What happened when a nestling fell out of its nest?

posted in: Nesting | 4

Margaret Heng, a member of the Singapore Gardening Society, read my article on the Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans) in the society’s newsletter the Grapevine (see also) and sent me the following e-mail on her encounter with a displaced Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) nestling some time ago. The account is so fascinating that I got her permission to share it with others:

“Your articles in the Grapevine are always so interesting and enlightening! Thank you for sharing your ‘nosy’ experience with the pigeons. It was great! It reminds me of my daughters (when they were very little) and I when we found a baby Spotted Dove in our garden some years ago.

“One of its legs was injured. We picked it up and treated the wound with gentian violet (it’s our usual treatment for wounds), then we placed the bird in a shallow tray with some towels at our side patio table. When I woke up the following morning we could hear the cooing of a pigeon coming from our roof. We rushed to check our baby bird from behind our glass sliding doors (with drawn curtains of course) and lo and behold the baby was responding much to our delight! The mother had found its babe!

“The next amazing thing was that she flew to the baby and with a noisy exchange of greetings the mother grabbed hold of the baby’s head with wide opened beaks and shook it up and down. My daughters were horrified! I had to tell them that’s how the mom feeds the baby.

“From then on our side patio table was our stage for ‘bird show.’ We peeped quietly behind the curtains, even tried snapping pictures! The mother bird soon taught the baby how to jump out of the tray, down to the floor, and how to peck at nothing on the floor and so on. It was so funny.

“Just before the week was up it was time to try flying! The first flight from the top of our retaining wall to the top of our neighbor’s porch was a disaster. Plop, down it went. But after that it was plain sailing and we had to bid them farewell.

“Sorry for this long-winded sharing. It’s just that we enjoyed that experience! Thank you once again for all your articles in the Grapevine.

Margaret Heng”

Cat kill – kingfisher

posted in: Interspecific, Kingfishers | 9

Cats are notorious for their ability to catch and dismantle birds. Many of us would have seen dead birds with their feathers torn and their bodies ripped apart. But how many of us have actually witnessed a cat kill?

On December 4th 2005 Meng & Melinda Chan actually witnessed a kingfisher being eaten by a cat. Through a pair of binoculars they spotted a kingfisher flying downwards towards the ground. Suddenly a cat jumped up and pounced on the bird. At first they thought that the bird escaped as they saw it flying away. But when they reached the scene, there was a dead kingfisher on the grass. And perching nearby was another kingfisher making alarming calls. Only then did they realize that a pair of birds was involved and one of them fell victim to the cat.

The Chans alerted Ashley Ng as they thought that birders on his Pigeon-holes e-loop might be upset by the incident and the gruesome images they managed to capture on their camera. But birders are tougher than that and so I persuaded Melinda to share the experience and images, and this is how this posting comes about.

Other reports of cat-kill:
Keith Hiller’s cat regularly caught mynas, doves and once even a sunbird. Apparently they just do it for fun, not for food. On the other hand Jeffrey Low’s cat caught an unknown species of bird, ate and regurgitated it. Lim Jun Ying’s pet Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) was mauled by a cat while still in the cage. On the other hand Jeremy Lee’s experience is a little mysterious. He relates how, when he was a kid he regularly collected headless Javan Munias (Lonchura leucogastroides) decapitated during the night while still in their cage. Was it a cat? An owl perhaps?

Contributed by Meng & Melinda Chan
Additional input by Keith Hiller, Jeffrey Low, Lim Jun Ying and Jeremy Lee

Further comment by R. Subaraj: When I lived in Siglap and had cats as pets, they would bring in a variety of birds. The usual targets would be the Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) (which I observed one of my cats eating twice) and Olive-backed Sunbirds (Nectarinia jugularis). They would also kill the Changeable Lizards and geckoes, also eating the latter. The most surprising bird one of my cats brought in one day was a dead female Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans). As this is normally a bird that stays high up in the trees, I can only guess that this individual was ill and vulnerable for it to be caught by a cat.

