Changeable Hawk Eagle: Pale x dark morph

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Nesting | 2

In May-July 2006 Mark Chan documented the breeding of a pair of Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus), both pale morph. The chick that resulted in the union was distinctly a pale morph. The head, neck and underparts were totally white with no markings at all. The local subspecies is limnaeetus.


In June the following year, Johnny Wee and Chan Yoke Meng managed to document the mating of a pale and a dark morph in Singapore (above). Like most other eagles, they build their nest of sticks lodged between the forks of branches in tall trees.

The chick in this case was a dark morph (below left). On 22nd June 2007, the dark morph parent was seen flying past the nest with food in its bill (below right). Was it trying to persuade the chick to fledge by not feeding it in the nest?


Apparently the parent failed as the very next day the chick was seen feeding on a rat in the nest, swallowing it whole (below).


The chick was regularly testing its wings in the nest, as seen on 27th June when the image below (left) was taken. It fledged on or before 6th July as the bird was then seen outside the nest (below right). The dark x pale morph progeny was not all dark, as there were distinct white patches on the breast and flanks (bleow).

The fledged chick returned regularly to the nesting tree for feeding sessions and to roost on the branches.


The Changeable Hawk Eagle exists in two distinct forms or colour morphs. This is a common form of polymorphism (poly = many; morph = form) that occurs in birds, particularly birds of prey.

In this eagle, there is a pale morph and a dark morph. The adult pale morph appears dark brown above and whitish with dark streaks below. Adult dark morph is totally blackish. Each morph may have specific advantages in certain habitats, like certain survival and reproductive advantages. However, what these are, we do not know.

Melinda Chan, Johnny Wee & YC Wee
October 2007

Images by Johnny (chick eating rat) and Chan Yoke Meng (the rest)

Scaly-breasted Munia: Seed eater

posted in: Feeding-plants | 8


In January 2006 I had an exciting encounter with a family of Scaly-breasted Munias (Lonchura punctulata) visiting my neighbour’s well-maintained garden. They came quietly and by chance I noticed them foraging among the grassy weeds. Then again, in September 2007 I had another excounter. This time, in my unkempt, weedy garden, foraging grass seeds.

The birds worked fast, pulling the grass inflorescence growing in my potted plants and stuffing the seeds in their bills. They worked from the ground, perching from the stunted bougainvillea plants growing from the pots as well as from the edge of the pots. They moved about rapidly, working different plants as they went about their foraging expedition. Then they were gone.


Obviously, munias are seed eaters. I looked up the limited literature and found that they go for the smaller grasses, like carpet grass (Axonopus compressus), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), goose grass (Eleusine indica), buffalo grass (Paspalum conjugatum) and panic grass (Panicum spp.) (above, from left to right). I am sure they take seeds of other grasses as well, but to birders, well, grass is grass. So we await more detailed observations from those who are more inclined towards plants, especially grasses. Or photographers, from whose images botanists can try identify the grasses.

In the images at the top of the page, the one on the left, taken by KC Tsang, shows a munia perched on a stalk of a ?panic grass while the other two images show the bird eating the seeds of carpet grass.

The birds also eat seeds of sedges (Cyperaceae) that some birders call grasses (Gramineae), but let’s not split hairs, and herbs like common snakeweed (Stachytarpheta indica).

Wells (2007) reports that the bird also “exploits the cones of casuarinas, often high in the crown of mature trees… also takes quantities of the nutrient-rich filamentous alga Spirogyra, found in open, wet places on paddyland etc.”


The images above (left) show a sprig of casuarina (Casuarina equisetifolia) with a close-up of a fruit that is still unripe. On ripening the many sharp projecting points will split to expose the seeds. The top right image shows a single filament of Spirogyra, also known as water silk and mermaid’s tresses, while the bottom image is an enlarged view of three filaments. The green spirals within the filaments are the chloroplasts, thus the generic name, Spirogyra. This is a microscopic green alga that grows in relatively unpolluted, stagnant or slow-moving freshwater (drains, ponds), forming masses of slimy, green, unbranched threads.

YC Wee
October 2007

Images: KC Tsang (munia, top of page, left) and YC (others).

