Common Iora: Courtship ritual

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 1

K.C. Tsang was birding recently in Perak, Malaysis with Alan OwYong and Connie Khoo when they had an encounter of the musical kind. Here is KC’s story: “We were driving along through the bushes in the Malim Nawar Wetlands when we came across a chorus of beautiful singing conducted by a number of male Common Ioras (Aegithina tiphia). They were trying to impress upon the females that they were the ones the females should receive. The females would flutter from bush to bush followed ever so closely by the males.

“As can be seen from my photograph (left top), the females were playing so hard to get, or showing no interest at all. However, there was one very unusual behavior of the female caught on camera. It was after hearing so much close quarter singing from the males that she decided to let herself fall over while still holding on to the branch (left below).

“Now, was she saying no to the male, or was she saying YES let us have some kinky sex! The male could very well replied… what the hell are you doing hanging upside down like this? …you know I can do it this way.”

As we all know birds don’t do it hanging upside down. But do we, actually? We need to have an open mind, KC. Who knows, one fine day you may actually come across a pair mating with the female hanging down. Or was she falling head over heels? Anyway, this may be a new record for the Avian Kama Sutra.

Asian Koel and Javan Myna

posted in: Interspecific | 0

On the afternoon of 3rd February 2007, I was alerted by the shrill call of a bird outside my windows. Curious, I went out into the garden to investigate.

There, perching on a branch of a Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) growing along the road outside was a female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea). But it was not making any call, just sitting quietly on the branch. I looked around and spotted the source of the high shrill call.

It came from a Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus), perching a little higher and less than a metre away on the same tree (above). The myna was scolding the koel for more than five minutes. Both birds remained where they were, the koel simply did not bother about the scolding.

The koel must have arrived suddenly on the tree where the myna was. And the latter must have objected to its presence. There was no attempt at mobbing, only scolding.

My arrival ultimately saw the myna leaving the scene, but not the koel. This bird simply remained, not bothered by my presence and calmly sat on the branch for more than 15 minutes.


All it did was turn its head side to side every now and then (above left, below left). Once it did a 180 degrees turn, facing the opposite direction (above right). Then it defecated twice and yawned (below right).


The bird also stretched its wings and right leg, the left firmly holding on to the branch, resulting in the tail feathers fanning out (below left). After some time it stretched its wings, also resulting in the tail feathers fanning (below right).


After about 30 minutes the koel left its perch and flew off to the fruiting branch of the nearby Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) and feasted on the ripe fruits.

Input and images by YC.

Eagle attacking Kite’s nest

posted in: Interspecific | 2

In November 2006 Allan Teo, together with other photographers, were at Changi, when suddenly, there appeared a large eagle that hopped on to the ground nearby.

As Allan continues, “It was a sudden surprise encounter that froze all the photographers. Most of us got very bad photos but we knew eventually that it probably was a juvenile Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) after looking at what photos we had. The element of surprised really had an effect on us.”

“The eagle then flew into a low-built nest of a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) and in a flash ate up either the chick or the egg.

“The parent kite was totally helpless. It circled around the shrub where the nest was, giving off very loud and continuous alarm calls but that did not stop the eagle. The eagle eventually it flew off, chased by the angry kite. The image above (top) shows it climbing into the air about 3 metres from the ground, flapping furiously while the kite gave pursuit.

“The morning was hot and the thermals had already began to rage. The eagle flew in circles whilst the kite followed (above bottom).

The eagle flew up to join a marsh harrier that was in the vicinity and eventually to join another large eagle high in the sky (above).”

There is disagreement on the identity of the eagle. Allan himself later concluded that it could not be a Steppe Eagle, which is a rare winter visitor/vagrant. On the other hand it could be another rare vagrant, the Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga). Or even a female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus).

Many raptors are extremely difficult to identify, especially from long-range photographs. So any opinion from viewers would be appreciated.

Input and images by Allan Teo.

Oriental Pied Hornbill: Yet another courtship at Changi

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Hornbills | 0

There have been several sightings of a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbill checking on tree cavities at Changi (1, 2 and 3). So far there have been no reports of breeding.

On 8th January 2007, Emily Kang reported another sighting of the hornbills prospecting a cavity in an old tree in Changi (left).

“We saw this same pair on 8th Jan 07. We had wanted to visit the parakeets and cockatoos of Changi village, but this pair dominated the cockatoos’ hangout. I guess size matters.

