Monthly Archives: April 2020

Unexplained observations of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis nesting.

Unexplained observations of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis nesting.

By Alfred Chia.

I had written briefly on my Facebook page about the nesting of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis along the corridor of my flat. The nest was however built out-of-sight and out-of-reach and hung from one of my plant which overhangs beyond the parapet wall. You will not be able to see it unless you take the trouble to peer over the wall.



Briefly, the female sunbird started constructing the nest on or before 10 February 2020. On 16 March, the female started occupying the nest. From 8 April onwards, the male was observed bringing food to the nest very frequently, each time perching on another plant that is visible to me as I stand within my house, before it flies into the nest to feed its fledgling. Out of two chicks, one survived, as is usual. This chick fledged on 18 April, about twelve days after hatching. After this, the fledgling was not seen but the two parent birds still came to my plants sporadically.


On 21 April, something unexpected (at least to me) happened. I had peered beyond the parapet wall at 1100 hours just to see if there is still any activity at the nest. No activity was seen, as has been the case since the chick fledged on 18 April but it was noticed that the nest opening was a wee bit messed up such that the opening was partially blocked. At 1315 hours, I went back out again to have a look. I was shocked at what confronted me. The nest was missing! I looked at the small ledge that was directly below the area where the nest was at formerly to see if it had dropped onto it. Besides some remnant dried leaves that were already there for some time, the nest was nowhere to be found. Baffled, I took the lift to the ground floor to further check if the nest had dropped there. Again, it was not found.


A flurry of questions immediately ran through my mind. What happened to the nest? Did the sunbird remove the nest intentionally? Or was it relocated? Why did they do it? Where could it have taken it to? Could it have been the female sunbird who remove it? Could it have carried the entire nest structure away in one fell swoop because the remnant dried leaves on the ledge does not indicate that it had increased exponentially?

I had a previous unexplained experience of an incomplete Olive-backed Sunbird nest missing too. This was on a plant along the corridor. It was halfway through construction when suddenly it just disappeared. It was a clean act too as the floor directly below the nest was clean and devoid of any nesting material. At that time, I had even surmised that my friendly block cleaner could have taken it off my plant as the nest building can be very messy with bits of the material being dropped onto the floor constantly. About two months after this incident, I had my niece, who lives in Yishun, coming up to me to ask if sunbirds are capable of removing nest after painstakingly building it. Hers was also in the midst of being constructed when she realised that it was missing the next day. When I ask if it could have been the block’s cleaner who had removed it, she replied that the cleaner hardly ever cleans the corridor.

A check through my Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters & Sugarbirds monograph by Robert A. Cheke & Clive F. Mann reveal no such information on nest removal or relocation. A check through the internet & other resources did not help either.

It will be interesting to know if any of our readers, birders or photographers have noted such behaviour from an Olive-backed Sunbird  before. I’d be glad to hear from you. Additionally, it may be well worth to follow-up on future nesting of this species if you come across it – both pre and post-nesting.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2020

GFB, 080320, KM, MArtti Siponen, crop

Grey-faced Buzzard, at Kranji Marshes, on 8 March 2019, by Martti Siponen

Summary for migrant species:

In March 2020, 131 migrant raptors of ten species were recorded. There were 52 Oriental Honey Buzzards, including 7 at Pasir Ris on the 7th. The 27 Japanese Sparrowhawks included some, apparently on migration, over the Kent Ridge Park – seven on the 27th and nine on the 30th. There were also 19 Black Bazas, including 11 at Kent Ridge Park on the 27th.

The single immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle wintering here was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 22nd, and at Ulu Pandan Park Connector on the 24th. At Bedok, Ramesh T. managed to spot the Common Buzzard after a few visits, following the uncommon raptor’s appearance late last month.

JB, 160320, CBP, Herman Phua

Jerdon’s Baza, at Changi Business Park, on 16 March 2020, by Herman Phua

Four Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, one each at Halus-Coney Island area, Tampines Eco Green, Changi Business Park and Pulau Ubin. Of the five Grey-faced Buzzards reported, one at Sentosa was found injured and taken in for care, one was flying over Pasir Ris on the 4th, two at Kranji Marshes on the 8th, and another at Chek Jawa on the 13th.

Seven Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, including five on migration over Kent Ridge Park (3 on the 27th, and 2 on the 30th). Nine Peregrine Falcons and six Western Ospreys rounded up the migrant raptors for March 2020. At Kent Ridge Park on the 27th, eight Accipiters, not identified to species level, were likely on northward migration.

