Forensic birding: Cinnamomum iners

posted in: Feeding-plants, Plants | 1


In February and March 2006 I found many seeds scattered along my driveway (left top). The ones I recognised were palm seeds – MacArthur (Ptychosperma macarthurii) and Alexandra (Archontophoenix alexandrae). The seeds were clean and devoid of their outer fleshy covering. This made me suspect that they must have been regurgitated by the birds perching along the fronds of my ceram palms (Rhopaloblaste ceramica).

To help identify the seeds, I germinated them in a pot and followed the development of the seedlings. So far I have only recognised one type of seed, the wild cinnamon or kayu manis (Cinnamomum iners) (above bottom). The seedlings are easy to identify as the leaves are each with three longitudinal veins (below). On crushing the leaf a faint aroma can be detected.


This is a native tree commonly found in open country and disturbed forests. This is also a popular wayside tree. The regular flushes of new leaves appear first as reddish pink, turning cream, then light yellow, and finally green (below left). The young leaves provide refreshing colours to the greenery of the urban forest. The succulent berries that turn blue on ripening have a single seed (below right). This is truly a bird tree. They flock to it when it is in fruits.

Most of the birds that gather regularly on my ceram palms are Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans). There are also the occasional Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) and Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis). My guess is that these seeds were left by the pigeons, although I had yet to have any proof. Or maybe the starlings were also responsible?


YC Wee
July 2007

White-bellied Sea Eagle sunbathing

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 2


Johnny Wee came across a couple of White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) sunbathing at 11 am on 19th June 2007. The birds just sat quietly on the branch of a dead tree, spread their wings and soaked up the sun for about an hour (left). At that time it was sunny and windy.

Many members of the family Accipitridae to which hawks and eagles belong, spend most of their time during the day resting, in an effort to conserve energy. During these periods they just perch high up on a tree branch, sometimes on one leg, with the other drawn close to the belly. They may also indulge on preening. But they just sit and wait for an opportunity to pounce on a prey.


These raptors occasionally sunbathe in the early morning, spreading their wings to get the full benefit of the sun’s rays. After a rain storm they often spread their wings to be blown dry by the wind. These activities are usually done on a high, exposed perch. Any tall trees will do. In the rainforest they usually do so on the branches of emergent dead trees.

Johnny Wee
July 2007

Thiollay, J. M. (1994). Family Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles). Pp. 52-205 in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 2. New world vultures to guineafowl. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.

Birds and centipedes

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 2


Terrestrial or land invertebrates (animals without backbones) are favourite food for many birds. Insects and spiders are regularly taken, as well as molluscs. Centipedes are also food for birds, especially the smaller species. Larger tropical centipedes are another matter (above). Some have the ability to kill lizards, toads, mice and nestling birds. And even bats. What makes centipedes dangerous is the presence of a pair of sharp, poison claws found just behind the head. The bigger species thus need special handling by birds that use them for food. Just like bees, that mainly bee-eaters are capable of dealing with.

Centipedes have a soft, segmented body with a pair of legs attached to each segment. Unlike millipedes that are armour-plated, slow moving and vegetarians, centipedes are carnivorous and fast moving. They are found in damp places and usually emerge under cover of darkness (nocturnal) to hunt soil-living invertebrates like insects, earthworms and snails.

In June 2007, Banard Lau encountered a Rufous-browed Flycatcher (Ficedula solitaris) catching a centipede in Frasers Hill, Malaysia and bringing it to feed its young… (see images below).


“I walked about 50 metres away from the first site where the Rufous-browed Flycatcher was observed bringing the centipede to feed its young. At the second site where I was actually waiting for the Lesser Shortwing (Brachypteryx leucophrys) to make an appearance, I noticed a movement on the embankment not 10 feet away from me. Walking closer to about a distance of about six feet, there was this flycatcher waiting patiently on a branch and fluttering to the ground several times. There was a rotting log of 8-10 inches diameter there – in the bushes by the embankment next to the path on Hemmant’s trail.

“Wow, I thought, another Rufous-browed Flycatcher’s nest. I must have waited for about five minutes, during which time the bird made several forays from its perch to the ground and back to its perch – all very quickly. I thought that it was careful not to show me its nest. Next it flew down swiftly to the ground and caught a little centipede and flew to an open clearing about 10 feet away.

“The bird began to peck the head, dropped the centipede, observed it for some time. The centipede was wriggling – so the bird kept on pecking the centipede a few more times on the head or the body. Finally, satisfied that the centipede was sufficiently immobilised, the flowerpecker picked it up and flew back in the general direction to its nest.

