Feeding behaviour of Ashy Minivet

“I have observed Ashy Minivets (Pericrocotus divaricatus divaricatus) almost every migratory season for a long time (above). They are a frequent participant of bird waves (mixed foraging parties). Their usual diet is insects and other small arthropods.

“Here, an Ashy Minivet is dispatching a winged insect it found (above). The ‘struggle’ took more than 45 seconds with the large insect branch swiped many times to subdue it. Before swallowing whole (see composite below). Despite the fact that the feelers/antennae of the insect remained outside, the bird had a very satisfied look.

“I have never before seen them take fruit. Neither can I find a record in literature of such behaviour.

“On this occasion I was watching a mixed-species foraging in forest canopy comprising 6+ Ashy Minivets, Leaf Birds, Brown Flycatchers (Rufous-chested or Mugimaki Flycatcher), Red-eyed Bulbuls, Black-headed Bulbuls, other bulbuls, flowerpecker, sunbirds, etc.

“I was surprised to see that a number of the Ashy Minivets actually feed on the fruit of a Macaranga sp. tree (tree ID courtesy of YC Wee). This particular Macaranga sp. is common all along the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve but is rarely fed on.

“The composite images (above) shows the tree, fruit and two different adults with fruit in the beak (images taken 1 minute apart). I now have to revise my thinking and observations when I see them at a fruiting ficus or other fruit tree. I have always assumed they were foraging for insects and arthropods (which I have documented a few times) but perhaps I have not been watching closely enough and missed some fruit feeding.

“The only birds I have previously documented feeding on the fruit of this Macaranga sp. are Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis strigata) and Olive-winged Bulbuls (Pycnonotus plumosus plumosus), see HERE.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
13th December 2012

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Open trail through primary jungle

Post script
“…I just wanted to let you know that insectivorous birds quite commonly eat fruit and other vegetable matter. For example, some of our largest flycatchers, the kingbirds, spend the winter in Panama and South America, where they switch their diet completely to fruit; I have watched Western Kingbirds in Panama absolutely gorge themselves on large (olive-sized) fruit as they prepare to migrate north again in spring. Nature is full of surprises.” Added Hans.

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