Leucistic Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos

Photo 1: Large-billed crow had some white feathers on the breast. Ipoh, Perak. 24 June 2022.
Photo 2: The large-billed crow also had white feathers on the back of the neck and pale shafts on the thigh. The pigmentation of the iris was normal. Ipoh, Perak. 24 June 2022.
Photo 3: A leucistic House Crow had more extensive leucism than the Large-billed crow above. Klang. March 2009.
Photo 4: The leucistic House Crow was mobbed by other crows. Klang. March 2009.


Leucism (leukism) is a condition where there is complete lack of melanin from all or part of the plumage in a bird with resultant white or pale discolouration of the feathers. This is not the same as albinism where there is a complete lack of melanin in both the plumage, bare parts and, most importantly, the eyes (with associated poor vision and poor outcomes in the wild). 

Leucism in birds is not uncommon and many of us would have spotted the odd bird from time to time. Leucism may be due to genetics, diet or injury. 

This week I observed a leucistic Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos). It had some white feathers on the breast, back of the  neck and pale shafts on the thigh. The pigmentation of the iris was normal (see first two images). The bird was observed alone, which is uncommon for this species in the Ipoh area; suggesting perhaps social isolation.

In the past I have seen a leucistic House Crow (Corvus splendens) in the Klang Valley that had more extensive leucism and was mobbed by other crows (see additional two images). This social behaviour has also been reported locally by Daisy O’Neill (2009)

Guay, Potvin, and Robinson (2012) describe the many pigmentary changes possible and also include:

  • Schizochroism– characterised by the lack of a single pigment from part or all of the plumage.
  • Melanism– an abnormally high level of melanin is deposited in feathers or melanin replaces carotenoids in part or all of the plumage (melanistic birds are darker overall).
  • Carotenism– an abnormality of the amount, distribution or composition of carotenoid pigments (plumage colour shifts toward either red or yellow).
  • Dilution– overall decrease in deposition of all pigment in feathers over the whole body, resulting in a faded appearance.



  1. Guay, P.J., Potvin, D.A., and Robinson, R.W. (2012). Abberations in plumage coloration in birds. Australian Field Ornithology 29 23-30. Available here: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235998351_Aberrations_in_plumage_coloration_in_birds>
  2. Daisy O’Neill (2009). Leucism in crows. Bird Ecology Study Group. <https://besgroup.org/2009/05/27/leucism-in-crows/>
  3. Melissa Mayntz (2020). Bird Leucism: About Leucistic Birds and Abnormal Plumages. The Spruce. Dotdash Meredith Publishing. <https://www.thespruce.com/bird-leucism-387342>

 Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia



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Oriental Pied Hornbill at Newton Food Centre

posted in: bird, Nesting, Oriental Pied Hornbills | 0

Here’s a video of Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) feeding eggs to the female and chick, Morten said that they look like pigeon eggs. We saw the male at around 6pm, perched on a branch near the nest. It flew off and after 25 minutes later came back and regurgitated 2 eggs. Note that this nest hole has 2 entrances for the male to feed.

A nest of the Oriental Pied Hornbill was reported in February 2022 near the Newton Food Centre in Singapore. This video was taken on 25th February at 6.25pm…



Photo 1: The male hornbill near the nest vicinity.


Photo 2: The female, sealed in the tree, sticks its beak out of the hole in the sealed nest.


Article by Bee Choo Strange.

Read https://besgroup.org/2022/02/22/oriental-pied-hornbill-nesting-in-limestone-cavity/ and https://besgroup.org/2017/05/15/male-oriental-pied-hornbill-at-the-nesting-hole/ .

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Sand wasp with Planthopper prey

posted in: Arthropod, Feeding strategy, sand wasp | 0

A Sand Wasp, genus Bembecinus, spotted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 12 June 2022. It has caught a Ricaniid Planthopper and was in the process of moving it to a burrow. Catching such interactions is always the fascinating part of nature photography.

Photo 1: A Bembicini sand wasp dragging a plant hopper prey to its sand burrow. The prey is paralysed and stays alive to form living food for the wasp’s developing larva.
Photo 2: The sand wasp gets into the burrow to widen the mouth of its burrow. This sand wasp has the common yellow and black colour markings.
Photo 3: The sand wasp lowers its abdomen into the burrow to clear the chamber at the bottom.
Photo 4: The plant hopper prey is lowered into the burrow to form the stash of food for the sand wasp’s larva to feed on.


