Black-thighed Falconet feasting on a bird

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Raptors | 0

Dr. Redzlan Abdul Rahman was having lunch one afternoon in July 2008 when he noticed a Black-thighed Falconet (Microhierax fringillarius) perched high up on the dead teak tree in his backyard (left).

As he was about to leave for work, he noticed the raptor had a prey in its clutches. At first he thought the prey was a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) or even a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum), as the latter was earlier photographed perching above the raptor.

He posted his images (1, 2) in a local photo-forum and members thought the prey could be a juvenile munia, a sunbird or even a flowerpecker, considering the slim legs. Or even a tailorbird.

The raptor was initially restless as it was being observed (below). It moved from branch to branch with its prey before settling down to eat it. Gripping the dead bird firmly in its claws, it held it against the branch to rip into the flesh with its powerful hooked bill. It appeared that the head was ripped off first, possibly after the neck was snapped by the initial attack.

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The feeding lasted for at least 15 minutes whereby the prey was torn piece by piece. Unlike the Gold-Whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon) he observed earlier feeding on a Eurasian Tree Sparrow whereby the prey had to be bashed against the branch to kill it, this time around he only saw a lifeless prey being dismembered.

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jytou of PhotoMalaysia wrote: “…think it is a tailorbird as well…. the rump should be red or orange if it is a flowerpecker, also the brown coloration does not quite fit, the red on the head is likely flesh, most predators kill by bitting at their neck so they cant breath…” The images were sent to KC Tsang, our birder-photographer and he wrote, “This looks like a tailorbird, because of longish tail, and colour…”

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