Monk Parakeet feeding on African Tulip tree

posted in: Feeding-plants, Parrots, Videography | 2

“Three Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) were seen feeding on the fruits of the African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata) tree at Lorong Halus near the Coney Island East entrance on 9th August 2017. Here is a video showing one of the parakeets feeding on the fruit pod of the African Tulip tree.

“These bright green parakeets, originally from South America are probably from a feral flock of escaped pet birds. Feral flocks have been seen in Singapore several years earlier. In several countries, this parakeet is considered a pest.

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“On this occasion the parakeets were feeding on the interior of the fruit pod (above). The ripe brown fruits are elongated, flattened, thick and obliquely erect pods. When the fruits are ripe, these pods would split to release the numerous seeds for distribution. Each seed is flattened with broad, silvery white transparent wing (below) which facilitates dispersal by wind (source: `Tropical trees and shrubs, A selection of Urban Plantings’ by Wee Yeow Chin).

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“Occasionally the Monk Parakeets would use their feet to assist in directing the winged seed to its beak (above). This task is not easy especially when big feet are used to hold the wafer-thinned winged seeds. In this photo, the horizontal grey bars on the Monk Parakeet’s upper breast can be clearly seen.

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“In early March 2017, a friend Mr Tommy Leong, posted pictures of Monk Parakeets living just below the base of an eagle nest. I photographed this pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) with two newly hatched eaglets at Pasir Ris Drive 3 (above). In this photo, an adult eagle is seen approaching the nest with a fresh catch and a young fluffy white eaglet is seen waiting for its meal. This nest has been popularly recycled by the eagles over several years.

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“In Tommy Leong’s photo (above), the two Monk Parakeets were seen hanging around the base of the eagle’s nest. They seem to be inspecting the space and one can only speculate that they too may be looking for a suitable location to build their own nest. It is an interesting speculation because Monk Parakeets are well known for building a single huge nest the size of a small car in the wild. They breed colonially by cooperating together to build the huge nest that usually contain several families of parakeets, each with their own private entrances to the nest. Unfortunately, this was not the case for this location below the eagle’s nest.

“On 11th August 2017, I went to check on this huge nest but there were no eagle or parakeet activities observe.

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“In the above photo, Tommy Leong was able to photograph a Monk Parakeet perching just above the adult eagle and its young chick. Though raptors are well known to be fiercely territorial birds, especially when they are breeding, his photo shows that parakeets and raptors are able to coexist together in the wild.”

Thong Chow Ngian
Singapore
12th August 2017

2 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    It has been said that the hunting instinct is suppressed in many raptors, and carnivores when they are close to the place where they raise their young. The well-known ethologist Konrad Lorenz speculated that this is to prevent the young from accidentally being mistaken for prey by the adults. He observed this even among fierce dogs, who would chase cats outside the home, but who would not do so within the home.
    Other observers have noted that songbirds will nest in quite close proximity to where raptors have chicks. This could be a defensive measure, as the hunting instinct is quite distinct from the urge to fight. Raptors will fight to defend their nests, and do a far better job than any songbird ever could.

  2. Thong Chow Ngian

    Thank you Chiu San for your feedback on the reason raptors supressed their hunting instinct. Very interesting insights.

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