“They were very loving indeed. So that’s what they were doing… looking for a nest site. Do they actually carve out the tree cavity?

“Still can hardly believe it, hornbills now getting common on the mainland when it was “extinct” in Singapore just a couple of years ago. First they were sighted in Ubin and now in Changi.”


Emily later added, “The male and female birds took turns to check out the two tree holes. While we were there, neither went in completely into the hole. We were not sure if there was courtship feeding… perhaps we didn’t or couldn’t see it. The female didn’t go far from the tree hole while the male flew across the road a couple of times but he always came back to her.”

If this pair breeds, then it will be the first reported case of breeding in Changi. We shall wait and see.

Emily Kang
February 2007

Great and Rhinoceros Hornbills: One year on

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Hornbills | 12


This account has now been published as:
Y. M. Chan, M. Chan and Y. C. Wee (2008).
Aberrant behaviour of a female Great Hornbill and a female Rhinoceros Hornbill.
Nature in Singapore. 1:31–34.
A PDF copy is available HERE.

Between February and May 2006, a pair of mixed Great (Buceros bicronis) and Rhinoceros Hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros), both female, was seen regularly at a patch of secondary growth at Eng Neo (1, 2). They were prospecting a tree cavity along the trunk of an old albezia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria).

The Great would regularly feed the Rhinoceros and lure the latter to the cavity. It would also check the cavity as if placing regurgitated food into it. This had the effect of getting the Rhinoceros flying over to also check the cavity.

It would appear that the Great was playing the role of a male while the Rhinoceros that of a female.

Although there was talk of one of the birds entering the cavity, most birders and photographers who were monitoring the hornbills have yet to see any image of this.

Recently the hornbills have been visiting the tree again. And as before, they regularly checked on the cavity.

Meng and Melinda Chan were around the area one day when they heard the honking of hornbills. Rushing to the tree, they noticed something inside the cavity. Soon a yellowish structure poked out – it was the casque of the Great Hornbill. The head followed and then the right side of the body.

Once the right wing emerged totally from the cavity, it unfolded completely with the head of the bird held high (above). Then the bird turned downwards while the left wing was still not completely out. Once both wings were free of the cavity, the bird dived down with the wings folded back before unfolding the wings fully and flying in a downward direction.

The Great Hornbill was in the cavity for a short while and emerged when she heard the Rhinoceros calling. When the pair was together, there was courtship feeding.

The good news is that the pair is still prospecting for a nesting cavity. It has gone one step further in that one of the birds actually entered the cavity. It is possible that one or the other had previously entered the cavity but not observed and documented.

The birds are regularly seen at the nearby Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. In January 2007 when a large fig tree was fruiting, both hornbills were regularly seen feeding there. Again, they regularly indulged in courtship feeding.

Now where do the birds end up at night? It was earlier reported that the Great spent most nights in a rain tree (Samanea saman) around a condominium along Adam Road. The Rhinoceros was never seen there. Obviously the two spent the night separately, meeting only during the day. What happened next is anybody’s guess…

Joseph M Forshaw

posted in: Travel-Personality | 0

Joseph M. Forshaw, one of Australia’s foremost ornithologists and a world renown expert on parrots, was in town last month on a private visit. While here, he had time to go bird watch and meet up with old birding friends. And a possible visit to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore.

Joseph has always been fascinated with parrots. After all, there are more than 50 species of parrots in Australia alone and about a sixth of all the world’s parrots are endemic to this island-continent. However, his passion for these birds took a turn when he was awarded a fellowship by the American Museum of Natural History in New York to study specimens of Australian parrots in its Mathews Collection in 1964. This led to the publication in 1969, of his immensely successful book, Australian Parrots (Lansdowne Press).

His next major work was in 1973 when he brought out Parrots of the World (Lansdowne Editions). These were followed by a series of bird book monographs on Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds, Kingfishers and Related Birds, Turacos, Cockatoos…

Many of Joseph’s books are lavishly illustrated by his long-standing artist friend, William T. Cooper, the pictures of which are now collectors’ items.

YC Wee
February 2007

Oriental Pied Hornbill – breeding

posted in: Hornbills | 2

There are slightly more than a dozen Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) in Singapore’s offshore island of Pulau Ubin. There they breed regularly, nesting in cavities found high up along the trunks of old trees.


