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Ruddy Kingfisher: A distinguishing feature

on 15th January 2007

The brief appearance of the Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda), an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to Singapore, towards the end of October 2006 caused quite a stir among local birders (1, 2).

The bright rufous plumage and red bill make identification easy. However, there is another distinguishing feature that most birders miss as it is only seen in flight (above). This is the “back and rump silvery white to azure-blue” patch, according to Wells (1999). In the juvenile bird the patch is “wholly blue rather than silvery.”

The image above shows the bird perching on a branch and eying a prey on the ground. Note the bright dark brown iris.

In the image above, taken just before the bird dived down to catch a prey, the eye is covered with a translucent layer, the nictitating membrane. This has a protective function as the bird plunges among the vegetation.

The close-up views of the eyes above show the normal eye (left) and covered with the nictitating membrane (right).
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Input by Melinda Chan, images by Chan Yoke Meng.

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

2 Responses

  1. I have read about the nictitating membrane but always wondered how exactly it looks like. Thanks for pointing it out so clearly above!

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