Encounters with the Red Junglefowl

posted in: Species | 4

In the 1990s I was a frequent visitor to Pulau Ubin, cycling around the island almost every weekend. There I had my first glimpse of the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus). Back then I had thought nothing more of it than a mere chicken that looked ‘more kampung’ than those kampung chicken our Malay neighbours kept.

It was not until 1997 when I was there on an outward bound course that I saw a cock roosting on a tree that was about 30m high. I was wondering how the hell did it get up there, especially with all that fancy feathers that would surely ground a domestic chicken.

As if to prove a point, a few days later at a disused quarry, I saw a cock fly across the entire breadth of the lake. As it reached the other end, it actually demonstrated a graceful climb and ended up on top of a tree.

I initially mistook it for a crow that was trailing a snake it caught and having problems climbing higher and crossing the lake. But on closer observation, the chicken shape was obvious. And of course, to round it all off, the cock crowed, more than three times from its perch on the tree top.

My next encounter with the jungle fowl was in 2002. This time it was just outside my bedroom in my Loyang Valley Condo in Changi. My window overlooked Selarang camp. The old camp area in the 1980s had large patches of lallang, and lots of old trees and some dead trees as well. When the new camp was constructed, most of the birds that were there before were gone. Only recently I did I see Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa) and parrots making a comeback.

On the fringe of the new camp, there are grassy slopes where people seldom wander. These slopes are on the boundary between the condo and the camp. I was woken up one morning by the loud crowing of a chicken. I immediately assumed it was one of the males from the kampung chicken that were kept by the people staying at the prison warden’s quarters next to the camp.

This cock was definitely not lost. I was back there again the same time the next day. From the sound of its crow, I thought it must be quite a specimen to behold. So I sneaked out to have a look. And there it was majestically patrolling the no man’s land between the camp and the condo. Again it first struck me as ‘more kampung’ than the average kampung chicken. I also did not discount the fact that it might be a ‘fighting cock’ that someone had let loose. But then it occurred to me that it might be a red jungle fowl. One of the last few that managed to survive the rapid destruction of habitat in the Changi industrial area.

So I went back to the books. The white patch on the cheek was unmistakable. But I was no jungle fowl expert. The bird disappeared for a week and then was back again at the same spot. One evening I decided to try and get real close to it by hiding below its line of sight and creeping ahead of it. And hopefully pop my head up as it strode by.

I got more than I bargained for. As I popped up my head and walked to the fence, I startled the hen and a brood of chicks. The hen made hell of a raucous and surprised me by flying vertically up 7m or more to a high branch on a tree. The cock flew straight out to the open, and made a circling climb to the top of a tree further away. The chicks really surprised me. They were no more than the size of tennis balls and they shot up to a height of about 50cm to a metre before dashing for cover. All this while the hen was making hell of a scene distracting my attention. While the chicks stayed frozen away from view.

I only managed to see the family twice more before they moved on to another part of the camp. As for myself I was too busy learning to fly and so could not investigate the surprise appearance of this family of fowl that I suspected could be the red jungle fowl (or someone’s pet fighting cock).

Contributed by Jeremy Lee, images by Jacqueline Lau and Timothy Pwee; additional comments below by bird specialist R Subaraj.

Interesting account of the Red Junglefowl from Jeremy and a good record of breeding of the species on the main island of Singapore, at Loyang. This bird is believed to have colonised Pulau Ubin by flying across the Straits of Johor. And there have been a couple of villagers who actually observed them doing just that. Ubin proved an ideal habitat for these birds. As the human population on the island shrank and poaching declined, these birds have multiplied successfully and today it is found throughout the island and even on the satellite isle of Ketam.

On Tekong, it has surprisingly not been successful and apart from a couple of records, the species is absent. Habitat may be the reason though it is still a mystery.

In the early 1990s, there was a report of a flock of junglefowl at Selarang Camp in Changi and the species continues to try and colonise the main island from Ubin. I have personally recorded the species from the Loyang Camp at Cranwell Road, Changi Coastal Road and Naval Base Road at Tanah Merah.

Another recent colonisation seems to be happening on the western side of Singapore with records east to Ama Keng.

Observations on a pair of Crows’ nest

posted in: Crows | 4

According to Laurence Kilham’s “On watching Birds” he says “almost nothing was known of life of American Crow in spite of its being among the commonest of birds.” More so in Singapore, the House Crow (Corvus splendens) is considered to be a pest and a threat to all native birds. It is regarded as public enemy number one and bounty hunters are paid according to the number of birds they shoot.

