Blue-winged Pitta and the Changeable Lizard

on 7th January 2014

Jeremiah Loei was at Singapore’s Bididari LINK in October 2013 to observe the Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis). This attractively coloured bird is an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant that arrives around October to leave in the early part of April.

The Blue-winged Pitta was lurking in the undergrowth when it suddenly flew into the open, landing close to a resting Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor). The lizard made a grab at the pitta, missing it by centimetres. The pitta flew off to land on the ground nearby. It then raised its wings and flapped them a few times to appear larger that what it was. The lizard turned around but did not move away, despite the pitta making limited wing movements. There was no further confrontation. This is an interesting interspecific behaviour.

Jeremiah Loei
December 2013

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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.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. Am I right to say both the pitta and the lizard are too small to eat each other? In that case, what could this confrontation possibly mean?

  2. I am sure you are right… The confrontation was caused by the accidental landing of the pitta… too near the lizard?

  3. Dear Jeremiah,

    Such an opportunity shot to catch the startled Pitta in action..
    The behaviour of raising its wings to look bigger is it’s natural defence mechanism to try frighten off the potential predator.

    I had the good fortune to witness a male in Dec. Apart from raising its wings to try ‘sho’ off a potential predator, was doing sideways movements, strutting like a Spanish dancer. Unfortunately, upon hearing my approach, both did a runner and had no photographic opportunity. Will make a short article of it when I get into my writing mood. It was unusual to see a Pitta in my area.



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