Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Dicaeum cruentatum (Linnaeus, 1758)

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum/Division:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Dicaeidae
Genus:Dicaeum
Species:D. cruentatum
Common Names:Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Status:Common resident

Distribution

This species ranges from the Indian subcontinent, south China, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to Sumatra and Borneo.

Localities

Found throughout Singapore and its offshore islands.

Locality Map

General Biology

This is the most common species of flowerpeckers in Singapore. It is found in parks, gardens, rural areas, forest edges, and occasionally in mangroves. It is usually associated with mistletoes, where it feeds on the fruit, passing out the seeds through its gut. In the process the flowerpecker helps in the pollinating process. The sticky seeds are stuck to the anus, which can only be removed by rubbing against the tree branch, thereby dispersing the seeds, which will germinate on the branch where they adhere to.

This flowerpecker can often be seen taking a leaf bath, either after a rain or when garden plants are sprayed with water.

The call of this flowerpecker can be heard HERE.

Diet

Plant diet incudes fruits of the mistletoes: Viscum ovalifolium, Scurrula sp., Dendrophthoe pentandra, etc. Other fruits include those of Cherry Tree (Muntingia calabura), the fruits of which are squeezed between the mandibles so that the pulp drips into the mouth after which the skin is discarded; Pipturus argenteus; White-stemmed Button Vine (Cissus hastate); Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum);  White-leaved Fig (Ficus grossularioides); the ant-plant Myrmecordia sp.; and Benjamin Fig (Ficus benjamina).

It also takes nectar from the flowers of Saraca (Saraca sp.)

Life Cycle

The female does more work in building a globular nest with an opening at the top, using spider silk to hold the materials together. The nest is lined with floss from the Bulrush (Typha angustifolia) and/or Kapok (Ceiba pentandra). 2-3 eggs are laid. The aduts feed the chicks and remove the faecal sac. In an observation of a nesting in the Singapore Botanical Gardens, piles of faecal sacs were found below the nest, filled with the seeds of the mistletoe used to feed the chicks. These sacs were not removed in time by the adults, thus leading the the chicks ejecting them out of the nest.

Nest building has been observed in February through August. Chicks were seen in February. Immatures seen in April through December.

References

Wang, L. K. 2011. Flowerpeckers. Pp. 315–316. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L.K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

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