I usually would walk past a yellow flame tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum) at the corner of a car park as I entered the back of my clinic. It was on March 9, 2005 that I first noticed the presence of a nest in the canopy of the tree. How long it took to build the nest I am not sure, but it must have been quite fast, as I did not notice it before. The nest was seated on the forks of a tree branch and shaped like a bowl surrounded by twigs arranged in a circular fashion about 10 meters from the ground. My observations were made from the ground and from the landings of an adjacent Housing and Development Block. As I was not able to look into the hollow of the nest, I could not tell when the eggs were laid or when they were hatched.

It was on March 31, 22 days after I noticed the nest that I saw signs of life in the nest. Every morning at about 8.30 am when I arrived at the clinic, I would notice the pair of parents at the nest. Sometimes one of the birds would be seated in the nest. I had no idea how many eggs were laid until later when the chicks popped their heads out of the nest for me to count them.

At night I was unable to observe which parent bird sat on the nest. What I saw was a bird perched above and near to the nest. When I shone my torch the bird would fly away.

The field guides do not differentiate male and female crows but I was able to tell the sexes apart in that the female had a distinct whitish marking around the neck and was slimmer, whereas the male had a greyish neck and visibly strong neck muscles and stouter. It was the female that spent more time around the nest.

There were in all 3 chicks. The first fledged on 11 April, the second on 14 and the third on 18. On April 26 the chicks were able to fly away from the nest and disappeared for a while.

The chicks had won their ‘wings’ by flying to adjacent trees in the car park. One interesting observation was that when the chicks were about to fledge, a flock of crows came from nowhere and cawed loudly, shouting encouragement to the chicks in the nest. This occurred as each chick took its turn to fledge. That was my first encounter with cooperative rearing of the young. I did not see any crows other than the parents feeding the young in the nest. Lawrence Kilham says in his observations of the American Crow, ”The helpers, sometimes up to six or seven of them aided in all phases of nesting, from nest building to feeding the incubating female, and, after hatching, feeding the young before and after they fledged.”

The incubation period was approximately 22 days from March 9 to 21and it took 27days from March 22 to April 18 for all the chicks to fledge.

On and off for some weeks after, the fledglings would come back to their familiar surroundings on the yellow flame tree. On one occasion I witnessed the same female parent bird with its prominent whitish neck instructing a chick with a morsel of food on the floor, a personal coaching lesson, no doubt.

Three months later, on July 13, a nest appeared suddenly in the same yellow flame tree. On July 21 a pair of crows was seen going in and out of the nest each morning. I presume these were the young crows that had matured and were nesting. Then I looked at the opposite bigger tree near the rubbish depot and found another nest in the canopy. A few days later as I walked to the front of the clinic I spotted another nest in the canopy of another tree. This was the third nest and the pair of crows would fly along this flyway, visiting all the three nests. However, on September 7 the nest near the rubbish dump disappeared without a trace. On September 8 the nest in front of the clinic vanished and the next day the nest in the yellow flame tree was nowhere to be seen. I came to the conclusion that these three nests were trial nests that the pair of young crows was building.

Contributed by Dr Wu Eu Heng, images by YC & WEH

Comments by R. Subaraj: Dr Wu offers a couple of interesting views but more observations are required
before these behaviour patterns can be fully understood and taken as normal. This includes the suggested cooperative encouraging by the group of crows for the fledglings to leave their nest and the trial nests being built by what is
taken as young crows.

Starlings and snails at Pasir Panjang Hill

The following is an account that I wrote up in the late 1980s, and came across recently when sorting out old papers.

Working in my study in the late afternoon of June 1st 1988, a tap tapping noise brought me to the window, rather expecting to see a Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) dealing with a garden snail/giant snail (Achatina fulica) on the path next to the garden. However, the noise was coming from what looked like an Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) standing on a small, bricked terrace on a slope of the garden. I rushed for the binoculars and indeed there was now another AGS holding a snail shell in its beak and bashing it on the ground. After what was considered sufficient effort, it put the shell down, gripped part of the exposed snail with its beak and pulled and waved it in the air so that the shell and snail parted company and the snail disappeared into the AGS. Thereupon the two birds flew off and I sped out to gather the evidence. They had been eating the land snail Hemiplecta sp., which are flattish, about 2-2.5 cm in diameter, and 0.5 cm thick.

