“Black-thighed Falconets (Microhierax fringillarius) are one of the most difficult raptors to image or watch well, due to the small size and fast speed. The common nesting sites for Black-thighed Falconets in the city are small holes in limestone cliffs scatted around the city. I have seen a number of nests over the years.
“This particular family was nesting ~40 meters up a cliff surface in a small crack and had recently fledged. They return to the nest at night to roost. I initially thought there were 5 juveniles today, as I had seen 3 on a branch and 2 more still in the nest. But after watching for ~2 hours I recognised that it was 4 juveniles with 2 adults and 1 helper adult.
“The juveniles were kept on a high tree branch and adults hunted some distance away, up to 50-60 meters. Prey was brought to juveniles carried in the feet but delivered using the beak. Prey was killed before being present to juveniles. The primary prey brought to the juveniles today was dragonflies, although butterflies, bees and small birds are also documented.
“All four images above show one juvenile feeding on a Carpenter Bee, most likely the Xylocopa latipes (Tropical Carpenter Bee). The prey is held in one claw and small pieces are pulled off with the beak. Note the rufous on the parts of the head in the juveniles that are usually white in adults.
“The above shows a feeding episode. It can be a melee, with them competing for the prey brought by the parent. Here two were demanding feeds and one got the dragonfly prey.
“The above juvenile was a bit odd. I watched it (have a number of images) actually biting into the bark. It was not just cleaning the beak on the branch but I observed it bite into the branch with chips of bark/wood coming off.
“A composite image (superimposed to allow for comparison) of the juvenile (above) and adult in flight. The family was flying around as parents were encouraging juveniles to move to a new feeding site.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
15th May 2019
Location: Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Limestone hills at outskirts of the city