Why does a bird scratch its head?

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 2


Yes, why does a bird scratch its head? Can we assume the head is itching? I suppose so. The presence of ectoparasites may be be the cause of the itch!

The real reason for scratching can be to arrange those feathers on the head and neck that cannot be reached by the bills.

Birds preen their feathers, spreading a fatty secretions obtained from the uropygial or preen gland located somewhere on the rump. This oil is spread over the feathers, possible to waterproof them, although there are no proofs that this is so. Ornithologists now believe that the oil is a sort of conditioner that maintains the skin supple, which in turn prevents the feathers and scales from turning brittle. The oil may also help control growth of undesirable fungi and at the same time encourage the desirable. These latter fungi are claimed to inhibit the presence of lice on the feathers.

Anyway, spread of this oil is usually done with the help of the bill. But it is not possible for the bill to reach the feathers on the head. So the oil is rubbed on the bird’s foot with the help of the bill and the bird in turn scratches its head, transferring the oil to the head feathers.

The Grey-faced(?) Buzzard (Butastur indicus) in the picture at the top is obviously enjoying its scratch. Note that the eye is covered by the nictitating membrane as scratching is going on. This is probably to protect the eye.

Text by YC Wee, image by Chan Yoke Meng.

Note: The bird is probably a honey buzzard (Pernis sp.), see comment.

Herons in flight

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern | 0

It is a joy to witness herons taking flight. As the birds take off, they bend their legs as if crouching, then jump up into the air. As they do so, they open their large wings and begin flapping until they reach their flight level. The image on the right shows a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) taking flight.

Flight is slow, not agile, but strong. Wings are flapped to maintain altitude. In flight, they take a characteristic silhouette. The wings are fully outstretched, legs and feet extended straight back, and the neck is completely retracted so that it rests fully on the bird’s back.

The two images of Little Heron (Butorides striatus) (below left) and Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) (below right) illustrate this beautifully.


Such flights can carry the birds long distances when migrating or during their daily flights to and from feeding, breeding or roosting sites.

As the birds prepare to land, they begin to glide, gradually losing altitude. Just before landing they extend their necks, drop their legs, adopt a more vertical body alignment and then begin to flap. This acts as a brake against their forward movement, to allow them to gently land.

Generally, larger species beat their wings at a slower rate than smaller species.

Herons are very capable of landing on water and taking off again immediately.

Images of Grey Heron by Heng Fook Hai, Little and Purple Herons by Allan Teo.

Hornbills at Changi:Why does the male present a snail shell to the female?

On the morning of 15th February 2007 KC Tsang was at Changi documenting the food the male Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) was bringing to the female who was actively walling herself up inside the nest cavity. The bird brought the usual pieces of mud, insects and lizards for the busy female inside.

What puzzled KC was a non-food item the male brought in his bill. It was the upper part of an empty snail shell (left). The male displayed it to the female and then gently dropped it inside the cavity. Was it a gift of a ”toy” for his mate to play with?

This behaviour has been documented in Kg Gajah, Perak, Malaysia some years ago. As Dr Chan Kai Soon wrote, “…we noted the same thing (shells of snails) being delivered into the nest. We also thought that the male did this to provide calcium in the diet.” The shell piece was that of a land snail.

There is also an old report in the literature that the male Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis) of Africa regularly brought inedible objects to the nest, like pieces of tree bark and sticks. Why? Probably as playthings.

It has now been established that calcium is an essential element in the diet of birds, especially those that do not obtain it from their primary diet. They thus seek out sources of this element during the egg laying and nesting periods. Various species of birds have been known to seek out calcium, the best example being the Scarlet (Ara macao) and Red-and-Green (Ara chloroptera) Macaws that take chunks of mineral-rich clay from steep river banks in Peru.

There are also published accounts of Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) eating ash that is high in calcium and Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) feeding on calcium-rich sand. And Arctic sandpipers use the teeth and bones of brown lemmings as a source of calcium.


