Birds in Palm Oil Plantations: The Fruits of Sustainable Agriculture

Introduction

Musim Mas’ plantations operate in Indonesia, home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. As a leading sustainable palm oil corporation, Musim Mas believes that biodiversity can co-exist with its responsible business operations.

Musim Mas’ conservation effort includes forest stewardship, riparian buffer restoration, and active monitoring of wildlife and other environmental indicators within both HCV areas and the surrounding land concessions.

The group has also undertaken a major study to assess its interventions for effectiveness, such as whether its efforts to preserve and enhance biodiversity in the plantations have been effective, as well as ways to improve its efforts. This was done by providing 12 years of biodiversity data accumulated by Musim Mas’ sustainability team, for a study by the UK-based South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP).

Musim Mas Group is one of the world’s largest sustainable and integrated palm oil corporations, and was the first palm major in Indonesia to join the RSPO (in 2004). Musim Mas has undertaken a variety of conservation interventions across the company’s plantations in Indonesia.

Going beyond conservation alone, the group would like to assess its interventions’ effectiveness to ensure they have the intended positive impacts on biodiversity. Musim Mas set out to understand how biodiversity was responding in the plantations, whether its conservation management plan was helping to maintain or enhance biodiversity, and if there are ways monitoring and management could be improved.

Bird Sightings

Over the last 12 years, Musim Mas’ sustainability team followed scientific protocols to record species richness in its concession areas. This was largely done in the form of monthly surveys at designated plots where the team recorded data on the variety of animal and insect sightings. The bird sightings were particularly notable. Below are some of the varieties of bird species captured by the team.

Long-Tailed Shrike

Scientific name: Lanius schach 
Bahasa Indonesia: Bentet Kelabu

Characteristics:

Typically black, brown, and white color, with a body size of ±20 – 25 cmBlack forehead, mask, and a long tailBlack wings with white spotsDark grey crown and napeVery light brown back and upper-tail covertWhite breast and belly

The long-tailed shrike is active in open areas, grasslands, plantations, and other open areas. It forages for food while perching. This bird feeds on insects and vertebrae such as small mammals, lizards, frogs, crabs, and smaller birds, and frequently feeds on grasshoppers and bugs on the ground. They’re also known to steal food from other birds. It reproduces all through the year. This species is distributed in the Sumatran islands, Java, Borneo, and Lesser Sunda (up to Timor Island).

Conservation status:

Long-Tailed Shrike (Lanius Schach) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker

Scientific name: Dicaeum trigonostigma 
Bahasa Indonesia: Cabai Bunga Api

This bird has a striking orange and blue color, with a small body size. Its preferred foods are fruits or parasitic plants. It is found in Riau Islands, Lingga Islands, Borneo, Sumatra, Natuna, Java, and Bali.

Male Bird Characteristics:

Bluish head, wings, and tailDistinct orange upper-tail covert and bellyGrey throat

Female Bird Characteristics:

Olive back, wings, and tailYellow bellyGreenish-orange upper tail feathers

Conservation status: 
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum Trigonostigma) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Black-Headed Bulbul

Scientific name: Brachypodius atriceps 
Bahasa Indonesia: Cucak Kuricang

Characteristics:

Shiny black head and throatYellow-olive upper bodyIts wings and tail are black/dark grey in color, with a distinct yellowish tint on the tipIts lower body is greenish yellowPale blue irisBlack beak and brown feet

This bird carries out its activities on its own or with other birds when visiting forest edges or shrubs. Its preferred diet is fruits especially ficuses, besides feeding on various small insects. Its breeding season is from January through September, but mostly in March-June. This species is distributed in Sumatra, Nias, Mentawai, Java, and Borneo.