1. Wee, Y. C. & R. Corlett (1986). The city and the forest: plant life in urban Singapore. Singapore University Press.
2. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.

Bat Hawk: Predator of bats

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Raptors | 2


The Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus) is a raptor found in the sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Malay Peninsular, Sumatra, Banka, Borneo, Sulawesi and New Guinea. The bird is a rare visitor to Singapore.

This is a fairly large black hawk with a distinct crest (left). It is often not noticed because it is active only at night. During the day it perches quietly, almost horizontally on the branch of a tall tree, seldom leaving, even for a short while. It becomes active at dusk when it goes on the lookout for small bats, swifts, swallows and large insects.

Prey is caught using the hawk’s talons, usually after a high-speed chase, and transferred to the mouth to be swallowed whole while still in the air. As the period available for hunting is short – at dusk until darkness descends and a short period in the early morning – it needs to hunt where prey is plentiful, like at a cave entrance.

The image below, taken by Wilson Yang, clearly shows one Bat Hawk with a few others among the stream of bats emerging from their roost, probably a cave, in Borneo.


Observations made near a cave in Zambia record a foraging Bat Hawk catching, on an average, seven insectivorous bats during six consecutive nights (Black et al., 1979). As the bats flew out of the cave, the hawk intercepted them and either struck. caught or failed to make contact. The feeding bouts lasted 18.3 minutes per night and the success rate was 49%. The time between killing and swallowing of each bat (average weight 56.3 g) was 6.0 seconds.

Another specialist bat predator is the African Harrier-hawk (Polyboroides typus). There are also a number of owls, goshawks, peregrines and kestrels that occasionally catch bats.

Raptors predating on bats are better known than birds predated by bats. However, there have been recent accounts of giant bats snatching birds from the night sky (1, 2).

YC Wee
October 2007

Images: Lim Kim Chye and Yian (hawk), Wilson Yang (back). Check out Wilson’s Flickr site.

1. Altringham, J.D. (1996). Bats: Biology and behaviour. Oxford: University Press.
2. Black, H.L., Howard, G. & Stjernstedt, R. (1979). Observations on the feeding behavior of the Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus). Biotropica 11(1):18-21.
3. Fenton, M. B., Cumming, D. H. M. & Oxley, D. J. (1977). Prey of Bat Hawks and availability of bats. The Condor, 9:495-497.
4. Madoc, G. C. (1956). An introduction to Malayan birds. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. (revised ed.)
5. Richarz, K. & Limbrunner, A. (1993). The world of bats, the flying goblins of the night. T.F.H. Pub., Inc.
6. Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.

Radjah Shelduck, a new duck around the lakes

posted in: Exotics | 4


On 9th June 2006, Tang Hung Bun captured an image of a duck perching atop a street lamp along Bukit Timah Road, near Raffles Town Club.

The white duck has a brown back and wing tips and a rusty band across its breast. Its legs, feet, bill and eyes are pinkish.

This duck is new to Singapore. KC Tsang helped identify it as Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah), also known as Burdekin Duck, from the Northern Australian coast and parts of Indonesia.

For at least a year, if not longer, the duck can be seen in the Symphony and Eco Lakes of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Apparently it has been wandering around the island.

Introduced as a free-ranging bird? Escapee?


Incidentally, the Radjah Shelduck is listed as a protected bird in all states of Australia.

KC Tsang & Tang Hung Bun
October 2007

Images: Tang (duck on street lamp) and KC (others)

Black Eagle: First breeding record in Malaysia

posted in: Nesting, Raptors | 0

On 21 March 2003, Chiu Sein Chiong, Ooi Beng Yean & Cheang Kum Seng successfully located a Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis) nest containing a well-developed young (left). The nest was found in lower montane forest at about 1360 m asl at Pos Slim, Perak. As far as we are aware, this discovery constitutes the first nesting and breeding record for this species in Malaysia. The following is an account of the chain of events that led to this exciting discovery.