“If there were two chicks in the nest, then each must have had a lovely lunch of the centipede.”


Another account was by Chan Ah Lak who wrote: “Even raptors will not pass up a centipede I observed one Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) swooping down on a logging track in Belum and then landing on a branch to eat what it had caught. By the time I got my gear ready, only a small morsel was left but it could be identified positively as part of a red giant centipede. If I remember correctly, Choo Eng had a shot of a Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis ) with a small centipede (left).

Yes, Tan Choo Eng did manage to witness a Blue-winged Pitta catching a centipede: “Between May to September 2006, a few Blue Winged Pittas were observed nesting at Kulim, Kedah. The feed for the nestlings and fledglings were predominantly earthworms, except on one occasion it was a mole cricket and another, a centipede.”


Choo Eng continues: “Between October 2006 and February 2007, a Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops), a vagrant, visited Juru in mainland Penang. It usually foraged on the ground as its main diet would be larvae and pupae, probably of some dung beetles. But one occasion it caught a centipede and stabbed it a few times before consuming it.”

Yong Ding Li, a new breed of enthusiastic Singapore birder chipped in: “Centipedes are rather nutritious morsels, I guess and birds would go through great lengths to get hold of it. Once I saw at Panti, Johor, a Chestnut-rumped Babbler (Stachyris maculata) fighting with a foot long Scolopendra centipede on the ground. The bird kept pecking the centipede at the rear, flying up a bush when the centipede struck. After 10 minutes it gave up and flew off with the rest of the flock. I also noted a few other encounters of birds taking centipedes.

The last word came from Tou Jing Yi, another Malaysian birder: “I think the commonest known bird that often eats centipedes is the Domestic Fowl. I have not heard or seen a wild junglefowl eating it, but anyway I think it should be eating centipedes. ‘Chicken fighting centipede’ is a common Chinese believe, there are also Chinese medicinal records claiming that the saliva of the fowl can disable the poison of the centipedes, so the chicken’s saliva is often used to apply on the wound of a centipede bite.”

Images by Banard Lau (Rufous-browed Flycatcher), Tan Choo Eng (Common Hoopoe), Ooi Beng Yean (Blue-winged Pitta) and YC (centipede). KC Tsang helped gather all the information as well as obtained the permission of the Malaysian birders to use their images.

Black-naped Oriole attacking sunbirds’ nest

posted in: Interspecific, Nesting-failed, Sunbirds | 5


Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) is an attractive bird with its golden-yellow plumage and prominent black band across the eyes (left). But how many people are aware that this beautiful bird has an aggressive nature, especially in its habit of destroying the nests of smaller birds?

Hails (1987) did report seeing the oriole being chased by other birds during the breeding season. And he suspects that it may rob the nests of smaller birds.

Prof Tan Teck Koon, a non-birder, was made painfully aware of this fact when he witnessed such attacks in the privacy of his home. A pair of sunbirds regularly builds their nests within the confines of his garden. The presence of Teck Koon’s family members doing their daily chores did nothing to discourage the nest building. Being a mushroom watcher and not a bird watcher, Teck Koon is not able to identify the species of sunbird, but he knows a sunbird when he sees one. And he recognises the typical elongated, pouch-like nest with a long beard (below).


These birds have been trying to breed in his garden for a number of times now. Unfortunately, each time after the nest had been built and the eggs laid, the nest would be raided.

He knows a raid is imminent when he hears the sharp, loud whistle of the Black-naped Oriole perched in a nearby tree. Then suddenly, the oriole will strike the nest, destroying it totally and splattering the eggs on the ground. The incubating bird would have escaped just before that raid.

Whether the oriole raids the nest for the eggs or just to destroy it, he is unable to say. But he has witnessed these raids three to four times. He even once tried to shoo off the oriole but without success.

Prof Tan Teck Koon
July 2007

(Images by YC Wee)

Hails, Christopher (1987). Birds of Singapore. Times Editions, Singapore.

White-bellied Sea Eagle: First flight

posted in: Feeding chicks | 0


On 15th June 2007 Johnny Wee had the good fortune to observe and document on memory card the first flight of a young White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster). The nest was a huge pile of sticks firmly wedged between the fork of a tall albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria). The single chick was ready to fledge and standing on the nest unsure of itself. A parent bird was on a nearby branch, watching, urging and encouraging (left). The other was also around, just as vigilant. The young eagle walked out of its nest on to a branch and looked around hesitantly (below left). The parents continued to watch silently, flying to and fro but never too near the young one. The youngster surveyed the surrounding and prepared to lunge by moving up to a higher branch where it could make its first flight (below right).