The favourite food of hornbills is figs (above left). And figs are rich in water, carbohydrates and calcium. The presence of fig wasps inside the tiny fig flowers/fruits (above right) may provide added calcium. But I suppose, during breeding, the female needs more calcium than usual, thus the extra supply in the form of snail shells. And there are also the developing chicks to cater to.

Input by KC, YC and Dr Chan Kai Soon. Image of hornbill by KC and that of figs by YC.

Tameness in birds

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Birders need binoculars to watch birds and photographers use 600 mm lens to take pictures of birds. Why? Because birds fly off when approached. Birds do not trust humans as invariably we cause them harm or deprive them of their freedom.

Many among us have the instinct of trying to catch a nearby bird, even though we may not be poachers. Remember the saying: “A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”? In many third-world countries birds are actively caught for food or to be sold as cage birds. Is it a wonder then that birds avoid people?

Most people would be familiar with tame pet birds, and I do not mean those pet birds that are caged. Pet parrots, for example, can be trained to be tame, as seen in the bird perched on the head of the girl above.

House Crow (Corvus splendens) and Javan Myna ( Acridotheres javanicus) learn fast that there is food to be had around humans and exploit the situation. They soon learn to forage around people. We can approach them but they are always aware of us and fly off when we approach too near.

MY early experience with tameness was when I tried to photograph a sunbird. It allowed me to move to a metre of its perch without trying to fly off. I found out later that it was an immature Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis), recently fledged, yet to experience the negative behaviour of the people around them. This is developmental naivety.

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Besides the above examples, there are birds that are truly tame. My experience with ecological naivety was when I visited the Galapagos archipelago. All the birds there are not familiar with predators as they have been living in these isolated islands that have no predators. This type of tameness is a serious threat to them as introduced predators like cats can cause havoc. Threats from humans have long been removed as the islands are now protected. The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii excisa) shown above is so tame tha you can walk by it while it is incubating its eggs. Only when you come too near will you be scolded. It was the same with the Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata) (above).

I am sure there are many other causes of tameness and I welcome comments from viewers.

Oriental White-eye: Nesting Cycle II

posted in: Nesting | 2

Yen Lau has been twice lucky. She had two families of Oriental White-eyes (Zosterops palpebrosus) nesting in her potted Australian Bottlebrush trees (Callistemon rigidus) – the first family in sunny June and this second in wet Dec/Jan.

According to Yen: “This is what happened with my second white-eye family…

“On 16th Dec 2006 a pair of Oriental White-Eyes were seen inspecting my Australian Bottlebrush trees (left). Seven days later they started building their nest. White cobwebs were wrapped around slender branches about 2 metres or more from the ground. Eleven days later the nest was about ready when they incorporaterd grasses into the nest structure. This continued for the next two days. The nest was very thin but had a nice cup shape to it (below).

“As it was raining every day for the next one week, there were no activities. During a dry patch, one of the white-eyes appeared and sat in the nest. It stayed there all afternoon seemingly not doing anything. I didn’t look at the nest after about 6:30pm and it was still there then. On hindsight, it was probably laying eggs!

“As there had been a bird sitting in the nest constantly the last couple of days, I was sure eggs had been laid. I was skeptical of this at first because the nest was awfully thin. I peeked inside the nest. The bird very obligingly got up and perched on a nearby branch. I was greeted by the sight of 3 beautiful glossy white eggs measuring roughly 6mm X 15mm and snapped a few pictures (below left). The bird then casually hopped back into the nest again. Strange behaviour?

“The eggs could be seen through the thin nest (above right). Building materials were probably hard to find in the rainy season. (It poured heavily just about every day in December 2006 and the first week of January 2007.) The female was probably anxious to lay her eggs as well.

“Two of the three eggs hatched on 17th January.