The sighting of a pair of Black Eagles in courting/pair-bonding flight above a ridge in Pos Slim, Perak on 26 January 2003 kindled a flicker of hope that the pair was either selecting a nest site or was already nesting. During a second visit to the same location on 12 February, a Black Eagle was observed carrying a forest rat which it dropped off behind some trees on the ridge. It re-emerged very quickly and glided away. Subsequently, a second Black Eagle emerged from the same ridge to confront a different pair of Black Eagles that were approaching. Later, on the same day, a Black Eagle was again observed dropping off a lizard at the ridge.

On the morning of 16 February, a Black Eagle was again seen carrying a lizard to the same line of trees on the ridge, dropping out of sight and reappearing soon after. By now we were quite positive that the Black Eagles were nesting on the ridge but the prospect of a tiring climb up the hill-cutting and then into the montane forest to look for a needle in the haystack was enough excuse to put off the search to another time. However, at the enthusiastic urging of the others, a party set out that same afternoon to find a way up to the ridge. The climbers successfully worked their way up the hill-cutting to the forest edge but decided against venturing further due to fading light. Now that the type of conditions and terrain were known, it set the stage for the planning of more climbs in search of the nest.

Our intended nest search plans were in disarray when suddenly access to Pos Selim for the general public was cut but thanks to the co-operation of the authorities we were given special permission to enter. On 9 March, one Black Eagle was again seen carrying a rodent back to the nest site. A second eagle appeared and glided into the nest location. From this we deduced that the Black Eagles had young in the nest. On 16 March a second nest search was organized. While a small group climbed up to the montane forest, the ground crew monitored the movements of the Black Eagles and provided feedback using walkie-talkies. Although the searchers occasionally caught glimpses of the eagles flying over, the thick canopy prevented them from seeing the flight direction of the eagles. The closed canopy and steep terrain did not help and we had problems with getting our orientation right. The search was called off as it was getting late and rain clouds gathered. However, the day’s efforts had not been a waste. The ground crew had observed a Black Eagle bringing food descend and ascend vertically within 2-3 seconds. This pinpointed the likely location of the nest and immediately motivated us to decide that another search be carried out within the next few days.

On 21 March, Ooi and Cheang started their climb at 10.30am while Chiu again provided ground support. Up to 11.50a.m. there was no sign of any Black Eagle but finally at 11.55am, one was seen heading towards the nest site. At 12.20pm, Ooi managed to “point” out his position in the forest to Chiu using a palm tree as a landmark. This indicated that Ooi was about 50 feet from the nest site. At 12.35pm, one of the Black Eagles flew out of the nest and joined the other Black Eagle that was performing flight displays. The first eagle turned back, perched and started calling. The second eagle then flew in to perch close to where Ooi was and then started to weave in and out of the forest. The behaviour of the Black Eagles was probably due to Ooi getting close to their nest. At 1.15pm, the walkie-talkie cackled again and the first words from Ooi were “EUREKA! Found the nest, one chick

The nest was on a medium-sized tree, about 60 ft tall, growing on a very steep slope with its crown clear of smaller trees around it. The nest itself was lodged amongst the main branches, below the crown and near the center of the tree and was partly concealed by foliage and epiphytes. The nest was a compact mass of small twigs and branches, measuring about 2.5 ft wide and 2 ft deep.


The juvenile, seen with one of the adults, appeared to be about two-thirds as large but with a short tail (right). Overall, it was dark brown, with back and wing feathers quite developed but with some remnant down still attached to the feather tips, giving the back a speckled appearance. The head and neck area was almost bare of feathers, with the large ear opening clearly visible. The dark eye, with a whitish orbital ridge above, had a greyish-black orbital area around it, giving the face a sunken look, not unlike that of the head of a vulture. The bill was black with a light yellow cere and gape. The underside, including the breast and thighs, was still covered with downy feathers. These descriptions of the juvenile were based on digital images taken on the day the nest was located and also during two subsequent visits on 22 March and 23 March.

On a visit on 31 March, the nest was found empty. No Black Eagle adult or juvenile was seen in the vicinity during a two-hour vigil. Another visit on 8 April confirmed that the nest was empty. Again no Black Eagle or young was seen in the immediate area of the nest and nearby forest. At the time of writing, it is not known whether the young had fledged successfully as no flying juvenile has yet been sighted.