Slowly raising its wings, it finally plunged into the empty space below, taking off in its maiden flight (below). It was a success, landing some distance away in another tree, with the two adults following. The entire process took about five minutes.


The first plunge into flight is never easy for a chick about to leave the safety of the nest. But leave it must. The parents will see to it. They will refrain from feeding it, perching nearby with food to induce the chick to leave the nest. Hunger usually does the trick and eventually the chick will make the first plunge. It may land below the nest but once it gains confidence, the fledgling will slowly take longer and longer flights. And eventually it will become independent…

Johnny Wee
July 2007

BESG weblog logs 100,000 visitors

posted in: uncategorised | 0

The Bird Ecology Study Group weblog logs 100,000 hits today. We started blogging exactly two years ago. The growth in readership during the first year was slow but steady. It was during the latter part of the second year that readership suddenly increased, with 300 or more hits a day. And readers are not confined to Singapore, or even the region. Our readers come from countries around the world.


The image on the left shows our earliest posting in July 2005. So far, we have about 450 posts under 32 categories of bird ecology and behaviour. Mostly, these have been local observations. However, we have slowly moved from localised to regional observations.

Our main aim has always been to encourage Singapore birders to study birds, not just look at them. And we are succeeding, as can be seen in the many e-forums where lists of birds are peppered with notes on behaviour, etc. A secondary aim is to encourage birders to share their observations. To this end, posting in the weblog makes information available almost immediately to anyone around the world.

The blog has definitely proved to be a useful resource on bird behaviour and ecology.

We would not have been this successful if not for the many contributors, who contacted us directly or indirectly, with their suggestions, observations, stories and of course images. The success of the weblog is a tribute to the unstinting generosity of these birders and photographers, as well as nature lovers, many of whom are neither ardent birders nor serious photographers. Without their contributions, we would not be able to post so many blogs and reach this magic number of 100,000.


Our special thanks go to Jacqueline Lau (right), who helped upgrade the blog from the old format (top) to what it is now. She single-handedly transferred all the archives to the new site. This weblog is being generously hosted in her server.

Thank you very much, one and all. Here’s to the next 100,000 hits.

YC Wee
5th July 2007

Comment by Forest Ang

Made Thursday, 5 of July , 2007 at 4:24 pm


Comment by ria

Made Thursday, 5 of July , 2007 at 4:37 pm


The blog is the highlight of my day. I always learn something new and the facts and photos stunning. Bravo!

Comment by david

Made Friday, 6 of July , 2007 at 1:32 pm

Congratulations! In my opinion, this is one of the best birding blogs on the Web. You never fail to take my breath away.

Comment by admin

Made Sunday, 8 of July , 2007 at 10:01 am

Thanks for the kind words. I myself learn something everytime I make a posting. YC

Pacific Swallow: Nesting

posted in: Nesting, Swifts-Swallows | 0


In the Urban Forest blog, Siyang relates his encounter with a Pacific Swallow’s (Hirundo tahitica) nest complete with three chicks. The nest was plastered to a wall in a lonely corner of the National University of Singapore’s Kent Ridge campus (left).

“… a cup shaped nest made of mud with the inside lined with soft bedding-like feathers. Three little heads looked down at me when I was curiously looking at it. Baby swallows!

“The parents dun take kindly to passersby. It attacked Juanhui (missing by inches), directly at Lionel and me (had to duck away) when we walked pass below the nest on separate occasions. Still, I do hope those chicks survived and fly free in the sky soon.”

These Pacific Swallows are common residents in Singapore. They are seen all over the island and have no problems nesting around human habitation. They build their nests around the first half of the year. The nest is a half-cup made of mud stuck to a rough vertical surface, in this case the wall of a building structure.

Both partners assist in mud collection, digging the damp mud with their bill and transporting the pellets back to the nesting site (below). There, the mud is stuck to the vertical surface to create a base from which the side of the nest is developed. Numerous trips are needed before the nest is finally completed in a few days to a few weeks.


The mud is often mixed with vegetable fibres and the nest is lined with dry grass, lichens and feathers. In the case of feathers, they are often caught in flight or collected from the surface of water-bodies.

