Dollarbird, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo… hawking insects

“Images of the Asian Dollarbirds hawking flying ants. Quite a sight to see a number of them allover the place. The unusual thing is that everyone that I saw was immature, the beak was still dark but rest of plumage well developed.

“As the bard and nature lover, John Denver, once sang: ‘some days are diamonds, some days are stone…’ Had a diamond day, reminiscent of bird watching experiences 30-40 years ago.

The above show the Dollarbird in flight. Like most of the birds, they perch high on a bare branch and swoop down to get the prey, turning here and there to capture it. Very acrobatic. Above right shows it with prey.

“Started off with me arriving at the right time at the fringe of this forest reserve and meeting more than 60 birds engaging in a feast on flying ants. I have often seen this behaviour in the city but rarely near the jungle.

The above shows the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Dollarbird share a high perch as they wait to swoop down on prey.

“The participants were amazing, and included:
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), at least 2 adults
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), at least 4 adults
Green-billed Malkoha (Long-Tailed Malkoha) (Phaenicophaeus tristis), 1 adult briefly involved
Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense), 1 adult pair
Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis), 4 adults
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis), more than 4 adults
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis), 6-7 adults and immature
Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier), 8-10 adults
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica), numbers uncertain
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), 6-8 adults
Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis), in excess of 20 adults and immatures


The Greater Racket-tailed Drongos in flight. Like most of the birds, they perch high on a bare branch and swoop down to get the prey, turning here and there to capture it. Very acrobatic.

“There were a few birds that were watching the event intently for long periods and may have got involved if I was not present:
Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster), 1 adult
Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon), 1 adult
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), 1 adult
Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot (Loriculus galgulus), 3 adults

“I watched for ~ 30 minutes (7.35-8.05am) and it is hard to estimate bird numbers in such a mêlée. I may have missed some of the jungle bulbuls and leafbirds as lighting was poor (had not come over the trees yet until the end).

“But no complaints. While they had a feast on the insects, I feasted on their beauty, grace and easy access.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Fringe of Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
(Early, clear morning (low light) after an overnight shower)
14th November 2012

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