Tree nest hole for rent at Pasir Ris Park II, by Seng Alvin.
After the bees left, the tree hole lay vacant for a few weeks. On 14 May, I was surprised to find a pair of Laced Woodpeckers back at the nest. Based on the tags on their legs it was the same pair of woodpeckers that were being chased out by the Red-breasted Parakeets last month. Maybe they were not able to find any suitable hole nest anywhere else or they really like the location and ambience of the park. Whatever is the reason I was happy to see them back. They seemed to be incubating their eggs which meant that another generation of woodpeckers will be gracing the park.
Five days later, I went to check on their progress. I saw a head popped out of the tree hole. I was expecting to see the woodpecker coming out, but it was a baby monitor lizard instead, much to my dismay. This tree hole had to be the most desired hole nest in the park. Both the parents did their best to chase the lizard off for over an hour but to no avail.
My guess is that the monitor lizard must have sniffed out the eggs in the nest and did not want to pass up a good meal. Again this is nature, each species is part of the food chain. I came back two day later to see if the woodpeckers will try again to use the nest, but looks like “game over” for them.
Tree Hole Nest for rent at Pasir Ris Park.
By Seng Alvin.
On 16 January 2018, I was on my routine morning birding walk along the mangroves at my back yard Pasir Ris Park, when I heard pecking coming from the tree nearby. It was a pair of Laced Woodpeckers excavating a hole on the tree trunk for their love nest. I was happy to see this as the last nesting here was in March 2015. For the next few days, the mummy woodpecker spent many hours hard at work at the nest hole.
On 23 January, when I went to check in the progress, I was surprised to find that a Red-breasted Parakeet at the nest hole. There were no signs of the woodpeckers. Parakeets also used tree cavities for their nests. Since they cannot excavate tree holes, the next best thing to do is to take over existing holes.
Fortunately or unfortunately, this tree hole was too small for the parakeet and they could not use it. But this did not stop the parakeets from coming back during the next few days to check on the tree hole. The Laced Woodpeckers were nowhere to be seen. It may be that the parakeets were too aggressive for the woodpeckers and they prefer not to pick a fight with them.
Both the parakeets and woodpeckers went missing for a while, until 26 February when the parakeet came back again to check if the hole got any bigger. It was still too small for it and it finally gave up. A little later that day I was happy to see the male Laced Woodpecker back at the hole. Will they now decide to use the hole to nest this time?
March and April came and went, but the both species seemed to abandon this tree hole. Did the woodpeckers find better location somewhere? Was there something they don’t like about this particular tree hole?
My conclusion is that this is one of the mysteries of nature and we just have to accept it.
Female Common Goldenback pecking at the fruit of the Oil Palm
Woodpeckers feed on ants, larvae, worms and other small insects. They will peck into dead wood and tree branches and use their long tongue to dig out the eggs or larvae inside.
Female Laced Woodpecker digging in at the same tree.
This morning 22nd March 2015, during a Annual Bird Census at Kent Ridge Park with Woo Lai Choo, we came across a female Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, at an oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis by the side of the pond. Two Plantain Squirrels were already there nibbling on the fruits. The Laced Woodpecker started pecking on the fruit in an upright position. It was doing this for about few minutes before another female woodpecker the Common Goldenback Dinopium javanense joined in. In the video you can see it pecking to break up the fruit into pulp and then pressed the pulp of the fruit between its beak to get the juice out of the pulp. There is no sign of it actually eating the pulp. Could it be that it is the juice or oil of the fruit is what they are after. A food supplement perhaps. The juice or oil had to be palatable and nutritious to them. Long-tailed Parakeets have also been seen doing the same, chewing the pulp of the oil palm fruit at the Botanic Gardens in front of cafe. Video: https://youtu.be/7AtLJRKqhGQ