William Chua’s image of a Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) atop a lotus fruit (Lelumbo nucifera) casting a pellet was documented at Satay by the Bay, the food establishment at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.
The dramatic image shows the kingfisher gaping widely with its tongue sticking out and the sizable pellet that just emerged from its throat, frozen for posterity.
Birdwatchers have always known that raptors and owls cast pellets consisting of compacted undigested materials like feathers, bones, hairs, etc. It was only after Chan Yoke Meng’s posting of his images of a Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) casting a pellet in April 2006 that they slowly became aware of pellet casting by non-raptorial birds LINK.
The subsequent publication of the paper by Wang et al. (2009) PDF encouraged photographers to seek out pellet-casting among birds other than raptors and owls.
Photographers should now keep an eye on pellet casting by shorebirds like curlews, greenshanks, plovers, rails and sandpipers. Also, gulls, crows and herons…
William Chua & YC Wee
This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.