Japanese Wagtail

posted in: Species | 0

“We only saw Japanese Wagtails (Motacilla grandis) twice and in rivers with gravel stones. We were fortunate to observe (from some distance) an adult pair feeding a single juvenile. Both parents were feeding the young.

Photo at the top shows the habitat with a juvenile and adult in the image. Photo above shows an adult with prey for the juvenile and photo below shows an adult with prey caught for the nearby juvenile from the river (not rocks or banks). The one prey I saw able to determine was an aquatic Plecoptera (Stoneflies) nymph.

Below is a photo of a juvenile.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
9th June 2019

Location: East Hokkaido, Japan

Courting Common Kingfishers

“A dream come true to see two Common Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) together,” wrote Ang Siew Siew. “They seemed to take turns to bob their heads up and down. Or were they simply playing a game of copycat? For two hours, they repeated the same bobbing actions, switching positions at times. The water level in the canal was quite high and I did not see a single dive. Why did they behave that way?”

The pair of kingfishers, a male and a female, were indulging in a courtship ritual, see HERE.

Apparently there was another Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) couple and a lone White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) along the same stretch of the canal.

Ang Siew Siew
5 Nov 2019

Indian Cuckoo – mixed species aerial insect feeding

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 0

“It was dark and wet morning today after many hot days. I was watching the family group I posted earlier of 2 juvenile and one adult Dollarbirds. At around 9.10am one of the birds abruptly gave a loud call and all three flew off. I followed and found them participating in a mixed species aerial insect feeding on flying termites (termite alates/imagos). I have observed a number of such events and most occur after heavy/prolonged rain in the late evening, preceded by a hot day. Occasionally, like this one, they occur after rain in morning preceding a hot spell of days. Fortunately the rain dropped to a drizzle from 9.10-9.40am offering a short window of observation.

“Around 120-150 birds were involved in the mixed species aerial insect feeding. The unexpected bird was an Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus concretus) that was a very active participant, flying ungainly all over to obtain prey. Appreciate any difference in opinion on the ID of the cuckoo. Wells (1999) notes on the Indian Cuckoo that it ‘emerge from cover to take flying termites’. Termite alates are noted as part of the food source of Indian Cuckoos in ‘Cuckoos of the World’ (Erritzøe, Mann, Brammer, Fuller 2012).

1. Birds seen on this occasion at the mixed species aerial insect feeding include:
Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus concretus) – single bird
Dollarbirds (Eurystomus orientalis orientalis) – 3 birds (2 juveniles) – I have seen them previously at these events
White-throated Kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis) – 2 or 3 birds
Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis maculates) – 5 to 6 birds
Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis saularis) – 4 to 5 birds
Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis tristis) – 4 to 5 birds
Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier analis) – 8 to 10 birds
Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis strigata) – numerous, excess of 50 birds
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus malaccensis) – 4 to 5 birds
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica javanica) – numerous
Unidentified Swifts – numerous

2. Other birds seen in the past at mixed species aerial insect feeding include:
House Crows (Corvus splendens protegatus)
Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus infortunatus).
Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops philippinus)
Blue-throated Bee-eaters (Merops viridis)
Purple-backed Starlings (Sturnus sturninus)
Pied Trillers (Lalage nigra)
Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus)
Greater Racket-tailed Drongos (Dicrurus paradiseus)
Asian Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris)
Other Drongos (Possibly Black Drongo)
Pied Fantails (Rhipidura javanica)
Common Flamebacks (Dinopium javanense)
Green-billed Malkohas (Phaenicophaeus tristis)

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
25th March 2018

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Black-capped Kingfisher caught a crab

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates, Kingfishers | 0

Alfred Ng was at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in November 2019 when he encountered a Blackcapped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) hovering above the intertidal zone before plunging down to pick up a large crab from the muddy water.

Alfred Ng refers to his image of the kingfisher losing its catch as shown below: “A reverse sequence of *FIM (Foot In Mouth), and (the kingfisher) lost its food on its way.”

