Brahminy Kite – social behaviour

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

I saw a number of Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus intermedius) at this site. One was a family group of 3 birds, comprising an adult and 2 juveniles (below). The adult appeared to be ‘in attendance’ but the juveniles did attempt to forage on their own.

The two birds had slightly different plumage (below, more apparent in the field); one was lighter. Possibly there is much variation in juvenile colours (see Ferguson-Lees & Christie. Raptors of the World, 2001) or else the lighter juvenile is an older sibling.


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

Tiger Shrike – first winter and calls

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

Often meet Tiger Shrikes (Lanius tigrinus) at the fringe of the forest or in open sections of the jungle. This first winter was very vocal and had loud territorial advertising calls. A call recording is located here: A sonogram and wave of a short segment is shown below. In the waveform you can appreciate the undulating nature of the calls; what you hear in the field is the rising and falling volume of the harsh screeching calls. The sonogram shows that the frequency remain the same, although intensity (loudness) varies. There are 49 to 51 notes in a 6 second burst of continual territorial calls.


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

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

Habitat: Fringe of primary jungle

Date: 15th October 2019

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


Yellow-bellied (Chinese) Prinia of Taiwan

posted in: birds, Nomenclature, Vocalisation | 0

Post 1.

The Yellow-bellied (Chinese) Prinia (Prinia flaviventris sonitans) is fairly common in the right habitat in Taiwan. I found the birds in Taiwan quite different from the ones seen back home (Prinia flaviventris rafflesi). I am not sure the name “Yellow-bellied” is that appropriate as the Taiwan subspecies (Prinia flaviventris sonitans) has more of a yellow-tawny colouration that is more prominent on the sides of the belly and flanks (Post 1 & 2); the center of the breast is pale and there is no clear yellow demarcation as in P. f. rafflesi or P. f. flaviventris. (Note the Yellow-bellied Prinia in Borneo, P. f. latrunculus, has even less yellow and is sometimes called the Bornean Prinia). The tail also looked considerably longer (Post 1 & 2) and the song is different (sonogram & waveform in Post 4; edited audio recording here:

Post 2.

HBW 2019 separates these birds and calls the Taiwan species (also found in North East Vietnam and South China) the Chinese Prinia (Prinia sonitans).

Post 3.

Most authorities prefer Yellow-bellied Prinia (Prinia flaviventris sonitans):

  1. The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World 4th Edition
  2. International Ornithologists’ Union (IOC) World Bird List 2018, version 8.2
  3. OBI (also indicates that this subspecies is also called the Chinese Prinia)
  4. eBird & Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World 2018 label it Yellow-bellied Prinia (Chinese) (Prinia flaviventris sonitans)

Post 4.

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

Location: Dayuan Township, Taoyuan City County, Taiwan

Habitat: Wetlands farming area near the sea

Date: 19th January 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


Olive-backed Sunbird – feeding technique

posted in: birds, Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants | 0

It was a very wet morning today and I returned home to watch Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis flammaxillaris-ornatus intergrades) feeding on nectar. There is a wonderful Malvaviscus arboreus (Wax Mallow or Ladies Teardrop) bush that they usually visit very early which does not allow for good images. Today the rain delayed their feeding and I had better light. Many mistake the Malvaviscus penduliflorus (Lipstick Hibiscus or Firecracker Hibiscus) for the Malvaviscus arboreus, but M. arboreus has upright flowers as opposed to the pendulous flowers of the M. penduliflorus. Both of these exotic plants (introduced) are favourite sources of nectar for Sunbirds and Spiderhunters.

Feeding on the M. penduliflorus is by the nectar robbing technique, piercing the base of the flower. Feeding on the M. arboreus is usually by the conventional technique for most birds. However today I noticed that the Olive-backed Sunbirds used both conventional (above) and nectar robbing (below) techniques for his flower, more of the latter.


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

Habitat: Urban environment

Date: 28th September 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

Yellow-rumped Flycatchers – yellow rumps

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

Post 1.

I have now observed 8 different Yellow-rumped Flycatchers (Ficedula zanthopygia) with yellow-rumps over the past 4 weeks – a “minor epidemic”. Some have become confiding and I can get close views and images.

Post 2.

This particular bird was feeding on the fruit of the Macaranga tanarius (Parasol Leaf Tree). The fruit is a “prickly three-celled yellow capsule” which contains a black seed in each cell. It is well noted in literature that birds feed on it and help with dispersion. I appreciate the support of Rosli Omar and Lim Koon Hup (Jim) for the tree identification (tree was posted earlier).

Post 3.

This bird (see Posts 1-4, images posted in different lighting and posture) has very pale yellow, most of it confined to the lower belly. There are some barring on the neck, a pale white eye ring but unsure about size of white stripe on the wing. I think this particular bird is a Ficedula zanthopygia but having difficulty deciding between an adult female or first-winter.

Post 4.

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

Habitat: Secondary growth a fringe of the city

Date: 3rd October 2018

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



Olive-backed Sunbird – male plumage variation

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

I saw 4 different adult male Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis flammaxillaris-ornatus intergrades) and 2 adult females feeding on the Malvaviscus arboreus nectar this morning. Surprisingly, there was no conflict between the adults while feeding. There is much minor variation in the plumage of the males, even from the same area.

