Little Grebe: Going out with a fight

posted in: Species | 3

“On December 12th, 2005, as I was leading my American clients on a birding tour at Serangoon (Sewage Works), we stopped to observe an adult Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis). Suddenly, another adult swam into view with two juveniles in tow, much to my excitement. There has been only three adult grebes left here and so it was quite unexpected to find that they had bred.

“The Little Grebe first arrived in 1992, at a little pond adjacent to the old Ponggol pig farms. By 1994, there were a few feeding and breeding across the Serangoon River, at a large pond, at the Serangoon Sewage Works. Colonisation from nearby Malaysia was a success and the grebe population continued to grow with a high count of 27 birds in 1996.

“Soon after, the large pond was filled in and although a shallow pool emerged from the original site, the only good pond that remained was the smaller pond. This pond continues to exist and holds the last remnants of the Little Grebe population. This had dwindled to just three birds in the last two years.

“The grebe makes a floating nest of water plants in the middle of the pond and it has bred a few times before, especially when the larger pond was around. The small remaining population still built nests but in many cases, these were not utilised. That is until this year. A nest was built in the middle of the pond and an adult sat on it. Even this behaviour did not mean nesting.

“The only record of a Little Grebe away from the Serangoon/Ponggol area was of one bird at the Tuas grassland. Why is the species not found at Sungei Buloh and other wetlands areas? One likely reason is the presence of the large predatory Common Snakehead or Aruan.

“So, is the Little Grebe to have a very short stint as a Permanent Resident?

Regards, R. Subaraj.”

Contributed by our bird specialist R. Subaraj. Image of nesting Little Grebes taken with permission from Ong Kiem Sian’s video Precious Moments of Nesting Birds I.

PS 1: On 27th March 2006 Ong Kiem Sian wrote in: “I saw once a family of grebes with 2 chicks at Tampines pond. I have not been there for many years. Maybe the pond does not exist anymore.”

PS 2: Alvin Wong from Beijing wrote on 11th April 2006: “Howdy folks, I’m currently in Beijing, China (where blogspot is blocked and I cannot post my comment on besgroup). I used to observe Little Grebes swimming in the water-logged empty land across my block in Punggol. now it’s a cluster of HDB flats under construction. Bird-watching from my living room…”

Hornbill Project Singapore

posted in: Hornbills | 9

The Hornbill Project Singapore is the brainchild of French naturalist, Marc Cremades of the Winged Migration fame. The ides came two years ago when he visited Pulau Ubin with long-time local birder, Prof Ng Soon Chye.

Much is known about these large and wonderful birds but relatively little is known about the breeding behaviour. We know that the female is confined inside a tree cavity during egg incubation and the development of the nestlings. During this 6-7 weeks, the male bird regularly and faithfully brings food to feed his mate and later the nestlings as well. Only when the nestlings are ready to fledge will the seal be broken. However, next to nothing is known what happens inside the sealed nest.

The project is using infrared video cameras to monitor activities inside and outside the nests. Male birds will be tagged with a miniaturised GPS to track their movements. A temperature gauge placed inside the nest will study the temperature fluctuations. A gas sampling system has also been installed in the nest cavity.

So far, five females have already been installed inside their nest cavities and at least one has laid a clutch of eggs. The project has found that as soon as the female is installed inside the nest, she sheds her rectrix and remex feathers.

Local partners of the project include National Parks Board, Jurong Bird Park, National University of Singapore, National Technological University and the BESGroup of the Nature Society (Singapore). International partners include ornithologists and scientists from France and Thailand.

As the Bird Ecology Study Group is directly involved in this hornbill project, we are monitoring sightings of these birds on mainland Singapore. Information on dates; number of birds; whether male, female or juvenile; locations and time of sightings can be sent to me at This information would come in useful when we plot the flight range of these hornbills.