“The parent birds took turns feeding the chicks. Unlike the parent birds in sunny June who appeared with food within 15mins each time to feed their ravenous young, these monsoon parents took as long as 25mins. These January chicks seemed more laid back too (above). They didn’t ever really stick their necks out and (quietly) scream like the June chicks did (left).

“By 23rd January the two chicks were starting to fill the nest and the nest was looking quite stretched (below). The chicks had grown more adult feathers. One looked more developed than the other. Two mornings later I found the remains of the unhatched egg. The birds had tossed it out. There didn’t seem to be much yolk and no white. The “yolk” I found was rather dense with one tiny but obvious dark spot in it.

“At around 1pm and exactly eight days after hatching, the bigger of the two chicks flew out of the nest (below). It did not get very far. First, it flew down to a shelf just a metre away. After some coaxing by the very excited parents, it flew back to the tree and stayed there for about half an hour. After that, accompanied by both parents, it flew off into the (nearly) blue yonder. (It didn’t pour that day – it drizzled on and off.)


“A few minutes after the first chick flew, the second chick followed suit. It flew an even shorter distance – barely a third of a metre away from the nest. It then fluttered around to various branches of the tree for the next half hour. (The parents were coaxing both chicks to fly in this frenzied half hour.)

“The parents came back after flying off with the first chick and continued to coax the second into flying off too. They brought bribes. I could see they had things in their beaks which they first showed to the baby before flying off a little distance.

“The second chick refused to budge. The parents gave up after a while and fed it.

“This chick seemed less developed than the June chicks when they started flying. Here’s a comparison… Our monsoon baby is the one on the left and a sunny June chick on the right (below).


“Here’s another picture of our second chick compared with a June chick (below). The feathers on our monsoon baby’s head aren’t anywhere near as developed as those of the June chicks’.


“Poor thing… The second chick was still there at 5:30pm, fluffed up against the wind and drizzle (below). It stayed in the same spot for the next six-and-a-half hours. All that time the parents continued feeding and coaxing it to fly. At one stage, I even saw one of the parents remove something white from its behind. Faecal sac?

“At 7:00pm this baby decided it was ready! It hopped up the highest branch and tried out its wings (below).


“Then, together with its proud parents, it flew off. Literally into the sunset!

“With the June family, I never saw or heard much from them after they left. With this family, I was still seeing them three days later. (If they are the same birds that is.) One of the birds I saw on 28th January was a young bird, probably one of the babies. (Something tells me it was actually the second chick but I can’t say why I thought that.) It had grown a tail but it’s still more rounded than an adult and slightly fluffy.

“It chirped very loudly and very insistently before flying off after its call was answered by an adult. Tut! Tut! Was it still calling for Mummy and Daddy?”

Input and images by Yen Lau; the above account obtained through the good-office of KC Tsang.

Anatomy of a nest: Baya Weaver

posted in: Nests | 1

Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) build their nests attached to branches of trees and shrubs and even fronds of palms. These nests are expertly weaved from long thin strands of leaf blades that can come from the Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) (left), strips of palm fronds or other tough fibres – see earlier post.

A completed nest looks like an upside down flask with a downward pointing entrance chute. Within the swollen portion is the nesting area.


If the female does not approve of the construction, he will abadon it. Obviously a strong and properly constructed nest is crucial to successful breeding as otherwise the nest may fall off before the chicks fledge.

The male bird usually builds the nest half way, up to the so-called helmet stage that consists of partly of the living chamber (right). He then tries to get his mate to be interested in the half-built nest. Once he has her approval, he will continue with the construction, completing it with a tube-like structure below the entrance.

The up to a metre long neck of the nest is tightly weaved around the support, in this case the thorny stem of a bushy sensitive plant (Mimosa sp.).

Found within the neck of the nest were a few fruits, probably those of the mason bee tree (Commersonia bartramia), a common weedy tree of abandoned areas (below). Why these fruits were placed there is anybody’s guess – probably to strengthen the neck area?


