Black-naped Oriole manipulating a katylid

on 31st January 2013

“I was at a location near my home in the morning of 20 Jan 2013 when I saw a Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) flying into a Sea Apple tree (Syzygium grande) in front of me a short distance away. From my camera view finder, I could see it was bashing a winged insect held in its bill against a branch. After some time a wing of the prey dropped followed by another later. It was a trying time for me to hold the camera steady while taking the video. After about 3 min. it suddenly flew to another tree nearby out of sight.

“On review of the video taken, it appeared that the prey had slipped from the bird’s grasp. I went to the foot of the tree but was unable to find the prey, even as the ground was as good as the cowgrass fairway of the nearby Island Country Club without twigs and fallen leaves . It seemed that the bird may have retrieved the dropped prey while it was on its way down.

“On review at home through the computer monitor, at slow motion, more details of the event emerged:
a) the prey appeared to be a Katydid because of the very long antennae;
b) something that looked like a leg of the prey broke off @ 8sec;
c) the combination of head and furious twisting neck movements. I have noticed sometime back that spotted doves has this kind of neck flicking ability HERE. Now it looks like all birds that bash their preys, such as kingfishers and bee eaters, should also have such ability;
d) one of the prey’s forewings broke off after some bashings;
e) this was followed later by one of the hindwings;
f) at the end of the video, viewing frame by frame, the body of the prey broke off from the other hindwings which was being held in the bird’s bill. With lightning fast reaction, the bird immediately launch itself to retrieve it and might have been successful since I was unable to locate it on the ground.

“The first 30 sec of the edited video is in normal speed while the other segments are shown in slow motion at quarter speed. There is no sound track in this video.”

Sun Chong Hong
22nd January 2013

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.

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