Orange-bellied Flowerpecker – food sources

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants | 0

The diet of the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma trigonostigma) is not well documented in literature. Wells (2007) and Cheke, Mann & Allen (2001) list fruit, seeds, nectar, pollen and insects but the specific food items known are limited. Wells noted that this species has a protrusible tongue supporting nectar feeding.

Post 1.

Over the many decades of watching I have largely observed frugivory with some nectar feeding. On this occasion I saw it feeding on the Vitex pinnata (Malayan Teak) but sadly missed getting images. Post 1 and 2 show it feeding on the favourite fruit of most flowerpeckers, the Melastoma malabathricum (Straits rhododendron). Post 2 shows the protrusible tongue.

Post 2.

I went through my records to summarise feeding sources I have observed.

Fruit Sources (for bigger fruit it is takes the flesh piece meal):

Melastoma malabathricum (Straits rhododendron) (also seen fed to juveniles; a favourite of many flowerpeckers)

Muntingia calabura (Village Cherry) (a favourite of many flowerpeckers; also given to juveniles)

Clidemia hirta (Hairy Clidemia)

Bridelia tomentosa (a favourite of many flowerpeckers)

Macaranga gigantea (Giant Mahang)

Buchanania arborescens (Gooseberry Tree or Sparrow’s Mango)

Ficus consociate

Ficus benjamina

Dypsis lutescens (Golden Cane Palm, Areca Palm, Butterfly Palm; locally known as Pinang Kuning)

Fruiting stalks of Piper aduncum (introduced Tree Pepper)

Vitex pinnata (Malayan Teak)

Macrosolen cochincinensis (Mistletoe fruit)

Seen at Scurrula ferruginea (Rusty-leaf Mistletoe) and possibly taking fruit


Nectar sources:

Dendrophthoe pentendra (nectar from a mistletoe)

Poikilospermum suaveolens (eat the flowers to get to the nectar)

Nectar also seen taken from other flowers (trees not identified; possibly Breynia sp.); see:


  1. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passarines). Christopher Helm, London.
  2. Robert A Cheke, Clive F Mann, Richard Allen (2001). Sunbirds: A Guide to the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters and Sugarbirds of the World. Helm Identification Guides
  3. Cheke, R. and C. Mann (2020). Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Papan Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail in forest

Date: 27th August 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


Oriental Honey-buzzard – sexing and aging

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I observed an adult female Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) while out in the field. Oriental Honey-buzzards are very polymorphic with variable plumage and some sexual dimorphism. Raptors are not my forte and I dug up my older images of this species to try and make some sense for myself of sexing and aging. Sharing some here if useful.

I used a variety of references including OBI, Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001, Wells 1999, HBW 2020, as well as online resources. I would be happy to be corrected for any errors or mistakes. I have not attempted to differentiate between subspecies and do not have the capacity to age birds by calendar years.

Above is a flight composite of 4 birds. The first (from left to right) is an adult male, the second an adult male in moult, the third an adult female and the fourth an immature/juvenile bird. In flight adult males have a dark trailing edge to the wing and 2 prominent tail bands; especially the broad terminal tail bar. The tail bands in bird 2 are not that prominent but the dark trailing edge to the wing is clear. Males also tend to have more prominent barring on the underwing. Adult females usually have three tail bands that are not as thick as in males.

Above is also a composite, but of 5 birds showing the face. The two birds at the top are both adult males with darker iris and grey mask-like face. Note also the completely dark bill seen in adults. The bottom three birds are all female; the first on the left an adult female, the second an immature female (the bill is not all black on a close-up view) and the third on the right a juvenile/immature female with some residual yellow cere and no grey on the face. Note that juveniles have dark eyes and this is retained in males while females develop a light iris. Although adult males are supposed to have darker iris and adult females lighter or yellow iris, this apparently does not always hold true.

Above is the recent adult female I saw in flight.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: City fringe with secondary growth

Date: 19th November 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Nesting Pygmy Cupwing

posted in: birds, Nesting, Vocalisation | 0

I was on a trail in Cameron Highlands on 25th April 2022, when I inadvertently came across a pair of Pygmy Cupwing (Pnoepyga pusilla) nesting. I kept my observations and time with them very brief. Some useful observations.

I first noticed one bird carrying prey for young immediately in front of me on the trail floor (above). The bird froze and then moved away from me into the undergrowth. The partner then chose a vantage point and worked to attract my attention by using wing flicking (below).

Note: Wing Flicking is a single or series of rapid wing extensions upwards or to the side that are brought back immediately. The bird does not fly, the activity is rapid and the wings are not kept extended. Occasionally only one wing is ‘flicked’. Some call this ‘wing fluttering’ ‘or ‘wing twitching’ but ‘wing flicking’ is the best description and found in avian literature. It has been suggested that one use of wing flicking is as a distraction method for potential nest predators.

I realised I was very close to the nesting site and moved along the trail, nearer to the ‘wing flicking’ adult, who was also carrying prey for the young. This bird continued to appear and disappear into the foliage, always appearing to make sure I had spotted it by intermittent wing flicking; allowing a very close approach (above). The other bird was then able to work around me to get to the nesting site.

The wing flicking adult also made intermittent soft single calls every 2-3 seconds that I believe were not directed at me but to the partner. I have not heard this call type before and not seen it in the literature. Call recording here:

There were numerous prey seen in the beaks of both birds and included small field crickets, woodlouse, larvae and other insects (limited recording of prey for this species).


Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Oriental Magpie Robin – immature

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants | 0

This is another important bird tree for which I have no ID. The fruit is a favourite of Leafbirds and Bulbuls, as well as some flowerpeckers. It is a small tree and grows at the forest edge or along trails as it prefers full sun. I have watched birds feeding at it for decades.

