Birds feeding on alate termites

“Birds feeding on termites/flying ants is an experience I have enjoyed since childhood. At this extensive rice-farming site, I arrived in heavy rain that lasted until nearly 10.30am. The birds were hungry, the sky still dark and the presence of a swarm of termites all over was just right. I have noticed that these events usually happen after a strong rain, possibly forcing these insects out. The wind was still very strong making feeding a challenge and the most successful were the White-throated Kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis) (above) and Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus) (below). A wind-blown Brown Shrike with its termite prey is shown at botton-left.

“Yellow Vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier analis) and Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis tristis) were also involved with less success. A pair of Drongos (possibly Black Drongo) were also actively feeding but I spotted them late and they flew off before a good ID (below right). Most bird either waited on the ground (especially kingfishers) or a low bush and sallied upwards to get their prey. The feeding was going on over the entire area and possibly hundreds of birds scattered all over were involved. I focused on a few to try and get some images for composites.”

“I watched for 25 minutes before moving on in search of harriers.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
26th November 2013

Location: Ulu Dedap, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Extensive rice farming area with many nearby rivers

3 Responses

  1. Gretchen

    Very interesting – I had no idea that kingfishers would do this. I didn’t know they would “fly-catch” this way. I guess there were only White-throated Kingfishers involved? Nice composite pictures showing the behavior.

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