These nests are recycled year after year after some repairs.

The bird lays a clutch of two to three eggs with the female incubating them for 17-22 days. The chicks have characteristic pale yellow oral flanges enclosing the orange mouth cavity (top). These function as targets for the adults feeding the chicks. This is also seen in Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) and Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus).


The food brought for the chicks are in a compressed ball of insects. A ball may serve more than one chick when they are young but as they get older, each may be fed a ball of insects. It take about 20 days for the chicks to fledge, after which they return to the nest at night for several more days. The feeding of the juveniles (right) has been posted earlier.

Some of these swallows have been recorded to live up to seven years.

July 2007

(Images: Siyang (nest with chicks) and Chan Yoke Meng (collecting mud and feeding juveniles).

Spittle, R.J. (1949). Nesting habits of some Singapore birds. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum 21:184-204.

Turner, A. K. (2004). [‘Family Hirundinidae (Swallows and Martins)’]. Pp. 602-685 in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.

Purple-bearded Bee-eaters in love

posted in: Bee-eaters, Courtship-Mating | 2


“There it was, sitting pretty on a bare branch, wagging its tail in as carefree a manner as you would expect of a wild bird in love. When it swished its head left and right to survey its environs for potential snacks, its flowing purple beard swooshed along in grand fashion. Our hearts half-stopped as we oohed and aahed over the Purple-bearded Bee-eater (Meropogon forsteni), looking most resplendent in purple feathers covering its head, throat and breast, contrasting with its green upper parts, wings and tail streamers, and rich brown belly. Its elongated throat feathers hung over its breast in a “beard” that made it look sombre, yet somewhat comical.

“Out of nowhere, another bee-eater landed suddenly on the same branch. Two purple beauties! We were beside ourselves with excitement! I inched forward to photograph the pair with my tiny camera. Without warning, the first bird lowered its body by leaning forward until its belly touched the branch. Apparently, this was the female, and she was actually prepping herself for mating. Her position was so precarious, compared to her typical upright posture, that she looked ready to topple off the branch altogether. Grasping the opportunity, the male hopped onto her back and the mating session was over in the blink of an eye. And I had unwittingly captured a shot of these birds in union! Just as quickly as it happened, both birds flew off, leaving us exultant and a little dazed.

“The Purple-bearded Bee-eater is definitely one of the highlights of any birder’s trip to Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is endemic to Sulawesi, found only on this island and nowhere else on earth. Three of us, Yong Ding Li, Goh Yue Yun and myself worked the tough, steep slopes of the Anaso Track of Mount Rorekatimbu for five full days to see this bird and other montane endemics, from 28 May to 1 June 2007. The Sulawesi leg was the last of our 4-island East Indonesian birding tour that Ding Li and I were on, covering also West Timor, Flores and Bali.


[The two images of the Purple-bearded Bee-eater above are courtesy of Paul Pearson (left) and Andy Rhodes (right). The image below is by Pete Morris of Birdquest.]

“Over the next few days, we spotted three pairs of these bee-eaters, always hanging around three points along the Anaso Track. These hang-outs had one thing in common – they were all in open areas and near sandy ravines that provided suitable nesting ground for the birds. Purple-bearded Bee-eaters are known to dig burrows in steep banks near forest streams, cliffs, high-level roads, and banks by forest paths. The burrows serve as nests for the bee-eaters.


“We also observed them engaged in typical bee-eater hunts. From its perch, the bee-eater surveys its immediate vicinity. When it spots something, it swoops forward in a graceful arc, returning to its perch with a struggling insect (usually bees, beetles, wasps or dragonflies) clamped tight in its long beak. The insect is then smashed repeatedly on the branch to kill it, and to remove any indigestible parts (like a bee’s sting) and venom. It is then swallowed whole. During sallies, the Purple-bearded Bee-eater might emit a quiet, shrill “szit” or “peet” call. Curiously, bee-eaters are programmed to catch only flying insects. The moment an insect lands, it loses interest even if its prey is in plain sight.

“Together with the Red-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus) and Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni), the Purple-bearded Bee-eater completes the bearded bee-eater family Nyctyornithidae. All other bee-eaters belong to the family Meropidae.”

Top images of the copulating birds by Gloria, others by Paul Pearson, Andy Rhodes and Pete Morris.

Gloria Seow
June 2007

Visit Gloria’s blog by clicking HERE.

