Off-colour Pink-necked Green-pigeons

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Pigeon-Dove | 0

“As a teenager, I recalled the hordes of butterflies that used to flock to the wild Lantana bushes that overran my uncle’s estate. My cousin and I slashed away with machetes in a losing battle to keep the prickly plants at bay.

“When I started my own garden, I tried to cultivate Lantanas to attract butterflies. Unfortunately, the fancy varieties of Lantanas available from nurseries were anything but hardy. And in any case, fogging had exterminated practically all the butterflies in my neighbourhood.

Lantana camara (Photo: YC Wee).

“One day, I did find a wild Lantana. Bringing it home for careful cultivation, I soon had a Lantana hedge.

“Unlike cultivated varieties, wild Lantanas are not sterile. The flowers develop into berries, which attract birds. Watching them was some compensation, even though I was still short of butterflies.

Normal male Pink-necked Green-Pigeon (Photo: Lee Chiu San).

“Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans, first photo) were frequent visitors.

Off-colour Pink-necked Green-Pigeon (Photo: Lee Chiu San).

“But recently, I noticed an off-colour addition. This bird was darker, and had very noticeable blotching on the dorsal surface. Of the four varieties of Green Pigeons native to Singapore, the one which sometimes displays dark blotching is the uncommon Cinnamon-Headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis), though usually not to such a marked extent as the birds shown in the above and below.

Off-colour Pink-necked Green-Pigeon (Photo: Lee Chiu San).

Would anyone like to hazard a guess at identifying this off-colour visitor?

Lee Chiu San
29th November 2019

Long-tailed Rosefinch

posted in: Species | 0

“I have a number of species left un-posted from the time I was in Japan.

“Long-tailed Rosefinchs (Carpodacus sibiricus sanguinolentus) are delightful to watch and love feeding on the seeds of the Dandelion (Taraxacum).

“According to Clement (1993) C.s. sanguinolentus is slightly shorter-tailed and darker (both sexes) than the nominate subspecies.

“Also, in worn plumage the male head becomes white or pale pinkish-white (initially brownish).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
5-7th June 2019

Location: East Hokkaidō, Japan

Peter Clement, Alan Harris, John Davis. Finches and Sparrows: An identification Guide. Princeton University Press. 1993

Malayan Water Monitor scavenging a decomposing macaque

posted in: uncategorised | 0

Jkai Chan’s images of a Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) having a meal of a rotting mammal was documented at Pandan River. His images, posted in Facebook BICA (Bird, Insects n Creatures of Asia), drew much discussion among members.

Image #1.

Members debated whether the carcass could be that of a dog, otter, monitor lizard, pangolin or monkey.

Twelve agreed that the carcass could be that of a monkey. “Very likely a monkey” wrote Tuck Meng Choong, “look at that long tail… a macaque, maybe.” Benedict Yeap and Tony Chung similarly thought it could be a monkey. Molossian Petfeed went a step further, suggesting it looked like a leaf monkey. Based on the long tail, Glenda Heng concluded that it was a Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis).

Michael Patrick Marklevitz believed it to be a primate because “Tail looks slender for otter and limbs too long in proportion to body… Proportions of the hand more primate like and note what appears to be a flat nail on the thumb versus a claw on an otter. No webbing.”

Image #2.

Jkai’s images were sent to Dr Leong Tzi Ming, who is one of the contributors to the book on Wild animals of Singapore (Baker & Lim, 2008). Tzi Meng’s reply is given below:

“I believe it’s a decomposing adult macaque. First image shows the lizard biting the monkey’s long tail. Second image shows the cavernous rib cage very clearly. The second and third images show the monkey’s fingers of the right hand. Look carefully and you can see the thumbnail.

Image #3.

“I have so much respect for these monitor lizards, who have one of the dirtiest jobs in the ecosystem.

“It’s truly amazing how they can bear with the stench, and swallow the foul flesh of decaying animals.

“They must have a remarkable digestive and immune system in order to subsist on this type of diet.

“Long live the Varanus!”

Jkai Chan (images) & Dr Leong Tzi Ming et al. (comments)
3rd December 2019

Baker, N. & K. Lim (eds.). 2008. Wild animals of Singapore: A photographic guide to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes. Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.

Stejneger’s Stonechat – breeding males and females

posted in: Species | 0

“I have been trying to make sense of the breeding adults we saw while in Hokkaido. Clement (2015) provides extensive descriptions of ‘Common’ Stonechats and the subspecies, including Stejneger’s Stonechat. Opaev & colleagues (2018) say ‘S. stejnegeri is a cryptic species as it cannot be distinguished by morphometrics and by worn spring plumage from S. maurus, but differs noticeably by male song.’

“The adult breeding males are unmistakable with a very dark head and neck (a blotchy supercilium), dark upperparts and varying degrees of orange on the breast (especially bright on the upper breast). Two examples are shown above and below.

“The adult breeding females are more variable. They have paler upper parts (more brown cf males), a clear supercilium, some orange on the upper breast (not as strong as males) and the expectation is that the throat is lighter. Most of the birds we see when on migration are like this (paler) but we saw some darker females in Hokkaido.

Images above and below are of two adult breeding females (assumed from nest feeding behaviour and presence of a feeding male companion). The bird above was the companion of the bird above this image (we saw this pair at least 3 different times at the entrance to a forest and they were feeding young).

“Some would say that these are breeding first/second year males but there was already a mature adult male in attendance. Clement (2015) does not mention any evidence of male nest helpers. Handbook of the Birds of the World (2019) states ‘Male very occasionally pairs with two females‘.