Mistletoes 2: Seeds and germination

posted in: Plants | 5

Mistletoes are commonly seen growing on our wayside trees. Their fruits are small, oval, one-seeded and berry-like. The seeds are enclosed by a viscid layer of mucilage that pass out intact after being swallowed by sunbirds and flowerpeckers. Usually these sticky seeds need to be scraped off the bottoms of these birds when they defecate.

Angie Ng describes in detail how a male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) deposited a string of sticky seeds on her sui mei (Wrightia religiosa) plant thus:

“After comfortably positioning itself transversely across the branch, it turned its head… then it awkwardly stretched apart its legs, lowered its little body for a second or two and with a swagger, it moved a few steps to the left. With that quick swaggering action it wiped off a string of six gluey mistletoe seeds onto the branch of my sui mei.”

Other reports state that these birds deposit the seeds by wiping them off their beaks after pecking on the fruits.

In Australia the main dispersal agent of mistletoes is the Mistletoe Bird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum). This bird has a modified gut that allows the seeds to be excreted within 25 minutes of ingesting without any damage. The birds are said to perch along branches, rather than across them like most other birds, so that when the seed is excreted, it falls onto the branch upon which the bird is perched. The seeds are excreted in a stringy mass of three to five seeds.

Lim Kim Chuah has sourced a Tropical American reference that claims “A sticky layer of viscin surrounds each seed, and it is impregnated with toxic chemicals that offer some protection to the seed and at the same time help to speed passage through the gut… As long as the viscin layer is undamaged, the seeds remain viable and the bird is not poisoned.” I have not been able to locate any work of this nature on our tropical species of mistletoes nor any reference on their poisonous nature. However, there is reference to the toxicity of the American species, especially the leaves, stems and fruits.

Once stuck to the surface of a developing branch, the mistletoe seed will send out a small shoot with a bulbous tip. This tip expands to form a ‘holdfast’ that eventually enters the host’s internal tissues to reach the sapwood, from where moisture and minerals are extracted. As the mistletoe grows, the primary holdfast enlarges in size to send out runners that develop secondary holdfasts at intervals.

Image of sticky seed by Angie Ng, others by YC

House Crows’ nests

posted in: Crows, Nests | 6

There have been a number of postings on nesting crows recently – by Angie, Tang and Eu Heng. And we have published images of their large nests. Below is a detailed account of the nests and readers can always give feedback of other nesting materials.

House Crows (Corvus splendens) build their nests firmly lodged between the branching forks of tall trees and the frond bases of tall palms. The description of a nest I am giving comes from one dislodged from a ceram palm (Rhopaloblaste ceramica) in my garden. Normally the crows recycle the materials from the old nest to construct a new one. And unless someone climbs up the tree or palm and remove a disused nest, there would be no opportunity to examine one closely.

The large, crude nest is composed of interlocking twigs, in this case coming mainly from the many mempat trees (Cratoxylum formosum) lining the road fronting my house. Together with these twigs are pieces of wires of various lengths and thickness picked up from my garden, no doubt to strengthen the nest structure.

The nest measures 40 cm x 40 cm and 30 cm deep. Sitting in the centre of this massive structure is a neat shallow cup lined with light brown plant fibres, probably palm fibres.

In the nest observed by Hung Bun Tang there were knotted lengths of thick plastic. These are the pieces attached to the infernal smoky petrol-driven machines of our wayside grass cutters, as KF Yap so aptly put it. The sweeping, circular motion of the pieces cuts off the grass blades. These plastic pieces often get detached, sometimes hitting passersby. The crows have obviously found a new use for these discarded plastic pieces.

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

House Crows do not normally reuse the old nest after one breeding session. But they reuse the nesting materials. In my two palms they would collect the materials from the old nest in one palm to build a new nest in nearby palm. This went on every three months for more than two years before they decided to move on to another area to breed.

