Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo eating caterpillar

on 18th June 2015

Chan Yoke Meng’s images of the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis) manipulating a caterpillar were photographed at Punggol Barat. This rare winter visitor flies in from Australia during the southern winter months of May to August.

Caterpillars are a favourite food for birds LINK.

However, there is a need to prepare the caterpillars before swallowing, especially those covered with hairs.

This involves rubbing it against a branch or moving it along its length when clamped between the mandibles to remove the stomach content LINK.

The Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) was observed swinging the caterpillar in the air to get rid of its gut content LINK.

This seems to be the same strategy used by the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo as shown in the accompanying images. In the fourth and fifth images from the top, the greenish gut content is apparent in the posterior end of the caterpillar. Once the stomach content is got rid of, what remains of the caterpillar is swallowed.

The caterpillar does not come from a butterfly but probably from a moth. We consulted Khew Sin Khoon of Butterfly Circle who confirmed out suspicion. However, as our local moths have not been thoroughly studied, the identification of this particular caterpillar will have to wait…

Chan Yoke Meng & Khew Sin Khoon
June 2015

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

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.

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