We are grateful to the many who have sent in sightings on the Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris convexus)as well as the Great (Buceros bicornis) and Rhinoceros (B. rhinoceros) Hornbills.

Read the more detailed account of the project in the latest issue of Asian Geographic (No. 35 Issue 2/2006).

YC Wee
25th March 2006

(Image comes from the title page of the hornbill article in Asian Geographic.)

A Great Hornbill came for a visit

posted in: Hornbills | 4

We regularly see the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) in mainland Singapore and in Pulau Ubin. But Stephen Lau had a treat when a Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) came for a visit at his condomonium around the Bukit Timah area.

One morning in May 2005, just as Stephen was about to leave his apartment for an appointment, he heard the heavy falpping of wings and deep harsh sounds coming from his balcony. Curious, he went to investigate. He had a treat of his life when he saw perching comfortably on the railing, a very large black and white bird with a yellow neck and black-rimmed red eyes. It had a large and prominent yellowish bill and casque. Without doubt it was a hornbill. In fact it is no ordinary hornbill. It was a female Great Hornbill, definitely an escapee as a metal tag can clearly be seen round its right leg.

It sat there looking at Stephen and started chewing and spitting seeds of some fruits kept hidden in its big beak. Intrigued, he offered the bird a slice of papaya on a plate. The bird scrambled off to his neighbour’s unit but returned later to finish off the piece of papaya.

Input and image by Stephen Lau.

Forensic birding 3: Pellets

posted in: Miscellaneous | 1

A few weeks ago I picked up a small, 14 x 14 mm piece of dry, compressed pellet on my driveway. On examining it under the hand lens, I found that it was composed of short pieces of fibres, a few sand grains, pieces of what looked like coloured palm fruit skin and other unidentified materials.

My immediate conclusion was that it must have been regurgitated by a bird perched on an overhanging ceram palm (Rhopaloblaste ceramica) frond.

Could it actually be a pellet regurgitated by a bird? My knowledge of pellets then was confined to those compressed, undigested bones, hairs, feathers, etc that owls and other raptors regularly regurgitate. But then, pellet casting by non-raptors? By insectivorous birds? By frugivorous birds even?

Intrigued, I looked up the literature. Yes, the literature is flooded with reports on pellet casting by raptors. However, there are also a number of reports of pellet casting by birds that regularly consume fish, insects, caterpillars, etc.

Now, why do birds that are not birds of prey need to cast pellets? Fish-eating birds swallow bones that are removed as pellets. Among the contents of these pellets can be found otoliths, those hard inner-ear bones that can help identify the species of fish consumed. Insect-eating birds need to spit out the hairs of caterpillars and the exoskeletons of insects, for example.

When a bird takes in its food, this is normally passed directly down into the stomach. Here, enzymes, acids and mucous are produced and the process of digestion begins. The food is then passed on to the second part of the stomach, the gizzard, where the soluble parts are ground and passed through to the intestines. The indigestible part of the food is compressed into a pellet by the gizzard, thus taking the shape of the gizzard. This pellet will eventually be regurgitated.

Local birders are familiar with pellets regurgitated by raptors. But most are unfamiliar with pellet casting by other birds. But this is a common occurrence in many groups of birds. In fact the International Bird Pellet Study Group listed 18 orders comprising 67 families and 316 species of birds that indulge in pellet casting. And this was as far back as 1979. Birds that cast pellets include crows, cowbirds, grackles, cormorants, grebes, gulls, terns, swallows, sanderlings and rails.

My only encounter with pellet casting was when I tried to photograph a Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) perched on my neighbour’s TV aerial. The bird suddenly opened its beak and made some sort of retching action. It must have regurgitated a pellet. As the bird eats mainly insects, the pellet must have been made up mainly of insects’ exoskeletons composed on indigestible chitin. Like scats, you can tell what the birds have been eating by examining their pellets.

Now coming back to the pellet I picked up. I am still wondering what bird spitted it out? And whether it was an insect-eater or a fruit-eater?