Prior to breeding, a pair would indulge in courtship feeding and they would go prospecting for a suitable nesting cavity. The male bird would lure the female to the cavity, flying back and forth between the perch and the cavity. He would need to convince his mate that he is capable of feeding her once she is sealed up inside. He needs to demonstrate feeding at the cavity, sometimes placing food inside.

He would even enter the cavity in an effort to convince her that it is alright. This may go on for a number of days. But once she is convinced, she will fly over and inspect it. She would even clean up the inside of the cavity.

Then the birds would mate and the female would be sealed inside leaving only a narrow slit for the male to pass her food. She lays her eggs and sheds her feathers.


In the images above, the male is bringing an egg (left) and probably a fig (right) to his mate and chicks sealed inside the nest.


Detials of feeding is shown in the image on the left where the male is passing on food to the chicks sealed inside a cavity high up an old durian tree (Durio zibethinus) growing within the compound of a house in Pulau Ubin. The bird flew in several times a day, bringing food for the imprisoned occupants. Food includes figs, eggs, insects and reptiles.

After 29 incubation days and almost 2 months of living together in a confined space, the female reopens the cavity entrance and free the young birds. The parents will accompany them as they discover their new environment.

Input by YC, images by YC (top, middle right) and Dr Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong (middle left, bottom).

Raining feathers

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Pigeon-Dove | 1


Sometime in November 2006, KC Tsang posted the image on the left (top) and noted, “We need a forensic expert here to find out who was the victim of this very explosive feeding frenzy. And who is the possible perpetrator of this crime most foul? Scene of the crime, not in KL, but in our very own backyard.” Note that the above consists of different feather types that lead one to conclude that the bird was a victim of a predator. Was it a cat? A raptor? The jury is still out.

My experience during November 2006 was different. I kept finding in my garden and driveway a large number of most probably belly feathers (left bottom). I have not seen them before, maybe because I did not look closely or because they were not around.

My guess was that the feathers belonged to the Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans) that were around my pair of ceram palm (Rhopaloblaste ceramica). This was the time of the year when these pigeons regularly perched along the midribs of the palm fronds in the early mornings and late evenings.

At first I thought a pigeon might be victim of a predator and the scattered feathers were evidence of what happened. But then there were no other types of feathers around. Then the possibility of moulting came to mind. Intrigued, I sent an image to our field ornithologist, Wang Luan Keng for her opinion.

Her reply: “Those are not pure down feathers but semiplumes and they are the belly feathers of the green pigeon. The distal part of the feather helps to fill up the contour of the bird where the downy part is mainly for insulation and are covered by the feather on top. These belly feathers are quite loosely attached to the bird and can drop out easily – an adaptation to scare predators. These pigeon feathers that you found underneath your palms may not be due to moult.

“Birds do have a period to moult, usually after their breeding season. In Singapore, most birds breed from Feb/March till July/Aug, maybe Sep. Many species here overlap moult and breeding slightly so they will start moulting in July/Aug and end by Oct/Nov when the NE monsoon starts. Many species, especially passerines, have straight forward sequential moult; others like cuckoos, hawks, herons, fruit doves etc have very complicated multiple moult series and yet some species like rails, grebes and probably bitterns moult all feathers at once and go flightless during that period. And mind you, we are only talking mainly about primary feather moult. We know even less about other flight feather moult and almost nothing about body feather moult.”

Input by KC Tsang, YC and Wang Luan Keng. Images by KC (top) and YC (bottom).

Vertical or altitudinal migration

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 2

On 29th December 2006, Susan Wong was birding in Bidor, a marshy area in Perak, Malaysia. As she recalls, “…that day was a super hot day (we got the heat from the ground as well… phew! I mean the sand reflected back the heat to us).


“As me and my group of photo’s friends took our lunch break under some shade, I could hear the call of a flowerpecker. The very first glance I thought that I saw the Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) (left)… but oops, my brain maps this species like the one that I saw at Fraser’s Hill at the new road.

“I took a few document shots and went back to refer a few field guides but all seems to says that Fire-Breasted flowerpecker/Buff Bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum ignipectus) is the common residents of hill-stations.

I now wonder if it is a new species that we have yet to document ?”

Our bird specialist, R. Subaraj has this to say, “Most interesting and a very nice shot. It definitely looks like a male Fire-breasted Flowerpecker. I do not think a new species is involved.

“So why is a montane species down in the lowlands? There are many movements that are not fully understood or studied and in Malaysia, one such aspect involves a movement known as altitudinal migration.

