White-breasted kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) asks what is for lunch

posted in: bird, white-breasted kingfisher | 0

The white-breasted kingfisher is also known as the white-throated kingfisher. Halcyon smyrnensis can even be found in areas without water bodies where fish thrive.  They are known to have a varied diet.

The photo gallery below showcases a few of  their preys.

Photo 1 by Jonathan Kuah. Sembawang 16 November 2021. Can the kingfisher manage a bat?
Photo 2 by Jason Kok. Sembawang 16 November 2021. Yes, the kingfisher can manage this flying mammal for lunch.
Photo 3 by Albert Yeoh 17 June 2021. Penang. Kingfisher caught a lizard.
Photo 4 by Janet Loh. 4 September 2021. Skink for lunch today. Singapore.
Photo 5 by Desmond Yap. 12 November 2021. Canberra Street, Sembawang. Centipede for lunch.
Photo 6 by Lucy Tan 7 October 2021. A hawkmoth caterpillar makes a juicy lunch. Singapore.
Photo 7 by Lee Wee Yee October 2021 Penang. Fresh fish for lunch.
Photo 8 by Freddy Chew 17 January 2018. China. Crab is great for lunch.


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.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater – nesting

posted in: birds, Feeding-invertebrates, Nesting | 0

Observed Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters (Merops leschenaulti leschenaultia) nesting.

DisclosureI spotted an adult with prey for young and then the nests. I watched initially from the car at 20 meters to allow them to get accustomed to me. I then moved closer at ~10-12 meters and used the car as a hide. They were initially wary of me (will describe below) but then quickly resumed feeding the young actively and showed no more distress. I stayed 30 minutes and left so to minimise disruption, but more as to limit any discovery by human passer-by’s.

Parent at one nesting hole just after feeding young. 

Nesting Holes and Location

There were 3 nesting holes located at the edge of a tarred road at a semi-urban part of the city where there is limited traffic. Two holes were facing the road and one was hidden by a mould of dirt. Nests were ~ 50-70 cm apart. One nest had some vegetation that had grown to cover the hole partially. Nests were only 2-5 cm above the road ground. There was a very slight incline to the road suggesting that water will flow away, downwards and not into the nests. The majority of nests I have seen in the past are built into a slope but have I have observed nests built into flat ground like today, twice before. Wells 1999 says “burrows are excavated in flat ground or slight irregularities in flat ground”. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (2019) reports nest built both in flat ground as well as sandbanks, drain or road cuttings and cliffs. I have observed Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters nesting in this location twice before but not using the same site.

Parent entering partially covered nesting hole with dragonfly prey.

Seasonality (Nesting Timing)

My observations of nesting holes in Perak suggest that nesting holes are often constructed around December to February but can extend later. This is the latest that I have seen one in use:

27th January 2009 (Feeding young in holes)

21st March 2010 (Feeding young in holes)

25th December 2010 (Nest building)

12th February 2011 (Feeding young in holes)

13th February 2011 (Nest building)

9th January 2014 (Nest building)

15th April 2019 (Feeding young in holes)

Juvenile looking out from nest

Social Behaviour 

I cannot be sure about helpers at nests (cooperative breeding) but the birds did cooperate in distracting me. The birds initially distracted me by one adult keeping prey in its beak and gong to the ground repeatedly about 15 meters away from the nest (‘sham’ feeding). While this was happening, the other adults continued feeding the young. This technique was abandoned once I repositioned myself nearer the nests. Birds usually arrived at the different nest singly, did a quick feeding and left, occasionally with a loud call as they were leaving. Occasionally calls were given as arriving at nest but my presence may have changed the dynamics. Infrequently I noted two birds arriving close to each other. Juveniles at one nest looked quite matured (will fledge soon) and were actively looking out of the next anticipating parents bringing food. Neighbouring dogs and cars passing by and other birds foraging near the hole were ignored by adults but juveniles were sensitive to them.

Some of the prey brought to juveniles.

Prey Brought to Young

Young were fed frequently, almost every 2-3 minutes. Prey I could identify included brown moths, a small butterfly, a house fly, wasps, and many dragonflies (I could be sure of Libellulidae family dragonflies, called skimmers – one with a red abdomen, another with brown wings). From my past nest observations, dragonflies are a common food source for juveniles.

An edited video of feeding episodes at two nest and the juvenile looking out here: https://youtu.be/roUKJNNsLrA


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Semi-Urban environment

Date: 15th April 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


Thick-billed Green-Pigeon

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

Saw three Thick-billed Green-Pigeons (Treron curvirostra curvirostra) in the very early morning under dark skies on a dead tree; 2 males and 1 female. Some images of the males (all 3 images shown here). It had rained in the early morning and they were preening.

I managed to record one call made by a male. Like other Green-Pigeons it is a low frequency (< 6kHz), whistling, melodious, rambling call.

Short call recording here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/565030

Sonogram and waveform below.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Ulu-Kinta, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Mixed Secondary and Primary Forest

Date: 1st June 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED


Sub-adult koel (Eudynamys scolopaceous) markings

posted in: birds, Eudynamys scolopaceous, koel | 0

It was interesting to observe the different feather markings of the male sub-adult Asian Koel bird (Eudynamys scolopaceus). I have attached 5 photos to present various views of the feathers. These photos were taken over various times and therefore may not be the same bird.