Swallows, a dead snake and a horde of flies

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 1


As Paul Chan was driving along Choa Chu Kang on the morning of 27th June 2007, he came across a decomposing snake lying across the road (above). It was obviously killed some time ago as it tried to slither across the busy road.

As Paul wrote in the Pigeon-holes e-forum: “the carcass had attracted a bunch of flies, which in turn attracted the swallows! It was very interesting watching the swallows go for the flies. Every time the swallows swooped down, the flies would scatter, and then almost immediately, congregated back above the snake. There must have been at least five to six birds going at it.”


The bird has been identified as Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) (left). This common resident, formerly found largely in the coastal areas, is now seen all over the island. The other swallow, the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), is a common winter visitor and passage migrant. It is distinct from Pacific in the presence of a black breast band and deeply forked tail.

The swallow feeds on insects, mainly flying ants. These are caught on the wing, together with flies, beetles, termites.

They often perch in pairs on a branch with a clear view of a bare area, waiting for passing insects. In this case the birds were taking advantage of the flies around the rotting snake, making multiple swooping flights to pick out the flies one by one.

Paul Chan
June 2007

(Image of snake by Paul Chan and of swallow by Johnny Wee.)

Black-thighed Falconet: Mating and nesting rituals

posted in: Feeding chicks, Nesting, Raptors | 2

The Black-thighed Falconet (Microhierax fringillarius), 15-17 cm in size and monotypic, can be found quite easily in Peninsular Malaysia. In early 2007, Ms Connie Khoo, a passionate birder and digiscoper, spent time in the heat of the day keeping watch as well as making detailed notes on the nesting cycle of this bird.


The nest or eyrie was about 10 meters above ground on the cliff face near Kek Lok Tong in Ipoh, Malaysia, an area famous for its limestone hills and caves. The image above gives you an idea of the type of limestone habitat where the nesting took place.

She noticed four adults looking after four chicks. The four chicks most probably came from one pair of adults while the other two adults were probably helpers. It is known that raptors can be sociable in that they come together to help each other during the breeding periods. This has also been observed in Silver-breasted Broadbill (Serilophus lunatus), seen in Bukit Tinggi during the last nesting season, where helpers got involved in nest building.

Copulation took 30 seconds to about 1 minute 12 seconds to complete. Observations in 2005 and 2006 recorded 1 minute 28 seconds, although it cannot be confirmed whether the same birds were involved.


On 5th April the female was possibly incubating her eggs, which can be from two to as many as five. The female stayed in the nest for long periods, occasionally appearing at the nest entrance for fresh air and to ease herself (above left). All this time the male would deliver prey for her to eat. And he would leave in about 10-30 seconds after delivering the food.


The incubation period was about 3-4 weeks and the chicks fledged in another 4-5 weeks. On 2nd May, the first chick was seen covered with white down feathers, and was probably about 7-10 days old. The image at the top (below the limestone cliff) shows a 15-18 days old chick at the entrance of the nest.

On 31st May a young juvenile was seen strengthening its jaw by yawning for about 50 minutes (right). When the male brought food, the juvenile finished it quickly and continued yawning for another 20 minutes. This yawning exercise was seen again on 2nd June and lasted 35 mintues.


The juveniles were fed dragonflies, butterflies (above right), beetles, spiders (above left), small birds like sunbird, tailorbird, munia (below right) and tree sparrow. Occasionally there would be a small lizard or a rat. However when the chicks were very young they were fed only dragonflies, beetles, moths, butterflies and spiders.


Occasionally, mynas and starlings would appear around the eyrie. Invariably the adults would fly back to chase away the intruders. On 7th May at 11.08 am, a tree sparrow appeared and perched just outside the nest. The female falconet suddenly emerged from the nest and caught the surprised sparrow (above left).

By 2nd June the juveniles must have grown quite a bit as one was observed catching a dragonfly by itself (below). However they still needed the parents to catch for them more substantial meals like birds and other small prey. During this period when the juveniles were actively exploring the surrounding areas, the adults were constantly keeping a watchful eye on them, to prevent them from becoming prey to other birds.


On 5th and 9th June when Connie again checked the eyrie, she could not see all the four juveniles. Only one or two adults were in the vicinity. The rest of the adults were possibly teaching the juveniles how to hunt. At 10.25 am she saw one female with one juvenile flying back to sit on the wire. Shortly after, the female left the juvenile and twice brought back a dragonfly each time for the same juvenile. The juvenile was then yawning a lot, possibly to continue strengthen its jaw.

Connie Khoo
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
19th June 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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