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  Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2019



Fig 1 : Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Fig 2 : Orange-bellied Flowerpecker - male

Fig 3 : Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker

Fig 4 : Orange-bellied Flowerpecker - immature female

Fig 5 : Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

Fig 6 : Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker

Fig 7 : Black-fronted Flowerpecker

Fig 8 : Black-fronted Flowerpecker

Fig 9 : Mistletoe 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
Habitat : Wooded, residential area.
Location : Portsdown, Singapore
Notes : Male consuming ripe berries of the mistletoe Macrosolen cochinchinensis.

Fig 2 :
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Dicaeum trigonostigma
Habitat : Lowland secondary forest
Location : Sungei Bantang, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia

Fig 3 :
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker
Prionochilus maculatus
Habitat : Lowland primary forest, next to stream
Location : Sungei Bantang, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia

Fig 4 :
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker  (immature female)
Dicaeum trigonostigma
Habitat : Lowland primary forest edge
Location :
Johor, Peninsular Malaysia
Notes : Plucking seeds and parts of flowers from a growth of Koster's Curse Clidemia hirta, an invasive shrub.

Fig 5 :
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker (Buff-bellied Flowerpecker)
Dicaeum ignipectus
Habitat : Gardens, near lower montane primary rainforest
Location : Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia

Fig 6 :
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker
Prionochilus percussus
Habitat : Lowland primary forest edge
Location :
Johor,Peninsular Malaysia
Notes : Consuming a seed and flower parts of Koster's Curse Clidemia hirta, an invasive shrub.

Figs 7 and 8 :
Black-fronted Flowerpecker
Dicaeum igniferum
Habitat : Coastal secondary scrub forest
Location : Flores, Indonesia

Fig 9 :
Mistletoe Flowerpecker
Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Habitat : Dry, scrub forest
Location : Northern Territory, Australia