“I would appreciate opinions.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
5-10th June 2019

Location: East Hokkaido, Japan

Peter Clement, Chris Rose, Robins and Chats, Helm Identification Guides 2015
2. Mark Brazil. Birds of Japan. Helm Field Guides 2018
3. Collar, N. (2019). Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions
4. Alexey Opaev, Yaroslav Red’kin, Egor Kalinin & Maria Golovina. Species limits in Northern Eurasian taxa of the common stonechats, Saxicola torquatus complex (Aves: Passeriformes, Muscicapidae). Vertebrate Zoology. 2018, 68 (3): 199 – 211.
5. Ewan Urquhart & Adam Bowley. Stonechats. Helm Identification Guides 2002.

Stejneger’s Stonechat

posted in: Species | 0
Breeding adult male with prey.

“The taxonomy of this species is so varied with some calling it the Eastern Stonechat, Siberian Stonechat and Stejneger’s Stonechat. Scientific names also vary: Saxicola torquatus stejnegeri (HBW, Clement & Rose), Saxicola maurus stejnegeri (OBI) or just Saxicola stejnegeri (Brazil).

Breeding adult female with prey.

“I have left it as Stejneger’s Stonechat, the common Stonechat found breeding in Hokkaido.

Adult breeding female with prey.

“We saw a large number, mostly breeding, often with prey while we were there. The vast majority of prey brought to young were caterpillars or worms. But also dipterans and once a possible spider-like insect.

Adult breeding female with prey.

“The two breeding female adults above look less mature (first or second year). Clement (2015) states that it ‘breeds in first year’”.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
5-10th June 2019

Location: East Hokkaido, Japan

Peter Clement, Chris Rose, Robins and Chats, Helm Identification Guides 2015
2. Mark Brazil. Birds of Japan. Helm Field Guides 2018
3. Collar, N. (2019). Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions

Mud Lobster – Excavation

posted in: Mangrove, Miscellaneous, Videography | 0
Mud Lobster Mound

“Whenever we explore the back mangroves in Singapore or around Southeast Asia, one is almost certain to come across mud lobster mounds of various sizes, at multiple stages of development (above, below).

Mud Lobster Mound

“However, encounters with the actual mud lobster (Thalassina sp.) itself are often few and far between. One fine morning, I chanced upon this elusive and enigmatic crustacean (below) whilst strolling along a boardwalk. It was engrossed with excavating a burrow, as it repeatedly descended into the murky depths and returned to the surface, shoveling mud and sand.

Mud Lobster

“Video clips of this rarely observed creature may be previewed here:

“Mud lobsters play an immensely important role in the mangrove ecosystem. As a result of their tireless burrowing and tunnelling activity, the oxygen supply to the roots of mangrove plants is substantially increased. Nutrients from the depths are also brought up to the surface. A wide diversity of animals, from insects and spiders, to reptiles and even other crustaceans, are thus able to find a safe haven inside these cosy cavities.”

Dr Leong Tzi Ming
30th November 2019

White-browed Crake – plumage and calls

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Vocalisation | 0

“I met a pair of very accommodating White-browed Crakes (Porzana cinerea) today and was able to spend a long time watching and recording different calls.

“Some observations about plumage; a close-up of the face of one of the birds as seen above. Handbook of the Birds of the World (Vol. 2019) suggests that ‘in fresh plumage forehead and crown grey, becoming black with wear’. Both the birds I saw (above and below of one individual and top of the other) had darker scalps.

“A number of guides state that the bill is olive-green with a red base. But all the birds I have seen over the years have a yellow-orange bill with a red base; unless there is some change with breeding and I strike only these birds.

“The image above contains a sonogram and waveform of the call I hear the least often but I am increasingly convinced this is a territorial call. A recording of the call is located HERE. It is a long call lasting 7-9 seconds (6 recordings) and is best described as a trill (or a horse neighing). Often both partners in the pair join together in making this complex call. It starts loud and continues like this for 4-5 seconds before winding down slowly and repeated later.

“This call is the one most often recorded (see xeno-canto HERE, much softer and less noticed.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
30th October 2019

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Ex-mining pools, fish farming, secondary growth

White-throated Kingfisher mobs Malayan Water Monitor

Video grab.

Jkai Chan’s video of a White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) mobbing a large Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) shows to what extent the kingfisher will do to defend its active nest. We can only guess that the kingfisher must be nesting nearby. Otherwise why else will it expose itself to the danger of being in turn attacked by the large lizard?

Birds normally attack other birds when the latter intrude into their territory, especially when they are breeding LINK 1 and LINK 2 and LINK 3.

House Crows (Corvus splendens) have been known to be aggressive against humans, attacking people walking under their nest when there are chicks LINK. Similar behaviour is seen in magpies LINK. A Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) was similarly attacked by a colony of breeding Black-naped Terns (Sterna sumatrana) when the former intruded into the colony PDF.

But a large monitor lizard? A link to a pair of birds attacking a monitor lizard that is ravaging eggs in a crocodiles’ nest can be viewed HERE.

Jkai Chan
10th October 2019

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.

White Wagtail – adults

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Species | 0
Adult male in breeding plumage.

“We saw a number of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba lugens) in Hokkaido (above). M. a. lugens is also called the Black-backed Wagtail.

Adult male in breeding plumage.

Below is an adult female feeding young with prey, largely dipterans.

An adult female.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
4 & 7th June 2019

Location: East Hokkaido, Japan

25 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!


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