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

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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.

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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