• Water(hen) in the (bird) brain

    Water(hen) in the (bird) brain

    “Our good web-master once posted an article of mine on this website about attracting kingfishers to urban gardens LINK. “As a follow-up to that, I decided to do this...

  • The Birds of Singapore – an online book

    The Birds of Singapore – an online book

    In May 1943, GC Madoc published “An Introduction to Malayan Birds.” He wrote his manuscript in Singapore’s Changi Prison where he was interned when the country fell into the...

  • Videocam: A powerful tool for studying birds

    Videocam: A powerful tool for studying birds

    1. Collecting birds: In the 19th century the equipment needed to study birds was the gun. Another skill necessary was a good stuffing technique in order to preserve the specimens....

  • Documenting bird calls and songs

    Documenting bird calls and songs

    Many local birdwatchers are able to recognise the birds behind the songs. However, interest in most cases ends there except for a few who make basic recordings. Erik Mobrand...

  • Should attempts be made to tame wild birds?

    Should attempts be made to tame wild birds?

    The first part of the series by aviculturist Lee Chiu San deals with whether birds can be tamed and whether they will remain tamed. The second part looks at whether it is...

  • Postings your observations and images

    Postings your observations and images

    Why should you post your observations and images? Southeast Asian birds are poorly studied in terms of behaviour and ecology. By posting your observations (and this include...

  • Nature Society: The struggle for Singapore’s nature areas

    Nature Society: The struggle for Singapore’s nature areas

    The above paper has just been published. Nature in Singapore is a peer-reviewed, online journal that publishes articles on the flora and fauna (e.g., biology, botany, zoology,...

Courtship dance of the Musk Duck

Courtship dance of the Musk Duck “Musk Duck (Bizura lobata) is the only living member of its genus. It possesses stiff-tailed duck (Oxyura sp.) characteristics and is easily identified by its body floating very low in the water. The ducks are huge in size, ~50cm to 73 cm. The legs are set far back on the body for swimming. “Males and females look alike except for the conspicuous lobe of skin under the bill of a breeding drake. The males emit a musk odour and the lobe of skin under the bill increases... Read More

Little Grebe – whinny trill calls, courtship?

Little Grebe – whinny trill calls, courtship? “Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis) have colonised the peninsular since the 1950s and locally retain their ‘breeding’ plumage right through the year (above). There are large numbers at Malim Nawar Wetlands. “I had an opportunity to watch what appeared to be courtship behaviour. Three adults, in good plumage, were ‘horsing around’; most appropriate term I can think of. They were frolicking in the water, with one occasionally ‘taking off’ in flight just... Read More

Oriental Pied Hornbill locking bills/horns

Oriental Pied Hornbill locking bills/horns “I was travelling to this town to do a training session child rights and decided to bring my camera along. Just as I was coming into town, I spotted a flock of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris convexus). There were at least 15 of them. It was still a bit dark (before 8am) as the sun had not come over the hills yet but the birds were magnificent. “They were self-preening, allopreening as well as ‘locking bills’. This behaviour occurred between two... Read More

Yes, the Short-tailed Babblers were courting

Ong Ei Leen downloaded her video clip on YouTube in March 2014 showing what she claimed to be a pair of Short-tailed Babblers (Malacocincla malaccensis) in a courtship dance. There were some doubts on whether it was courtship or aggression as there were no clear views due to the vegetation around. Wildlife Consultant Subaraj Rajathurai has this to say: “…I cannot say for certain as I have not had the pleasure of seeing this behaviour personally but considering that most... Read More

Nesting behaviour of the Spotted Dove

Nesting behaviour of the Spotted Dove Courtship For the more than a few mornings in May 2013, a pair of Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) was heard duetting while hidden among a leafy branch of the Blue Mahang (Macaranga hyeni) tree that was covered with the scrambling Luffa plant (Luffa aegyptica) (above). The duetting started as early as 0730 hours and lasted from 5-10 minutes to as long as 40 minutes. When disturbed from their perches, they fly off to continue somewhere else. During evenings they were... Read More

Sex and the Birds: 11. Sex-role reversal and Greater Painted-snipe

in Courtship-Mating, Sex  on Jan 05, 14 No Comments »
Sex and the Birds: 11. Sex-role reversal and Greater Painted-snipe The Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis) has developed a unique mating system where the female (above) is larger and more brightly coloured than the male (below). As such, she actively courts the male. This involves allopreening the male and adopting a “spread-wing display” where both wings are fully extended and arched forward with the tail fanned and raised. She also circles the male at the same time calling softly. Once copulation is completed, the pair... Read More

Mating Black-winged Kites

Mating Black-winged Kites “Formerly known as the Black-shouldered Kite, the Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus vociferus) is now considered to be a distinct species. I have not seen the Black-winged Kite for quite some time before this encounter. Happy to share images of this pair mating. It happened very unexpectedly. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. “Passing by this area, I always scrutinise this barren tree, which have yielded some avian friends on many... Read More

Mating of a pair of Collared Kingfishers

in Courtship-Mating  on Nov 29, 13 3 Comments »
Mating of a pair of Collared Kingfishers “Wildlife is finally returning to Singapore’s Holland Village about 2 years after the end of the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit lines and I was delighted when this pair of Collared Kingfishers (Todiramphus chloris) moved in 2-3 months ago along with other birds commonly found in Singapore. “They have accidentally flew into my house twice since they’ve moved in. I don’t think they are very well adapted to urban settings (like mynahs and... Read More

Large-tailed Nightjar’s social/mating behaviour.

Large-tailed Nightjar's social/mating behaviour. “I have mentioned before that some of the most significant observations have no images to support them. My wife and I often see very interesting behaviour in the early morning (pre-dawn) as we sit on the flat part of our roof (have permanent ladder up) for breakfast and solitude; almost every day for past 7-8 years. [The above image of the Large-tailed Nightjar was photographed at a different location} “We are often accompanied on the roof by our resident... Read More

Sex and the Birds: 1. Copulation

in Courtship-Mating, Sex  on Oct 21, 13 No Comments »
Sex and the Birds: 1. Copulation In birds fertilisation is internal, meaning that the sperm needs to be inserted into the body of the female by the male. However, only a handful of species have a penis to insert into the female’s cloaca during copulation. The cloaca is a chamber in the lower part of the gut where the digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts end. Almost all other birds do not possess a penis. Now why is this so? Copulation involves the male balancing on the female’s back to pass on... Read More