© Crouching Barbet Snares Flying Dragon

on 18th September 2018

“Rows of matured, evergreen trees stand erect on an open landed property. Canopy entwined, they block morning sunshine, leaving ground level dark, damp and a bit spooky. Together with two, old tree trunks with branches stripped of foliage; they stand melancholically, challenging the test of time, total decay and waiting mans’ destruction by development. Evidence of vacated homes, once belonged to avian cavity nesters was observed on these tree trunks.

“I have passed this road numerous times before – in this peaceful historical town of Taiping, Perak, P. Malaysia. But… this time, I had a hunch… intuitively felt the urge to tarry a little and so, parked my vehicle and decided to investigate further.

“Noisy, frenzy flock of Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) drew my attention closer to the evergreen trees, as they fed off epiphytic berries shrouding tree canopy.

“My approach spooked two brown looking birds on low branch. I raised my optics in time to identify one with pink, large bill and orange feet to be a Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosus). It took flight while the other, crouched and perched motionless on camouflaged tree branch, played dead thinking its 20cm size and colour would have me fooled.

“The female adult was not alone. In her pink, chunky bill, a flying/gliding lizard or Common Flying Dragon had just been snared and was not prepared to let go breakfast prey (above).

“The predatory female wasted no time to concuss the lizard vigorously over perched tree branch, knocked the daylights off the Flying Dragon and sent its yellow gular flap to hang out stiff (above, below).

“The endemic lizard of Southeast Asia was further subjected to lasso swings resulting in the male Agamidae to reveal its bluish patagia-winged like lateral skin extensions (below).

“Having totally immobilized the Flying Dragon that glided no more, the probable, parenting female barbet flew off, led by first bird – a helper that was waiting a little distance away.

“September month is approaching end of breeding season for Brown Barbets. While barbet species are known to be mostly frugivores, my observations have been had of this species to include insects, lizard species in their diet especially in feeding their young.

“Reference to such food behaviours in my older articles are as follows: 2011 – Foraging Behaviour of Endemic Brown Barbet – Gecko (Borneo) LINK and 2013 – Insect courts death with Brown Barbet (P. Malaysia) LINK.

“No photographic records of Calorhamphus fuliginosus known available to date to include Draco volans in their diet; making this intuitive, birding observation a new record contributed to BESG.”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang Malaysia
14th September 2018

Copyright article and all copy images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

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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