Brown-Throated Sunbird Visit Pulasan Tree for mistletoe flowers

07 Feb 2013   in Feeding-plants, Sunbirds No Comments »
Contributed by Daisy O’Neill

“A bird-survey in a traditional Malay village that grows various home plants, fruit trees and flowers, do yield surprisingly some interesting sightings. One tropical and exotic fruit in particular that I encountered, rekindled memories of family-youth days. A fruit lesser known in those days that I naively thought came from mountains of the wild.

“I came across a ‘Wild Rambutan’ fruit tree grown beside a kampong house. For the benefit of city dwellers and non-Asiatics having not yet seen a Pulasan tree (Nephelium ramboutan-ake) or fruit as the Malaysian locals called it, I have attached photographs of the tree (above left) and a close-up bunch of fruits (above right).

“When ripened, the tough, stiff, punky-haired and thicker skinned of the Pulasam fruit turns a purplish liver colour. When peeled, the fruit carries a similar almond sized seed. The flesh is succulently sweet, smooth and softer textured but lacks the crunchy ‘oomph’ to crave for more.

“The 6 metre tall tree with thin branches widely spread out carried medium to scanty green foliage and was fruit bearing in different stages. [Growing on the branches are many Malayan mistletoe (Dendrophthoe pentandra), a semi-parasitic plant LINK.]

“A pair of Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) was prospecting nectar amongst the blooms. Shown here is a male (above).

“On closer examination of this image, [the mandibles can be seen clamped onto the flower bud (above) to apply pressure to it so as to force the petals to unfold (below)]. See also HERE.

“[The image below shows the sunbird slipping its tongue into the opened flower to take the nectar.]

“The pair was also heard call locating each other while prospecting other tree species nearby.
These images were taken in November 2012…”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
26th January 2013
Copyright article and copy Images: Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund




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