Save MacRitchie Forest: 18. Night birds

posted in: Conservation, Fauna | 3

Appeal to Singapore’s Land Transport Authority to re-route the proposed cross-island MRT line away from the MacRitchie forest – sign the petition HERE.

Those who have made night walks through the MacRitchie forest will invariable encounter nocturnal birds. These are the species that become active only during the night. The commonest species are the handful of resident and migratory owls that find refuge in forests. In the darkness of the night they can easily be located by their series of hoots.

The locally threatened Buffy Fish-owl (Ketupa ketupu) can be seen near the water edge of the reservoir (above). It also occurs outside of forests, in wooded parks and gardens. The other resident, the Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo), is found under similar circumstances (below). Although owls are nocturnal by nature, they have been seen drinking and even bathing during the mornings and evenings, as seen HERE and HERE. A Spotted Wood-owl has even been seen sunning itself in the middle of the day HERE.

Owls spend the daylight hours quietly perching on a branch of a tree hidden by foliage. When detected by other birds, the owl is often mobbed LINK. According to Subaraj Rajathurai, these can possibly be recently fledged owls that have yet to learn how to roost in a way not to be easily detected by other birds.

We also get migratory owls taking refuge in this forest as well as outside. The Oriental Scops-owl (Otus sunia) is a rare winter visitor and passage migrant. It breeds in the north and migrates through the Indian subcontinent, South China to Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and North Sumatra. It can be seen in early November through to late February.

Another migrant is the Brown Boobook, also known as Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata) (above). It is crepuscular and nocturnal, starting to hunt before dusk along the forest edge. It is a resident species as well as an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant.

Nightjars are also nocturnal birds, although many become active during conditions when lighting is low, like during dawn and dusk, sometimes also during a dull day or a moonlit night.

The common Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) is common and found throughout Singapore (above). It is seen along forest paths and edges as well as in open country, nesting on the ground. Its excellent camouflage defies detection until one walks right near to the nest when the bird will suddenly fly off and lands nearby, faking injury to lure the intruder away from the nest LINK.

Malaysian-eared Nightjar (Eurostopodus temminckii) is a rare resident and a locally threatened species. It can be located along the forest edge as well as in scrub areas. On the other hand the Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus) is a rare winter visitor and passage migrant. It takes refuge in this as well as other forests as well as areas where there are wild growths.

Another group of nocturnal and crepuscular birds are some of the herons. These forage near the edge of the reservoir. The Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is largely crepuscular and nocturnal (above). It does feed in the day especially during the breeding season. The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) feeds by day (below). However, due to competition from the diurnal species that sometimes displace them, they may feed at night LINK.

Credit: YC Wee (text), Johnny Wee (images) & Subaraj Rajathurai (comment).

Earlier Posts:
1. Saving MacRitchie forest: A youngster’s view LINK
2: Introduction LINK
3: Flying Lemur LINK
4: Mammals LINK
5. Fragile frogs and tender tadpoles LINK
6. Refuge for reptiles LINK
7. Eco-performance LINK
8. You can’t see the wood from the trees LINK
9. Sanctuary for spiders LINK
10. Chained to our roots LINK
11. Plants LINK
12. Birds and their status.LINK
13. Mushrooms LINK
14. Butterflies, jewels of the forest LINK
15. A pangolin’s plea LINK
16. Stinkhorn fungus and butterflies LINK
17. Sensless killing of a Flying Lemur LINK
18. A pangolin came for a visit. LINK

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