Both parent crows help to construct the nest. Sometimes they are assisted by other crows. The breeding female usually takes care of the lining of the nest towards the end of the building session. In this respect they behave just like the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

YC Wee
24th January 2006

The World Is My Saucer!- an allegorical tale

posted in: uncategorised | 0

The black birds wasted no time swooping down from nowhere and claiming ownership of their spoil. First there were four; then there were three. Soon the jostling settled down to two; each lording their own half of the saucer with an air of superiority. ‘The world is MY saucer!’ uttered the pair instinctively at the same time.

As one would imagine, the posessive ‘MY’ just did not sound right. After all, there were not one but two birds. It did, however, clearly betrayed the other’s heart — like black against white.

Like it or not, they knew they needed each other to keep other birds away. It was obviously not an alliance made in heaven.

The birds were nonetheless embarassed at their own tactless display and tried to make less of it.

“Hey, we are * Mynas, aren’t we?! ‘My’ here, ‘my’ there… we My-nas just can’t get it out of our system, ha ha!”, chuckled one uneasily. “Ya, right!… ha ha!” half-grinning the other in agreement. In any case, it was time to eat. They turned immediately to the leftover food inside the saucer.

But lo, to their greatest dismay, something had beaten them to it — or so they thought. It was moving steadily round and round inside their precious saucer.

The two black birds began pecking at it instinctively; slowly at first, as they did not know what the tiny thing was. But as frustration set in, the pecking grew more frantic and vicious. A frenzy ensued. The saucer rocked erratically, and as it did so, inched closer and closer towards the edge of the table…

None of the other patrons at the open-air cafe were aware of the black birds’ antics that strange morning. I did because I was watching closely from the next table. By the time I got up to leave, the two silly birds were still fighting off the intruder. So if you should ask me about the fate of the saucer, I wouldn’t have known. Perhaps this is best left to suspense. Good short stories ought to leave room for readers to guess, I think. : )

I remembered taking one last look into the brilliant sky as I got up from my chair. The White-bellied Sea-eagle was still circling overhead — round and round up its thermal ascent. She was truly majestic. Somehow I wished I could tell her what the two black birds had been up to. But I doubt she would be interested.

Why should anyone be bothered about free birds who chose to go after crumbs and live life no better than battery chickens? For them, the spirited flight is lost.

*Acridotheres javanicus

©Joseph Lai 2003

The above first appeared in Joseph’s Webpage Eart-h and is posted here with his kind permission.

Mistletoes 1: The plants

posted in: Plants | 5

Mistletoes are parasitic or semi-parasitic plants that grow on the branches of trees. They are unlike the bird’s-nest (Asplenium nidus) and staghorn (Platycerium coronarium) ferns that depend on the trees mainly for support. These epiphytes do not demand anything else from the host, neither water nor nutrients. Mistletoes on the other hand are very different from epiphytes. These are parasitic plants that draw water and nutrients from the host, to eventually stunt or even kill the host plant.

In Singapore there used to be two main genera of mistletoes, Loranthus and Viscum. Then Loranthus was split into six genera, but not Viscum. All these mistletoes (except one species of Viscum) have green leaves, meaning that they are able to photosynthesise and manufacture their own food. Thus they are termed semi-parasitic.

Mistletoes are important bird plants. Their flowers produce copious nectar that attract a host of butterflies. And also birds like sunbirds and flowerpeckers. Their succulent berries similarly attract many species of birds.

Incidentally, the Australian Christmas tree (Nuytsia floribunda) is a member of this family of plants. It is the largest mistletoe in the world, growing independently into a 8 metre tall tree. If you visit Western Australia during December and January, you can marvel at the glorious, honey-scented, orange-gold blossoms covering the entire tree, even hiding the fleshy foliage. This tree manages to grow and flower during the dry Australian summer because its roots tap onto the roots of other neighbouring plants for water. The trunk exudes a sweet, sticky gum and the young roots are peeled and eaten, tasting like sugar-candy.

YC Wee
22nd January 2006

Tang’s nesting crows 3: The destruction of the nest and the end of the saga

posted in: Brood parasitism, Crows | 8

January 7th 2006 was 15 days since I first saw the three eggs in the nest. When I went out to buy groceries at around noon, I went up to my usual place to take a look at the crows’ nest. The first chick had hatched! I was excited and was wondering when the next two eggs would hatch.

