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White-throated Kingfisher catching Scaly-breasted Munia

on 7th May 2008

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Willis documented a White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) catching a Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) at Wak Hassan Drive, opposite Sembawang Park. The documentation was done way back in April 2005 and only now made available to viewers.

“The kingfisher was perching on a nearby railing when it spied the munia. It immediately dived down into the grass and grabbed the helpless bird. The prey was brought back to the perch and whacked repeatedly against the metal railing, sending feathers flying all over (above). So severe was the thrashing that the head of the dead bird was nearly severed (below left). Even after the head was totally severed, the body of the munia was still a little too large for the kingfisher to swallow (below right).

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“After a while the bird flew to a nearby perch (below left) where it was joined by its mate. The mate appeared aggressive and wanted a piece of the prey. It grabbed at the dead munia. There was a struggle and the mate ended with a piece of the thigh (below right).

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“It seems that the kingfisher regularly hunts small birds. During my birding around the area, I’ve seen it caught munia twice, only that I did not have my camera with me then, so it wasn’t documented. So I think this particular White-throated Kingfisher has grown to love eating munias.

“There is a pair resident in the area. Their usual diet consists of insects and lizards, which are abundant in the area.”

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Wells (1999) reports the White-throated Kingfisher taking White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) chicks, Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) and munias (Lonchura sp.).

Reference:
Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.

All images by Willis.

This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

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

6 Responses

  1. THAT WAS REALLY VERY NICE.EXCELENT PHOTOES WITH NICE DESCRIPTION. I AM WORKING ON THIS BIRD NOW.SO IF U HAVE SOME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS BIRD, ESPECIALLY ON BREEDING PLEASE SEND ME.

  2. Did a search for “munia” on Google Images to show my friend what a munia was… and ended up here. I had no idea kingfishers ate anything other than fish. Very interesting post; thanks for documenting!

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