The first 3 photos are flight shots which showed that the white-tipped feather markings appeared on 2 sets of feathers; the greater primary coverts and the greater secondary coverts. These feathers were also dark brown, contrasting with the others which were glossy dark green. Photo 4 shows clearly the contrasting colours when the bird is perched on a branch. These brown feathers will eventually turn to the glossy dark green feathers as the bird matures.


Photo 1 shows the white-tipped feather markings appeared on 2 sets of feathers; the greater primary coverts and the greater secondary coverts.


Photo 2. The primary coverts and the greater secondary coverts were dark brown.


Photo 3. Feathers on the head and body are dark glossy green.


Photo 4 shows clearly the contrasting colours when the bird is perched on a branch. These brown feathers will eventually turn to the glossy dark green feathers as the bird matures.


In photo 5, under direct light, the glossy dark green feathers display their shiny surfaces contrasting greatly with the duller brown feathers. The white markings on the brown feathers were still visible, including the upper-tail covert feather and the rump which were not seen in the earlier photos.


Article by Thong Chow Ngian.

11 November 2021.

An odd looking Brown Shrike

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I saw this odd Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) today that had no tail to speak of. Either moulting but more likely lost in some traumatic event.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with pond/lakes, wetlands

Date: 24th February 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


Grey-streaked flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta) vagrant in Singapore again

posted in: bird, birds, grey streaked flycatcher | 0

The grey-streaked flycatcher  is believed to feed on insects, small invertebrates and berries. It breeds in North-East China, North Korea, Sakhalin and Kamchatka and winters in Borneo, the Philippines, Eastern Indonesia and New Guinea.  According to budding and promising birder Desmond Yap’s account, this flycatcher was last seen in Singapore in 1991. He had the magic touch of luck birders dream of when he spotted it at 2.30 pm on 9 November 2021, at a private plant nursery in Sembawang, Singapore. He posted these photos in his Facebook account.

Photo 1. Muscicapa griseisticta. The pale patch between its bill and eye is clearly visible.


Photo 2. The tell-tale white bar on its wing.


Photo 3. Large eye with a white eye-ring.


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.


  1. Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 11. © 1996
  2. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Ben King, Martin Woodcock and E.C. Dickinson © 1975
  3. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson © 2008
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey-streaked_flycatcher

Blue Malayan Coral snake (Calliophis bivirgatus flaviceps)

posted in: Snake | 0

This snake belongs to the Family Elapidae. Snakes in this family possess hollow fangs in the upper jaw, placed anteriorly.  The front-fangs deliver the venom which is fatal to humans. It can be found in the forest reserves of Singapore.  Known to be nocturnal in habit and feed on lizards, frogs, birds and smaller snakes including its own species.

The dorsal surface of this snake is black and a pair of blue stripes run along the side of the body. The head, ventral surface and the tail are red in colour. It is easily confused with the Red-headed Krait ( Bungarus flaviceps) and the Pink-headed Reed snake (Calamaria schlegeli).   Read this post about the Pink-headed Reed snake.

                               Calliophis bivirgatus flaviceps, the Blue Malayan Coral snake.


Video 1 of the Blue Malayan Coral snake (Calliophis bivirgatus flaviceps)


Video 2 of the Blue Malayan Coral snake (Calliophis bivirgatus flaviceps)

Photo and videos by Francis Seow-Choen.


  1. wiki.nus.edu.sg

Palm king caterpillar (Amathusia phidippus phidippus) threat display

Foo Jit Leang sent in a composite picture of a Palm King butterfly caterpillar (Amatusia phidippus phidippus) that exhibited a threatening display. This strategy uses sudden flashing of the eye spot or false mouth opening to scare the potential predator away. This butterfly feeds on sugary meals, fermenting fruits, dung and dead animals.  As its name suggests, it is usually found in the vicinity of coconut palms.


Photo 1: When at rest, the Palm King caterpillar lies flat under a leaf and tugs its head, using the hairs as a cover.

Photo 2: When disturbed, It raises the hairs.

Photo 3: Lifts up its head.

Photo 4: Lifts up its head, and bends, exposing a black spot (false eye / mouth?) on its thorax.


Photos and captions by Foo Jit-Leang

9 November 2021.


This post is a cooperative effort between Nature@ Seletar Country Club and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.



  1. https://butterflycircle.blogspot.com/2009/06/butterfly-of-month-june-2009.html by Butterfly Circle
  2. A field guide to the Butterflies of Singapore by Khew Sin Khoon © 2010
  3. Biodiversity of Singapore: An encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development © 2011 Edited by: Peter KL Ng, Richard T. Corlett and Hugh T. W. Tan

Streaked Wren-babbler

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I spotted a pair of Streaked Wren-babblers (Napothera brevicaudata leucosticte) moving and calling in the undergrowth and chose to wait for them to emerge fully.

They came out a number of times to call (see below) as well as to display some wing flick behaviour.

I suspect the behaviour was addressed towards me, either as intimidation or distraction. They gave spectacular views while doing so, in decent lighting.

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

Brown Shrike – moulting

posted in: birds, moult | 0

I saw a number of Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus) that were moulting at this site.

Managed to get near this one for images. Both tail and wing moult.


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


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: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151125012234135&set=a.108191464134.96538.617499134&type=1&theater

  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 – https://www.wrs.com.sg/en/jurong-bird-park.html 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: https://besgroup.org/2012/06/28/laced-woodpecker-and-durians/

    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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