I returned home at 2 pm. Quickly I took out my camera and went straight to the next block. From afar, I saw the two House Crows (Corvus splendens) hopping among the branches of their nesting tree. This looked strange. As I got closer, I was shocked to see that the whole nest had disappeared. Could it be an attack by the Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea)? From the 4th level of the block, I could not see any traces or remnants of the nest. The pair of crows was calling desperately from the top of a nearby lamp-post. I decided to go down to the ground level to inspect the area beneath the tree. Yes, there was the chick, dead, of course, and a cracked egg. I didn’t see any trace of the third egg.

I started to reason. It couldn’t be the work of the koels. They couldn’t possibly remove the whole nest. It must be people. As I looked up to the nest site, a small girl and her maid were looking out of their window on the second level, talking to each other and pointing to where the nest was. They told me it was two workers and their boss who removed the nest with a long stick with a knife attached at its end. The whole nest fell to the ground and the workers took the nest away. The maid and the small girl were also sad about this.

Well, crows are pests. What can I say?

In 1995 when we were staying in Yishun, the Town Council sent a team of workers to our estate to conduct a massive felling of rows of lovely trees, some reaching 20 m in height. The whole operation lasted one week. The Town Council explained that these trees attracted many birds (Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica) to perch in. I moved house the next year.

Text and images by Hung Bun Tang

Angie’s crows 4: Is this the end of the crow-koel saga?

posted in: Crows, Nesting | 0

I have given an earlier account of the series of attacks on the House Crows’ nest (Corvus splendens) by Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea). Well, on Wednesday 28th Dec 2005, the tenth day after they began building their nest, the crows were again seen. That morning at 8.20 am two crows stood on the branch beside their nest, cawed several times and flew off. Soon after a koel called and two females hopped cautiously from the lower branches right up to the nest. They took turns to climb in and stayed a few seconds each time before flying off.

One crow returned at 9.30 am, stood at the edge of the nest, made a 3-sec inspection and flew away. Soon after, a single female koel sneaked up to the nest, climbed in and out, and in again.

I saw a crow again at 2.10 pm when it hopped out of its nest, cawed and flew away. As the nest was unattended, two females and a male koel flew from a nearby bauhinia tree (Bauhinia sp.). A female climbed into the nest, came out and the male climbed in as if to inspect the eggs. The other female tried to get into the nest but the male charged at her while making that loud koel call. This loud call brought back a crow that chased them all away. But the crow also stayed away.

At 4.15 pm the male koel was inside the nest again for about 5 seconds before flying off. A while later a female flew up and hopped in and out of the nest several times.

At 6 pm, three koels were seen on the tree. A female’s ‘kuacking’ brought a black bird flying in towards the tree but it was intercepted by another black bird, both flew away from the tree. Meanwhile the female koels took turns to hop in and out of the nest. The first female made one of the loudest ‘kuack-kuack’ sound when she hopped out of the nest (like a hen cackling after it has laid its egg). When the two black birds returned, the females flew off. One of the black birds landed on a branch near the nest, peered in and flew off again into the dark.

At 6.15 pm a broken egg shell, still moist with albumin was on the ground below the angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus). Shell was blue-greenish with dark speckles.

The next day (eleventh day) saw batches of koels boldly, and taking their own time, hopping in and out of the unattended nest. The male koel made two visits to inspect the nest.

Are there more than a dozen koel eggs in there? If the blue-green eggs were crow eggs, then the crow had laid only 2 eggs!

The crows have since abandoned their nest! After the dramatic night raid of 27th December, no crow was seen incubating.

Everything quiet this morning, with no activities. Is this the end of the koel-crow saga? Are crows smarter than what we think? Will they not play surrogate parents anymore?

Contributed by Angie Ng, 30th December 2005
Image also by Angie.