BWK, 250320, Turut, James Gan

Black-winged Kite, with its striking red eyes well ‘captured’, at Kranji Marshes, on 25 Mar 2020, by James Gan

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were reported for four resident raptor species. A fledgling dark morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle was photographed at the Botanic Gardens on the 2nd. An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was sitting on its nest at Coney Island on the 21st. A fledgling Grey-headed Fish Eagle was recorded on its nest at Springleaf on the 4th, with an adult closeby; and there was activity at the nest on the 20th.

For the Crested Goshawks, four nests were reported: one at Pasir Ris where an adult was on the nest guarding against a party of Oriental Pied Hornbills, on the 3rd; one at Thomson where an adult brought a Javan Myna for the fledgling, on the 7th; one at Pasir Panjang with two chicks, on the 7th; and on the 29th, another at Sentosa with a fledgling, and it was noted that ‘a few days prior’, the adults were ‘dive-bombing’ a party of Oriental Pied Hornbills to keep them away from the nest.

The other sedentary raptors recorded included three Crested Serpent Eagles: one at Goldhill Avenue area throughout the month, one adult at Pulau Ubin on the 18th, and one at King Albert Park on the 22nd. There were also six Black-winged Kites and the common Brahminy Kites.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Martti Siponen, Herman Phua, and James Gan for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – March 2020


Singapore Raptor Report – February 2020

Common Buzzard, 270220, Bedok, Danny Khoo

Common Buzzard, juvenile pale morph, at Bedok North Avenue 3, on 27 Feb 2020, by Danny Khoo

Summary for migrant species:

In February 2020, 126 raptors of 10 migrant species were recorded. A scarce Common Buzzard perched on top of a HDB apartment block at Bedok North Avenue 3 was photographed by Danny Khoo on the 27th. A single dark morph Booted Eagle was photographed in flight at Coney Island on the 23rd by Yip Jen Wei, who also photographed a Grey-faced Buzzard at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin on the 29th.

Three Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, one at Pasir Ris, one at Lorong Halus – Coney Island area, and one female wintering at Ang Mo Kio. Of the six Jerdon’s Bazas, five were recorded in the Lorong Halus – Coney Island area between the 7th to the 22nd, and one at Pulau Ubin on the 23rd. At our coastal areas, six Western Ospreys were recorded, including one at Lorong Halus on the 25th, mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon. As for the Peregrine Falcons, seven were recorded around the island, including one that mobbed an Oriental Honey Buzzard at Lorong Halus on the 25th.

Nine Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, all singles, at various localities. Rounding off the migrant raptors were 45 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 47 Black Bazas, including a flock of 14 at Kranji Marshes on the 28th.

GHFE, 180220, Pandan River, Yeak Hwee Lee, cinnamon bittern 5

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, flying off with an adult male Cinnamon Bittern that it had caught in the river, at Pandan River, on 18 Feb 2020, by Yeak Hwee Lee

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were observed for five resident species. On the 10th, a pair of Changeable Hawk-Eagles (1 pale morph & 1 dark morph) were observed on their nest at Little Guilin. On the 23rd, a Black-winged Kite at Kranji Marshes was flying with nesting materials. At Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 25th, a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles were photographed in the act of mating. On the 28th, an active nest of the Brahminy Kite was found at the Jurong Lake Gardens.

February might just be the peak breeding period for the Crested Goshawk, as breeding-related activities were observed at five different locations: on the 5th, a nest with one chick was recorded at West Coast Park; on the 10th, courtship feeding was observed between a pair which had built a nest at Pasir Ris Park; the goshawk at Ang Mo Kio on the 10th was apparently nesting for the second season; at Pasir Panjang, an active nest with two chicks was observed throughout the month; and at Thomson, a nest with two chicks was recorded during the month, although only one chick survived.

Crested Goshawk, 130220, PRP, Michael Kwee, prey monitor lizard 4

Crested Goshawk, with a young Water Monitor Lizard that it had caught, at Pasir Ris Park, on 13 Feb 2020, by Michael Kwee.

Nine Grey-headed Fish Eagles were recorded at various waterbodies, including an adult at Pandan River on the 18th, ‘captured’ on camera by a lucky few (Yeak Hwee Lee, et al) in the act of catching an adult male Cinnamon Bittern that was hunting in the river. This is the second time a Grey-headed Fish Eagle was observed preying on a Cinnamon Bittern – the previous occurrence was on 13 Sep 2018, also at Pandan River. While mostly a fish eater, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle is known to take birds up to the size of a junglefowl, and small mammals like squirrels.


Grey-headed Fish Eagle, in a sequence ‘caught’ on camera as it caught and flew off with a Cinnamon Bittern, at Pandan River, on 18 Feb 2020, by Yeak Hwee Lee.

A Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 12th & 25th. And, one torquatus tweeddale morph Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded at Singapore Quarry on the 20th.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Danny Khoo, Yeak Hwee Lee, and Michael Kwee for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – February 2020