The kingfisher managed to grab the large crab by one of its limbs. However, when flying off with its prey, the crab fell off and the kingfisher lost its meal – except a short segment of the limb. The weight of the crab and the struggle to escape most probably caused a joint in the limb that the kingfisher had between its mandibles to detach. After all, crab’s limbs can be easily detached at a special joint. However, it can regenerate a detached limb in subsequent moults.

Had the kingfisher caught a smaller crab, it would have has its meal LINK

Alfred Ng
7th November 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.

Shore Pit-viper eaten by Buffy Fish-owl

The Shore Pit-viper (Crypyelytrops purpureomaculatus) is a venomous and aggressive snake found along the coastal areas of Singapore. Jeremiah Loei encountered one some time ago at the Pasir Ris Park (below).

Unfortunately for the snake, it was eaten by a Buffy Fish-owl (Ketupa ketupu) a few days later (below).

The Buffy Fish Owl feeds on fish, crustaceans, frogs, lizards and small mammals LINK. We now have a record of it feeding on a snake, earlier reported by Wells (1999).

Jeremiah Loei
2nd November 2019

Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.

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.

Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus

posted in: Migration-Migrants, Vocalisation | 0

“Eastern Crowned Warblers (Phylloscopus coronatus) are not easy to see on migration or at their breeding grounds (above, below). But at least in summer they make a variety loud calls and songs and can be located.

“Below is a sonogram and waveform of a short segment of the song to show 4 different kinds of notes. Other have better described the song/calls but I would like to bring attention to a buzzing note that the bird makes intermittently; seen in the waveform as ‘sausage-shaped’ note.

“Bursts of song are made intermittently, 4-10 seconds apart (in my 4 recordings). Two recordings of song are HERE and HERE.

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

Location: East Hokkaido, Japan

Three brownish bulbuls that are often unrated…

posted in: Species | 0

“Brownish bulbuls are often sadly unrated.

Olive-winged Bulbul.

The image above shows the Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus plumosus), below shows the bird feeding on the Malayan Teak (Vitex pinnata).

Olive-winged Bulbul feeding on fruits of the Malayan Teak.

“This fruit is favoured by many forest bulbul species as well as by:
Asian Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella malayensis)
Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster)
Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra)

Cream-vented Bulbul.

“The Cream-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex) (above) – I often think of it as the ‘White-eyed Bulbul’.

Spectacled Bulbul.

“The Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos) is my personal favourite (above). Here seen in a very popular fruit tree of many bulbuls (name unknown).

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
15th October 2019

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Migrating Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher rescued

posted in: Migration-Migrants, Rescue | 0

An Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) was found on the ground just outside Mission Juice at Tanjong Pagar Icon Village on 1st November 2019. The owner of Mission Juice, Joel Lee De’en, picked the injured bird which was exhausted and nursed it back before releasing it outside his shop. He even tried to feed it with some fruit juice.

Michael Patrick Marklevitz wrote that many migratory birds fly among the tall buildings and collide with the glass windows, injuring themselves and even ended up dead. This kingfisher is a winter visitor and passage migrant and it was fortunate that it only injured itself and was nursed back to health.

According to Jai Wei Woo, the kingfisher’s wings and legs were checked for signs of injuries and there were none. After a short while it flew away, indicating that it might be just exhaustion after the long flight.

There were some discussions on whether the exhausted/injured bird should be released where it was found. The consensus was that it could be released anywhere, although in this case it was released at the spot where it was found. After all it is a migrating species and not an injured young bird fallen from its nest LINK.

Joel Lee De’en (image credit), Jia Wei Woo & Michael Patrick Marklevitz
2nd November 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.

Malayan Water Monitor caught a Red-eared Slider

Jkai Chan’s images of the Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) feeding on a turtle at Pandan River documents another food record for this lizard. Kelvin KP Lim of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum identified it as a possible large red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), the type commonly sold as pets in aquarium shops. This is an introduced species.

This add on to the many food this lizard takes, that include Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), terrapin, snake, bird and rodent.

Other possible prey include Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), Black Swan, Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) and Smooth Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata).

Originally seen only in rural canals, it is now found in large numbers in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve LINK where they are a threat to nesting shorebirds LINK.

These lizards have also invaded urban homes LINK and schools LINK.

