Stork-billed Kingfisher catching armoured catfish


For about two weeks recently, Kennie Pan was at the Singapore Botanic Gardens keeping watch on a pair of Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis) around the Symphony Lake. Normally, the kingfisher came out between 7 am and 12 noon, perching on a branch of its favourite tree, keeping watch on the water below.

“Out of the total 10 days I went there, the last day was a lifer for me. Both the female and the male came out and fished at the same area, but on different branches. This made me suspect that it’s juvenile was hungry. It’s dive for fishes was 50% success (left top). The fishes at the lake are so used to being fished that they will submerge even when disturbed by the shadow of a sparrow flying above.

“The bird finally swopped down from it’s favourite perch and caught the fish (left bottom). Flying back, it thrashed the the fish against the branch every 5-20 seconds to subdue it before flying back to its nest to feed it’s young.”

I sent the image to Dr Khoo Hong Woo, a retired fish expert once attached to the National University of Singapore and received the following reply;

“I think its an armoured catffish, probably thrown away by an aquarium owner… the prominent pectoral spines (catfish) and the armoured ridges on its body point to this species. Not a native catfish I think, one of those armoured catfish quite popular with aquarists. I checked with two altenative possibilities. Could be a flathead fish (Platycephalus sp.) or the dragonet (Callionmymid sp.). (features not clear hence these alternatives).”

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

3 Responses

  1. Kennie

    Cheers ! Got another shot of the Stork billed piercing some fish which i am not so sure. Do tell me if you need it.


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