Black Baza rescue

posted in: Raptors, Rescue | 11


On 24th March 2007 Alex Koh had an exciting encounter around the block where he lived in Serangoon. He was walking when he saw something fell with a loud thud on the tarmac floor near him. It was a bird. On closer look he thought it was an eagle. But it was a Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes).

The bird was lying helpless on the ground. Alex picked the bird up and noticed blood flowing from its nostrils. There were about half a dozen crows flying above, so he suspected that the crows must have attacked it.

He brought the injured bird home and cleaned blood aroound its face by gently spraying the head area with water. The bird would not allow anyone to touch it, pecking whoever tied to do so. It kept a close watch of Alex’s hands but when a stick was brought towards its beak it did not react at all.

The bird was put in a cage and fed with crickets (left). But it refused to eat or drink. Covering the cage with a piece of cloth and putting a packet of crickets next to it somehow calmed it and it slept through the night.


Two days later the baza appeared to have recovered but still weak. It opened its beak slightly when approached. On the afternoon of the third day it was brought to Simpang in its cage. There, the door was opened and after a short while the bird got out and flew to the nearby patch of vegetation (right).

It was still weak but could manage a short low flight. It landed on the ground but soon managed to get on a shrub and looked back at its rescuers. It then looked up and surveyed its surroundings.


There above, was a crow chasing a buzzard (below). Apprehensive of the danger from the crow, it needed some persuasion from those who were there to witness its release before it flew into a patch of secondary growth.

The Black Baza is a winter visitor. Hopefully it survives its ordeal to join the others in their migration north.

Input and images by Alex Koh.

Courtship behaviour of Olive-backed Sunbird

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Sunbirds | 4


I was in the garden a few mornings ago when suddenly there was a series of loud chatters coming from next door. A pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis, formerly Nectarinia jugularis) that had just landed in the bougainvillea bush were making the ruckus.

These birds normally arrive in pairs or in a small group, darting in and out of the foliage rather rapidly. They seldom remained in one spot for long. And all the time the constant loud tweet-tweet-tweet that announces their presence. Normally I would simply ignore them as they are not easy to locate among the foliage and once located, they would invariably move on.

But not this time. I spotted a male with his metallic blue chest slightly puffed up, perching on a branch. The two feet were firmly clutching the branch but the body was in constant motion. First he turned to the right, then to the left and to the right again. This went on and on and all the time he was calling loudly, his bill opened and pointing upwards. Once in a while he straightened his body, with his head and bill pointing skyward.

Then he moved to a nearby branch and continued the ritual. Suddenly he crouched, spread his wings low down and quivered them for a short while, again all the time calling loudly. The female was nearby watching but did not come close.

Then all of a sudden he darted off the bush, not to another tree but to the far beyond. And just as suddenly his mate followed.

Quiet returned.

YC Wee
April 2007

Avian “Alcatraz”

posted in: Illegal-Irresponsible, Pigeon-Dove | 1


While prospecting new birding sites for material opportunities to substantiate bird article writings, I came across a Malaysian kampong (village) in a rural area. It supports a small Malay community with traditional values, living the comforts of 20th Century semi-concrete jungles (left).

It was a delight to see a substantial species of healthy birds. Fruits and flowering trees abound and the environment provides a peaceful, safe haven for avian breeding. However, there was something strange about this village. My bird checklist shows the absence of two bird species that should and would normally be seen commonly in the wild, and in my part of the world – Malaysia.


The Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) was no where to be seen (above left). Neither was smaller cousin, Zebra or Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata) (above right).

Strolling further along the village path, I stumbled into what I would describe to be a small colony of feathered friends. It looked like all the Spotted and Peaceful Doves of the village have been rounded up to form a nuclear family – an ‘Alcatraz’ of spots and stripes to placate the human joy of keeping birds as house pets.


Let’s visit Spotty, the Spotted Dove and Zee the Peaceful Dove and be introduced to their inmates and listen to their conversation, to know what their avian world is like – to be restrained and caged (right).

“I’m bored, I’m bored!” cooed Spotty, swaying repeatedly from his opened Cell 102, of rattan and wood, suspended under the canopy of a matured, flowering star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) tree.

A reply came from Spotty’s closest neighbour Zee, also known as Zebra Dove from her rectangular Cell 101 (below left).

