ZEBRA DOVES – 9. The family is still around

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

Well, I was mistaken. The saga is not over yet. The family of doves is still around. I have heard the cooing of the parent birds on and off but did not see them until last evening at around 7 pm. The entire family of both parents and two fledglings was around the scaffolding of my neighbour’s house that is currently being renovated. Both parent birds are still caring for their offspring. The fledglings were still not able to fend for themselves, flapping their wings excitedly and scurrying around the parents to be fed. The orbital rings have still to be developed in the fledglings, although the pinkish touch in the central breast area is just beginning to be apparent. I wonder how many more days will they have to be dependent on their parents? Before they fly free!

YC Wee
21st August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 8. The final saga

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

The morning after the chicks fledged, they were still on the same branch of the mempat (Cratoxylum formosum) tree. Later that morning the parent bird and one fledgling flew to the roof of my neighbour’s house, leaving the other behind along the common railing. Despite parental persuasion, this fledgling remained there, not even moving when I was close by. I suppose, as with all newly fledged birds, it had yet to sense any danger from humans. After four days they were still nearby and being fed by the parent bird. Then they flew further afield, probably not to be seen again. Will they return and nest nearby? I will have to wait and see…

YC Wee
17th August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 7. The chicks have fledged

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

At around 2.30 pm today, both chicks took their maiden flight and landed on a branch of a nearby tree. The parent dove had not flown into the nest to feed them since 7.30 am. This no doubt provided the incentive for the chicks to leave the nest.

Things have developed beyond expectation. Despite the heavy human traffic, no one noticed the nest or its occupants. Workers moved in and out of their worksites within metres of the nesting tree. Drivers parked their vehicles by the tree. And pedestrians walked past it day and night. The camouflage must have been very effective. And there were the occasional duetting as one bird called while its mate replied.

The incubation took 13 days while the chicks took 15 days to fledge. The nest and birds were right under the noses of all those noisy people who constantly moved around the tree for all of 28 days. And all this time they remained unnoticed and unmolested.

Suddenly I am left with very much less to do. No more sneaking out to take a peek. No more lugging the camera mounted on a tripod. No more worrying that the location could soon be discovered.

In all I spent at least 50 hours, if not more, keeping watch on these birds. It is fortunate that they decided to build their nest just outside my house. Otherwise it would take more effort and time. Now I understand why a bird watcher told me that it was too much work to “behaviour watch” than “bird watch.”

Late this evening I managed to locate the parent and its two fledglings huddled together on a branch of a nearby tree. I will try to monitor the fledglings in the days ahead…

YC Wee
12th August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 6. What happens to the third chick?

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

The chicks are now 12 days old. The parent birds are spending less and less time in the nest, flying in only to feed them. Both chicks demand to be fed at the same time. This results in both the chicks’ beaks being thrust into the parent’s wide-open beak as the latter transfer its crop milk to the former. I have not been able to see the third chick for some days now. I can only see two large chicks in the nest. Has the third chick been starved to death, not being able to compete for food with its two bigger siblings? And has its body been disposed of?

YC Wee
9th August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 5. The chicks are about to fledge

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

So far so good! The nest and the birds have not been molested. The chicks are now 10 days old and will be fledging soon. There are three of them and the oldest has started exercising its wings. The parent birds regularly feed and preen the chicks.

The nest looks a bit crowded and the chicks have been left to themselves for longer periods. The parent birds fly in separately at irregularly intervals to feed them.

If the day shift bird is indeed a male, as in the case of Pink-necked Pigeons, then it would seem that the male is spending less time looking after the chicks than the female. The female bird, the one taking on the night shift and spending all her time in the nest throughout the night, now leaves a few hours earlier. Sounds familiar?

YC Wee
7th August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 4. Perfect camouflage

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

The nest of the Zebra Doves is a simple platform of twigs lodged between the branches of a Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) tree. This tree a smallish and the nest is slightly above eye level. The crown is sparse, thus there is no problem in photographing the activities inside the nest.

The house immediately behind the tree and a property on the opposite side of the road are currently being renovated. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic is heavy along this road. Workers constantly move around the tree, but so far have yet to notice the nest. This has gone on for the last 19 days. The dove and the nest are certainly well camouflaged.

The small size of the bird makes it inconspicuous, whether when perched on a branch, sitting in the nest or when flying in and out of the nest. When I walked past it within touching distance, the bird was so confident that I would not notice it that it just sat still. Of course there was no eye contact.

Things are now different. Three workers in the house behind the tree noticed the nest and frightened the bird away. But a few hours later the bird was back in its nest.

There are actually three chicks, detected only yesterday from digital images. They are now 7 days old. Will they be left unmolested? To be able to fledge within a few days’ time? And fly off to lead independent lives?

I am keeping my fingers crossed…

YC Wee
4th August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 3. More time to rest

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

I was right. As the chick grew bigger (now 5 days old), the parent doves spent less time in the nest. The night dove (on duty since last evening) fed the chicks before leaving the nest but the day dove flew in about two hours later. At the evening shift change, the day dove (on duty since morning) left about two hours earlier while the night dove flew in at its usual time. This meant that the day dove took on about four hours less duty while the night dove did its normal hours. With Pink-necked Pigeons the male takes on the day shift while the female the night shift. Does this mean that the male dove spent less time with the chicks than the female? As it is not possible to distinguish the sexes of these doves from their features, this can only be a conjecture.

