Red-throated Barbet – feeding on custard apple

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants | 0

I went back to an old run-down orchard at the city-fringe where I had seen barbets feeding. Observed both the male and female adult Red-throated Barbets (Megalaima mystacophanos mystacophanos) feeding on the custard Apple fruit Annona squamosa; very confiding even at 3-4 meters.

Came repeatedly to self-feed as well as collect fruit for young (nesting). Both parents took turns to feed, then fill the beak with the soft, ripe fruit and fly back to the nest. This happened many times over 1.5 hours.

Other birds also came to feed including the Yellow-vented Bubuls, Black-naped Orioles and Asian Glossy Starlings.

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Semi-urban environment

Date: 18th June 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


Blyth’s Hawk-eagle

posted in: birds, Raptors | 0

Was cleaning out my old, unprocessed images and spotted this Blyth’s Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus alboniger) seen in the lowlands with prey. Generally prefers montane habitat.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Edge of forest reserve

Date: 17th November 2009

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

posted in: birds | 0

Less common to see Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus hirundinaceus) in recent years and considered near-threatened in Peninsular Malaysia (Handbook of the BIrds of the World Alive 2020).


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Date: 23rd January 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Black-winged Kite – calls, aerial-quartering

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous, Raptors, Vocalisation | 0

Saw a number of Black-winged Kites (Elanus caeruleus vociferous) at this site – pairs and single birds. One pair interested me as they were calling out to each other. There were other raptors, Brahminy Kites and many Harriers around, but not could be considered intruders (not interfering or threatening) apart from me. Hence I felt the calls were a communication between the pair and were made when apart from each other; very soon after I saw them mating (below).

The calls were made often and without the beak opened. The calls were the classical piping whistle – sonogram and waveform, see below…

…and an edited audio recording here:

I also saw one of the birds foraging by aerial-quartering – hovering above the dry paid fields looking for prey and making a fast drop to capture it. Hard to show this on static images (composite images shown above, taken 7.30am) and a gif-video (no time for conventional video) here:


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Ulu Dedap, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive Rice Growing region, providing wetlands

Date: 7th February 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


Black-Crowned night heron at Shanghai Bund

posted in: bird, Black-crowned night heron | 0

A Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, was spotted overlooking the water at Shanghai Bund Wharf on 31 July 2017.  Wong Kais had the luck to see this bird in Shanghai but not in Singapore. The bird was trying to fish from the edge of the Huangpu River.

Photo 1. Black-crowned night heron spotted at Shanghai Bund Wharf on 31 July 2017. It was not flustered by people visiting the area. The white nuchal plumes have been blown by the strong wind towards the left.
Photo 2. The black-crowned night heron staring intently into the water.
Photo 3. The white nuchal plume stands out in stark contrast against its dark grey back feathers.


Video of the black-crowned night heron fishing at the Shanghai Bund.


All photos and video © Wong Kais.

Article by Teo Lee Wei



2. Handbook of the Birds of the World © 1996 vol. 1

Black-eared Shrike-Babbler – social group

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop., Sex | 0

I had an extended opportunity to watch a social group of Black-eared Shrike-Babblers (Pteruthius melanotis tahanensis) forage together. Although usually encountered as solitary birds, they are occasionally seen as family or social units. There were 2 adult males, 2 adult females and 2 juveniles in this social group.

An adult male.

An adult female.

A juvenile.

Another juvenile.

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: 1,700m ASL,Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail through primary jungle

Date: 6th August 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


Pin-striped Tit Babbler – group display

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous, Vocalisation | 0

Post 1.

I was privileged to watch a social group of 4 Pin-striped Tit Babblers (Macronus (Mixornis) gularis gularis) displaying together. I have in the past occasionally seen this common babbler display individually – arches the back and points the beak skyward when calling out. On this occasion I saw a group of 4 birds do this continually for 7 minutes. The will rapidly move the body from a horizontal position to a vertical or arched backward posture, repeatedly, while calling out. There was no conflict between the group. Post 1 and 2 show 2 birds and Post 3 and 4 show individual birds. Wells (2007) notes that “Loud song occurs in a group context and groups are suspected to advertise communally”.

