Eddy Swan was at the Japanese Garden on 21st November 2013 photographing kingfishers. Suddenly he heard the alarm call of a Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus). A Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus singapurensis) had a Javan Myna chick firmly clamped between its jaws (below).
The adult mynas around were trying to rescue the chick by attacking the squirrel. Even a Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) joined in the attack.
In trying to protect itself from the attacking mynas, the squirrel dropped its prey but scrambled down to pick it up (below).
It secured its catch and “…started to consume the chick, though after a while it climbed higher and took cover into dense vegetation due to continuous attack from the adult mynas (below),” reported Eddy.
Most squirrels eat nuts, seeds, fruits and plant material, supplementing with insects, sometimes reptiles and yound birds (Macdonald, 1999). A video showing a squirrel eating a bird can be seen HERE. Check out Wikipedia HERE for more information on what squirrels eat.
Tammy Hartnett: “I have seen Red Tree Squirrels predate passerine nestlings here in San Diego, California. It is heartbreaking and I do as much as possible to stop the incident. In our urban area the tree squirrel range is growing and the birds range is decreasing.”
AM: “…I have read that some species of squirrels are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters, meaning they eat whatever is available. So it is not surprising that the squirrel you encountered eats birds too SOURCE. Opportunistic eaters, sun squirrels are omnivorous and will eat just about anything they come across. Many species eat a number of different types of nuts and seeds as well as insects, eggs, and other small animals. Members of the Helioscurius genus have been observed eating reptiles, birds, and amphibians and it is believed that they may also eat other small mammals. Though they are not hunters, they will catch and consume other animals if the opportunity arises. What I’d like to know is, how common this predatory behaviour of birds by squirrels is here in Singapore.”
YC Wee: I have long suspected that the resident Plantain Squirrel in my garden in Singapore is responsible for the failure of the nesting of a pair of Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans) in 2011 LINK as well as the recent death of a Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) chick in the nest, also in my garden.
Credit: Eddy Swan (input, images); Tammy Hartnett (comment); AM (comment) & YC Wee (comment)
Macdonald, D. (ed), 1999. The Encyclopaedia of mammals. Greenwich Editions, London. 895pp.
Lee Chiu San
I have observed squirrels in Singapore eating Calotes lizards and locusts.
These are fantastic images. I have seen squirrels here but they are so elusive it’s impossible to photograph them. Thanks to Eddy for sharing.
Also, in the 2nd photo above, a bird is flying away from the tree. Can anyone identify what bird it is? Is it reacting to the chick-capture incident?
That would be the Collared Kingfisher that joined in the attack.
Ah, ok. I missed that, thanks. Why would a kingfisher aid a myna though? Is it because it also sees the squirrel as a “common enemy”?
I should think so. When an owl is spotted in a tree during the daytime, all the birds (regardless of species) will mob it.
Bird Ecology Study Group Javan Myna takes a gecko
[…] “I thought it was interesting to see interaction between creatures that live so close to us (with reference to to the post of a plantian squirrel eating a mynah chick too LINK).” […]
although it might bring you great joy if this chick was saved, but we are not supposed to interfere. even if you saved the chick,it might have multiply broken bones and might not even survive under human care.
Squirrels are little pricks.
In the local parks cases happen all the time of them eating duck and pigeon eggs, and even attacking chipmunks and ducklings (there are also reports of squirrels raping chipmunks, unconfirmed)but yah, basically disgusting, nasty little bastards. If it weren’t for the local crows and garter snakes they would probably have chased off pretty well everything.
I’ve also heard stories of them attacking lap dogs (unconfirmed).
Good to know. Thanks Mei.
Bird Ecology Study Group Plantain Squirrel: More on its food
[…] squirrel also eats birdling like that of the common Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) LINK and possibly also that of the Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) […]