Text and image by YC, scale in mm.

Latest: After the above was posted, we received a note from Cheong Weng Chun who wrote: “Yes, non-raptors do regurgitate. I only know about this a few months ago when two nature photographers stumbled upon a bee-eater with its beak open wide and suddenly a pellet dropped out. They even sent me a sample of the pellet. However, due to my busy schedule at work and the heat inside my car (yes, I kept it inside my car for a couple of days), it was subsequently smashed accidently. But yes, I did see the exoskeleton of insects especially wing parts.”

We also received from Jianzhong Liu an image of a Blue-tailed Bee-eater regurgitating a pellet, an act he saw a few times and was lucky to get a shot of it. The image is reproduced below.

Thank you Weng Chun and Jianzhong for your feedback.

The cat and the Cinnamon Bittern

posted in: Interspecific | 0

Seiko Okajima reported an early morning intruder to her house at Opera Estate in February 2006 thus: “My cat brought in this bird to my house early this morning around 1:00am of Feb 3, 2006. This young bird was not harmed and later flew away safely, but lost some feathers taken by my cat. My house is in Opera Estate off Siglap Road. I’ve never seen this kind of bird near my house during the day.”

Our bird specialist, R. Subaraj, has this to say: “The bird in the photos is a Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus). The species is normally found in wetland areas such as flooded fields and marshland. While a small number are resident in Singapore, it is believed that many occur as migrants from northern Asia. During the passage months, when the birds are undergoing migration, different species of migrants turn up at the strangest places, including buildings and homes, probably due to disorientation caused by the bright lights of urban areas.

“As Opera Estate is a suburban area, quite away from the nearest marshy area, this individual is probably a migrant that was undertaking a nocturnal movement (most migrants travel by night). For future reference, it would be a good idea to house such migrants for the night and release them during daylight at the nearest marshland/wetland area. This will minimise the risk of the bird getting further disorientated by the lights at your estate and allow the bird to feed in suitable habitat to recover from both the distant movement and the cat attack before continuing it’s travels the next night or so.”

Input by Seiko Okajima and R. Subaraj, images by Seiko.

After the above account was posted, Hung Bun Tang sent in the image of a dead Cinnamon Bittern (below) he found near Malcolm Park in the early morning of 9th January this year. He also believes that this species may be more prone to disorientation during nocturnal flights, thus becoming easy victims to attacks by predators. Thanks, Tang.

Oriental Pied Hornbills in urban Singapore

posted in: Hornbills | 17

Once upon a time, there were three species of hornbills present in Singapore. However, due to rapid development and large-scale deforestation, all three species became extinct in the late 19th century.

One species, the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris convexus), has made a comeback. There are many of this bird in the offshore island of Pulau Ubin. The original nucleus probably arrived years ago from nearby Johor, Malaysia. On mainland Singapore they are also present, probably originating from a pair of escapees. These birds have now established themselves and are actively breeding.

Many sightings have been reported from mainland Singapore during the last few years, from areas around Kent Ridge, Bukit Timah, Sembawang, Seletar, etc. They often visit urban gardens, foraging for fruits like rambutans and figs. In most cases the birds were shy, flying off when approached.

This year alone there have been a number of sightings. In January, Fuhai Heng saw a family group comprising father, mother and a juvenile in Sembawang. In February, Johnny Wee encountered one feasting on rambutan fruits in Yio Chu Kang Gardens. And Angie Ng saw her pair in an angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) next to Changi Meridian Hotel. Similarly Goh Si Guim encountered a pair during his nature walk, examining a cavity in a pulai tree (Alstonia sp.). This pair was obviously looking for a sutitable nesting hole. Also in February, Vilma d’Rozario’s colleague Angelia spotted one flying across the Pan Island Expressway, along that stretch between Eng Neo and Bukit Timah exits. James Heng similarly saw a bird in Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Reporting from Binjai Park, Marisa Keller wrote in saying that the bird was commonly seen around her neighbourhood. She first sighted two birds in July 2005, some juveniles on 15th October and three birds on 30th October. Marisa says: “In the 13 years I live here I never saw or heard a Pied Hornbill.”

