“While taking a morning stroll along a canal on 23 April 2011, I was admiring the avenue of mature raintrees along the shaded sidewalk (left). Then a flash of aquamarine blue caught my eye as I scanned the shallow waters that were receding with the falling tide.

“Upon investigation, I found that a Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) had successfully captured a fish and was holding it securely within its beak (below left). The kingfisher then repeatedly bashed the fish against the branch until it ceased struggling. However, instead of swallowing it, the kingfisher then flew across to the opposite bank and entered a hole in the vertical wall (below right). Within seconds, the kingfisher had emerged and returned to its perch and resumed scanning the waters below. It continually repeated its cycle of fishing, bashing and entering the same hole, most certainly for the purpose of feeding its chick/chicks nesting in the darkness.

“Both parents were to be seen around the vicinity at most times and maintained constant visual and/or vocal contact with each other. On one occasion, I witnessed one of the kingfishers actually dive-bomb a stray cat that had inadvertently wandered within a 10 metre radius of its active nesthole. For a relatively small kingfisher, their protective instinct over their progeny is certainly quite remarkable. I wish these parents every success in raising their family along this canal and hope to see adorable fledglings in time to come.”

Dr Leong Tzi Ming

5th May 2011

3 Responses

    • Leong Tzi Ming

      Dear Dato Dr Amar,

      What appears to be a trickle of water emanating from the rim of the nest-hole are actually remnant streaks of the kingfisher’s faeces. I believe the parents would have ensured that this hole was ‘high and dry’ before starting its family therein.


  1. Sun Chong Hong

    Such man-made holes are called ‘weep holes’. They are created usually near the bottom of retaining walls to allow water to drain off from the soil. This will prevent built up of pressure on the wall. The amount of water flowing out or dripping will obviously depend on rainfall. The hole may be completely dry after a long dry spell.

    The remnant streaks of faeces must be the result of ‘incomplete flushing’ of draining water.

    Weep holes may also be found in external brick or masonry walls of buildings to allow water from inside the building to drain off and evaporate.

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