© Go Bananas With Wild Birds at Sepilok – N. Borneo

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“A recent, late June- early July 2015 revisit to Sepilok in Sabah (N. Borneo), after an absence of five year rotation visit, saw many changes in development, depletion in bird population and the psyche of Sabahans.

“Even Mother Nature, under constant duress from human follies, shook and quake-shuddered in disapproval. Her anger recently took off one of its iconic ‘donkey’s ears’ at Mt. Kinabalu and claimed many precious lives. Surely it is a sign from Mother Nature for Sabahans’ need to sit up, get its act together and make peace with the land they live and govern in.

“There were more wild bird activities found outside the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC). It was time of the year, lucky parenting birds showcased their successful fledglings in this lowland forest region of Sepilok.

“Many observations were had and did justice to my sponsored trip.

“Within a Lodge property surrounded by fruit orchard, was a banana tree (Musa cv.) about two metres tall, with a five-tiered comb of bananas. It was ripe for harvesting. Overlooked by resident gardener, the sun-burst, ripen bananas (Musa cv. ‘gold finger’) became a train-feeding ground and food source to a family of Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum trigonostigma) (above, below-left).

“Photographic images speak for themselves. Minimal cropping was made to appreciate bird-fruit relationship and its surroundings.

“Not too distant away at edge of forest reserve, a small resident community thrives along with crop farming and a variety of home-grown fruit trees.

“Another 4-angle skinned banana variety (Musa cv. ‘Pisang Awak’) – a popular village choice for banana fritters, played host to several species of wild birds. The tree grows alongside a river stream at edge of secondary growth forests.

“Visitors to this banana tree (Musa spp.) were: 3 species of bulbuls – one of which a juvenile with much plumage similarity and may pose some identification challenge: Red-eyed Bulbul (above-right), Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus) juvenile (below-left) and Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) (below-right).

“Of special mention is a vine of huge, mono leaf sprouts species that grew alongside the banana plant. Visiting birds were using it like a ‘Tarzan’ rope to cling- swing and swayed to reach the fruit.

“In taking turns, three Brown Barbets (Calorhamphus fuliginosus tertius) – a parenting female and two juveniles of Sabah race were also observed scrambling together on the vine. It was also observed, female parent was chick feeding with the ripened fruit (below-left).

“An Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) decided to go solo, took a similar approach and benefited the same (above-right).

“When all was clear, the smallest size in pecking order- a pair of breeding Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum trigonostigma) finally had their late breakfast opportunity (above).

“Needless to say, size does matter and no one dared challenged the big top – hornbills whenever they noisily flapped and wafted their black airy wings and took to early pickings of the day.

“‘Maleficent’ the female Asian Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) hath arrived and declared possession over the bananas! (above)”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
16th July 2015

Copyright article and all copy bird images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

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