Bird seen feeding on the fruit (the list is longer but I will have to dig up many old records):

Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon

Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati zosterops

Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis moluccensis

Olive-winged Bulbul Pycnonotus plumosus plumosus

Buff-vented Bulbul Iole charlottae

Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex simplex

Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus

Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus erythropthalmus

Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier gourdini

Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker Prionochilus percussus ignicapilla

Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis musicus


Frugivory among Oriental Magpie Robin is not uncommon.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail in the forest

Date: 24th August 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Oriental Pied Hornbills raid Dollarbird nest

Bee Choo Strange visited Capella@ Sentosa with her husband on 3 May 2022 and they saw 2 Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) raiding the nest hole of the Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis). They could not see the nest of the Dollarbird but shared a short video of the Dollarbird trying to chase the hornbills away.

Photo courtesy of Bee Choo Strange. The hornbill on the left raiding a dollarbird nest. Capella @Sentosa. 3 May 2022.


Video by Bee Choo Strange documenting a pair of Pied Oriental Hornbills raiding a dollarbird nest. Capella @ Sentosa. 3 May 2022.

LKCNHM events in conjunction with Singapore HeritageFest 2022 EDM


Greetings from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum!

This Singapore HeritageFest 2022, the LKCNHM has a range of activities lined up for you, ranging from guided tours @ LKCNHM, a nature walk round what was once a battleground, to a fun and hands-on workshop and a hybrid seminar/webinar which will discuss the importance of our natural heritage and our roles in safeguarding it. For more information, do visit our website.

Volunteer-led Heritage Tours @ LKCNHM 17-20 & 24-27 May | 2:30 – 3:30 PM Purchase LKCNHM gallery admission tickets here


Kent Ridge Nature Walk 17 May | 5 – 7 PM Purchase tickets to LKCNHM Kent Ridge Nature Walk here


Documenting Nature Workshop 21 & 28 May | 10 AM – 1 PM Purchase tickets to LKCNHM Documenting Nature Workshop here


‘Singapore’s Natural Heritage: Are we doing enough to Safeguard its Future?’ 20 May | 7 – 8:30 PM Hybrid Seminar/ Webinar Register for the online session here

Thank you.


Best regards,

LKCNHM Outreach and Education Unit

Oriental Magpie Robin – odd song

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

The songs and calls of the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis musicus) are varied and wide. Over the years I have tried to understand their meaning as I watch them in our garden. Occasion we get ‘unusual’ birds that sing for long periods in the early hours before dawn.

The songster.

On this occasion we heard a beautiful adult male sing an unusual set of mixed notes. I would not have thought it was Magpie Robin except that we came out to check and spotted it on an electricity pole. The total duration of singing was ~20 minutes but not all was visible (was hidden in tree foliage). I managed some quick hand-held videos followed by only audio recordings. My wife saw another bird Oriental Magpie Robin nearby but I did not hear any duet or response song.

The songster.

I was slow to recognise that we were having a visit by 9-10 Ashy Minivets (Pericrocotus divaricatus) – an occasional garden visitor. Magpie Robins are known to mimic other birds nearby. I suspect that this male Oriental Magpie Robin was ‘triggered’ to sing this unusual set of notes in an attempt to mimic the song of the Ashy Minivets.

A waveform and sonogram.

Video recording here:

Audio recording here: (possibly restricted by XenoCanto)


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Wild urban garden

Date: 9th February 2021

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

The Siberian Blue Robin – migrant

posted in: birds, Migration-Migrants | 0

Post 1.

The Siberian Blue Robin (Larvivora cyane) is a delightful small migrant that forages on leaf litter at the forest floor making images tough (I dislike using flash for birds).

Post 2.

Very beautiful blue male and the mantel can look almost black in low light (see Post 4).

Post 3.

Runs about on the forest floor with short bursts of flight; very fast. Likes to ‘flutter’ or vibrate the tail very fast when walking or stationary.

Post 4.

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Primary jungle at foothills

Date: 14th February 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Caterpillar-ant symbiosis

Photo 1. Two weaver ants stroke and collect nectar from a Centaur Oakblue 4th instar caterpillar. The long fine lateral setae on the caterpillar are discernible. Attribute to Soh Kam Yung.


Photo 2. The weaver ant at the bottom of the picture is collecting nectar from the nectary gland on the 7th segment of the Arhopala centaurus caterpillar. The dorsal surface of the caterpillar is brownish-red while the sides and undersides are yellowish – green. Attribute to Soh Kam Yung.


Photo 3. A different visual perspective of the two weaver ants milking the caterpillar for nectar. The spiracles are seen as little black dots on the side of the caterpillar.  Attribute to Soh Kam Yung.


Soh Kam Yung spotted at least two Centaur Oakblue (Arhopala centaurus) caterpillars being attended by weaver ants(Oecophylla smaragdina) at Coney Island on 2 May 2022. Interesting to see this kind of symbiotic interactions between ants and caterpillars. The caterpillars provide nectar for the ants, who then protect the caterpillars in return.

Slaty-backed Forktail Nesting

posted in: birds, Nesting | 0

I observed a Slaty-backed Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus) nesting in Cameron Highlands on 25th April 2022 at a jungle stream collecting nesting material. The bird was comfortable enough to allow me to watch.

Most nesting material I saw was leaf skeletons, picked up in the vicinity of the nesting site. Only a single bird was involved in collecting nesting material. The nest location was immediately adjacent to the stream next to a fallen tree trunk.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


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:

  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 – 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:

    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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