Post 1 (above) is a comparison of the forehead of 3 of the males. The amount of metallic plumage on the forehead is quite variable, from some to minimal to nil (left to right). I have in the past seen birds where it is confluent and even extends to behind the eye. C. j. ornatus is said to have ‘variable amount of purple-black gloss on forehead’ (HBW 2020) and Wells (2007) states that C. j. flammaxillaris does not have this feature. But I have seen this in C. j. flammaxillaris and C. j. flammaxillaris-ornatus intergrades as most of these birds are.

Post 2 (above) shows the breast plumage (the birds are arranged in the same order as in Post 1). The maroon-chestnut band across the lower breast is variable. The bird on the left has moderate amounts of the chestnut band with extensive forehead metallic plumage; the bird in the center has an extensive chestnut band with minimal forehead metallic plumage; the bird on the right minimal chestnut band with no forehead metallic plumage. Observations made from many images of these birds in different views.


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

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Urban environment

Date: 28th September 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


Long-tailed Shrike – call and song

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

The habitat for these Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach bentet) birds is diminishing and I see them less often; usually further out of the city, where once they were common in the city.

The two images (top and bottom) are of male with a broader black-frontal band (volume of black on the head varies). L. s. bentet is said to have the second longest tail of the subspecies; longest is L. s. longicaudatus.

I managed to record a number of calls and song types made by the male. Full range of calls are not well documented for the region (Wells 2007).

The above sonogram and wave form is of the common harsh, advertising or territorial calls. Note in the recording that the nature of the calls change. I am only showing the first type. I have also sharp ‘yelps’ especially when nesting.

Call recording here:

And here…

Note that there is an anxious Yellow-vented Bulbul and some traffic noise in the background.

The interesting vocalisation is the warbling song that I have heard a few times (above). Lefranc (2011) says “The song is a pleasant, somewhat metallic warble. It contains the imitation of calls and songs of other birds. … The song can be delivered without interruption for 5, 10 or even 15 minutes.”

Song recording here:

The song is a mixture of bird calls and, at times, almost like an Oriental Magpie Robin.

Note that there is an anxious Yellow-vented Bulbul and some traffic noise in the background.


  1. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passarines). Christopher Helm, London.
  2. Norbert Lefranc (2011). Shrikes. Helm Identification Guides.


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

Habitat: Open ‘grassland’

Date: 9th July 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



Olive-backed Sunbird – male and female

posted in: birds, Sex | 0

Some full views of the male Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis flammaxillaris-ornatus intergrades) both above and the females below.

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

Habitat: Urban environment

Date: 28th September 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


Copper-throated Sunbird – male

posted in: birds, Courtship-Mating, Feeding, Sex | 0

Post 1.

I had wanted to get better images and observations of the Copper-throated Sunbird (Leptocoma calcostetha) and a bird watching colleague suggested this site (bit of a drive) for better lighting. I was able to find at least 3 pairs and heard more in the undergrowth as I walked the site. I managed to get one pair to accept me slowly over three hours of my presence to allow for better images. Some observations summarised:

Post 2.


Much of their feeding is checking tree foliage and bushes for small animal prey, presumably insects. I did not see any spiders taken but I did see spider web on the birds.

Nectar feeding in the mangrove forest is limited to the flowers of the mangrove trees. Wells (2007) had noted nectar feeding on Bruguiera flowers, a small genus of six mangrove species. Wells noted B. gymnorhiza and B. hainesii as identified nectar sources. I can confirm that Bruguiera sexangula (commonly called the Upriver Orange Mangrove, or locally Tumu Putih) is also used as a nectar source. Of these 6 mangrove species, B. gymnorhiza, B. sexangula, B. exaristata, B. hainesii have larger flowers and are considered to be bird-pollinated (B. exaristata is native to New Guinea and northern Australia). These large mangrove flowers have explosive release of pollen, which happens when birds probe the flowers.

Post 3.


I was privileged to observe some courtship activity. Initially when I saw males chasing other males, I assumed it was territorial. But I subsequently saw a female singing out raptly with her body kept rigidly straight, pointed upwards or downwards and flitting from branch to branch. I saw three males in attendance, looking exciting and following her and chasing each other. The impression I got was that she was indicating by song that she is ready to breed and the male were vying for her attention.

More information on calls and songs later.

The mangrove habitat at this and other sites continues to suffer significant destruction from encroaching agricultural activities and logging. These birds are considered locally as near-threatened bordering on vulnerable (Wells 2007).

Post 4.

These first 4 posts are of adult males.

Generally the male will look blackish with some shine of the scalp, shoulders and dark blue in the tail (Post 4). The metallic plumage, especially the throat, can only be seen in good light. The iridescent plumage ‘changes’ with posture. The head is said to be metallic green but it can be seen as a metallic blue in some lighting and views (Wells describes it better as blue-shot green). The crown feathers are occasionally lifted up (post 4) when excited. The throat and upper breast are reddish-copper from the front and orange-copper from the side. This is fringed/bordered by metallic violet-blue mixed with purple-pink. There are beautiful yellow-orange pectoral tufts, best seen in flight or when preening. Words are inadequate for this beauty.


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

Location: Bagan Datuk mangrove, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail in forest

Date: 27th 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


Crimson Sunbird – plumage

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

An image above to try and show the rump of the adult male Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja siparaja). In some text it is said to be ‘yellow’ but in the A. s. siparaja it is more ornage.

An immature male moulting into an adult (above).

The next post (above) shows and adult with some moult.


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

Habitat: Fringe of city

Date: 14th November 2019

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

  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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