Cat kill – kingfisher

on 31st January 2006

Cats are notorious for their ability to catch and dismantle birds. Many of us would have seen dead birds with their feathers torn and their bodies ripped apart. But how many of us have actually witnessed a cat kill?

On December 4th 2005 Meng & Melinda Chan actually witnessed a kingfisher being eaten by a cat. Through a pair of binoculars they spotted a kingfisher flying downwards towards the ground. Suddenly a cat jumped up and pounced on the bird. At first they thought that the bird escaped as they saw it flying away. But when they reached the scene, there was a dead kingfisher on the grass. And perching nearby was another kingfisher making alarming calls. Only then did they realize that a pair of birds was involved and one of them fell victim to the cat.

The Chans alerted Ashley Ng as they thought that birders on his Pigeon-holes e-loop might be upset by the incident and the gruesome images they managed to capture on their camera. But birders are tougher than that and so I persuaded Melinda to share the experience and images, and this is how this posting comes about.

Other reports of cat-kill:
Keith Hiller’s cat regularly caught mynas, doves and once even a sunbird. Apparently they just do it for fun, not for food. On the other hand Jeffrey Low’s cat caught an unknown species of bird, ate and regurgitated it. Lim Jun Ying’s pet Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) was mauled by a cat while still in the cage. On the other hand Jeremy Lee’s experience is a little mysterious. He relates how, when he was a kid he regularly collected headless Javan Munias (Lonchura leucogastroides) decapitated during the night while still in their cage. Was it a cat? An owl perhaps?

Contributed by Meng & Melinda Chan
Additional input by Keith Hiller, Jeffrey Low, Lim Jun Ying and Jeremy Lee

Further comment by R. Subaraj: When I lived in Siglap and had cats as pets, they would bring in a variety of birds. The usual targets would be the Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) (which I observed one of my cats eating twice) and Olive-backed Sunbirds (Nectarinia jugularis). They would also kill the Changeable Lizards and geckoes, also eating the latter. The most surprising bird one of my cats brought in one day was a dead female Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans). As this is normally a bird that stays high up in the trees, I can only guess that this individual was ill and vulnerable for it to be caught by a cat.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

9 Responses

  1. I feel that cat-bird predator-prey relationship is part of nature and nothing to feel bad, this is an amazing spotting and interesting capture.

  2. Sure the cat-bird predator-prey relationaship is part of nature. But only if the cat is not domesticated. I have no qualms about a leopard cat eating birds. But I am sure no one would not want our native species to go the way of the Stephen Island Wren. All because of a domesticated cat.

  3. I agree with what you had to say about the difference between behaviours of domesticated and wild cats, dint realize that angle

  4. I’ve seen my brothers stupid cat get birds, it’s cats that eat every thing but the head. Owls eat every thing and regurgitate the bones and fur/feathers

  5. Nothing is natural about an alien introduced pest preying on native species!
    Here’s a bit of wisdom in a poem written many long years ago. It applies exactly to our problem with feral cats in our ecology today.

    A cat
    She had a name among the children;
    But no one loved though someone owned
    Her, locked her out of doors at bedtime
    And had her kittens duly drowned.
    In Spring, nevertheless, this cat
    Ate blackbirds, thrushes, nightingales,
    And birds of bright voice and plume and flight,
    As well as scraps from neighbours’ pails.
    I loathed and hated her for this;
    One speckle on a thrush’s breast
    Was worth a million such; and yet
    She lived long, till God gave her rest.

    Edward Thomas
    Born 1878, killed in the battle of Arras- Easter Monday, 9 April 1917

  6. Why should it be cruel to keep cats indoors all the time? Sterilised cats are far from being the wanton nomads that the authorities in Singapore make them out to be.

Leave a Reply

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


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)