An earlier posting on how a Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus) meticulously dismember a scarab beetle lamented the fact that there has not been any report of the bird taking vertebrates in Singapore. It is very possible that someone may have seen the incident to subsequently forget about it. This is exactly the situation.
After reading the blog, Mike Hooper kindly sent an image of a Tiger Shrike swallowing a lizard, seen at the Kallang Riverside Park on 7th October 2006 (above).
And according to our bird specialist R. Subaraj: “…not enough of the lizard remains visible for a positive identification but I suspect that it might be a young Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), based on the long tail and the yellowish colouration of what is visible.
And Subaraj continued: “Several years ago, at Marina East, I came across the headless corpse of a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia), a migrant, impaled on a thorn of a short tree. Though there was no direct evidence, I suspect that it was the doing of the local Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach).
“In Malaysia, I once came across the “larder” of a wintering Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus). It had impaled a selection of insects onto the barb wire on the top of a perimeter fence! Modern adaptation?”
Coming back to the shrikes, according to Chan Yoke Meng, these birds have no problem feeding on caterpillars, spiders and other invertebrates. They usually swallow them within seconds (above: top Brown, lower Tiger).
As with raptors, bee-eaters (a,b), herons and kingfishers, shrikes cast pellets of undigested parts of the food they eat. The image above shows the bird after casting the pellet while the lower image shows the pellet. Beetle parts are clearly seen.
Input by Mike Hooper, R. Subaraj and Chan Yoke Meng. Images by Mike (top) and Meng (the rest).