Dollarbird catching beetle

on 12th January 2009

KC Tsang did it yet again!


“Was at Bidadari and saw a Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) catching a beetle in mid-air, so looks like beetles are another food source for the Dollarbird. Just wondering if the bird managed to swallow such a big prey, and also what kind of beetle is this – if someone can enlighten us on this…”

According to Prof. Cheong Loong Fah, who has been studying insects for many years now, it is possibly a scarab beetle (Family: Scarabaeidae).

The Dollarbird’s common hunting mode is aerial capture of free-flying insects. This KC did witness. KC was wondering whether the bird managed to swallow such a large beetle. This means he did not witness the actual swallowing. Pity! Skeptics may say that the bird was just curious about the beetle. So was the beetle a food source or a play item? Did the beetle escaped from the bird’s bill? This we will never know.

However, according to Wells (1999): “Large cicadas, mantids, ants and orthopterans have been identified among other prey.” So the beetle has been recorded as its prey. Phew! But not sure whether whoever reported these insects as food, actually saw them being swallowed and subsequently not vomited out. The beauty of observations without photographic evidence is that there is no way to know whether the act actually happened unless you write to whoever reported the observations.

But give use photographic evidence anytime.

Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.

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.

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