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to say: “There have been several hornbill sightings, of various species, over the years and from various parts of Singapore. While all are regarded as escapees, we cannot be entirely certain that we do not receive strays from Malaysia. Based on the locations of the above reports, it may be that most were Oriental Pied Hornbills as three have been seen off and on at the Bukit Tinggi/Binjai Park area. These may be part of a feral population that started years ago at Upper Seletar Reservoir. The other possibilities are Great Hornbill (Buceros bicronis) or Rhinoceros Hornbill (B. rhinoceros), as there appears to be one of each at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.”

Hornbills are still around in Singapore. So the next time you see a large black and white bird with a large and prominent beak flapping noisily about, chances are that the bird is a hornbill.

Input by Fuhai Heng, Goh Si Guim, James Heng, Vilma D’Rozario, Johnny Wee, Marisa Keller and R Subaraj. Images from top down: YC, Johnny Wee, Fuhai Heng and Marisa Keller.

Pink-necked Green Pigeons 4: The birds have flown the nest

posted in: Nesting | 2

The following information comes from observations conducted in February 2005 on a nesting pair of Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans) in my garden (see 1 and 2). It is reported here to provide conclusion to the series.

Egg incubation took 17 days. The newly hatched nestling was near-naked, sparsely covered with short pin feathers. The two large and prominent eyes were closed. As with the eyes, the large beak was similarly out of proportion to the body. On the second day, more pin feathers sprouted, as well as the beginning of black primary feathers and a few yellow ones. On day three the eyes were opened and on day six the nestling was totally covered with feathers. A day later the nestling was observed to actively preen its feathers and exercising its wings. The nestling was restless, moving around the nest while the parent bird sat quietly still.

As in egg incubation (see 3), the male looked after the nestling during the day and the female during the night. Both parents helped feed the nestling.

As the nestling grew older, it exercised its wings by flapping them, especially when the wind blew through the tree. The nestling fledged at 10 days, leaving the nest to eventually find it way to a nearby mempat tree (Cratoxylum formosum). The male parent was seen sitting beside the fledgling, feeding it whenever the latter begged by pecking its parent’s neck. Sometimes the fledgling used its wing to harassed the parent bird for food. According to the literature the fledgling is fed with regurgitated fruits, not crop milk.

The pair remained on the same branch until evening. The next morning the male bird was still at it side. The female must have left early. By late afternoon the male bird left the fledgling alone before the arrival of the female. Some evenings both parent birds would vocalize, cooing and making rasping sounds as well as flapping their tails. The fledgling would suddenly appear from hiding and all three would fly off. Whether the fledgling was left along during the day or the male was accompanying it, I am unable to say. Similarly I am ot able to say what happened during the night.

With each day the birds would fly further and further away from the nesting area, no doubt until the fledgling totally mastered its ability to fly.

In all, I had been observing these birds for nearly a month, All the time, while the birds were in the nest, I was keeping close watch behind a canvas hide twice a day to record the shift change. Naturally when they all left the scene I was left with an empty feeling – to await the next time a pair nest in the tree again.

Note: Birds’ nests and the birds in them should not be disturbed unnecessarily, otherwise there is always the possibility of the parent birds suddenly abandoning the nestlings.

For a complete account, please see: Wee Y.C. (2005). Forging a closer relationship with Pink-necked Green-pigeons. Nature Watch 13(3): 16-21.

In and out of the Yellow-vented Bulbul’s nest

posted in: Interspecific, Nesting | 0

On 10th February 2006, five days before the writing of this entry, my parents noticed movements in our small chiku tree (Manilkara zapota). This tree is no more than 2 metres tall and is right next to the fence that separates my neighbour’s garden from mine.