The closely weaved nest (below left) needs regular repairs, as with use and the extra weight of the chicks, the neck gets overly stretched. Repairs consist of weaving in new grass materials to tighten the nest and to secure its attachment. The presence of green strands in a mostly brown nest shows evidence of such repairs, rather than recycling of the nest. Lumps of clay have also been found plastered on the inner wall of the nest, probably to stabilise the nest (below right).

Recycling is rare, if at all, as used nests harbour the complements of parasites that the weeks of incubation and brooding brings. The nesting materials will also have been weakened through slow rotting. Generally, used nests tend to elongate as the materials get stretched through wind and rain, to eventually fall off.

Text by YC Wee, old nests provided by Tan Teo Seng.

Roosting of Barn Swallows and Purple-backed Starlings

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 1

Birds roost communally for a number of reasons. Coming together reduces their vulnerability to predators. And roosting in a central location allows for information exchange regarding feeding grounds. Roosting also enhanced protection from the weather.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) has a worldwide distribution, breeding throughout North America and from Europe eastwards to China. It migrates in large flocks southwards. The birds that we see in Singapore possibly come from eastern Asia (above). Many are juveniles, with a duller plumage and a less distinct breast band.

According to Chris Hails (Birds of Singapore, 1987, Times Editions), they can be seen in almost every month of the year but scarce in June. However, they are more numerous during August-April. In Peninsular Malaysia they can be seen in towns roosting on high tension wires.

Dr Wu Eu Heng and YC were at Yishin Street 71 in November 2005 to experience the roosting of masses of Barn Swallows on pulai trees (Alstonia spp.) along the road (above).

Individual birds grouped at pre-roosting sites nearby before moving on to roost communally. At around 6.30 pm the birds began to arrive (top). They could be seen flying from all around, to suddenly arrive amidst the flutter of wings and chirpings. They came in waves after waves, to land on the branches of the trees. Upon arrival there were much flying, chasing and vocalisation as individuals vied for choice roosting positions.

By 7.00 pm they had all settled down and quiet returned. It was quite an experience to be there, bringing back memories of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 movie, The Birds.

Early next morning the birds would prepare to fly off to their foraging grounds. This would involve another bout of squabbling before they fly off just after sunrise.

The noise they generated sent residents up the wall. Not to mention the droppings that they left behind. During bad weather the birds would congregate along the corridors to add on to the nuisance. Naturally there were numerous complaints and this resulted in the Town Council sending workers to trim the trees. This had limited effect on the roosting birds, but then there were other trees around for the birds to roost.

Over at nearby Chong Pang, the Purple-backed Starling (Sturnus sturninus) roosted in the sea apple trees (Syzygium grande) lining the road (above). As with the Barn Swallows, these starlings arrived after 6.30 pm in waves, gathering on certain trees before finally moving to the sea apple trees. Many of these trees were earlier trimmed to discourage the roosting of these starlings. So the birds moved on to those trees that were not trimmed. They obviously preferred full foliage trees for better protection from predators and the elements.

The Purple-backed Starlings were joined soon by Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) and Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus). The former gathered at roof tops while the latter in nearby trees before joining the waves of Purple-backed Starlings that moved on to their permanent roost (above).

Input by Dr Wu and YC, images by YC.

Sentosa’s owls

posted in: Owls | 0

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj sent in this item after reading an earlier posting on Sentosa’s Buffy Fish Owl (above).

“Actually, while the Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu) encounters are the first records for Sentosa and the Southern Islands, all the other four local resident owl species have been recorded for this island (below).

“Two species reside on Sentosa, with the Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) being fairly common. The other resident, the Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo), is rare with only one pair confirmed on the island.

“There are a couple of fairly recent records of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and it may still be resident. I have been told verbally that the species used to be commoner on Sentosa but most perished due to rat poisoning.

“The final species is the Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata). The resident sub-species, N.s.scutulata, is confined to and around the central nature reserves (Bukit Timah and Central Catchment) and Pulau Tekong Besar. Records from elsewhere in Singapore, including Sentosa, are of migrants from the north, probably of the subspecies N.s.japonica.