Post 2.

The call made during this activity were the common harsh “chrrrt-chrr” or “chrrrt-chrr-chrri” (Robson 2002), but with much variation. A call recording of this group here:

Post 3.

The activity is very fast and best seen by video. I was, as usual, handheld. I tried using a stick as a monopod and a very short clip of the ‘head-bobbing’ activity here:

Note also that one bird had a different coloured, lighter iris (Post 1 lower bird). Most of the Pin-striped Tit Babblers I encounter in my region have a dark red-brown iris. This bird has a lighter, pale yellow colour of the inner part of the iris. I considered some type of albinism but the plumage is normal. Species which occur in the north (Thailand and above) have lighter iris. I wonder if this bird is a M. g. connectens?

Post 4.

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Fruit farming with secondary growth

Date: 21st January 2021

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Assassin bug nymph, Inara (?) sp.

posted in: Arthropod, Assassin bug, camouflage | 0
Photo 1. Assassin bug nymph carrying carcasses of its prey on its back.

Assassin bugs are true bugs which specialise in ambushing their prey.  They use a specialised mouth part, called the rostrum, to pierce their prey, inject a mixture of saliva and enzymes to digest proteins and then suck up the digested mass.

The photograph above shows a nymph (Inara (?) sp. ) with the carcasses of its ant prey. After sucking the ant prey dry, the nymph  uses its last pair of legs to manipulate the ant exoskeleton onto its back.  Scientists theorise that the carcasses imbue the nymph with an odd appearance and thus protects the nymph from its predators.  Another advantage is that the ant carcasses may still exude chemicals which ants use to communicate with each other, thus allowing the nymph to approach similar ants.  This is termed chemical camouflage. The nymph can ambush more of such ants.

The nymphs have been observed to transfer existing ant carcasses to their new exoskeletons after each moult.

Photo 1 © Soh Kam Yung. Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, Singapore. 18 April 2021

Article by Teo Lee Wei



Black-thighed Falconet – leaf ‘presentation’ behaviour

posted in: birds, Courtship-Mating, Raptors | 0

I observed two interesting behaviours by Black-thighed Falconets (Microhierax fringillarius). today in the city. This is a family of four birds, two of which behaved like younger (first year adult) birds. The first behaviour is seen in the image below.

One of the birds plucked a dried winged seed/fruit from an Angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) and flew over to where two other Black-thighed Falconets were located. The item was not offered to the other and was then dropped without retrieving it; possibly because both my wife and I were observing the closely bird. This behaviour is not recorded in Ferguson-Lees & Christie (2001); they mention that the only material used to line nests are insect remains.

In trying to understand this behaviour I looked back at data I had previously read on leaf presentation as possible courtship behaviour in other falconet species. The dried winged seed from the Angsana tree is very much like a leaf. Allen, Holt & Hornbuckle (2002) discuss leaf presenting as a possible courtship behaviour when observing Pied Falconets (Microhierax Melanoleucos). Naoroji (‎1977) was the first to record such behaviour in Collared Falconet (Microhierax caerulescens). There are some lovely images of this behaviour by Pied Falconet (Microhierax melanoleucos) taken by Wang LiQiang (Crew 2018).

Since two of the five Microhierax species show this behaviour, it is reasonable to consider similar courtship behaviour for what we observed in the Black-thighed Falconet. Leaves offered are usually dried leaves. No one has been able to offer an explanation for this behaviour as the leaves are not usually used to line nests. Offering food items as part of the courtship ritual would have more expected.