Tang’s nesting crows 2: Yes, whose eggs were those?

posted in: Brood parasitism, Crows | 2

The three eggs in the crows’ nest as seen in Tang’s earlier image, also shown here, show similarity in colour and pattern. However, one of the eggs is of slightly different shape than the other two and smaller. And according to the literature, the Asian Koel’s (Eudynamys scolopacea) egg is smaller than that of the House Crow’s (Corvus splendens). Can the smaller egg then be that of the koel’s? We need to monitor the situation and wait for the hatching. The nestling of the koel can easily be differentiated from that of the crow once feathers develop (see image of koel nestling, bottomj).

Angie found bluish shells with dark speckles as well as light cream ones at the base of the tree where the crows’ nest was the day after koels attacked the nest (see image on left as well as earlier posting. Is it possible that either the crow or the koel laid eggs of two different colours? After all, as Lin Yang Chen pointed out, there are reports of egg dimorphism among certain species of birds. Unfortunately bird watchers have yet to pay much attention to such details.

Input by Hung Bun Tang, Angie Ng and Lin Yang Chen
Images (top to bottom) by HBT, Angie and YC

Tales of a birding pilot…

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

During my career as an airline pilot, I have only killed two birds, those that I know of, that is. The first was during my initial training in Seletar in a cessna. Not more than 7 hours of flying to my credit, my instructor and I were out in the training area above the catchment area doing some exercises.

We are always on the look out for Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus), birds that often reach the heights that we fly. But we normally can avoid them. Taking a hit with a kite can be fatal to both the plane and the bird.

On that fateful flight, I saw a fast moving bird-like object from the corner of my view. If it had kept its initial heading, it would have gone right past in front without any problem. Instead it took a sharp turn and headed almost directly at the aircraft and in the final moments it pealed off to the right.

Next I heard a bang that echoed through the rear of the aircraft. We had initially thought it was some shockwave from some gun firing below or quarrying activity. But we saw no smoke or anything. And since the aircraft was ok, we carried on.

Only when we got back to the ground did we see the bloodstain on the fuselage of the aircraft. The bird has turned too late and got caught in the propeller’s wash and was slammed into the fuselage of the aircraft.

My second encounter was with a swallow. It did the same stunt on the day I first had my training flight on the 747 in Changi. We were doing circuits in an empty aircraft to make sure I could land the aircraft before I was cleared for further training.

Just as I came in for a landing and passing over Pulau Tekong, another swallow did the same stunt. This time it slammed right onto the windshield on my side of the aircraft, leaving a splatter of spittle and blood on the windshield.

These speed demons of the sky never know when they have met more than their match. But for a swallow to underestimate a 747, it must be really out of its mind.

In Perth we trained at Jandakot Airport. And as luck would have it, they had a refuse dump on the end of one of the runways. Birds flocked to the dump and returned to the coast on a daily basis. We had to keep a lookout for other aircraft traffic and also dodge pelicans (Pelecanus sp.) and flocks of gulls (Larus sp.) that were frequenting the dump. The gulls were a problem at night. We could not see them until it was too late. But in the day, they were not a problem. It was the pelicans that were dangerous in the daytime. Because of their size, they had to soar on thermals to get to a good cruising height with a favourable wind to blow them to the coast. And guess where the best thermals were? Right above the hot tarmac of the runway. The birds were hard to spot from above as they were not often in huge flocks. But there had been cases where small light aircrafts collided with pelicans. And it was a miracle how the aircraft made it back on ground safely after such an impact.

Contributed by Jeremy Lee; image of Chinook by Ashley Ng.

Comments and image of goose by YC: Air strikes of birds are commoner than we think. At the worst it results in loss of lives. Otherwise the plane needs repairs that can cost from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. A solitary strike with a small bird does not do much damage. A larger bird like a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is another matter. Most air crashes occur when a bird hits the windshield or is sucked into the engine. Most bird strikes occur at takeoff but this does not mean that there are less strikes when the plane is in the air, as many may go unreported. Military aircrafts are usually more vulnerable than commercial ones as they generally fly at lower altitudes where most birds fly as well as at higher speed.

Many methods have been used to make airports safe from birds. These include use of dogs, Peregrine Falcons and Gyrfalcons as well as playing bird distress calls.

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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