White-throated Kingfisher attacks monitor lizard

posted in: Intraspecific, Kingfishers, Videography | 3

Tony Chooi came across a White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) (above left) dive-bombing a Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator) (above right) while calling loudly in a canal in Singapore’s Kallang Industrial Estate. This canal is just next to a busy highway. Tony had the presence of mind to record the incident with his pocket-cam. The video was then posted on YouTube.

Lena Chow, our regular contributor, learnt about Tony’s encounter and persuaded him to share his experience with our viewers. Said Lena, “Looks like the monitor lizard population has grown a fair bit, and they are making their way into urban areas, and into Kingfisher territory. Perhaps also there was a nest in one of the weepholes in the canal?”

Tony’s story: ” Well, when I first noticed the bird (due to its loud call), it was on the nearside of the canal and I saw it dive at least half a dozen times before I decided to take a closer look at what it was diving at. (I thought it was fish). Then when I saw the monitor lizard, I ran back to the car to fetch the digicam, still not knowing that the bird was targeting the reptile. I shot the bird first, then went to the bank and shot the lizard, before it decided to swim across to the other bank. And then I saw the continued attacks by the bird, and I took the video. Sorry about the jerky footage; it was on 16x zoom. I reckon the attack went on and on and on…”

Tony Chooi
June 2011

3 Responses

  1. Gretchen

    Interesting interspecies interaction! Would this be the kingfisher trying to protect eggs or fledglings? Or is the water monitor just a competitor for fish?

  2. Howard Banwell

    It is amazing indeed what birds will take on when they feel a necessity.

    I agree with YC that it is most likely the Kingfisher has a nest nearby. Hard to believe it would make this effort for any other reason

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