Pekaka Belukar/Dusun/Ungu (Malay)
Kingfishers are not as common in Singapore as they are in peninsular
Malaysia. Nevertheless, they make their presence known by their loud
calls. They are often sighted in rural areas, perching on telephone
wires or other vantage points (8-10 m up).
White-throated Kingfishers as a group eat a wide range of food, but
each bird may specialise in a particular prey. They take fish (particularly
during the wet season). But other prey make up the bulk of their diet.
These include tadpoles, grasshoppers, lizards, insects. They basically
take any small creature that they can catch and kill.
While hunting along the water, they prey on crabs, amphibians (frogs)
and reptiles (skinks, lizards). On land, they hunt large insects and
arthropods (grasshoppers, beetles, termites, scorpions, centipedes).
They beat these against their perch to kill and remove venomous stings.
They even take small mammals (rats, mice, voles), snakes up to 65cm
long, and nestling birds.
and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Medium (28cm);
throat and breast white, but no white collar; head and
rest of underparts chocolate brown. Wings, tail and back
turquoise; bill large (6-7cm), red; feet red.
Female: brown parts not so
Juvenile: Duller; bill initially
dark; fine dark scallops on white breast; lesser wing-coverts
Call: Described as a loud
shrill whinnying kek-kek which trails off; a harsh
repeated klip; a piercing staccato laugh.
In flight: Blue with wing
tips black; white patch at base of primaries;
(H./Todirhamphus chloris) has white collar; black
bill and feet; blue cap; no brown underparts; in flight
uniformly blue upperparts.
(Halcyon pileata) has white collar, black cap.
in flight appears similar.
Status in Singapore: Common
resident throughout the island and North and South offshore
World distribution: Middle
East through the Asian subcontinent to the Philippines.
Classification: Family Alcedinidae,
subfamily Dacelonidae. World 61 species, Singapore 5 species.
White-throated Kingfishers dive to catch aquatic prey; in shallow water,
entering feet-first, in deeper waters, head-first. They can also hover for
a short while before plunging in. They also dive into grass and vegetation
to catch their prey. Their huge bills come in handy to hammer their prey
to death. Swarming termites may also be caught in flight.
Their hunts appear to be more successful in wetlands than on dry land. White-throated
Kingfishers hunt alone, but where hunting is good, they may perch as close
as 100 m apart without showing much hostility.
Breeding: White-throated Kingfishers
breed in Singapore in December-May. Courting White-throated Kingfishers
display on a perch as they sing, spreading out their wings to show the white
patches. Some perform a courtship flight, flying straight up then spiralling
White-throated Kingfishers nest in steep earth banks besides roads and stream,
and occasionally, termite mounds. They dig out a tunnel about 7 cm wide,
50 cm to nearly 1 m deep ending in a breeding chamber about 20 cm in diameter.
During the construction period, the mated pair are very vocal and call and
display to each other continuously. 4-7 white eggs are laid. Both parents
raise the chicks.
For more about the hunting methods and breeding
habits of Kingfishers in general.
Migration: White-throated Kingfishers
in Singapore are resident. Elsewhere they migrate, but within their breeding
Status and threats: White-throated Kingfishers
are not considered at risk in Singapore, possibly because of their broad
diet. They are found everywhere, not necessarily near water. Besides ponds,
reservoirs, and coastal areas, they are also found in forest edges, scrub,
open woodlands, gardens and rural/suburban areas.
- Morten Strange,
"A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including
Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000
(p. 182: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
- Morten Strange,
"Tropical Birds of Malaysia and Singapore", Periplus
Editions, 2000 (p. 34: habits, habitat, photo).
- David R Wells,
"The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Non-Passarines)",
Academic Press, 1999 (p. 511-512: identification, distribution map,
habits, habitat, migration, conservation).
- Morten Strange,
"Birds of Southeast Asia: A photographic guide to the birds
of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia",
New Holland, 1998 (p. 44: photo, facts).
- Lim Kim Seng and
Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds
of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 32: identification,
status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species)
- G W H Davison
and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular
Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995
(p. 60: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
- Morten Strange
and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the
Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing,
1993 (p. 52: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
- Clive Briffett,
"A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", BP Science
Centre,1992 (p. 81: habit, habitat).
- Christopher Hails,
"Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times
Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 104: habits, description, status in
Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
- Lim Kim Seng,
"Vanishing Birds of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore),
1992 (p. 11: status in Singapore).
- Lim Kim Seng,
"Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore",
Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay
- M W F Tweedie,
"Common Birds of the Malay Peninsula", Longman,1970
(p. 28: description, distribution, habits, habitat, drawing).
- G C Madoc, "An
Introduction to Malayan Birds", Malayan Nature Society, 1947
(p. 95-96: description, habits, habitat).
- Sir John A S Bucknill
and E N Chasen, " Birds of Singapore and South-East Asia",
Tynron Press, 1927, edition 1990 (p. 121-122: identification, status
in Singapore, distribution, field notes on habits, drawings).
- C Hillary Fry
and Kathie Fry, "Kingfishers, Bee-Eaters and Rollers: A Handbook",
Christopher Helm, 1992 (p. 143-145: identification, habitat, habits).
- Prof. Dr. Yong
Hoi Sen (ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Animals";
Kingfishers and Woodpeckers by Siti Hawa bt Yatim, Editions Didier Millet,
1998 (p. 56: habits, habitats).