A Beautiful Nest And Nature-programmed Hygiene

30 Mar 2012   in Nesting, Waste 4 Comments »
Contributed by Goh Juan Hui

“I was fortunate enough to witness the behaviour of a pair of Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) raising their young. This pair built their nest on a wild cinnamon (Cinnamon iners) sapling at the fringe of a carpark at Pasir Ris Park.

“The nest is about 1.8 metre above ground level and is almost entirely built from otton-liked fibre of the kapok (Ceiba pentandra) fruit. This kapok tree is within the carpark and about 30m from the nest site.

“The parent fed the twin mostly insects and a type of fruit(?) or flower bud(?) [actually mistletoe fruits] (above: left female with insect, right male with mistletoe fruit). Occasionally, the mother bird would enter the nest and stayed in there for a couple of minutes, perhaps to keep the hatchlings warm. [Images below show: left, male feeding a chick with the fruit; right, male trying to disentangle from the sticky mucilage surrounding the fruit after feeding.]

“One interesting behaviour of the hatchlings is to stick their butts up almost immediately after feeding. A fecal sac will appear at the butt’s end and the parent will pick it up and fly away with it (below left). It is amazing how nature has programmed the bird’s gut to encase the fecal waste with a membrane for easy and clean disposal by the parent (just like a diaper change in human term).

“At fledgling stage, the babies often stick their heads out of the nest in anticipation of the parent’s return. When the parent were too busy gathering food to do the ‘diaper change’, the fledglings, on their own, would stick out their butts out of the nest to poop (above right).

“I did not have the opportunity to witness the fledging process last Saturday morning. Met an avid nature lover that evening and he recounted the event to me. He was there at about 9 am and noticed a bunch of paparazzis chasing down the new born celebrities with flash popping, and the parent bird were there hopping from branch to branch with their distressed call…”

Goh Juan Hui
22nd March 2012

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  • 4 Responses to "A Beautiful Nest And Nature-programmed Hygiene"

    1. K C Tsang says:

      Very good photo documentation of the process… Thanks Goh ….

      • JH Goh says:

        Hi KC,

        Thanks for the encouragement. I’m quite new to bird observation.
        I’m actually learning more through posting than just reading the articles here.
        Are the scarlet-backed flowerpeckers very specific and selective in their choice of nest building material (kapok fruit fibres)? Noticed that an earlier post by YC also show the same nesting material.

    2. Chuan says:


      May I know which carpark this is at?

    3. I wwas curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your website?
      Its very well written; I love what youve got tto say.

      But maybe you could a little more in the way off content so people could connect wth it better.
      Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one orr 2 images.
      Maybe you could space it out better?

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