nesting chicks. The photographer Wee Hiang Her thinks that the snails may be empty shells. This is a delicate, translucent, small snail with an elongated and yellowish or creamy shell (below top). It is commonly found in leaf litter and even under flower pots. They feed on decaying organic matter.

The Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda) was photographed eating a live apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) when it made a brief appearance in October 2006 (right bottom). It is an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor. The bird was seen smashing the snail against the branch it was perching on to get at the flesh. The apple snail is a pest snail introduced from South America and is collected for food in some countries.

A Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii) was earlier photographed eating a forest snail at the Upper Peirce Reservoir forest. The snail could possibly be Amphidromus atricallosus, a largely aboreal species.

Images by YC (snails), Chan Yoke Meng (hornbills, kingfisher) and Allan Teo (Dollarbird). Leong Tzi Ming made the tentative ID of the Amphidromus sp., and Sow-yan is of the opinion that if it is Amphidromus, it could well be A. atricallosus.

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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