Conservation status:

Black-headed Bulbul (Brachypodius Atriceps) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is not yet ptotected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Sooty-Headed Bulbul

Scientific name: Pycnonotus aurigaster 
Bahasa Indonesia: Cucak Kutilang

Characteristics:

Black crown and whitish upper-tail covertYellowish orange on its under-tail covertBlack chin and black upper headWhite nape, upper tail feathers, breast, and bellyBlack wings and brown tails

This bird is frequently seen in almost all types of habitats, including settlements, open spaces, road edges, yards, gardens, shrubs, and secondary forests. It tends to live together in groups with their own species or with other species.

The Sooty-Headed Bulbul tends to eat insects and soft fruits. In the morning it’s often seen perching under the morning sun (sunbathing) to maintain healthy feathers. Its nest is cup-shaped and built from woven grass and leaves, leaf stalks, and small branches. This bird has a loud high-pitched warbling call, and it can be found across Java, Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Papua.

Conservation status:

Sooty-Headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus Aurigaster) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Black-Winged Kite

Scientific name: Elanus caeruleus 
Bahasa Indonesia: Elang Tikus

Black-Winged Kite has a moderate body size with the following characteristics:

Black spots on its scapulaIt has a distinct, long black primariesAn adult bird has grey crown, back, wings, secondary feather, and upper-tail covertWhite face, neck, and bellyA juvenile bird has brown patternsHovering around when looking for its preyIt flaps its wings when stationaryIt has red iris, black and yellow beak, as well as yellow feet

This species lives in open lowlands and hills up to 2000 meters in elevation. The Black-Winged Kite usually perches on dead trees and hovers around when hunting for prey. It usually hunts for prey in open lowlands with scarce tree cover. This bird feeds on grasshoppers, lizards, caterpillars, mice, and young birds. Its nest is composed of twigs, mixed with leaves, built on trees in the forests. This species can be found in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Nusa Tenggara.

Conservation Status:

Black-Winged Kite (Elanus Caeruleus) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Scientific name: Anthracoceros albirostris 
Bahasa Indonesia: Kangkareng Perut Putih

This bird has relatively small body size with two colors, black and white. Its characteristics are:

White-yellow big hornBlack feathers all over its bodyWhite patterns under its eyes, belly, thighs, and under-tail covertWhite feathers on its wing tip and the outer part of its tailDark brown irisNo feathers on the skin around its eyesWhite throat, yellowish-white horn and bill, with white spots on its lower mandible and the front of its billBlack feetMakes a continuous squawking sound

This type of bird prefers more open habitats such as forest edges, logged forests, and secondary forests. This species flies in pairs or noisy groups. It likes to flap its wings and perches on trees. It also sometimes gets down on the forest floor. Its diet consists of fruits and small animals. This bird species can be found in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Bali areas.

Conservation status: 
Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros Albirostris) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. However, they are under the protection of Indonesia law, “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Javan Myna

Scientific name: Acridotheres javanicus 
Bahasa Indonesia: Kerak Kerbau

Javan Myna is moderately sized with the following characteristics:

Dark grey feathers (almost black), with white spots on its primariesWhite upper-tail covert and tail tipIt has a small crown on its headIts song is hoarse with a creaking toneThis bird also whistles and has a distinct creak when flyingThis species also has the ability to imitate other species’ sounds

This bird lives in groups, small or large. Most of them forage on the ground, grassland, and rice fields. It often perches on cows or buffalos. This bird feeds on insects. This species is found across several regions, namely Java, Sumatra, and Bali Islands.

Conservation status: 
Javan Myna (Acridotheres Javanicus) is listed as vulnerable in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species might be in risk to extinct in the wild life unless there are good solutions for their safety and reproduction. Widespread and illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade is also apparently resulting in a rapid population reduction. This species therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. However, this species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Scarlet-Rumped Tragon

Scientific name: Harpactes duvaucelii 
Bahasa Indonesia: Luntur Kepala Merah

Male Bird Characteristics:

Black headBlue patterns on its beakDark red bellyLight brown backDistinct dark red under-tail covertNo necklace or crescent pattern on its breast

Female Bird Characteristics:

Brown breastOrange bellyFrequently found in swamp or forest areas

This bird has a rather small body (±23cm). Its breeding season is estimated to take place between February-June. It usually builds its nest using decayed tree stump. This species is distributed across several areas: Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo.

