Large woodshrike delighted crowds at Chek Jawa, Singapore

Family: Vangidae

Name: Large Woodshrike (Tephrodornis gularis, also known as Tephrodornis virgatus)

Interesting snippets: The woodshrikes used to be placed with the shrikes (Family Laniidae) but is now placed in its own family. Shares many similarities with Laniidae members but are more variable in morphology, size and diet.

Photo 1. Tephrodornis gularis caught a lizard for its meal.

BESGroup is delighted to share Art Toh’s photographs of the Large woodshrike, Tephrodornis gularis (also known as Tephrodornis virgatus), taken on 3 April 2022 at Chek Jawa boardwalk. This is a very rare non-breeding visitor from India, China and South-East Asia. The only record of this bird’s presence in Singapore is from 22 October 2018 at the Jelutong Tower, MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

Art and birder friends Tang Choon Siang, Andy Lee and Herman Phua visited Pulau Ubin on Sunday 3 April 2022 to look for the Red Knot (Calidris canutus) that was spotted the day before. At Chek Jawa, Art Toh decided to look for the Red Knot at Frog Island (Pulau Sekudu) whilst the other three friends split up on the boardwalk to look for the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus hirundinaceus) that had been sighted in the vicinity.

Tang Choon Siang saw a Brown Shrike that looked different and informed Art. Art peered through his lens and noticed that the bird was larger than a Brown Shrike. Art informed a big group of seasoned birders who were at the jetty then who soon made their way to join the four friends on the boardwalk. Lim Kim Chuah positively identified the bird as a Large Woodshrike.

The bird tripled the joys of the birders present by staying in the vicinity throughout the day, hunting and singing non-stop whenever it perched. The Large Woodshrike was observed to catch mostly caterpillars but caught a large lizard too. The bird remained in the vicinity throughout 4 April 2022 and 5 April 2022.

Another group of photographers who were at Pulau Ubin on 4 March 2022 were rewarded with the rare sighting of two Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus hirundinaceus).

Photo 2. Largewoodshrike perched high on a tree looking out for potential food prey.
Photo 3. Large Woodshrikes adopt wait-and-see strategy of catching prey.
Photo 4. Large Woodshrike documented attempting to catch a prey in midair.
Photo 5. Bird pursuing insect prey with speed. Photographer captured the exact moment when the bird shot through the air while in a stream-lined shape.
Photo 6. Large Woodshrike in the process of taking off from its perch.
Photo 7. The bird launched into its flight path.
Photo 8. Large Woodshrike in flight.

All photographs courtesy of Art Toh.

Article by Art Toh and Teo Lee Wei.


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.


Find out more about the Large Woodshrikes by reading and


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