By Seng Alvin.
We go to our Watson’s and Guardian for our vitamins and health supplements fix paying an arm and a leg for them. But our avian friends can get theirs for free at our parks and gardens when the Palm Oil trees (Elaeis guineensis) fruit. Scattered over most green areas around the island, these remnant palms survived the development partly due to the dispersal of the seeds by the birds themselves.
Woodpeckers have no problem getting to the pulp of the Palm fruit. The male Common Goldenback had the pick of the crop. Link https://wp.me/p4VGho-aF on how they feed.
During my walks around Pasir Ris Park, I was fortunate to come across a large variety of birds feeding on the fruit of the oil palms at the park. The orange freshy pulp, mesocarp, has a high content of beta-carotene, a provitamin that helps the body to make Vitamin A. It is also an antioxidant. (Wikipedia). Pet shops sell bird food containing Red Palm Oil supplement that claims to provide Vitamin A and E and Omega 3 and 6 for parrots. That may be the reasons why the birds at the park are so healthy and happy.
This greedy Red-breasted Parakeet is having the whole fruit for itself. Easy meal for its strong bill.
More than 20 species of birds have been documented to feed on the palm oil seeds in various forums and articles. Here are some of the “healthy” birds that I found taking their vitamins regularly at Pasir Ris Park.
Our lupsup Asian Glossy Starling takes just about everything that is edible.
Rose-ringed Parakeets chose the ripest and best fruit.
Even our domestic chicken cannot pass up the fruits that dropped to the ground.
If my cousin the Goldenback likes it, it must be good.
Javan Mynas fighting each other over an oil palm fruit.
A seed eating weaver bird having a change of diet, enjoying the taste of the palm fruit.
The Spotted Dove just cannot stand by and watch others taking the fruit.
Reference: Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013 John Beaufoy Publishing Limited.