Regards, Subaraj”

Ilsa Sharp from Perth, Western Australia, adds: “I can confirm, as I’m sure Yeow Chin can too, that there were Barn Owls on Sentosa and that they died because of poisoning of the rats they ate – I remember well how we all #@*& the authorities for putting down the poison when they had been made well aware of the owls’ presence at the time! Must have been about early or mid-80s, do you think, Yeow Chin?”

Check out Owls in Singapore for a full list of species.

Input by R. Subaraj and Ilsa Sharp, image of owl by Chan Yoke Meng and of Sentosa by YC.

White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Grey Heron

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern, Interspecific | 10

Allan Teo was with his fellow photographers in Changi on 3rd February 2007 when suddenly a juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) appeared in the sky chasing a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) (above). Taken totally by surprise, yet he was ready with his equipment to record a few dramatic shots of this exciting aerial chase.

Although the eagle is a superior hunting machine, the graceful but cumbersome heron succeeded in out-maneuvering the raptor by zigzagging in the air to eventually dived into a patch of low growth and thus escaped the latter’s talons.

In Allan’s very own words: “The heron swept back its outer wing panels to reduce drag and increased airspeed (below). It allowed the White-bellied Sea Eagle to come in closer. Whenever the eagle extended its claws towards it, the heron always twisted and turned in the air, out flanking the eagle.

“The chase ended when the heron let the eagle come in close once again before it suddenly levelled out and dived into the bushes.”

The heron’s sudden crash among the vegetation disturbed the House Crows (Corvus splendens) that were foraging around the shrubs. These crows instinctively flew up and chased the eagle away. A lone Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) that was around, normally an enemy, allied itself with the crows and joined in the chase.

Input and images by Allan Teo.

Hornbills at Changi: Looking for a nesting cavity

posted in: Hornbills | 6

As early as November 2006 Angie Ng reported a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) checking out a cavity in an old, 22 m high damar hitam gajah (Shorea gibbosa) tree in Changi (left). This cavity probably resulted from faulty pruning of a side branch many years ago. The cut surface was healing but apparently not fast enough. The exposed wood rotted, resulting in this cavity high up on the side of the main trunk, about 3 m from the top.

On the evening of 7th February, Meng and Melinda Chan saw the male bird trying unsuccessfully to entice the female to the cavity by placing some food inside. When the female refused to fly over, the male retrieved the food and flew off to join his mate.

KC Tsang was over at Changi the following day when he saw the female trying to enter the cavity with difficulty. She was enlarging the cavity, doing most of the work (below left). But the male, who was bigger, did also contribute to the labour (below right). Most of the time he was flying off, collecting lumps of mud and bringing them back for the female who was beginning to seal herself up, a little inside the circular opening of the cavity.



This continued for the next two day. The male was still very active bringing mud to the female, sometimes swallowing the mud and then regurgitating it to the female. The female can sometimes be very fussy and rejected the mud by throwing it out of the nest. The mud that was regurgitated by the male seemed to be a bit on the wet side, maybe that was how he made the mud pieces softer. The mud was collected from the near by field (above).

Throughout this period the male was flying to and fro bringing food and lumps of mud for the female (left top). His arrival varied from once every 10-15 minutes to 20 minutes. All this time the female continued enlarging the cavity and at the same time continued sealing herself in. She was observed throwing out pieces of debris. And the male continued to bring materials for her to seal herself in.

Finally, the female was sealed in (left bottom).

Images by Chan Yoke Meng, KC Tsang, Chan Yoke Meng, Allan Teo and 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: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151125012234135&set=a.108191464134.96538.617499134&type=1&theater

  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 – https://www.wrs.com.sg/en/jurong-bird-park.html 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: https://besgroup.org/2012/06/28/laced-woodpecker-and-durians/

    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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