White-breasted Waterhen family swimming together

on 8th November 2017

WaterhenWB-falimy [ThongChowNgian] 1

“It was a great delight to watch a family of 5 White-breasted Waterhens (Amaurornis phoenicurus) swimming together (above) in an artificial pond at Pasir Ris Park on 27th October 2017. Two adult birds were leading 3 fluffy black chicks across the pond. I have seen this species countless of times walking or flying but this is the very first time that I had observed this species of Rail swimming.

“The wonderful thing about observing nature is that it is full of surprises; you never know what it will throw at you. There is always something new to observe in a common species that may display an uncommon behaviour. What a treat!

WaterhenWB-falimy [ThongChowNgian] 2

“The birds were swimming like a family of ducks, gliding smoothly across the shallow pond. However, the waterhens were using their feet which had elongated toes without webbings (above). These feet were probably less efficient in paddling under water but still able to allow the birds to glide effortlessly.

WaterhenWB-falimy [ThongChowNgian] 3

“It is always difficult to identify the gender of this species because they are solitary birds. However, with the two adults seen side by side, it is a great opportunity to easily compare and observe the physical differences (above). There are 2 obvious differences. The bird that is furthest away has a bigger head and body. Its beak also looks different. The dorsal ridge (or Culmen) of the upper mandible, ends higher up the forehead. It also has a greater amount of red colour on its upper mandible. I suspect this is the male bird.”

Thong Chow Ngian
31st Octover 2017

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 Responses

  1. I hand raised a white breasted water hen. It now lives in the wild but comes home daily to eat some worms we keep for feeding. I have some close ups if anyone wants to see.

  2. This was a lovely post. We have a water hen living in our garden for about 18 months, and wondered why it was mostly alone. now we know – it is a solitary bird !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)