“Well, at least your cell is open-air and gives a feel of ‘freedom come’. Mine…? A wired looking coffin, I’ve resigned my fate too.”


“Besides, I have no cause to complain as our guardians top up our grain pots and we never have to worry nor go hungry. See? I’ve got two varieties of potted grains and a water tub. Erh…. a bit green, but ‘ok’ I suppose…” (above right).


Just then, the conversation was interrupted by rattling sounds coming from Cell 103. The owner, mad George Jr. – the adolescent Peaceful Dove was rattling his cage (left top). “I must fly! I must fly!” squeaked George Jr., flying restlessly in circles inside his rectangular cage and sheltered by a roof of recycled zinc sheet (left middle).

“I wanna be a man! I wanna be a man!” sang George Jr., standing up like a man and continued his frenzy, flying act (left bottom).

George Jr. reminded me of my youth days when the big circus claiming to be ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ came to town. One of the highlights was the ‘Flying cycles’.

A giant, hollow, rattan ball inside the enormous tent top was set up. The organisers had two motorbikes inside the ball. Two hell riders were sent into it and had them flying in circles, criss-crossing each other in their roaring machines, in deafening super speed.

Ah… I imagined those riders who took up such dare devilled assignments, must have in time, succumbed to brain death prior to collapsing into their coffins!

“That’s just George Jr. gone mad. Poor chap! Consumed by excessive levels of testosterone.” remarked Spotty in mid conversation.

He rolled his eyes at George Jr. From the corner of his eye, he noticed a new inmate’s cage under the next tree.

“And who are you, young child? How did you end up here?” asked Spotty.

“I am Pickle, the juvenile Zebra Dove.”


“I flew into a trap set underground and had my feet caught on those fish nettings. I thought I heard Mom calling me for breakfast. The next thing I knew, I was picked up by a pair of walking trousers who untangled me and brought me here,” she explained.

“Now, I don’t have to look for my food in the wild anymore nor be afraid of predators who hunt me down for their supper. It’s kind of good life here, like staying in a 4-star hotel room that comes with cleaning services and a room number too,” the naïve juvenile added (right).

“Ha! You mean Cell 104?” retorted Knobby, the Spotted Dove. Take a look at my left ankle. I’ve been shackled to this darn circular, see-through rattan dish labelled, ‘Cell 105’ and assigned sentry duties for life” (left).


“I get parked here in the dark, front-corner door entrance. I earn my keep having to look left, look front, look right and right again. It’s a twenty-four, seven job. I’ve lost my will to take on the ‘Great Escape’. Just get fat, perching and looking,” sighed Knobby (below).

“Well, at least you’re not looking like a pathetic candidate staggering out from ‘Schindler’s List.’ cooed a voice in unison from Cell 106. It was Herman and Hilda, a pair of Peaceful Doves housed in a large, metal cage roofed with an empty, polythene rice bag.


They were very much resigned to their cell even though their drinking vessel remained unchanged and greened with algae (below left).

“You haven’t got that Hulky feeling yet, you guys?” chirped Ernie, the lonely Peaceful Dove from his rotunda Cell 107 (below right).

“Oh, you saucy little fella! Just leave them alone.” came a deep voice from Cell 108.

“I know you…” the voice said.


“Ha! You were that ‘lover boy’. The one, who fell straight into a racket trap when those trappers strung Suzie up a bamboo pole to coo for a lover!” announced Liberace, the flamboyant Spotted Dove (below).

“Ok, ok you can’t keep secrets can you?” Ernie felt revealed.

“Now you know mine, how about you telling your secrets of how you got here, handsome boy? Surely it’s got to do with your good looks. Come on…… tell, tell!” coaxed Ernie.

Liberace just could not resist displaying his vanity. With his ‘diamond studded’ spots and matching furry, feathered coat, he was too keen to pose for photographers – those that came with huge bazooka-looking lens. They decided it was fun to flash the daylights out of him.


“The humiliating part was that those weirdoes with two walking legs were carrying three more skinny legs. Men and women turning into talking birds were walking up and down the lane, cooing from a machine planted in the palm of their hands, sending out sweet nothing. I was curious to see who those freaks were and responded to their call. I was desperate for a duet. To ‘add salt to my wounds’, they left hurriedly after their shoot, paid me nothing for all those fine adornment!” lamented the songbird.