Once I was indoor again, the birds reassembled for the second performance, having added a third member to the cast. They were walking around on the brick terrace looking for snails under the plants and on the side of the bricks. They each found at least one snail, but one (the newcomer?) was not yet adept at bashing, and so one of the others took over and finished that snail off. Then, looking just like mynas, they walked a few feet up the short grass into the long grass by the fence, disappeared and came out one after the other with a snail, found on the concrete footing of the fence. One tapped his or her snail on the brick again. Another flew onto a bit of old pipe sticking out of the adjacent old water tank and tried tapping on that, but the snail fell off when put down.

Two evenings later, when at home in the early evening, I saw the trio (presumably the same three adult birds), plus an immature bird, repeating their dietary adventure. They foraged at the edge of the brick path, by plant pots under a jackfruit tree and in the brick terrace. In the adjacent part of the neighbour’s garden they foraged near old plant pots on a cleared patch of ground under an old flame tree. They tapped the snails on the brick path, on the wide branches of the flame tree, and on the neighbour’s tiled roof. Once the shell had been well bashed, the snail seemed to come out pretty easily. I never saw any of the birds appear to hold the shell with the foot whilst pulling the snail out (as compared with my memory of the Greater Coucal’s struggle with the much larger garden snails).

I saw and heard the starlings eating snails probably one or two more evenings, and then no more. At first I wondered why they had given up on what seemed such a good source of food. A while later, when certain plants were flourishing, I realized that were hardly any land snails around, and that the birds may well have exhausted the supply in my garden. Whether the gang of four took their skills off to benefit some other gardener, or whether they all died of liver failure, I don’t know – let alone how the first two birds got the idea to come to the ground level and take up snail whacking.

Margie Hall
5th January 2006

Angie’s nesting crows 2: Attack by the koels

posted in: Interspecific, Nesting | 0

Last evening was the sixth day since the nest was built by a pair of House Crows (Corvus splendens) (see 1). A crow was seen hopping in and out of the nest every 5 minutes. Its mate was preening itself a few branches away. Just as the former settled itself in the nest, there was a commotion.

The time was about 7.30 pm, quite dark then. I could make out a large greyish bird perched on a lower branch, slowly and deliberately flapping its outstretched wings. Then I saw another bird a few branches away doing exactly the same. Suddenly both birds appeared above the nest and there was a flurry of wings and what looked like an attack on the nest. This was followed by loud cawing, giving the impression that a crow was hurt. I could not see clearly if there were 3 or 4 birds in that mad scramble around the nest. Just as suddenly, the attacking birds flew off leaving the nesting crow still mournfully cawing away.

There was another shorter attack 15 minutes later. Then 20 minutes later I noticed another bird flapping its wings on the lower branches, but no more raids.

I presume those grey birds must be female Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea), for just before 7 pm a female was chased away by a watchful crow. Also at that time there were koels calling in the nearest of the distant trees.

Tonight it happened again at 7.25 pm!

A crow had just settled onto the nest; its mate had sat in during its 5 minutes break before flying away. A minute later two koels called, and when they were a few branches away the nesting crow flew out and chased them off. The crow cawed for its mate but it was nowhere in sight. Five minutes later a koel was again seen around the nest. Again the crow flew out to chase it away. A female koel suddenly landed on the nest, flapping its wings before it too was chased away.

Did it drop an egg?

The third attempt at the nest saw the koel crying out as it was attacked by the crow. The crow cawed again for its mate after the attack.

Tonight’s episode was not as dramatic as last night’s. All was dark and quiet by 7.45 pm.

Contributed by Angie Ng, 26th December 2005; image also by Angie, taken on the same day at 11.50 am.

Tang’s nesting crows 1: Whose eggs are these?

posted in: Brood parasitism, Crows | 3

Around the time when Angie was monitoring a House Crows’ nest (Corvus splendens) from her apartment window, Hung Bun Tang was doing the same from his apartment balcony. With the aid of a pair of binoculars, he could clearly see a crow sitting in the nest most of the time. However, to check the contents of the nest he had to walk to the next block and station himself at the fourth level. There, he patiently waited for a strong gust of wind to move the leaves blocking his view of the nest. That was how he managed to capture the excellent images included here.

He did just that on 5th December 2005 and again the next day. After a short holiday, he again checked on the nest and my, was he surprised!

In Tang’s very own words: “There is a crow’s nest near my place. I first noticed it on 5th Dec. and saw a naked chick and an egg in it. The next day when I checked it, the chick was gone and I saw only the egg. Then I went off to Taiwan for 2 weeks’ holiday and returned to Singapore on 21st Dec. When I checked the nest this morning, there were 3 eggs!!! I am really puzzled.”