Read this post https://besgroup.org/2012/05/04/a-common-sandpiper-coming-face-to-face-with-a-wasp-2/  of a sandpiper feeding on a wasp.

Observations and all photographs © Soh Kam Yung.


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Sumatran Flying Dragon, Draco sumatranus

Three species of flying dragons can be found in Singapore. The black-bearded flying dragon (Draco melanopogon) and five-banded flying dragon (Draco quinquefasciatus) inhabit the forest reserves while the Sumatran flying dragon (Draco sumatranus) are denizens of urbanised areas. Flying dragons, also known as flying lizards, grow to approximately  24 cm – 27 cm. These diurnal lizards feed on ants and termites but lay eggs at the base of trees. They are in turn predated on by birds. A pair of wing-like skin (patagium), supported by extensions of the ribs enable the lizards to glide between trees.

Soh Kam Yung spotted a Sumatran Flying Dragon (Draco sumatranus) at Serangoon Park Connector on 18 June 2022. He was lucky to spot its profile on the tree. As photos 2 and 3 show, its camouflage is superb and easy to miss if it stays still.

Photo 1: Draco sumatranus, Sumatran flying dragon.  Copyright Soh Kam Yung.
Photo 2: The flying dragon’s colour blends well with the tree bark. Copyright Soh Kam Yung.
Photo 3: The dragon camouflaged against the tree trunk, appears as one of the raised ridges on the bark. Copyright Soh Kam Yung.


Read this post https://besgroup.org/2022/06/19/straw-headed-bulbul-feeding-on-flying-lizard/ about a Straw-headed bulbul feeding on a flying dragon.


  1. Biodiversity of Singapore: An encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development © 2011 Edited by: Peter KL Ng, Richard T. Corlett and Hugh T. W. Tan
  2. https://besgroup.org/2014/10/31/flying-dragons-%e2%80%93-flashing-females/
  3. https://besgroup.org/2014/05/21/flying-dragons-feeding-on-ants/

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Observations on the Diet of the Sooty Barbet Caloramphus hayii

posted in: bird, Feeding-plants, Sooty Barbet | 0
Photo 1: Sooty Barbet feeding on Macaranga heynei. Kledang Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 16 June 2022.
Photo 2: A Sooty Barbet feeding on Ficus villosa. Kledang Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 15 June 2010
Photo 3: Sooty Barbet feeding on Vitex pinnata. Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 28 August 2010
Photo 4: Sooty Barbet feeding on a palm fruit. Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 9 September 2010


The Sooty Barbet Caloramphus hayii is a reasonably common barbet that inhabits primary lowland forest in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and South Thailand. It is well known, like many barbets, as a ‘fig specialist’. This short note is to update the food sources for the species that I have observed with a brief review of the literature. 

On 16th June 2022, I had an opportunity to see a small group of Sooty Barbets feeding on the fruit of the Blue Mahang Macaranga heynei (see 1st image). Macaranga heynei has very small fruit that are taken by a variety of birds including bulbuls, sunbirds, flowerpeckers, white-eyes and others.   

Food Items Personally Observed

  1. Macaranga heynei(Blue Mahang) – fruit taken
  2. Macaranga bancana– fruit taken
  3. Macaranga gigantea(Giant Mahang) – fruit taken
  4. Poikilospermum suaveolens– eat the flowers to get at the nectar they contain
  5. Ficus benjamina– fruit taken
  6. Ficus villosa– fruit taken (see 2nd image)
  7. Vitex pinnata(Malayan Teak, local name ‘Leban’) – fruit taken (see 3rd image)
  8. Buchanania arborescens(commonly known as little Gooseberry Tree or Sparrow’s Mango) – fruit taken
  9. I have seen birds taking fruit of a palm tree but cannot remember the species (see 4thimage)

 Sooty Barbets usually take the whole fruit and crush it before swallowing. Occasionally they eat a fruit piece meal if it is too large. I have yet to personally see them take animal prey.

In Borneo, I have observed the Brown Barbet (Caloramphus fuliginosus) feeding on Elaeis guineensis (Oil Palm) fruit (Amar-Singh HSS 2016). It is possible this might be a food item for the Sooty Barbets as well. 

