White-throated Kingfisher attacks monitor lizard

on 27th June 2011

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

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

3 Responses

  1. 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. 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)