Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and spiders

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 2

The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) takes a variety of foods that include insects, prawns, lizards, frogs and fish – as well as spiders.

The image above, taken in Singapore by Lee Tiah Khee, shows the kingfisher with a tarantula (Family Theraphosidae) clamped firmly at the tip of its bill. This biggish spider can be as big as 5 cm in length (excluding its legs), very hairy and generally live in burrows protected by a thick sheet web.

The image below by Chan Wei Luen was taken in Hulu Selangor, Malaysia. The spider is probably a huntsman spider (Family Sparassidae/Heteropodidae). These spiders are flattish and generally hide under loose bark or stones when they are not hunting.

Joseph Koh, a spider enthusiast and currently Singapore’s High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, was kind enough to identify the above spiders. It is noted that identifying spiders from photographic images has its limitations, considering that characters separating genera and species can be microscopic and need close handling of specimens.

An earlier post shows the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher with a possible ctenid spider (Ctenus sp., Family Ctenidae).

Since the start of our website, we have posted various accounts of birds catching spiders: Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis); Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis); and White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis).

Only in a few cases were the birds actually caught on images picking the spiders off webs: Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja siparaja); Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis); and Streaked Spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna).

Top image by Lee Tiah Khee, bottom image by Chan Wei Luen.

This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

2 Responses

  1. Chun Xing

    In the second picture, the kingfisher is probably eating a spider under the family Hersilidae. Hersilidae spiders live on tree trunks and camouflages itself in the pattern and colours of the tree barks.
    This picture amazes me because most human won’t be able to notice Hersilidae spiders on trees, but kingfisher’s eyesight is sharp enough to spot the spider.

  2. Thanks for your input, Chun Xing.

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