Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Flowerpecker eating Myrmecodia fruits

I was in Sarawak for the past week, and spent a few days in Kuching. One of the most interesting flora there was probably the epiphytic ant plant, Myrmecodia species, which can be found in reasonable abundance in the city. The species is likely to be M. tuberosa, which is also found in heath forest of the nearby Bako National Park. In Singapore, the species is already presumed extinct.

The ant plant have a swollen spiny base with many tunnels within that provided a protective nesting site for ants. In return, the waste left by the ants gave nourishment to the plant.

Scarlet-backed Sunbird with Myrmecodia fruit

I was taking photos of the plant growing on a Yellow Flame (Peltophorum pterocarpum) beside the road when I saw a tiny bird flying to and pecking on the plant. Initially, I thought that it was picking up the ants residing in the plant. But on closer inspection of my photographs back in the hotel, it was holding the plant’s yellow-orange fruit with a red dot at its tip. The red head gave the bird’s identity away as a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum).


You can vaguely spot tiny dots of white on the stem of the prior photograph. Those are the flowers, which can be seen here from another ant plant which have fallen.

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