Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A wildlife drama: The saga of blue-eared kingfishers in love

A pair of young adult Blue-eared Kingfishers (princess in the photo above and prince below) decided to dig their nest cavity under the boardwalk in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Although Blue-eared Kingfishers are found through out South and South-east Asia, the species is considered nationally threatened. They were considered common in the last century, but has rarely been seen since 1927. Due to their highly secretive behavior no one knows how many mature individuals there are in Singapore (according to Wang & Hails, 2007 the population is estimated at 10).

The naive couple put up with all the human intrusion that was force upon them. The prince and princess paid no attention to the avian paparazzi. Even when some started to trespass into the area where the pair were courting and resting. They even resorted to pruning plants to allow them better view of the pair. Despite the  invasion, the pair went about their business of procreation unaffected by all the activity around them. On the week that they should have welcomed their next generation, a nasty person decided to destroy their nest by plugging up the entrance. There were many theories as to who was responsible. Perhaps the deed was done by an illegal fisherman who hasn't been able to fish at the area where large prized female Tomans (snakeheads) are known to raise their brood because of the presence of the paparazzi.
Unfortunately, we also lost a great opportunity to gain some insights into the lives of these secretive jungle royalty. Unlike the Kings (Mar 2010 and Nov 2010) that built their nests on private property, and raised two successive families. This pair were on public land and there was no way of protecting them against unscrupulous people. This failed nesting is the second in two years at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The good news is the pair is safe and may get to a family in the immediate future. Hopefully they will be wiser after their encounter with humans and build their home far away from prying eyes.
If you are wondering if there are Nature Conservation Laws (section from the Singapore Red Data Book, which is much easier to read) that protect our flora and fauna in Singapore, we do it is called the

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