In my mother’s words: ” An olive bird with a dark ring around its eyes with twigs in its beak was hopping from branch to branch.” There were two birds, identified as a pair of Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier). Within an hour or so, a small cup of twigs came into shape. The bird would often sit in its nest, while arranging and weaving new-found twigs into the cup around it. They were done by the end of the day after repeated returns to the nest with more nesting materials.

The nest was built with a variety of twigs, some coarser, some finer. But what struck me was the unusual white substance that formed part of the cup (see left). Apparently, it was a small piece of fabric that was incorporated into the nest.

The nest was well camouflaged but had only one weakness. It could be viewed easily from the side due to an opening in the chiku tree foliage. As such, the bulbuls, whenever they were at the nest, would often fly off the moment they saw anyone approach from that side.

I also noticed that they entered the nest from various points to avoid detection. One entry was by way of the fence. By landing on the fence that was beside the tree, the birds had easy access to the nest – just two hops away. Another was from the bottom of the foliage, and by hopping from branch to branch, it could reach the nest at the top. Thus the birds would not be flying in from the top and be noticed. This is quite similar to the strategy adopted by the Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) that walks till it reaches the nesting site, then fly up, rather than fly in straight.

A day after the nest was completed the birds were rarely there. Whenever they returned, they would bring more materials, to continue touching up the nest. After they were truly satisfied with the nest, they still did not frequent it and were often seen on my neighbour’s roof making alarm calls. This could be because they noticed me watching them.

However, they returned nearer to the nest in the mornings and evenings. Perching on the fence and making excited calls, raising and lowering their heads as they did so.

I have no idea whether these bulbuls would lay eggs as there have been a lot of interference from my immediate neighbour and from my parents who tended the garden, usually resulting in the bulbuls leaving for long periods at a time.

Contributed by Lim Junying with images supplied by him, 15th February 2006.

PS: After 12 days of incubation, the parents failed to return the next day. I assume it was either a bad egg or the egg was taken by a lizard or cat. JY Lim, 25th March 2006.

How sunbirds harvest nectar from flowers

Sunbirds are among the most attractive birds around, especially the males. The females on the other hand are rather drab. The food of sunbirds is largely nectar, taken off a wide range of flowers, both native and exotic. In the case of exotic flowers, when the birds are not able to reach the extra long corolla tube, they tend to puncture the base of the corolla to obtain the nectar direct.

Most sunbirds have slender, curved bills whose tongues are long and just as slender, often projecting way out beyond the tip of the bill (see above). But have you ever wonder how these birds harvest the nectar from the flowers?

Well, the tongue of most sunbirds is a closed tube along the major part of its length. This tube is formed by the inward rolling of the edges to meet at the top, thus effectively giving the bird a straw with which to suck up the nectar. The tip of the tongue is usually split and bi-tubular.

Thus when the bird pokes its bill into the corolla tube of the flower and extends its tongue, the straw-like tip will automatically take up some of the nectar through capillary action.

YC Wee
12th March 2006

Mistletoes 5: Germination of Macrosolen cochinchinensis

posted in: Plants | 4

A Macrosolen cochinchinensis seed, when deposited on to the branch of a host plant by a bird, germinates by growing a green stalk with a disc-like tip. This stalk elongates, arching back to send its disc-like tip fusing into the stem of the host plant to become the haustorium. When the haustorium is firmly attached, the seed is lifted off, the seed coat shrivels and drops off to reveal the first pair of leaves, the cotyledons! The shoot then elongates, giving rise to further pairs of leaves.

Note: This plant is a tropical mistletoe, a semi-parasite that grows on the branches of many wayside trees and ornamental plants. Please see our earlier postings on the plants, seeds and germination and accounts by a naturalist and a sometime bird watcher.

Text and images by Angie Ng

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

Leave a Reply to David Thackray Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.