Food Items from the Literature, Online Databases and brief Internet Image Search

  1. Wells (1999) describes the Sooty Barbets taking 24 species of Ficus as well as observed eating flowers and searching for insects. A large green orthoptera identified as a food item for nestlings.
  2. A review of images of the Sooty Barbet in the Macaulay Library confirms what is already known. The predominant food item is Ficus fruit. Some images show it feeding at Macaranga giganteaMacaranga bancana and Vitex pinnata trees as I have observed. One image showed birds taking fruit of a palm tree, most likely the Ptychosperma macarthurii (MacArthur Palm). Birds are also documented taking a number of other fruit, often quite small (like the Macaranga heynei), however I am not able to identify the tree species. None of the images show animal prey.

In summary, the diet appears to be predominantly fruit. Having observed other barbets take flowers, I suspect this observation I under-reported. Possibly animal prey is taken when feeding juveniles.



  1. Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Passerines). Christopher Helm, London.
  2. Sooty Barbet images in the Macaulay Library. <https://search.macaulaylibrary.org/catalog?taxonCode=eacsun1&mediaType=photo&sort=rating_rank_desc&tag=foraging_eating>
  3. Amar-Singh HSS (2016). Brown Barbet (Caloramphus fuliginosus) feeding on Oil Palm fruit. Bird Ecology Study Group. <https://besgroup.org/2016/06/01/brown-barbet-feeding-on-oil-pam-fruit/>


Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia



Straw-headed bulbul feeding on flying lizard

Photo 1: Straw-headed bulbul with a dead flying lizard. Thong Chow Ngian. 14 June 2022.
Photo 2: The straw-headed bulbul flew away with the lizard when a couple of hikers appeared suddenly. Thong Chow Ngian. 14 June 2022


On 14 June 2022, I visited Singapore Quarry with a friend, Mr Derek Yeo. On our way out of the quarry, we spotted a Straw-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus) on the road along Jalan Asas. It had a flying lizard (Draco volans) in its mouth, see photo 1. The lizard looked lifeless. The bird seemed to be playing with the lizard; dropped the lizard a couple of times and picked it up again. It immediately flew away with the lizard when a couple of hikers appeared suddenly, see photo 2.

This observation supports the BESGroup article on 18 May 2022 https://besgroup.org/2022/05/18/straw-headed-bulbul-pycnonotus-zeylanicus-at-rifle-range-road/` Straw-headed bulbul at Rifle Range Road’ where the author mentioned that this frugivorous bird is also known to feed on small vertebrates like lizards.


Thong Chow Ngian

Read https://besgroup.org/2022/06/19/sumatran-flying-dragon-draco-sumatranus/

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Bushy-crested Hornbill cooperative breeding

posted in: bird, Bushy-crested hornbill | 0

Bushy-crested Hornbill (Anorrhinus galeritus) male and its assistants(mainly males) feeding female and chicks in an artificial nest box, using old wine barrel donated by Siam Winery. The staff of Thailand Hornbill Project/ Hornbill Research Foundation work with villagers in Southern Thailand to research and conserve hornbills in Budo Mountain. This species is co-operative during breeding, the dominant pair will breed and 1-5 birds in the group with help out.

Article shared by Bee Choo Strange.

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Passiflora laurifolia

posted in: Passiflora laurifolia | 0

A Golden Bellapple (Passiflora laurifolia) flower spotted at Lornie Park Connector on 27 May 2022. Soh Kam Yung had to lie on the ground to get a shot of the inside of the downward pointing flower.

Photo 1. Side view of the flower. The attractive purple – coloured coronal filaments draws the attention of the reader.


Photo 2. Top view of the flower showing 3 stigmas and and their styles, 1 ovary and 5 anthers in the middle of the coronal ring.


Photo 3. A flower hanging from the climbing vine.


Read this post that reports Tanimbar Corellas feeding on the fruits of Passiflora laurifolia in Singapore.

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An insight into Amar’s world of birding

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh HSS with Datin Dr. Swee-Im Lim observing birds.


The Bird Ecology Study Group took a “holiday” when we stopped posting on December 2019, after 14 years of activities. This did not stop Malaysian birder Dato’ Dr. Amar-Singh HSS from sending me his daily observations. These piled up in my computer until BESG resumed activities in July 2021. By then there were nearly 500 unposted items. He returned from every one of his trips, usually accompanied by his wife Datin Dr. Swee-Im Lim, with at least an account of the bird/s they observed and numerous images, sometimes also a video clip and/or a sound recording.

Initially I posted two items a day, at other times three. After nearly a year of postings I finally cleared the backlog, or so I thought. There is the possibility of me missing a few due to various reasons. Should they surface in the near future, I will try post them on this site.

