Dicaeidae


This homogeneous family of 44 species is largely confined to the Oriental Region, from India through Southeast Asia, with a high diversity in the Philippines and Wallacea, yet only a few species found further east, including Australia and the Solomon Islands. The flowerpeckers are stocky, often colourful, little birds that have short, stubby tails, as well as short legs and tiny feet. Their bills are also short and slightly downcurved, but vary between species in thickness, some being chunky and others, quite slender. The vast majority of species belong to the genus Dicaeum, for which the Indonesian name is ‘Cabe’ (chilli pepper), referring to the red patches that often adorn their plumage. However, it is only the male that is brightly coloured among the sexually dimorphic species, and in many species, they too have female-like plumage. As their name suggests, many flowerpeckers are known to visit flowers to drink nectar, and in so doing act as pollinators for plants, such as the notorious Durian. However, their major ecological role in the forest is to disperse seeds, as they are primarily fruit-eaters. Small berries are swallowed whole, but larger fruits are punctured or crushed, and their edible contents squeezed or sucked out. Most if not all flowerpeckers are associated with mistletoes, for which they are the main dispersal agents, as the seeds pass unharmed through their specialised gut while the pulp is digested. These epiphytic shrubs are ‘planted’ by the birds as they defaecate, since the sticky-coated seeds immediately adhere to the bird’s perch. Insects and spiders are also eaten by flowerpeckers to add protein to this carbohydrate-rich diet. The nest is an unusually soft and supple, pear-shaped purse, suspended from leafy twigs. Foraging in a mixed flock together sunbirds, white-eye and fellow flowerpecker. Java has seven species, of which one species is found in Baluran .

Flight: Fast, with deep wing flapping, usually direct, but sometimes erratic with sharp turns and dips.

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