Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024




Fig 1 : Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Fig 2 : Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Fig 3 : Yellow-vented Flowerpecker

Fig 4 : Mistletoe Flowerpecker

Fig 5 : Black-fronted Flowerpecker

Fig 6 : Black-fronted Flowerpecker

Fig 7 : Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

Fig 8 : Orange-bellied Flowerpecker - male

Fig 9 : Orange-bellied Flowerpecker - immature female

Fig 10 : Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker

Fig 11 : Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker


Flowerpeckers comprise the family Dicaeidae, a group of diminutive birds, weighing from 5 to 12 grams, with squat bodies and short, slightly decurved bills. Males of some species exhibit attractive colours and patterning but females are generally dull.

Their diet comprises berries, nectar and sometimes small insects. Some species show a preference for the berries of mistletoe, a parasitic plant : the digestive tract of flowerpeckers can tolerate toxins from these plants. The mistletoe seeds are either discarded prior to the berry being eaten, or pass through the gut undigested. They are coated with a sticky substance which easily adheres to the new host tree. At times, flowerpeckers must rub their posterior against a branch to remove seeds which stubbornly cling to the anus.

Like their near-relatives the sunbirds, flowerpeckers build small, purse-like nests of dried vegetation  suspended in the shade of small trees.

Their flight is swift and direct, and their call is generally some variant of a simply repeated 'chip, chip' or 'tzit tzit' etc.

Around 36 species of flowerpecker occur in Southeast Asia, and the group extends westward into South Asia and southward into Australia. There are numerous endemic species in the Philippine Islands.


Fig 1 :
Dicaeum cruentatum
Location : Portsdown, Singapore
Habitat : Wooded, residential area.
Notes : Male consuming ripe berries of the mistletoe Macrosolen cochinchinensis.

Fig 2 :
Dicaeum cruentatum
Location : Luang Prabang, Laos
Habitat : Wooded, riverine.

Fig 3 :
Dicaeum chrysorrheum
Location : Kledang Saiong
, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat :
Lowland forest edge.

Fig 4 :
Mistletoe Flowerpecker
Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Location : Northern Territory, Australia
Habitat : Dry, scrub forest

Figs 5 and 6 :
Black-fronted Flowerpecker
Dicaeum igniferum
Location : Flores, Indonesia
Habitat : Coastal secondary scrub forest

Fig 7 :
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker (Buff-bellied Flowerpecker)
Dicaeum ignipectus
Location : Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Gardens, near lower montane primary rainforest

Fig 8 :
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (male)
Dicaeum trigonostigma
Location : Sungai Bantang, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Lowland secondary forest
Notes : Consuming
seeds of Koster's Curse Clidemia hirta.

Fig 9 :
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker  (immature female)
Dicaeum trigonostigma
Location :
Johor, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Lowland primary forest edge

Notes : Plucking seeds and parts of flowers from a growth of Koster's Curse Clidemia hirta.

Fig 10 :
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker
Prionochilus maculatus
Location : Sungai Bantang, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Lowland primary forest, next to stream

Fig 11 :
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker
Prionochilus percussus
Location :
Johor, Peninsular Malaysia
Habitat : Lowland primary forest edge

Notes : Consuming a seed and flower parts of Koster's Curse Clidemia hirta, an invasive shrub.