Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot – immature female feeding on Macaranga gigantea fruits and leaf galls

“Returned to the same tree today and spotted 2 Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots (Loriculus galgulus) feeding on the fruit of the Giant Mahang (Macaranga gigantea) (above). This was not unexpected as I have seen them feed on the Common Mahang (Macaranga bancana), a behaviour I saw a number of times today. They usually turn up later than other birds; usually midmorning.

“What is unusual is the subsequent feeding I observed. Some of the leave of this tree have ‘growths’. At first I thought these were fallen Macaranga fruits but closer inspect showed they are actual some infestation of the plant (above, below).

“I checked and they were also found on some of the other leaves. I initially thought this was a viral infestation but a net search for ‘leaf growths’ suggests that they are possibly caused by ‘Gall Midges/Mites’. Gall Midges (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) are plant-feeding flies that cause swellings of plant tissue, called galls. The feeding of the larva cause plant tissue to grow around it resulting in a ‘gall’. The larva then pupates within the gall. See: HERE and HERE.

“At first I wondered if this bird, an immature/juvenile female, was just not too ‘bright’ or experienced and mistook the gall for a Macaranga fruit. But having read a little, must be trying to feed on the galls knowing insect larvae were found within.

“A little more information. Was a dark day post heavy rain and activity was high up (strained my neck to watch). But this bird also ‘bit’ or manipulated the leave edge (above) and the vein of the leaf (below).

“I saw the classical branch swipe after feeding (on branches) but these manipulations were odd.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
9th August 2015

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Fringe of the forest reserve

2 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Dear Amar,
    Parrots do eat quite a bit of animal matter, contrary to popular opinion. In aviaries, lories and lorikeets relish mealworms. Other birds thought of normally as vegetarian, such as finches, depend a lot upon insect protein, especially during the breeding season. This rich food assists in the quicker development of the youngsters.

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