“I observed an adult male Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis musicus) aggressively attacking an Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in three consecutive episodes. The Asian Water Monitor was swimming in the water at the edge of a limestone escarpment when this happened. The male Oriental Magpie-robin flew out from a branch and ‘buzzed’ the Asian Water Monitor, so much so that the lizard had to submerge (below). It was impressive for a relatively small bird to address a 1.5-2 meter lizard and for the lizard to appear threatened.
“I subsequently noticed that the Oriental Magpie-robin had prey in the beak (below) and realised that the Asian Water Monitor had unwittingly strayed near the magpie-robin nesting site. I watched from quite a distance and identified that the nesting site was 6-7 meters up the face of the limestone, hidden under some massive stalactites (using a hole in the limestone) and not easily seen.
“The Oriental Magpie-robins are highly intelligent birds and they may realise that Asian Water Monitors are expert climbers (I have seen them in barbet nesting holes high up trees). My stay was brief and I saw that prey collected for young was predominately green caterpillars that were branch swiped (below). Both the male and female fed young but only the male defended the nest.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
20th April 2019
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Limestone hill at fringe of city