Sunday, May 16, 2010

Coppersmith Barbet and Beringin Tree

Today (16 May 2010), I spotted two Coppersmith Barbets (Megalaima haemacephala) on the trees outside my house, a juvenile and an adult. The adult barbet was busy collecting fruits (figs) from the Beringin tree, while the juvenile was on the Tecoma tree enjoying the morning sun. Coppersmith Barbet is the smallest barbet in South-east Asia.

Adult Coppersmith Barbet, collecting the Beringin figs:
Juvenile barbet with some red mark below the throat, roosting on the Tecoma tree:

From my observation, the Beringin tree has attracted more species of birds as compared to Tecoma tree, the birds visit the tree mainly for the fruits, the orange color figs. Figs are the food source for most of the garden birds, the frugivores and ominivores. The Tecoma tree attracts only the nectarivores, the sunbirds and flowerpeckers. In fact, the Tecoma tree only blossom for a week or two, and once or twice in a year, whereas the Beringin tree started fruiting since April.

Thus, shall we have more Tecoma trees planted in Penang? just because of its blossom resembles the Sakura blossom (click on this LINK to read about Penang's very own Sakura), or shall we have more fig trees or fruit trees to attract more wild birds to Penang?, a Beringin, a Banyan, a Bohd tree, or the Indian Cherry.

So, what do you think? do we need to plant more Tecoma or Fig Trees? Please comment.

Happy birding.


  1. City planners tend not to plant fig trees, especially strangling figs like beringin, as these are aggressive and their roots tend to cause problems to drains, pavements, etc. Those figs that are around along the wayside probably came about when it strangled the original host tree and, before you know it, the fig is well established. But fig trees are excellent bird trees!

  2. For me, we should plant both. We need as many species in our environment as possible. We need fruit eating as well as nectar eating species.

  3. Mark: thanks for your comment.
    I do not really agree to have more Tecoma, it is an introduced species from south America, and only serve the purpose to beautify the city for one of two weeks. Whereas, the fig trees provide food for the birds for months. The nectarivores have plenty of garden flowers around the neighbourhood, I do not think we need a big tree to produce nectar for just a week or two.

  4. YC: thanks for your feedback. One of my neighbours is complaining about the roots of the Beringin tree are causing the problem of his drainage system, I heard he is going to complain to the city council about the matter. I may miss the bird tree one day, like the story of Avatar.
    The council must have a proper plan, and should consider planting the fig trees in the public field, garden or park.