“I was at the beach at the East Coast Park last Sunday (20 Feb 2011) where I witnessed at close range the strangest incident involving a Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) and an Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica). The incident left me dumbfounded. Until then I would never have expected a kingfisher to attack and kill another bird. Unbelievably, that was what it did before my very eyes.
“I saw the Collared Kingfisher swooping down from its perch on a casuarina tree (Casuarina equisetifolia) and flying into the canopy of the adjacent pong pong tree (Cerbera odollam). Without ever stopping on its flight, it snatched something large and brown between its beak and flew out ascending towards its former perch. It wasn’t until it dropped the ‘thing’ from a considerable height (before disappearing beyond the casuarina tree) that I realised it was a bird. The ‘thing’ fluttered on the ground a few short seconds and stayed still. I went up to inspect and found the Asian Brown Flycatcher already dead (above).
“The kingfisher did not return to its kill as I lay in wait for another half hour. What I heard, though, is its laughter somewhere nearby. I put the poor bird below the foot of the casuarina tree and as I walked away, I can’t help feeling that the kill was a fun kill – my feeling, no doubt, accentuated by the raucous cackling of a bird that (forgive me for saying so) almost sounded wicked.
“Note: The photo of the dead flycatcher was first taken with a handphone, printed and re-taken with a digital camera.
“When I related the incident to Prof Cheong Loong Fah, he followed up by searching the literature. He checked Wells (1999) and found a report of the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) attacking the young of Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) and White-rumped Sharma (Copsychus malabaricus) as well as munias (Lonchura sp.). [However, there is no report of the Collared Kingfisher attacking birds in Wells (1999). But Woodall (2011) reports this species taking ‘less commonly, eggs, nestlings and small birds such as honeyeaters (Lichmera), and mice’]”
22nd February 2011
1. Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.
2. Woodall, P. F., 2001. Family Alcedinidae (Kingfishers). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 6. Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 130-249.