Nesting life and death

A pair of Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Treron vernans, and a pair of Yellow Vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier, were seen nesting on the very same ornamental fig tree, Ficus Benjamina, in my garden around March last year. Both birds species are very adaptable and have successfully invaded disturbed habitats such as gardens (Strange, 2000). They were also able to co-exist, most probably because Bulbuls feed mainly on insects and fruits also to feed their young while Pigeons feed their young with their milk (Ria Tan, 2001). There wasn’t much competition; more of mutualism as the birds were seen at times protecting the tree against invasive Mynas, they also pollinate other plants which in turn provide food.
Two Nests on Fig Tree (exterior view)(Courtesy of D. Ang)

Two Nests on Fig Tree; Top circle:Bulbul's nest, Bottom circle: Pigeons' nest (Photo Courtesy of D. Ang)

Two Pigeon Eggs
Two Pigeon Eggs (photo taken from my handphone)

The Pigeons went on to lay two eggs of which the male and female took turns to incubate. However, after one fateful night, the female was found dead in another corner of my garden with its feathers all over the place, most probably thanks to the doings of a Siamese Cat seen wandering the street with an abnormally huge abdomen. One egg was broken on the ground while the other had a hole in it still in the nest (another predators’ doing?). The male was seen incubating in the nest still, oblivious to what had happened. But after one day reality sank in and he was seen chasing after another female.

Tragic end to female Pigeon (Courtesy of D. Ang)

Tragic end to female Pigeon (Courtesy of D. Ang)

It was survival of the fittest and the Bulbuls triumphed. The Yellow Vented Bulbuls’ nest was nicely camouflaged whereas the pigeons’ was pretty exposed and on low ground making it very vulnerable to predation. Losses due to predation mount up to two-thirds of all losses and most are found in open area (Oniki, 1979).


7-day old Yellow Vented Bulbul Chick (Photo courtesy of D. Ang)

7-day old Yellow Vented Bulbul Chick (Photo courtesy of D. Ang)


  • Morten Strange, 2000, A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Malaysia and Singapore including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo. Pp.136, 240 
  • Ria Tan, 2001, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, URL: (accessed on 14 Apr 2010)

Second source

  • Yoshika Oniki, 1979, Is Nesting Success of Birds Low in the Tropics?. Biotropica – the Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Mar. 1979), pp. 60-69

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