Tag Archives: Tampines Eco Green

Nesting of a pair of Rufous Woodpeckers

Diversity Trail Seng Alvin

The Rufous Woodpeckers chose to nest at a tree by the side of Diversity trail at the Tampines Eco Green. Photo: Seng Alvin.

Contributed by Birder Dawn and Seng Alvin 18 March 2016

I was birding with friends at the Tampines Eco Green on the 28 February 2016 when a darkish woodpecker flew across our path. From the plumage I knew it was a Rufous Woodpecker, Celeus brachyurus, an uncommon resident found in forests, mangroves and parklands.

The nest is in the middle of the small tree by the side of the path, well hidden from sight. Photo: Seng Alvin and Birder Dawn.

We followed it to a small tree by the side of the trail hoping to get a shot. We found it perched near an old termites nest in the middle of the tree.

28.2.16 One of the chicks BD

One of the two few days old chicks inside the nest 28.2.16. Photo Birder Dawn.

When we got nearer we were surprised to find two young birds inside the nest. Their eyes were still closed. They must have hatched only a few days ago. The parent was actually bringing back food to feed the hungry chicks. We were so elated to discover the nest and witness the nesting.

14.3.16 BD

Two fully grown chicks about to face the outside world. Photo: Birder Dawn

The first documented nesting ( Ridley 1898) at the Botanic Gardens was also in a tree-ant nest. Recent records of their nesting were in ant nests as well. A good example of how a different genus can benefit another. These ant nests are softer and easy to excavate than tree trucks. These woodpeckers have been seen foraging for any larvae at these termite nests as well.


Papa bird busy feeding its grown chicks on 11.3.16. Photo: Seng Alvin

Why do these woodpeckers chose to nest so close to a walking path used by park visitors. Could it be that this termite’s nest is the only one available? As it was very hidden the woodpeckers must have felt safe to use it. We knew that this is a critical stage of the nesting and any disturbance may result in the parents abandoning the nest. After a few quick record shots we left them alone.

Clearing waste 13.3.16

Besides feeding Papa also did the house keeping 13.3.16 Photo: Seng Alvin.

My decision to return two weeks later to check on them was spot on. Both chicks fledged a few hours apart, much to my relief. My estimate is that they took close to three weeks from the time they hatched to fledged

14.3.16 Pecking BD

The first fledgling up on the tree trunk pecking away instinctively. 14.3.16. Photo: Birder Dawn

The first fledgling was already climbing up a tree trunk and instinctively started pecking on it. But it fell off the tree trunk as it legs were not strong enough to cling on to the bark. They would move to a semi bushy edges and wait for the parents to feed them. A survival move that will bode well for its early existence. Great to see another pair of these beautiful woodpeckers adding to the biodiversity of our green places.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009.


Malaysian Pied Fantail feeding a juvenile Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.


Contributed by Seng Alvin. 1st September 2015

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo Seng Alvin

This morning at the Tampines Eco Green, I came across an adult Cacomantis cuckoo, one of the three resident Cacomantis cuckoos here. I managed just one shot before it flew deeper into the woods. Unfortunately it was not facing me and I could not captured the underside. It has a greyer back, light eye ring and a wee bit of rufous up to the throat. Based on these features, I identified it as the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, C. Sepulcratis.

Then my attention was drawn to another cuckoo nearby, this one a juvenile. It is much harder to separate the juvenile birds but luckily the yellow eye-ring was showing well, and it was confirmed by others as a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.

Jv RB Cuckoo Seng Alvin

The interesting part was that the adult cuckoo did not bother to interact with the juvenile bird at all never mind trying to feed it. Maybe it just wanted to check if it is doing fine, as it left the fostering, incubation and feeding to other species, typical of these parasitic cuckoos.

The juvenile must have fledged recently as it was able to fly from branch to branch looking for its foster parents. At this hanging vine, it was looking left and right flapping its wings and calling loudly at the same time.

Fantail with Jv RB Cuckoo Seng Alvin

Its cries for food was soon rewarded when a Malayan Pied Fantail Rhipdura javanica, flew in and started giving food to it. Both species shared the same forest edge habitat close to mangroves and about the same size. An ideal parent species for the cuckoo but a bit unfortunate for the fantail.

Footnote: Tou Jing Yi thinks that the adult bird is a Plantive Cuckoo C. Merulinus. The eye ring is not yellow enough and that there is some grey on the breast of the adult bird. When I compare this with another adult Plaintive Cuckoo I took at Pasir Ris Park some time back, the eye and ring color of both birds looked the same. Thanks to Sifu Tou Jing Yi, Shirley Ng and Alan OwYong for their discussions and comments on the ID.