Black Baza in comfort behaviour

on 12th January 2011

“The Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) is a small bird of prey. This species can be easily recognised by its uniquely coloured plumage and its prominent crest of erected feathers. Although its upperpart plumage may look black, traces of chestnut colour and irregular spots of white could be found on its wings. It has a band of white across its breast with chestnut-coloured bars below. During peak migration periods, large spectacular flocks that may number hundreds can be sighted in Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia. Only a small fraction of these arrive to winter in Singapore. It is a common passage migrant and winter visitor in Singapore.

“Although common during their winter stay, Black Bazas are rather shy and will normally fly off when they sensed that they are being watched. It was a pleasure to observe a Black Baza indulging in comfort behaviour in a barren tree that was more than 30 metres away and surrounded by dense thickets (above and below left). It remained there for more than 30 minutes, preening and stretching its wings occasionally.

“Interestingly, some of our resident birds, namely the Black-Naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis) and Pink-Necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans), were seen arriving to perch and bask in the morning sun (above right). They showed no fear of the visitor as they perched on the same tree, but were at a respectable distance. From Wikipedia, Black Bazas: ‘have been observed to attempt capturing small birds such as wagtails by making dashes into flocks.’ Whether orioles or pigeons are part of its diet is unknown. These birds were completely ignored as the Black Baza continued its preening session. The resident birds were also indulging in comfort behaviour, but did not remain for long. The Black Baza departed by flying off into the wooded area.

“An interesting note of this individual was the unusual, huge white spots that surround each of its eyes. They appeared to look like oversized eye-rings. A check on images from the internet including Oriental Bird Club did not reveal any Black Bazas that have such a feature. Is this feature really unusual or is it something that has been missed and not well documented?”

Kwong Wai Chong
6th January 2011

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

One Response

  1. The time of occurrence may affect the alertness of the other birds to the raptors, in my garden, I had heard of observations of the local Crested Goshawk successfully caught the Spotted Doves for a few mornings, but yet one evening, I saw Spotted Doves boldly perched on the rooftops where the Crested Goshawk was probably less than 5 meters away on a pole.

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