Note: Laurence Poh Soon Ping, Lim Kim Chye, Lim Swee Yian, Dr.Chan Kai Soon, Dr.Chan Ah Lak and Pamela Phang participated in the nest search leading to its discovery. Other contributors were Sharon Chan, Leow Kon Fah and Phang Chee Mun.

21 April 2003: 2nd Nest


In 26 October 2003, Chiu Sein Chiong and the late Laurence Poh Soon Ping observed a pair of Black Eagles breaking off branches to build a nest around 2km from the 1st nest site which had been cleared for hill slope stabilization work (left). The pair also exhibited courtship displays in flight. On 20 November, Chiu and Dr. Robert DeCandido saw one Black Eagle rearranging sticks in the large completed nest, no new branches were brought back.

On 21 December 2003, Chiu & Ooi Beng Yean observed the pair circling before perching and calling out. The pair then copulated. On 4 January 2004, Lim Kim Chye and Lim Swee Yian saw one Black Eagle gliding around the nest tree and incubation had not yet commenced.

On a visit on 8 February 2004, Chiu, Laurence Poh and Cheang Kum Seng confirmed that incubation was in progress and we also witnessed change of incubation duties. On 7 March one of the adults was seen frantically dive-bombing a Siamang which was trying to approach the nest. Incubation was still in progress on 16 March and by 28 March it was suspected that there was a small chick in the nest.

On 1 April 2004 Kim Chye saw one chick in white down and still wobbly. By 6 April the chick was left unattended for long periods, white down still extensive all over head and body but black/dark brown pin feathers visible on wings and tail, bill black with yellow cere.

The chick was last seen alive on 8 April (Kim Chye) and 11 April (Chiu) but on the next visit on 22 April, Kim Chye reported that the nest was empty and no adults or juvenile was seen in the vicinity. Another observation on 26 April (Chiu) confirmed no Black Eagles around the nest tree.

We were unable to confirm if the Juvenile had fledged but based on plumage of chick we think that it was too young to fledge and probably was predated.

Images by Ooi Beng Yean (eagle by nest) and Laurence Poh (eagle in flight, permission courtesy of Mrs Poh).

This posting is made in memory of Laurence Poh who passed away three years ago. Laurence was one of the active participants of the above Black Eagle study.

From the article:
Chiu, S.C. and Lim, K.C. 2003. The First Breeding Record of the Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis in Malaysia. Suara Enggang 11 (2):14-16.

Banded Woodpecker: Feeding and preening


An earlier post describes how an adult Banded Woodpecker (Picus miniaceus) collected ants from an umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) to feed its recently fledged chick.

The woodpecker was back recently (left). I am not sure whether it was the earlier adult or the grown up fledgling that returned on the morning of 11th September 2007. It was a cloudy morning, the sky appearing threatening. But there was no rain.

I detected movements in the umbrella tree. It was the woodpecker, busy harvesting ants from the narrow, elongated leaf stipules that provide shelters to ants.

Perching on the leaf stalk, the bird poked its pointed bill under the sides of the stipules to get at the ants (below, arrowed). It was doing this for about half an hour, moving up and down the branches.


Once satisfied with all the ants it consumed, the bird flew to a nearby tree and rested comfortable on an exposed branch. Then it began to preen itself (below). First it preened its breast feathers, then the wings, before attending to its feet. It then took care of the tail feathers and in the process, no doubt got oil from the preen gland to apply to the feathers. Oil from the preen gland helps make the feathers last longer.

Feathers on the head are preened with the help of its feet. The bird rubs oil on its feet with the bill and then scratches its head. However, I did not observe this.

Input and images by YC.

Painted Jezebel: Distasteful to birds?

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 4

Butterflies and their caterpillars are regular a food for birds. The former are usually caught and their wings removed as they are thrashed left and right or by hitting them against a branch. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are handled differently. The larger ones are moved through the bill to remove their gut contents. Hairy caterpillars are thrashed on the branch, again to remove the gut contents. Apparently, the irritating hairs are swallowed with the de-gutted caterpillars.

Most of the caterpillars caught on film appear to be green. But what about the colourful caterpillars?