The most probable scenario is that an Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) raided the nest and removed the crow’s nestling. Subsequently the koel probably laid one or even two of the three eggs he saw on 21st December. Exactly what happened, we will never know, but if he manage to keep close watch of the hatching of the three eggs, we may be able to know whether the above conjecture is true.

Contribution and images by Hung Bun Tang

To swallow or to regurgitate seeds

posted in: Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants, Plants | 12


I was watching an Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) perched on the ripened fruiting bunch of my Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) one morning when I noticed it regurgitating a seed. This it did a few times before picking out one to swallow (left). The nearly rounded 10×12 mm fruit has a covering of pulp that is less than1 mm thick. This coral-red covering encloses a single seed.

Intrigued by this behaviour, I asked around but even seasoned birdwatchers could not give me an explanation. Then I stumbled upon a paper by Richard Corlett and his student on the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea).

Because frugivores generally have a reduced protein requirement, they can easily subsist on a fruit diet. Such birds also exhibit a high ingestion rate and a short gut retention time, as well as reduced loss of nitrogen through the faeces and urine. Some of these birds supplement their protein requirement with insects or the seeds in the fruits they ingest.

The study shows that Asian Koels swallow large fruits like those of Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis), Syzygium chumini and Arenga engleri whole. But they rapidly regurgitate the cleaned seeds, dropping them under the tree, rather than defecating them. This appears to be a common adaptation of specialist frugivores, presumably serving to reduce the weight and volume of material that must pass through the gut. On the other hand other birds peck the fruits and leave the seeds. When eating fruits like figs with small seeds, koels swallow them whole and defecate the seeds below the tree.

The intake of indigestible seeds results in extra load in the gut. The energy expenditure necessary for flight is thus increased. Additional energy may also be required to manipulate the seeds in the gut, separating them from the pulp and transporting them through the gut. Again, the presence of the indigestible seeds in the gut limits further food ingestion. This in turn reduces the rate at which food can be processed and nutrients assimilated.

YC Wee
1st January 2006

BESGroup report for 2005

posted in: Reports | 0

The year 2005 is coming to a close and 2006 is looming over the horizon. Let us take a few moments to review what we have done since the formation of the Bird Ecology Study Group.

The Nature Society had its last AGM in May 2005. This was where the idea of a new group was conceived. The group’s blog was created soon after, in July, and launched with a series of postings on the nesting of the Zebra Doves. On 27th September the Executive Committee of the Nature Society (Singapore) formally accepted BESGroup as a new activity group under its umbrella.

So what have we done so far?
1. We have had formal discussions with NUS and NParks on joint activities and formal collaboration.
2. We initiated a series of talks under the broad heading “Why do birds do what they do?” and kicked it off with a number of talks by Luan Keng, Subaraj and myself. In the coming year we hope to continue with more, to expose birders to all aspects of the avian fauna – time and speakers permitting. We hope to explore aspects of bird migration, diet, habitat selection, flight, mating systems, vocalisation, evolution, etc., and share with members whatever knowledge we can glean from the literature and the net.
3. We are planning field trips to emphasise the ecological aspects of birds, not just their ID. In this respect we will be looking into the inter-relationship of birds with plants and other animals.
4. We plan to aggressively publish articles on bird ecology in the print medium, not only in Nature News and Nature Watch, but also in scientific and other journals and magazines that are published overseas.
5. We plan to link up with overseas bird groups and contribute to their activities.
6. We have an active blog (http://besgroup.blogspot.com/). So far there are in excess of 50 postings on subjects as varied as nesting, mobbing, anting and alcoholism in birds. We now have a team of more than ten birders submitting their observations regularly. The readership is increasing exponentially, approaching 4,000 hits after a short period of only five months.
7. We have familiarised birders with the term “anting” and so far four people have reported seeing this phenomenon. We have also made birders aware that not all birds swallow seeds to pass them out at the other end – some regurgitate them after the pulp is removed in the gut. We plan to further seek out unfamiliar and seldom mentioned aspects of bird ecology and bring them out into the open for discussion.
8. We have an active yahoo discussion loop and will be starting a discussion board soon, thanks to Jacqueline Lau. We also hope to have our own web page in the near future.
9. And finally, we are proud to announce that the group is closely associated with the Singapore Hornbill Project that is currently going on in Pulau Ubin and the Jurong Bird Park (details later).

For 2006 we will be offering not only more of the same but other new projects and ideas. After all, BESGroup is a young group of enthusiastic people brimming with new and novel ideas and raring to go.

Have a great 2006. BESGroup plans to do just that!