Conservation status: 
Scarlet-Rumped Tragon (Harpactes Duvaucelii) is listed as Near Threatened in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. As it is likely to be declining rapidly, due to the wholesale clearance of lowland forest habitats throughout its range. This species is protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Brown-Throated Sunbird

Scientific name: Anthreptes malacensis 
Bahasa Indonesia: Madu Kelapa

Male Bird Characteristics:

It has a crownShiny green backShiny purple upper-tail covert, secondary and tailOpaque dark brown malar area, chin, and throatYellow belly

Female Bird Characteristics:

Olive green upper bodyLight yellow bellyRed irisBlack beak and greyish black feet

The Brown-Throated Sunbird is a nectar-sucking bird with a relatively small body. Generally found in lowlands, this bird is active in open yards, coconut gardens, coastal shrubs, and mangrove forests. It feeds on nectar from trumpet-shaped flowers of parasitic plants, bananas, and hibiscus. It also feeds on insects. This species breeds all throughout the year. Its nest is sac-shaped and made from grass fibers. This species spreads across Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Borneo, and Bali Island.

Conservation status: 
Brown-Throated Sunbird (Anthreptes Malacensis) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Their population trend is relatively stable. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”.

Little Green-Pigeon

Scientific name: Punai kecil 
Bahasa Indonesia: Treron Olax

Little Green-Pigeon is a bird species that has a particularly small beak. They are warm-blooded and mostly found in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java and Bali. They have a slightly rounded, chubby frame with a short but strong beak which is used to feed on fruits and nuts.

Their nests are usually made of branches and are flat and rectangular in shape. The male of the species takes the role of building the nests which are usually located 3-4 meters above the ground. Their eggs are white and will usually be incubated by the female birds for 15-20 days. They usually consume water up to as much as 15% of their body weight. The Little Green Pigeon tends to travel in groups in accordance to the season. During fall, they will travel with group of 30-50 birds, while they will travel with 7-10 in a group on rainy season. Area of distribution: Java, Sumatra, and Borneo

Conservation status: 
Little Green-Pigeon (Treron Olax) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”. However, its population trend is known to be decreasing.

Scarlet Minivet

Scientific name: Pericrocotus flammeus 
Bahasa Indonesia: Sepah Hutan

Male Bird Characteristics:

Bluish-black breastRed spots on its belly, under-tail covert, and the outer part of its tail feathers

Female Bird Characteristics:

More grey on its backA yellow color spreads until its throat, chin, ear patch, and forehead

The Scarlet Minivet has bright colored feathers. It preys on insects, including caterpillars. Its small nests are built neatly in the shape of cups on tree branches above ground. The distinct characteristic of this bird is that incubation is carried out only by female bird. This species spreads across several areas- Java, Sumatra, Nusa Tenggara, Borneo, and Bali Island.

Conservation status: 
Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus Flammeus) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”. However, its population trend is known to be decreasing.

Buff-Rumped Woodpecker

Scientific name: Meiglyptes grammithorax 
Bahasa Indonesia: Caladi Batu Melayu

Key characteristics:

It has a short tail with black and white stripesBlack body with dense white stripes except its white upper-tail covertBrownish-grey head, nape, and throatBlack breast and under-tail covertWhite stripes on its belly side and thighsA male bird has a dark red head with red spots on its malar areaIts crown feathers looks like a crestBrownish-red color on its iris, black beak, and greenish feet

A relatively small bird, this species is frequently found in primary forests, secondary forests, and forest edges. It forages for food under the canopy and small branches. Its diet consists of ants and other insects. Its nest is built on tree branches or fallen tree stumps, and makes squeaking sounds. This bird species can be found across some areas of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and Bali Island.

Conservation status: 
Buff-Rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes Grammithorax) is listed as Least Concern in the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. This species is not yet protected under “Peraturan Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan Nomor.P.106/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/12/2018”. However, its population trend is known to be decreasing.

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