  1. James Ferguson-Lees, David A. Christie. Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm. 2001
  2. Desmond Allen, Paul Holt, Jon Hornbuckle. Leaf presenting As Possible Courtship Behaviour by Pied Falconets Microhierax Melanoleucos. The journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 2002; Volume 99: 518-520. (available here:
  3. Bec Crew. We need to talk about tiny falconets. Australian Geographic. 2018 (available here:


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Urban city environment

Date: 26th October 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld




A pair of Large Niltava

posted in: birds | 0

A pair of Large Niltava (Niltava grandis decipiens) was sighted along a primary jungle mountain trail. Male bird is shown above, female below.

This pair of birds was seen together.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Habitat: 1300 m ASL, trail along primary montane jungle

Date: 19th November 2018

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld


26 Responses

  1. kris

    I just found a young dollarbird in the garden.. It seems to have left the nest too early and cannot fly yet. How am i to keep and feed it for a few days untill it can fly.???

  2. Iwan

    We have a small pond in our garden surrounded by trees and steep bedrock. The other day we saw a heron flying over and attempting to land – I guess to try to eat our small stock of fish. We managed to frighten it away before it landed, and have since installed trip wires around the pond in order to dissuade the bird. The amount of shelter around the pond means that a heron would have to land practically vertically. Does anyone know whether these birds have the agility to hover and land in this way, or do they always need a “glidepath” in order to land successfully?

  3. Khng Eu Meng

    Today, at the former Bidadari Cemetery, there was a buzz about a sighting of a Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). I heard some birders say this nightjar isn’t commonly seen in Singapore. After some hunting, we spotted it asleep on a tree branch, some 15 m above ground. This was rather interesting as my previous encounters with nightjars have been on either terra firma or on low branches.

    Is this perching so high up the tree normal or is it unusual? I have posted a photo of it on my Facebook Timeline:

  4. Jess

    Bird Sanctuary At Former Bidadari Cementry

    1)Which is the best spot in Bidadari cemetery for bird watch?

    2)Where this bird usually resident at?

    3)What are some of the rare bird species that can be found at Bidadari?

    4)Where is the particular hot spot for the hornbills, eagles, kingfishers and some of the rare migratory bird?

    5)Which part of Bidadari are richest in it wildlife?

    6)Can you name me the 59 migratory bird species found?

  5. YC

    Why not search the website using the word ‘Bidadari’ to obtain the information you need. There should be sufficient info in past postings to satisfy you.

  6. Firdaus Razak

    Hai, I just want to ask did anybody had an experience bring bird from oversea via MasKargo? Did the bird will stress at high altitude?

  7. Chung Wah

    Hi, I am new to bird photography! Could anyone advise a good pair of binoculars to get for this hobby?

  8. Geam Liang

    I ‘acquired’ a female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 5 days ago – was in a public place when the bird flew overhead hit the wall and dropped right in front of me dazed. I picked it up, it appeared unhurt but could not sustain it’s flight. I have since constructed a fairly large ‘cage’ for it, about 4ft x 2fx x 2ft and placed it there last night. I temporarily placed her in a normal bird cage until I had completed the build.
    From what I have read up, it’s a fruit, seed and insect feeder and also nectar, flower buds. It’s doing as well as it can on bananas, papaya, jack-fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loves to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as it easily succumbs to infection.
    Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on it’s upkeep? I suspect this bird is an escapee – as far as I can read up, it’s not common, if at all, found in Georgetown, Penang where I am. I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain it’s flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.
    I can attach some pictures but not sure how to do this…

  9. Lee Chiu San

    The blue-crowned hanging parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You would raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.

    The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix.

    How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker. Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up.

    In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day.

    Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a blue-crowned hanging parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken.

    If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.

  10. Lee Chiu San

    About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily.

    If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.

