Asian Koel swallowing Morinda citrifolia fruit

posted in: Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants | 1

“I have previously posted on birds feeding on the Morinda citrifolia fruit (commonly known as great morinda, Indian mulberry, mengkudu in Malaysia, noni, etc). It is common food for Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis), Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier), Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis), and some barbets like Lineated Barbet ( Megalaima lineata) and Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon).

“The feeding habits of the Asian Koel in the Peninsular are not well known, except that fruit are taken (Wells, 1999).

“Was wondering around the neighbourhood when I saw this adult male Asian Koel investigating a fruiting Morinda citrifolia. I at first thought it was looking for animal prey (caterpillars and the like). But as it got used to my presence it began scampering around the tree (using the under surface for “protection” from me) inspecting all the Morinda fruit and proceed to pick the ripe ones.

“The eyes are closed at the time of picking (protective measure I presume). The fruit is juggled and repositioned in the beak until it is longitudinal. Unlike all the other birds above, that either eat the fruit piece meal (starling, bulbul, oriole) or crush it before eating (barbets), the Asian Koel swallowed the huge fruit whole. Note the bulge at the throat in the swallowing composite (above).

“The fruit is noted to vary in size from 5–10cm long and 3–4cm in diameter. The ones swallowed in these image (and on this tree) are on the smaller side.

“Would have loved to do videos but hand held work is faster when you are walking around (these events happen quickly).

“Other reports on feeding in my region:
1. A report on feeding on Morinda citrifolia fruit on the ground (much large fruit) – LINK 1 and LINK 2.

2. A review of feeding habits by Slim Sreedharan, suggesting mainly a fruit diet LINK“.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Asian Koel – feeding on Morinda fruit
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
24th September 2011

Reference:
Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.

One Response

  1. Lee Chiu San

    There is a noni fruit tree at the junction of Regent Street and West Camp Road within the old Seletar airbase. When it fruits, which is quite frequently, it attracts large numbers of birds of the species mentioned in this website as well as many foreign domestic helpers.

    What caught me totally by surprise is that the normally shy Asian Koel will forage for fallen noni fruits on the ground. As Dr. Amar’s pictures show, the bird does have some difficulty swallowing the relatively large fruit.

    Those that are fallen are usually over-ripe and soft. They are more easily picked to pieces by the birds, if they have not already been broken upon impact with the ground.

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