“A bird trapper watched the performances. He decided to string up a mist net to get me for free too! I felt cheated and so ashamed. And to end my life, what the heck, I made a suicidal dash flight into the net” he added.

“I did not die… but found myself ended up in a pet shop, sold for fifty bucks!” he said tearfully.

“Oh! So sad… and I am sorry to hear that,” cooed Ernie, softly.

Every inmate in the colony went quiet and understood why Liberace’s cooing was always a melancholy tune – ‘wu-bwrroo…wu-bwrroo’.

A desperate guttural ‘coo’ yearned to be heard from the far end of the owner’s house. It was from CELL 109, George Sr. the Spotted Dove.

He has gone a bit hard of hearing; always having his back turned and looking towards the sunset. But, still has a little spunk left to squawk out his last three worded vocabulary repeatedly, day in, day out.


“Al dam bastards! Al dam bastards!” (left).

This last paragraph concludes to spare a thought for birds in captivity. It is a review of bird pet ownership and how caring birders and bird-photographers can further contribute to protection and ‘cushion’ birds in the wild.

At time of writing, the Spotted Dove and Peaceful Dove were not yet enlisted in the defunct, outdated ‘Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 of Malaysia.’

All images presented are mainly derived from digiscopy. Flash photography preferred not used.


Sunbird’s plumage

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Sunbirds | 1


Sunbirds exhibit sexual dimorphism. The males are usually colourful with their dazzling iridescent plumages while the females are generally drab looking and lack any striking patterns.

The male of the Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) is a spectacular looking bird with its bright red mantle (left top). Although a smallish bird, whenever it appears, it immediately draws attention to its presence. Similarly, the Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) is just as spectacular and colourful, especially when the light strikes it at the right direction (left bottom). The females of both species cannot boast about their looks. Both are ordinary looking, their plumages dull olive-green or yellow.

But wait, there is the so-called male eclipse phase for certain species. The plumage of this intermediate phase is not as spectacular as the breeding plumage but it is distinctly different from the female plumage.

Take the Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) as an example. The male (below top) is not as spectacular as the other two, but compared to the female (below middle), is just as attractive. The male eclipse is at the bottom of the three images below.


The presence of male eclipse phases can be terribly confusing to newcomers but experienced birders generally take them for granted. Now how does the male eclipse comes about? Through moulting of course. After the breeding season the male moults its colourful plumage and take on a less attractive eclipse dress. Once the next breeding season comes, he will again take on his colourful plumage.

There have been much research on the African sunbird species and it is known that there are three groups in terms of moulting regimes of male sunbirds.

1. The chick sheds its juvenal plumage and takes on an intermediate immature plumage, to be followed by a breeding plumage once the breeding season sets in. There is no eclipse phase.

2. There is no immature and eclipse plumages. The bird moults from juvenal to breeding plumage and from one breeding plumage to another.

3. There is no intermediate immature plumage. The bird moults from juvenal to breeding plumage but it has an eclipse phase between one breeding season to the other.

As far as our regional sunbirds are concerned, we only know that there is an eclipse phase in certain species. I am not sure whether there are any observations on intermediate immature plumage of our species.

Can any experienced birders or ornithologists comment on the above?

YC Wee
April 2007
(Images by YC except Brown-throated Sunbird by Johnny Wee.)

Aerial display: Sea eagle and kite

posted in: Interspecific | 0


Raptors regularly show off their flying skills with fantastic aerial displays. Such displays may involve courtship, play or raw aggression. And one of the most common species indulging in such acrobatic displays is the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster). If a pair of juvenile eagles are involved, play may be involved. Or even aggression. If both are adults and of the same sex, play may again be involved, although you cannot exclude aggression. When both sexes are involved, the display can be courtship. But how sure are we in our interpretations? Obviously there is an urgent need to make more observations, take detailed notes and compare details. In due course our understanding may be slightly improved.

But aerial displays need not involve two birds of the same species. There are many cases where different species are involved.

The current series of display involves a juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle and what looks like a juvenile Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus). In the image above the kite was flying past when suddenly the eagle appeared below it.


The eagle turned over and circled up with wings outstretched and belly facing upwards in an effort to confront the kite (top left). The kite was about half the size of the eagle and had the advantage of being able to fly faster (above right, below left). The kite flew ahead, leaving the eagle further and further behind (below right).