In August last year, I found a clutch of caterpillars munching the leaves of the mistletoe plant (Dendrophthoe pentandra), a semi-parasitic plant growing on my Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac). These caterpillars were gregarious, feeding from the undersurface of the leaf as a group. From above you could only see the row of black heads munching close together (below left).

These were the caterpillars of the Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete metarete), an attractive and common garden butterfly.

The caterpillars began as tiny, 2 mm long creatures. As they increased rapidly in size, they turned from light orange to a darker shade of orange. And their size finally increased to about 25 mm (left).

After feeding for about 13 days, they totally defoliated the mistletoe, leaving only the bare branches. Nowhere to hide, they grouped all along a single bare twig, conspicuous in their gaudy orange (below middle).

The caterpillars were then large, fat and succulent. And they would have made hefty meals to any birds that fly past. After all, caterpillars are a favourite food of birds.

Yet, of the 21 caterpillars that hatched out from the clutch of eggs, 19 survived to pupate. The two that did not reach this stage were not victims of bird predation.

It was only later that I realized why these orange caterpillars were spared from being bird food. Their bright colour should have been a clue. Butterflies, as well as their caterpillars, advertise their poisonous nature or their non-palatability with gaudy colours. And this was exactly what the Painted Jezebel caterpillars did.


Some mistletoe plants are reputed to contain narcotic properties that are transferred to the caterpillars that feed on it. The chemicals are then passed on to the adult butterflies. The fact that the butterflies are colourful probably attest to their poisonous nature (above right).

YC Wee
September 2007

Collared Kingfisher: Protective instinct

posted in: Interspecific, Kingfishers | 1

Most birds will try their best to distract potential predators from their nests, usually by feigning injury as seen with the Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) and Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus). The Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) has its very own strategy.


Others birds will actively attack intruders and the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) is one of these (above). In an encounter by Chan Yoke Meng at a locations where nesting was earlier documented, the pair of concerned parents was fiercely protective of their recently fledged chick.

Both the adults were seen actively chasing away different species of birds that came too near the nesting tree.

These birds included Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua goffini), Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus), Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo) and even the large Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) that flew by.

However, these kingfishers would not attack larger birds like hornbills.

I wonder whether they would attack birders and photographers who come too near their nest? Like in the case of the House Crow (Corvus splendens).

Chan Yoke Meng
September 2007

(Image by YC Wee)

Hill Myna stealing an egg

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates | 2

On 18th September 2007, KC Tsang wrote: “I was at Upper Seletar this morning, and a flock of screaming Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa) descended on a bare tree. There were about 15 of them, so wondering what the commotion was about, went nearer to the flock.

“Found that one of them had an egg between its bill, managed to take a picture of it, the bird with egg is at the top left hand corner (above left, arrow). And the next moment the myna lost the egg, the second picture shows the egg falling down, in the middle of the picture (above right, arrow).

“Whose egg was it? And why did the rest of the Hill Mynas got so excited about this Hill Myna having stolen an egg. Also, the egg was a bit too big for it to swallow…”

Hill Mynas are omnivorous. There have been records of them taking figs, swarming termites, large insects, lizards and even a snake. But I have not been able to locate any report of the bird raiding nests to take the eggs.

Can this be the first record?

According to R Subaraj, our bird specialist, there is no reason why Hill Myna should not raid nests for the eggs. The fact that there is no recorded observations does not mean that this myna does not indulge in such an activitiy.

KC Tsang with comment by R Subarag
September 2007

PS: Just before posting, these thoughts came to me: Did the bird intentionally let go of the egg to break it? Did it fly down to feast on the contents? Are Hill Myna intelligent enough to do this? YC

Leaf bathing: Striped Tit Babbler

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0


A Striped Tit Babbler (Macronous gularis) was recently seen taking a leaf bath after a slight shower during a hot day along Venus Drive (left).

We have earlier documented the Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) taking a leaf bath as well as other species like Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier), Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma) and Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius).

All these are smallish birds. I suppose small birds easily fit into leaves that have droplets of water. They are always a joy to watch, fluffing their feathers as they soak up the few raindrops or even droplets from a garden hose.

Johnny Wee
September 2007

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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