RIP. We were excited about shooting a pair of Ruddy-breasted Crake (Porzana fusca) at Satay by the Bay and there was a bird lying down on the ground and we thought it was a Myna (Acridotheres sp.) feigning death. When we walk closer, we realised it was the chick of the Crake. It died shortly.

Source: Edwin Choy on Bird Sightings Facebook Group

So uhh… This showed up in the lab today.

Source: David Tan Facebook

An update on the Frigatebird retrieved earlier this month by the good people at Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES). The bird was reported to ACRES on 9 October 2015 by a member of the public near Marina South Pier, where he said that the bird was first spotted entangled in fishing line by construction workers in the area. He also mentioned that the construction workers saw the frigatebird with a fish and hook in its beak, and despite their best efforts were unable to stop the bird from swallowing both fish and hook, although the workers were able to free the bird from the fishing line.

When the ACRES wildlife rescue team picked up the bird, they found the bird in a very weak condition and so passed it on to the Bird Park for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the bird did not survive for long, and NEA suspects that the fishing hook may have been the cause of death (they found the hook in the stomach when they dissected the bird). Up until this point, it was generally assumed that the bird was a Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi), but a closer examination (with advice from Lau Jiasheng and Lim Kim Seng) shows that this is in fact a Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel), a very rare non-breeding visitor to the Singapore Straits, as can be seen by the black ventral patch extending into the lower belly and the absence of an incomplete black breast band.

Source: David Tan Facebook

This Lesser Frigatebird had swallowed a baited fish hook and was found entangled in the fishing line at Marina South Pier.

Unfortunately, even with the help of the bird keepers and vets at Jurong Bird Park, the poor bird eventually passed away.

The use of glass is considered aesthetically appealing in building construction. However, many birds lose their lives flying into these glass windows as they are not able to differentiate between a reflection off a hard surface and an open area.

Seabirds like this one, face not only problems from glass buildings, but also mistaking fish bait as easy meals.

Source: Shaun Spykerman Instagram

Yesterday afternoon I received word about a White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) carcass outside the 28th floor window of Centennial Towers at Millenia Walk.

Unfortunately, due to the inconvenient location of the bird, we had to wait till today for the building management to kindly retrieve the carcass by gondola. This meant that the Eagle was emitting a right proper pong by the time I brought it back to the lab, not helped by the fact that fish-eating birds are also naturally smelly.

Based on what I could tell, the bird had a thoroughly broken neck, which suggests that it may have died after flying into the glass window. Now this is very unusual since White-bellied Sea Eagles are very well-adapted to urban living and shouldn’t have any problems with glass windows at all. The building manager did mention, however, that another Sea Eagle was found at the same time on the roof of the building, injured and unable to fly. It might be that the two birds could have been fighting and one of them, disoriented and dazed, could’ve lost its bearings and flown directly into the window and died. The other bird is now reportedly at the zoo being treated for its injuries.

Photos courtesy of Anuj Jain. Thanks to Wong Ley Kun for informing me about the bird.

Source: David Tan Facebook

I know Andy has been observing the White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) at the Marina Bay Area for a long time now. I have stopped by after work occasionally to look at the majestic birds too. So has my son who said it’s so cool to see wildlife in the heart of the Singapore downtown. Today, one of these beautiful birds is no more. Victim of window-kill. RIP WBSE.

Source: Wong Ley Kun Facebook

A partially eaten tilapia discarded by the otters on the road beside the reservoir. Note that apart from the head, the rest of the body is intact. Another partially eaten fish with the same condition lies a few metres away in the background. Photograph by Tan Yee Keat

Partially eaten Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) discarded by Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata)

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Marina Reservoir near Marina Barrage, along eastern shore; 12 September 2014; around 1830 hrs.

Observation: A group of seven otters left two dead tilapias of at least 20 cm total length on a road about 5 m away from Marina Barrage. The otters had retreated to the reservoir to avoid the observers, but stayed close to the shore. Only the head and cheeks of both fish were observed to be consumed.

Remarks: This group of otters is believed to be the same family that has recently become resident in the Marina Reservoir (Ee, 2014). Their apparent readiness to part with partially eaten prey (instead of carrying these with them) seems to imply that food is abundant and easily obtainable in the habitat. The present observation
suggests that alien species (such as the Mozambique Tilapia) do benefit certain native piscivores (such as the Smooth-coated Otter) as a source of prey (Yong et al., 2014). It is not clear why only the head and cheeks of the tilapias were eaten. Perhaps due to the abundance of food, the otters can afford to be wasteful, and eat only the ‘choice’ parts of their prey.


  • Ee, D.. 2014. Wild otters raise family around Marina Bay. The Sunday Times. 28 September 2014: top news, 10.
  • Yong D. L., B. W. Low, A. Ang, M. Woo & C. Ho, 2014. Multiple records of aquatic alien and invasive species in diets of native predators in Singapore. BioInvasions Records. 3 (3): 201-205.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 3-4

Two bird carcasses today. The one on the left is a Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus), a common resident species more often heard than seen, found dead in St. John’s Island. The one on the right is a migrating Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis), the second in 2 days, found in the middle of the parade square at Marina Bay Fire Station.

A close-up view of the Coppersmith Barbet’s head. It was bleeding from its beak when first found, probably the result of some form of blunt impact.

Source: David Tan Instagram [1], [2]