  11. Geam Liang

    Thank you Chiu San for your inputs. Thus far, bananas and papayas work well. I’m not sure why it did not take to grapes – will try again. Am I supposed to peel it? I didn’t the last time, basically skewered a couple of grapes to a satay stick and positioned it as I did for the sliced and skinned papaya and peeled bananas.
    I have yet to try rice and certainly not nectar but will try out your concoction – have half a mind to go to a pet shop to see if they carry nectar for birds. The ice-cube freeze method is a good one, will try that. I might be mistaken on the sunflower seeds… not touched but it did eat the much smaller roundish, mixed colored seeds. Will remove the sunflower seeds.
    I’m sure it’s a female blue crowned hanging parrot.. it sleeps like a bat every night.

  12. Lee Chiu San

    When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts. As to your remark that the bird sleeps hanging upside down like a bat, yes, that is the way blue-crowned hanging parrots sleep.

  13. Geam Liang

    Thanks… I need to think like a bird – yup. She has probably not seen a grape much less know that it’s edible, unless the previous owner has fed her with grapes… even then… Today she’s done pretty well making the most of the banana and all of the papaya plus quite a bit of seeds. Will try the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup.
    Will regular honey do instead of rose syrup?

  14. Lee Chiu San

    About making nectar to feed birds. Most aviculturalists do not use honey for two reasons: 1. It is expensive and does not seem to give any added benefits. 2. Honey is made by bees, and the composition varies wildly. Some honeys are also known to cause fungal infection in birds.

    If you do not want to buy a huge bottle of rose syrup just for one tiny bird, there are cheaper alternatives. The first is plain table sugar, though most don’t seem to like it very much.

    What many birds will accept quite readily as a sweetener is condensed milk – the type with sugar that coffee shop owners use.

    Many, many birds have a sweet tooth (or should I say sweet beak?) Besides the usual suspects of lories, lorikeets, sunbirds and hummingbirds, for whom it is an essential part of the diet, nectar mixture is readily consumed by mynahs, leafbirds, fairy bluebirds, barbets, doves, parrots of all kinds, and a whole host of other species.

  15. Geam Liang

    I tried the condensed mild, placed in in a small bottle cap.. only the ants showed interest. Am I supposed to dilute it? I didn’t =( I took you advice and refrained from honey. Have yet to find Rose Syrup from the shelves of TESCO… will try to mix the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup/sugar syrup this week…

  16. David Thackray

    Can anyone help me identify a bird I saw in Singapore last week. Size of a smakll dove or thrush. Dark metallic back. Grey breast with red throat, chest.

  17. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers

  18. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers.

  19. Mahadevi Bhuti

    One of best souce for the bird watcher’s enjoying knowledge about ornithology

  20. Martin Nyffeler (PhD)

    Dear Sir / Dear Madame,

    I am a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at a University in Switzerland and I urgently need to get in touch with photographer Chan Yoke Meng, who takes beautiful photographs of birds near Singapore. Would you please mail me the email address of this photographer!


  21. Wee Ming

    Hello Besgroup,

    Trust this email finds you well. We chance upon your photograph on your website and found the amazing image of the Laced Woodpecker and durians. We would like to explore the possibility of getting permission to use them for a new Bird Park in Singapore.

    Spacelogic is a company based in Singapore and we have been contracted by Mandai Park Development to carry out design and build works relating to the exhibition interpretive displays in this new Bird Park.

    Some background of the new Mandai Bird Park project; it will build upon the legacy of the Jurong Bird Park – by retaining and building upon a world-reference bird collection and creating a place of colour and joy for all visitors. The new Bird Park will have a world-reference ornithological collection displayed in a highly immersive way with large walk-through habitats. To enhance visitors’ experience with storyline and narrative of the bird park, transition spaces are added to display exhibits that provide a varied type of fun, intuitive, interactive and educational experiences for all visitors. One of the habitats features the Laced Woodpecker on a flora panel It is in this flora panel that we are seeking your permission to feature the Laced Woodpecker. We are looking to use the first image on the link here.
    Link can be found here:

    We would like to ask if this is something that we can explore further and if yes, how can we go about with putting through a formal permission request. Thank you so much for considering our request and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Warmest Regards,
    Wee Ming
    SPACElogic Pte Ltd

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