So an ugly confrontation was adverted. And an opportunity to witness any possible locking of talons between an eagle and a kite and any interspecific intimidation slipped by.

Input by YC, images by Chan Yoke Meng. KC Tsang has been assisting in the ID of the birds.

Cattle egrets have colonised the world

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern | 2


Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) has been very successful in colonising the earth. In fact it is found breeding in all six continents and as a rare vagrant in the seventh, Antarctica.

The bird was once confined to the Old World continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. However, during the last century or so it managed to cross the seas to Australasia.

Then sometime during the early part of the 20th century, a few Cattle Egrets found their way to South America. They did not fly across the Atlantic Ocean but blown westward across by a tropical storm. From Africa they landed in Guiana, at the North East coast of South America.

There, the Cattle Egrets settled and bred, spreading into North America by the 1940s. By the 1950s they were well into Florida. From there, they spread all over the warmer regions of the continent. They are now a common sight in North America.

The bird is a common winter visitor and passage migrant in Singapore. They generally move with cattle, catching insects that are disturbed by the latter. In the 1950s and 1960s when cows were literally roaming Singapore roads, Cattle Egrets were a common sight. Now that cows are banned from roaming freely all over the island, they are still a common sight.

Most of these are free-flying birds from the Jurong Bird Park, often seen in western Singapore but spreading rapidly throughout the country. They are breeding in large numbers within the park, establishing its status as a feral species.

Indeed, Cattle Egret is an example of a great avian success story.

Image by John Lynn.

Things crows use as nesting materials

posted in: Nests | 7

The nests House Crows (Corvus splendens) build are crude structures made up of interlocking twigs gathered from surrounding trees and shrubs. Together with these twigs are pieces of wires of various lengths and thickness picked up from around the area, maybe to strengthen the nest structure. The rusty wires can clearly be seen around the base of the nest on the left. Sitting in the centre of this massive structure is a neat shallow cup lined with plant fibres.

Tang Hung Bun observed a nest incorporated with knotted lengths of thick plastic. These are the pieces used in portable, petrol-driven machines that grass cutters use. The sweeping, circular motion of the pieces cuts off the grass blades. These plastic pieces often get detached, sometimes hitting passersby. The crows have obviously found a new use for these discarded plastic pieces.


Straycat in her blog recounts the time when clothes hangers disappeared from his backyard. The mystery was solved when a nearby House Crows’ nest was seen with hangers jutting out from the side.

Now Badaunt has sent this message: “…I don’t like to admit it out loud around here, but I am fascinated by the clever crow hooligans that are such a menace in Japanese cities. Just yesterday I found a fabulously arty coat hanger nest high up a tree in a small park near my house, and got some pictures (right). In the same park there was another, ‘traditional’ crow’s nest – not a coat hanger in sight. Why do they do that? It makes the whole thing look very purposeful – one nest all coat hangers, the other none, like they were picking and choosing rather than just being opportunistic.”

She returned to the location hoping to get better pictures of the nest but discoverted two more nests nearby. A close up image on the left shows that the crows probably collected all the hangers in the neighbourhood. Please check out her subsequent posting.

These Japanese crows are Jungle Crows (Corvus macrorhynchos), and apparently they are compulsive collectors of coat hangers. I am sure if we leave a whole batch of hangers outside, our House Crows will take them all for their nests. Anyone game to try?

Input by YC and Badaunt. Top image by YC, hanger images by Badaunt.

Subspecies of Red-breasted Parakeet

posted in: Parrots | 3

The Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) is a feral resident that is currently getting more and more common and slowly replacing the Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), another feral species, as well as the Long-tailed (Psittacula longicauda), a resident.


The parakeet was first reported as far back as 1943 without any sign of breeding taking place. Through the years there were further reports of sightings and later, reports of breeding, until now these birds are increasing in numbers and slowly replacing the other two species. The image on the left shows a male Red-breasted Parakeet.

The parakeet nests in tree cavities and several pairs may nest in the same tree or adjacent trees. A small colony can be seen in Changi Village where they nest in angsana trees (Pterocarpus indicus).

Robson’s Birds of South-east Asia lists the subspecies of this Red-breasted as fasciata.

The recent report of mating of the Red-breasted at Changi, accompanied by images of these birds has cast doubt on the identification of the subspecies.