YC Wee, R Hale, R Subaraj & G Pereira
30th December 2005

Folivores – birds that feed on leaves

posted in: Feeding-plants | 1

Cheong Weng Chun sent me an image of a juvenile Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) with a bunch of young rain tree (Samanea saman) leaflets in its beak. And in his own words, the bird was: “chewing – no, can it chew or perhaps, I should say swallow?”

This started me asking a pertinent question “Do birds eat leave?” Well, some birds do… Anyway, I ended up with some interesting information.

Folivory applies to those birds that eat leaves, either exclusively or partially. Although a successful foraging strategy for numerous species, few birds are exclusively folivorous. Why? Because flight demands an enormous amount of energy and leaves do not provide the necessary energy. The energy content of leaves is only half that of fruits and a quarter that of insects and other arthropods. Also, leaf digestion is slow and requires a large storage space in the gut. Besides, digestion needs to be undertaken by specialized bacteria present in the gut

Those birds that regularly feed on leaves have thus turned to gliding or abandoned flight altogether.

Only about 3% of all birds, from at least 14 families, eat leaves regularly. Most of these birds are terrestrial or aquatic and only 5 families include aboreal members. From these 5 families only 2 species, Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) and Owl Parrot (Strigops habroptilus) obtain most of their energy from leaves. These include new growth of green leaves, buds, flowers and fruits in season, moss and fungi. Hoatzin is a South American bird whose flight is weak and awkward. It clumsily creeps up branches and make only short flights. The other is a flightless bird of New Zealand.

R. Subaraj notes that certain birds offer leaves during courtship, but we have an immature bird here. So does it mean that its behaviour is precocious?

Image by Cheong Weng Chun

Anting III

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0

Now that anting has been unleashed onto the birding community, more episodes are being reported. This posting gives the third and fourth accounts after Kelvin’s historic observation 17 years ago, followed by Jeremy’s.

R. Subaraj, our bird specialist and nature consultant, relates his experience: “When I was at the National University of Singapore campus in Kent Ridge on November 25th, 2005, I noticed a solitary Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) approaching me not far from the Science Canteen. As it walked toward me, it picked up something from the ground and put it 5nder its wing. I kept observing it carefully and the next time it did the same thing. I suddenly realised that it was a kerengga ant (Oecophylla samargdina) that it was stuffing under the wing.

“Immediately remembering what Kelvin had seen not far from where I was 17 years ago, I continued observing it. The bird was deliberately searching for more krenggas in the grass, along the drain and even in the drain. Each one it caught was quickly stuffed under the wing as well, occasionally with a little dance to follow.

“Another myna, another anting session!”

Margie Hall relates her story: “I recently found my 1989 notebook and can give you two more brief accounts of anting: March 9th, 1989, 2 pm, White-vented Myna picking up red kerengga ants one by one (7 in all)kand putting them in underparts and in wing feathers. May 9th, 1989 White-vented Mynas ‘anting’ with red kerengga ants. Note: White-vented Myna probably means Javan Myna – I think I was using the names interchangeably in those days.”

NOTE: This and earlier accounts of anting posted on this website have now been written up and published in the 2008 issue of the on-line journal, Nature in Singapore (Vol. 1, pp. 23-25). A PDF copy of Anting in Singapore Birds is available HERE.

Angie’s nesting crows – 1. A nest in the making

posted in: Nests | 1

A pair of House Crows (Corvus splendens) started building a nest on 19th December 2005 in an angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) just outside my apartment window. The day before they were building another nest on the far side of the tree. Unfortunately it disappeared overnight, probably foiled by strong wind during the night. They appeared to have succeeded now, as they were still building it on the second day. I hope the nest remains.

Even as the nest was just only a dozen or so twigs propped across the forked branches, a female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) had made a quick inspection when the crows were away.

Both crows were equally involved in collecting and arranging the twigs for the nest. With sunbirds and flowerpeckers, the males merely accompany their mates and just hang around, never helping in wool collecting.

Yesterday, the nest looked like an untidy collection of dry twigs, with a few green leaves added. Today it looks more compact and increasingly I have difficulty seeing what they were doing when both happened to be behind that nest. This morning they were still compacting the nest with more twigs. Sometimes they arrived without any twigs but took turns or even together shifting twigs around the nest. Will they be bringing ‘fibrous’ materials tomorrow to line the inner cup?

I wonder where they got their materials from? They don’t seem to just pick up the fallen twigs from under the tree.

These crows appear to be loving birds, always standing close, ‘kissing’ each other and one was seen feeding the other, although I could not see what was passed from one beak into the other’s throat.

The image of nest was taken at 4.45 pm today.

Contributed by Angie Ng, 21st December 2005

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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