The birders

During my daily postings I became familiar with this pair’s bird watching habits. Whenever they were out birding, they made it a point to keep as silent as possible so as not to disturb the birds. Should they arrive by car, they remained quietly inside for some time before they started taking photographs or make use of their video equipment. The pair is against flash photography as they believe that flashlight will somehow interfere with the birds’ activities.


Amar’s birdwatching equipment consists of Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkon 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone. And he never leaves home without them – or so I assume.

Birding destinations

Mainly Peninsular Malaysia… occasionally they travel to nearby Taiwan and Hokkaido, Japan. When work brought them south to Johor, they invariably crossed over to Singapore to do some birding.

Trash birds

There are experienced birdwatchers in Singapore who are “snobbish” in their dealings with birds. They refer to birds like Javan Mynas, Yellow-vented Bulbuls and House Crows as trash birds, unworthy of their attention. Amar is different. To him, all species are worthy of his attention. After all, anting was first observed in Singapore by a student who was not even a birdwatcher. He noticed a Javan Myna, a common bird, picked up ants and placed them on its feathers. For nearly two decades no local birdwatchers could explain why the myna was doing what it did.

Variants and Morphs

Most birdwatchers are happy to ID his/her bird to the species level. Few would identify it down to variants or even morphs. Amar was also quick to recognise an uncommon morph when encountering an Oriental Honey-buzzard.

Yellow-crowned Barbet’s blue throat with two red spots.


When observing the Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Amar noticed that the black at the neck was visible mostly when the bird was calling. He also noticed the blue throat with two red spots and red hind collar when watching the Yellow-crowned Barbet. He noticed when a Red-wattled Lapwing displayed aberrant colours on its plumage. The colours of the plumage during the non-breeding and the breeding seasons, especially among Cattle Egrets fascinated him. His study of age changes and breeding plumage of the Black-crowned Night Heron, illustrated with colour images makes interesting reading.


Very few birdwatchers, when observing or photographing birds, make comments on moulting. But not Amar… as when a single tail feather was displaced or moulting of the face feathers as in these bee-eaters. …or whole body moulting.

Stages of development

While most birdwatchers would be satisfied to simply identify a bird, Amar went a step further to establish whether a bird was an immature, juvenile, adult female, female, male, etc. He even studied the development of a young juvenile to adult. Where the sexes were not distinctly different as in Zebra Doves, he would spend time to differentiate the male from the female.


Amar’s accounts of conflicts among and between species included details of tail movementsvocalisartion, etc.

Sonogram and waveform of the Silver-eared Mesia’s chattering.


Amar is one of very few birdwatchers who documents birds’ vocalisation. He was careful to distinguish song and call. In calls, he categorised them into contact, post-mating, courtship, territorial, warning, advertising, juvenile, female calls, male calls, simple chattering…  He even counted the total number of single calls of 36 per hour in the case of the Black-bellied Malkoha. And how about vocal interaction? Or even post-mating calls? How many will take the trouble to document these last two, if he/she even recognises the calls as such. And how about extended vocalisation?

Invariably, each of his account was accompanied by a sonogram-waveform image. And he never forgot to share his recordings with xeno-canto, the website dedicated to sharing bird vocalisation from around the world. I am particularly fascinated when he recorded a woodpecker drumming, complete with his usual sonogram-waveform image. However, one call he was not totally successful was when he attempted to record the source of a series of quacks that eventually led him to be that made by Four-lined Tree Frog (Polypedates leucomystax). But he did succeed to record the quacks though.

A Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker feeding on Piper aduncum.

Feeding behaviour

In his feeding observations, Amar tried his best to identify the fruits taken by the birds, although he is no botanist. And this is no easy task, when forest plants were involved, more so when observed from a distance. Nectar feeders, mostly seen among ornamentals or flowers of wayside trees, were easier to Identify. In many such accounts he would invariably include a list of other birds taking the same fruit. Always on the lookout for new food sources, he reported a Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker feeding on the fruits of Piper aduncum, an introduced species.

Most birdwatchers will just describe the food taken by birds, whether fruits, insects, frogs, snakes or mammals. Amar went one step further to describe what the birds did while flying off or when feasting on the prey as well as how they hunted them – see HERE and HERE. When a juvenile was around, he paid special attention to see whether it was self-feeding or fed by an adult. While others are satisfied to just report a bird taking a large insect, he tried hard to name the insect, as when a Blue-throated Bee-eater caught a cicada or a Greater Green Leafbird caught a large beetle. Identifying insects to the genera or species is more difficult than dealing with plants. In many of his feeding reports, he paid attention to how the birds behaved, whether stalking, diving, waiting patiently, hovering, hawkingsocial feeding or aerial sallying. With Spiderhunters and Sunbirds that are mostly insectivorous he noted that they also fed on fruits and the nectar of flowers.