Two of the males in the image have been identified as nominate P. a. alexandri by Joseph M. Forshaw, the world’s leading expert on parrots. The third male, the one mounting the female, shows a slight tendency toward fasciata as the breast is slightly darker (see below).


And according to Joseph, “Presumably the population in Singapore originated from birds that escaped from captivity, and so it is possible that both alexandri and fasciata could be present, as well as hybrids between the two. I would identify all males in your photograph as nominate P. a. alexandri, though the mounting male is slightly darker on the breast and so does show a slight tendency toward fasciata.

“As you so rightly point out, there is uncertainty about subspecific identity of the female. I suggest that there are two possibilities – she may be a alexandri x fasciata intermediate, or she could be a younger bird (first or early second year) that has not acquired the all-red bill of the adult. I am of the opinion that she is a younger bird of alexandri, and would point out that adult males mating with females in subadult plumage is not uncommon among parrots; the reverse, involving males in subadult plumage is quite uncommon.

“This is indeed interesting, for it indicates that the population in Singapore may be alexandri, not fasciata as had been claimed. Further investigations are needed to settle this query.”

Yes, birders should pay more attention to the Red-breasted Parakeet. We have yet to establish whether the subspecies fasciata exists. And if so, are there hybrids around? The mounting male whose plumage is darker than the other males may hint to their presence.

Images by Chan Yoke Meng.

What do kingfishers eat?

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Kingfishers | 11


Although they are called kingfishers, not all kingfishers eat fish. Of the 90 or so species, well over half feed at least sometimes on other prey. There are several species that do not feed on fish at all. And not all kingfishers live by water as some actually avoid water, preferring to live in wooded areas.

During March 2007 Connie Khoo was busy observing a pair of White-throated Kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis) bringing back food for the chicks (left). One thing she noticed was that the parents never brought back any fish to feed the chicks. There were plenty of lizards, of different species, and frogs, insects and even a big spider. But definitely no fish.

There were two growing chicks in the nest and they needed to be fed regularly. Apparently lizards were the favourite food (below).


But what surprised Connie most was when one of the parent bird brought back a rat (below left). The rat was struggling vigorously and the kingfisher was bashing it continuously against the branch it was perching on until it became lifeless. About 45 minutes later the other parent came flying with another rat in its bill. But the rat was not for the chicks as the bird swallowed it – with difficulty, head first of course (below right). It took all of three minutes to complete the job, with short rests in between.


Connie was worried, “His whole mouth was wide open… and for a while I was thinking will he choke to death? Finally when he finished swallowing the whole rat, he took a deep breath and rested for about 10 minutes before flying off to join his mate who was holding another lizard ready to feed the young chicks again.”

Input and images by Connie Knoo. The information and images was made available through the good office of KC Tsang.

White-bellied Sea Eagle: Fishing

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates | 3


The White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is a great fishing bird. It sits quietly on a high perch near water and patiently waits. The moment it spots a fish swimming near the surface of the water nearby, it immediately takes flight and zoomed in on the target. Once within grabbing distance, it pounces on the fish, barely breaking the water surface (left). Normally, only its feet and legs get immersed in the water. But once in a while more of the bird may be submerged, sometimes even the entire bird.

Once caught within the powerful grasp of its talons, the fish is carried with one foot back to its favourite perch to be eaten (bottom).

The sea eagle feeds mainly on aquatic vertebrates like reptiles (sea snakes, small turtles and tortoises), fish, water birds (gulls, terns, young of herons, ducks, geese), crustaceans and small mammals. But it is an opportunistic feeder. Once in a while it snatches fruit bats from their roosts. It has also been known to catch a rat that was swimming near the coast off Changi.

The bird has a pair of long, broad wings that are an advantage for soaring and gliding. They also come in useful in providing lift, especially after catching a heavy load of fish, as seen the the images below. The tail is just a slender appendage and wedged. Its main function is mainly to assist in maneuvering and steering within confined spaces like in a forest. But sea eagle hunting mostly in open water does not need to manoeuver.

The feet of the bird is stout and strong, with long, prominently curved claws, the better to grip on to the slippery fish. After grabbing the fish from the surface of the water with its left foot, the powerful down stroke of the wings provide instant lift (below).


Subsequent powerful flappings of the wings allowed it to rise well above the water (below). It flew to its perch where the fish was consumed.


Input by YC and images by Chan Yoke Meng.

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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