Unusual Feeding of Red-whiskered Bulbul chicks

posted in: Feeding chicks, Feeding strategy | 1

“I observed an unusual feeding behavior of the Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) and the two chicks on 6th March 2017 when the chicks were about 9 days old. The adult bulbul caught a green insect (below).

BulbulRW-?feed [ThongChowNgian] 1

“What happened next was something I have never seen before. The obvious question was which chick would get to eat the big green insect. The feeding sequence was rather unusual, see composite images from steps 1 to 6 (below)

BulbulRW-?feed [ThongChowNgian] 2

“In step #1, the adult placed the green insect deep down the first chick’s throat. The adult then retrieved the green insect from the mouth of the first chick.

“In step #2, the adult placed the green insect deep down the second chick’s throat. After a few seconds, the adult then retrieved the green insect from the mouth of the second chick.

“In step #3, the adult repeated #1.

“In step #4, the adult repeated #2.

“In step #5, the adult raised its head while still holding on to the green insect in its mouth.

“In step #6, the adult swallowed the green insect. In the same picture, one of the chick was expecting to taste the green insect but looked disappointed.

“The adult bulbul flew off and came back with a round black fruit (below). It repeated the steps shown in the composite images.

BulbulRW-?feed [ThongChowNgian] 3

“Is there an explanation for this feeding behavior?”

Thong Chow Ngian
Singapore
21st March 2017

One Response

  1. I have seen this behavior before when a pair of yellow vented bulbuls nested outside my kitchen window.
    The adult did the same thing.
    It had an insect that seemed quite large relative to the 2 babies’ gapes. It kept putting it first into one baby’s mouth and then the other without releasing the insect. After several times of doing this, one baby eventually swallowed it.
    I thought at that time that the insect was probably too big and the babies had trouble swallowing it. Just my conjecture.

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