Yellow Bittern eats skink

“On January 30th, Melanie Votaw (from USA), along with Shamla Subaraj and I, came across a Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) with a lizard in it’s bill, at Serangoon. Over the next 5 minutes, we watched the bird adjust the reptile into the right position before swallowing it completely.

“Yellow Bitterns are mostly migrants from the north and can be found in suitable areas throughout Singapore. They mainly feed at the edge of water-bodies and waterways, fishing for fish, tadpoles and invertebrates. However, they will also hunt nearby fields and vegetation for whatever terrestrial creatures they can find.

“The skink that this bittern caught was identified as a Common Sun Skink (Mabuya multifasciata), a common species around Singapore, by Dr Leong Tzi Ming. His reason being that the body is bulky, head rather robust and undersides pale white. Kelvin KP Lim agrees with the identification.

“This adds another food item to the Yellow Bittern’s prey menu.”



Note: In the images above, the bittern, after catching the skink, carefully manipulates it so that it can be swallowed head-first. Once the body is swallowed and only the tail is left, the bird needs to stand upright with its neck fully stretched to allow the skink to slide down the throat and into the stomach (below).


R Subaraj
February 2008
(Images by Melanie Votaw, ID of skink by Dr Leong Tzi Ming and Kelvin KP Lim)

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