“Altitudinal migration involves montane species that make movements to lower elevations or even the lowlands during seasonal changes. This normally happens in more temperate countries where the temperature drops significantly at higher elevations, forcing birds to move lower to escape the cold. This migration is well documented in regions further to the north such as the Indian subcontinent. There, many montane species regularly move to the hills or lowlands during the winter period, to return to their lofty homes to breed when spring arrives.

“So why should this happen in the tropics? Well, we certainly do not have the drastic seasonal changes that temperate countries experience. However, we do undergo seasonal changes of a different kind with the monsoon bringing in more rainfall toward the end of the year. As a result, conditions at our Malaysian hill resorts like Frasers Hill and Cameron Highlands are often rainy and misty at the end and beginning of the year. (This can also occur at other times of the year when there is continuous heavy rainfall but is most regular during the north-east monsoon period.) This may force birds to descend to lower elevations. Thus certain species of montane birds are easier to find at lower elevations at particular periods of the year.

“Another reason for local movements is post-breeding dispersal. This happens after the breeding season when adults leave their breeding grounds for whatever reasons (food, seasonal changes, etc.) and fledglings grow up and set forth in search of new territories away from those of their parents. This becomes harder for specialist birds as more and more of their particular habitats disappear each year to development, logging and land clearance for plantations. This may force birds to show up at strange places in desperation or simply by mistake.

“Habitat loss is another reason for birds to be displaced and desperately seek an alternative elsewhere. As the right habitat proves scarce, they may increasingly turn up in the non-traditional habitats, as seen in the 1990s where a large number of lowland species were added to the official Frasers Hill checklist and I was a part of that phenomenon. These birds had never been recorded before in a well-watched site and suddenly there was an increasing number occurring. They were being forced uphill by logging being carried out lower down, along the Kuala Pilah-Raub Road.

“Each year, during the non-breeding period at year’s end or at the start of the new year, montane species may be found in the lowlands, for whatever reason. The most regular is the Mountain Imperial Pigeon (Ducula badia). For years, they have been recorded in lowland sites that have included Kuala Selangor, Kuala Tahan in Taman Negara and even Panti Forest in Johor.

“Even in Singapore, good numbers of Ashy Bulbuls (Hemixos flavala) of the Malay Peninsula race cinereus show up each year between late September/October to March/April. These are supposed to be sedentary birds of the hills. Why would they move to the lowlands and Singapore during the non-breeding season? There have been a variety of other Malaysian forest birds that have been recorded here once or twice over the years.

“So, for whatever the reason, the montane flowerpecker turned up at a lowland marsh and you were there to see and document it. Good record!”

Susan has this to say about her encounter with her vertical migrating flowerpecket: “Looking at both photos, the dull head, messy red chest patch and what appears to be a pale gape, I believe that this bird is not a full adult male yet. This lends support to the possibility of post-breeding dispersal.

“I have heard of butterflies doing short migrations and I am fully aware that birds do migrate for wintering purpose. This is my first encounter of our local resident birds appearing in a different habitat due to some reasons.

“By the way from Bidor to Cameron Higlands, the nearest hill-station, is quite a distance. I estimate it is about two hours car journey to reach the right altitude for Fire-Breasted Flowerpecker.”

Susan Wong & R Subaraj
January 2007

What do sunbirds eat?


Sunbirds are a group of small Old World passerine birds that feed mainly on nectar but also take insects and small fruits (left top). When feeding their young, insects are the main diet.

Sunbirds are considered the jewels of the Old World tropics. Many species, especially the males, possess glittering iridescent colours. In morphology and nectar feeding behaviour, they remind one of the hummingbirds of the neotropics. In both groups, the females are plain. But sunbirds and hummingbirds are definitely not related.

Sunbirds are omnivorous, feeding primarily on nectar and insects. When feeding on nectar they prefer to perch rather than hover as hummingbirds do. For nectar, these birds probe a wide range of plant, rather than specialising on specific species. With exotic plants where the birds may not be able to reach the nectar, they may short circuit the process by probing through the base of the petals, as sometime they do with hibiscus flowers.

Sunbirds also glean the foliage for insects or sally for flying insects from the top of shrubs (left bottom). They also eat small fruits. And possibly also pollen.

Text by YC Wee, images of Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectariniua sperata) (top) and Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) with an insect in its bill (bottom) are by Johnny Wee.

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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