Saturday, November 3, 2012

Whiskered Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

I have always wondered two things when I passed by two Wrightia religiosa shrubs in Punggol Park:

  1. Why couldn’t I find the seeds of the Wrightia so that I can take pictures of them when the fruit ripes?
  2. Why do I always see the female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) on the shrub?

Today, the mystery is finally solved. Seems like both questions lingering in my mind are related.


The flowerpecker actually collects the fluffy seeds of the Wrightia religiosa! What the bird was perching on is actually one end of the split fruit. Most members of the family Apocynaceae splits and have wind dispersed fruits like this.


The bird was really very hardworking in collecting the seeds. In fact, it managed to clean up the seeds of the two opened fruits in its mouth! Having so much white hair sticking out at this angle made it looked as if it had grown a crazy length of moustache. Haha~


When I went home to process the images, I noticed that the bird was perching on a Malayan Mistletoe (Dendrophthoe pentandra) parasitising on the Wrightia in one of the pictures. Another on its right has already germinated. It is likely to be the dispersal agent for the mistletoe since I have read accounts of it feeding on the mistletoe’s fruits.

Unfortunately the offspring of these Wrightia are not so lucky. Looking at pictures of the flowerpecker’s nest, they will probably end up as the ingredients for a warm and cosy home for the bird’s chicks.

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