I suspect the incoming dove spent time around the tree while the outgoing bird flew off to forage for food. To keep an eye on the chicks, no doubt. This morning I found the day dove resting along my driveway before it flew in for its day duty.

More to come…
YC Wee
2nd August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 2. The saga continues

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

I was mistaken. Two eggs hatched on the morning of the 29th July, 17 days after I noticed the dove nesting in the Golden Penda tree. When I examined my images taken the next day, two chicks were clearly seen in the nest. Whether the two eggs were hatched at the same time or one after the other within the same day, I am not able to say.

On the morning of the 30th, I heard the dove calling from its nest. This was unusual as normally the one in the nest or the one outside called when about to change shift. It must have been a distress call. There was a pair of Javan Myna around the nest. The dove was trying hard to chase them off. Only when the mynas left the tree did the dove return to its nest.

At about 3pm the next day I noticed the dove perching on a branch outside its nest. This was unusual. It would only leave the nest when disturbed or when changing shift. An hour later the dove was not to be seen. Did it fly off due to disturbance, as there were people around the tree? Exactly at 4.30pm the night shift dove flew in and sat on the nest.

I again noticed the dove was not in the nest at 3.15pm today, 1st August. The chicks are now 4 days old and rather big. It is possible that they are now big enough to be left alone for a few hours. Exactly at 5pm the night duty dove arrived and started feeding the chicks.

Stay tuned!

YC Wee
1st August 2005

ZEBRA DOVES – 1. Hatching of the first egg

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 1

I have been observing the activities around the nest of a pair of Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) for the last two week (above left). Every evening at around 5pm, the bird in the nest flew out and its mate flew in to take over the incubation duty. The night shift bird would then sit on the eggs right up to the next morning without ever leaving the nest. At around daybreak there should be another shift change. But for the last two weeks I was not able to witness the morning shift change. I was wondering whether the birds were on 24 hours incubation duty.

Then this morning I had a pleasant surprise.

I wasn’t particularly keeping watch as in the past. At around 8 am when I was near the nest, the bird inside suddenly flew off. Within a few seconds its mate flew in. But instead of making itself comfortable in the nest, it picked up a piece of egg shell in its beak and immediately flew off (above right). Three minutes later it flew in minus the shell and settled in the nest.

This is the day I have been waiting for – the hatching of one of the two eggs. The bird kept bending its neck downwards, making feeding movements. As with pigeons and doves, the Zebra Doves feed their chicks with crop milk.

I am still keeping watch to see when the other egg would hatch.

YC Wee
31st July 2005

What happened to the Yellow-vented Bulbuls’ chick?

posted in: Nesting, Pigeon-Dove | 0

Last month a pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) built their nest among the branches of a Dracaena tree by my bedroom window. The convenience of the location led me to keep watch on the activities of the birds every day for the next few weeks. I set up my camera by the window. The curtains helped to shade me from being noticed by the birds. But the birds knew I was around. Every time I looked into the camera, the bird in the nest would face me, beak wide open.

It was an exciting period as I watched them incubating the egg (only one was laid) and looking after the chick.

During incubation, the birds did not sit in the nest continuously. Both parents visited the nest regularly. Each took turns to sit on the egg for about 10 to 15 minutes before flying off. This went on throughout the day. Only towards dusk would one of the birds stay in the nest, to remain there throughout the night. By dawn the duty bird left the nest but one or the other would return for short periods throughout the day. Unfortunately the sexes look alike so I could not distinguish between them.

One morning, 10 days after I spotted the nest, the egg hatched. The day-old blind chick was totally devoid of feathers. It remained flat on the bottom of the nest. There was no sign of the eggshell in the nest or on the ground around. The bird must have dumped it some distance away.

Throughout the day both parents flew in and out of the nest bringing food to feed the newly hatched chick. The chick responded to the parents’ presence by opening its beak wide. After the food was transferred to the chick, the parent bird settled down in the nest, to fly off after a short while. Every 10 to 15 minutes one or the other bird flew in to feed the hungry chick. By the third day the chick was fed solid food of various insects and invertebrates. If the piece of food were too big for the chick to swallow, the parent bird would pull it out of the chick’s throat and try breaking it into smaller pieces.

The parent birds were seen to constantly peck into the nest, probably removing bits and pieces of food not eaten by the chick. Or was it pecking at the ants in the nest? It was also possible that the bird were eating the excretion of the chick as, according to the literature, this contains undigested food.

One day, I was immediately below the nest when the parent bird noticed my presence. It suddenly took off and landed on the ground some distance away. It pretended to be hurt, flapping it wings to exaggerate its supposedly wounded condition. Naturally when I approached it, the bird moved further away, to subsequently fly off.

Unfortunately, after the chick was only four days old, tragedy struck. I saw the parent bird settling down for the night with the chick. But next morning the chick was nowhere to be seen. The nest was empty. It must have disappeared from the nest sometime during the night. Who or what was responsible, I do not know. Could it be crows? But then there were no crows at night or even during the early morning. Could it be a cat or a rat? Possible. Or a changeable lizard? Maybe, as there were a few around. Or it could be a snake or a squirrel even?

The birds were in shock that morning, flying in and looking puzzled. They took turns returning to the nest, looking around with their beaks wide open and even sitting in the nest for short periods before flying off. This they did for some time before the truth must have dawned on them that the chick was really gone and would not appear ever again. Then they finally left the scene.

YC Wee
30th July 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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