So far, only stray dogs have been known to attack them LINK. With no known predator, the population of the Malayan Water Monitor in Singapore is bound to increase. Will they become a nuisance in future? Only time will tell…

Jkai Chan (images), Kelvin KP Lim (identification) & YC Wee (writeup)
25th October 2019

Red-flanked Bluetail – what is an adult?

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Species | 0

“This will be a lengthy post. We saw quite a number of Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) aka Orange-flanked Bush-robin, and some were breeding. I am using this bird to discuss terminology used for aging birds. I will start by quoting two individuals:

“Firstly Keith Vinicombe (The Helm Guide to Bird Identification. Bloomsbury. 2014) who says:
‘At this point, it is essential to clarify one particular area of confusion. Any bird to that is not mature (i.e. not an adult) is an ‘immature’. Literally ‘immature’ simply means ‘not mature’. Thus, a juvenile bird is an immature, as is a first-winter, a second-summer and so on. The term ‘juvenile’ should be confined to a bird’s very first plumage worn for a short time after leaving the nest. Although many larger birds migrate whilst still in juvenile plumage, most passerines do not. …If these birds are not adults, then they are ‘first-winters’. Similarly, subadult is also to be avoided if possible, as again more accurate ageing can usually be determined.

“Secondly our OBI Editor Krys Kazmierczak who writes:
There is sometimes a little confusion regarding the ageing of birds and how we describe the different age classes of birds. I hope the following summary of how we apply the terminology to different ages of birds on Oriental Bird Images may help. This is based on the terminology in common use in Europe and Asia. Note that there is a different system commonly used in the Americas. Beginning with the youngest:
1. Egg
2. Hatchling – a bird which has just emerged from its egg
3. Chick – a young bird not yet able to fly.
4. Fledgling – a young bird that has just developed the feathers necessary for flying, e.g. just taken its first flight.
5. Juvenile – a bird in its first full set of feathers, in many species quite different to the adult plumage attained after a complete post-juvenile moult. This phase may last quite a short time in some species, but quite a long time in species such as raptors.
6. 1st winter – in some species a partial post-juvenile moult in autumn results in a plumage which is distinguishable from juvenile but is clearly not yet adult.
7. Immature – an intermediate plumage that is clearly no longer completely juvenile, but is clearly not yet adult. (Sometimes also used to describe any bird that is not yet adult, i.e. includes juvenile.)
8. Subadult – a bird which is almost fully adult but which still shows some, usually small, traces of immature plumage.
9. Adult – A bird in its final full plumage. In some species one can also distinguish between a non-breeding (winter) adult plumage and a breeding (summer) adult plumage.

“Both have more to say about the issue but I have quote the key sections. I have chosen to quote them as I want to set a ‘bench-mark’ for the discussion.

My question, when I watched these Red-flanked Bluetails, is ‘when is a bird an adult’?

“This could also be a question we ask of our children/teenagers/young adults. Is a bird an adult when it attains is ‘adult’ plumage (breeding or non-breeding plumage)? Or can we also accept that a bird that has yet to attain adult plumage but is already breeding is an adult?

“We saw a pair of Red-flanked Bluetails that were breeding but both were not in adult plumage. Peter Clement & Chris Rose (Robins and Chats. Helm Identification Guides. 2015) state about Red-flanked Bluetails that ‘Some birds sing and breed while still having brown head and upperparts or first-year plumage” and “males breed in first year’. Clement & Rose go on to use terms uncommon to me: ‘first-adult male’ and ‘first-adult female’.

“So on to our observations:

“The images at top and above are of the same breeding male that has first year plumage (first summer male aka a first-adult male). Difficult at time to distinguishing from a female and one key feature is the bright orange flanks (Clement & Rose 2015).

“Images above and below are of the same breeding female that has first year plumage (first-adult female). Clement & Rose say that the distinguishing feature from an adult female is the pointed, not rounded tips to tail feathers (seen in the image below).

So do we consider these two breeding birds adults?

“Note: Some of the birds in the OBI database listed as ‘first winter male’ might be ‘first summer or second winter males.’”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
6th 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: 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. 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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