Asian Glossy Starling eating Nephelium lappaceum leaves

posted in: Feeding-plants | 7

“For years I have been observing Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) eating up my Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) leaves,” wrote Johnny Wee. “At first I thought it was collecting nesting material but then saw it swallowed the leaf pieces.”

Birds collect dried or even fresh leaves to line their nests. Some, like the Common Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), collects aromatic leaves to disinfect their nest LINK.

But birds eating leaves?

There are about 3% of birds that are folivorous – eating leaves on a regular basis LINK. But these are confined to about 14 families. And only two species, Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) and Owl Parrot (Strigops habroptilus), obtain most of their energy from leaves

Asian Glossy Starlings eating leaves of the Rain Tree (Samanea saman) and Casuarina (Casuarina equisetifolia) have earlier been reported HERE.

There are a few accounts on the net documenting starlings eating leaves of most young plants, for example HERE.

Searching through the Handbook of the Birds of the World ALIVE LINK threw up three species eating leaves: Socorro Dove (Zenaida graysoni) under captivity have been known to strip and eat leaves of tree-ferns and Impatiens; Jamaican Spindalis (Spindalis nigricephala) and Green-winged Saltator (Saltator similis).

Johnny Wee
Singapore
January 2014

7 Responses

  1. This is new to me as well. Have never heard of birds eating leaves. But I have heard of cats eating grass, to help them expel undesirable stomach contents. Could birds be eating specific plants for the same reasons (i.e. medicinal purposes)?

  2. Great observations. I have seen Asian Glossy Starlings taking leaves pieces occasionally & have always assumed it was for nesting. Will now look harder.

  3. Wang Luan Keng

    I have come across a specimen of a White – bellied Fish Eagle whose stomach contents were fish bones and Casuarina twigs. Still puzzled by the latter.

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