A flock of white-headed munias.

Mixed foraging party and bird wave

When encountering mixed foraging parties, Amar would attempt to identify the birds involved. As for bird waves he again tried to list as many of the birds as possible that were part of the wave. When he encountered flocks of White-headed Munias, he took pains to estimate the number in the flocks as well as the ratio of adults to juveniles.

Courtship and copulation

Amar was always fascinated with courtship behaviour – how the male displayed its wings and tails, the sound it made… and generally how the pair bonded. An excellent account can be seen here.

Yellow-bellied Prinia’s eyelids margined by a single row of white feathers.

Attention to morphological details

Details of the Cattle Egret’s pectinate claw, the Crested Serpent-eagle’s nictitating membrane and feet, the Long-tailed Shrike’s talons or the Crimson Sunbirds’ tongue were all illustrated with close-up images. I am sure many birdwatchers are not aware of these features. Another detail not often appreciated is the tiny feathers around the eyelid margins as seen in the Yellow-bellied Prinia. Whenever Amar had a chance he would photograph details of the bird’s plumage, as when he encountered a dead pitta.


Some birds forage alone, others form mixed foraging parties, yet others forage vie aerial quartering

Bird out of place

Amar even noticed and reported a bird out of place as when he encountered a Slaty-backed Forktail in the lowlands.

Individual or in groups

Birds may be seen individually, in pairs or sometimes in small or large social groups

Identification of birds

Not all birds are easy to identify, even for an experienced birder like Amar. An excellent example was differentiating the Indian Cuckoo from the Oriental Cuckoo. When faced with such a problem, Amar reached out to his close knit of knowledgeable birders for an online discussion.


In his nesting posts, he documented the nests and paid attention to the nesting materials used. And he was especially fascinated when a bird nested in unusual sites. There is even an account of an Oriental Pied Hornbill nesting in a limestone cavity. I wonder whether this is a world’s first?  Among Baya Weavers, he took pains to establish whether the females were involved in nest building. He even paid attention to the eggs – abandoned eggs of course. And he always kept his distance, never use flash and not spending too much time observing. He will never disturb nesting birds and always observed them from a safe distance when not inside his car and of course keeping quiet all the time. While documenting a Crested Goshawk, he delayed moving off after he got the relevant photographs only to notice the Goshawk removed a dead chick from the nest it was building. He even had an opportunity to observe how the Black-naped Oriole robbed the nest of a Baya Weaver.

Amar being flashed by a Stork-billed Kingfisher.


Many miscellaneous behaviour items documented by Amar include gular fluttering; whether birds eat the faecal sacs of another species; Zitting Cisticola’s dance;  agonistic behaviour among Purple Swamphens – a common but not often reported behaviour and many others. And Amar was even flashed by the Stork-billed Kingfisher.


During my active involvement, first with the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), then with Nature Society (Singapore), I had encountered my share of local birdwatchers who thought they were the experts, just because they had their checklists filled with ticks. These birdwatchers moved around thinking that they were the experts but they seldom, if ever travelled beyond southern Malaysia. Many were selfish, not willing to share their experience except with those who they favoured. They also would not share locations except with close friends. Around 2015, BICA (Birds, Insects N Creatures of Asia) appeared on the scene and eclipsed the selfish birdwatchers. BICA shared with everyone, even the selfish birdwatchers who subscribed to this new FB phenomenon, I suppose surreptitiously. Well, BICA completely eliminated the phenomenon of selfish birdwatching.

Coming back to Amar, he is definitely a breath of fresh air. With his breadth and depth of knowledge in birding, he is always generous in sharing what he knows, to friends, acquaintances and even strangers. If only more birdwatchers could be like him.

YC Wee, Singapore, 11th June 2022



Sunda colugo eating leaves

posted in: Mammals, mother and baby, Sunda colugo | 0

Bee Choo Strange shared this video, taken at Bukit Batok Nature Park in April 2022, of the Sunda colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) eating leaves. She used red lights to observe these nocturnal mammals as it does not hurt their eyes.

The next video was also taken at Bukit Batok Nature Park in April 2022. It shows the female colugo carrying a baby and climbing up a tree. The baby clings to the belly of the mother. She used red lights to observe the mammals so that it does not hurt their eyes.


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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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