Common Flamebacks’ Dance

posted in: Miscellaneous | 4

Several years ago now I was walking down the road from the top of Bukit Timah Hill in late morning. There was nobody about and as I approached the turning off to the Telecoms building I heard a commotion to my left. There was a large tree with a trunk about two feet in diameter almost at the edge of the road and on it about twelve feet up were two male Common Flamebacks one to the left some twelve inches above the other which was on the right. Each was in view of the other and appeared to be having an argument.

Both birds started to circle clockwise and to my surprise a third bird appeared far right, again about twelve inches lower down, and calling loudly. This continued and to my amazement a fourth bird appeared still lower.

All four birds continued to circle the trunk slowly. Moving gradually upwards, calling all the time but maintaining distance from each other and keeping the  birds to left and right just in sight. They reached a height of over twenty five feet and then flew down nearly to ground level before starting the whole process again. I have no idea what was the purpose of this dance and as far as I can recall I saw no sign of a female in the vicinity.
Finally they all flew off in the same direction and I continued my walk.

Richard Hale
6th October 2005

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    I hace seen this behaviour in Bt Timah Nature Reserve before. Two woodpeckers were circling up a tree trunk, one on the hot trail of another. It looks like the first one is trying to run away and the second one is chasing the first bird up the tree. They move in a very fast anti-clockwise diretction up the tree.

  2. YC

    We have one other person witnessing this strange behaviour of the Common Flameback. It is not that such behaviour is rare but rather it has not been widely reported. So let us have your feedbacks on unusual bird behaviour… YC

  3. Anonymous

    I have witnessed this behaviour quite often when i was staying in Seletar Camp during my cadet pilot training days. The pair would normally engage in such a behaviour in the evenings and after completing 1 or 2 repetitions on one large rain tree, the two would make a noisy flight to another large rain tree some distance away until they have covered their home range before sun set. This noisy and showy behaviour looks like their way of marking their territory.

  4. georgia tong

    So we have observation here, but still no answer to why the birds behave as such. How to move forward if it is just recording of behave sighting with no further action to find out the answer ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.