Our Birds of Prey
You would not want to mess with these winged beasts!
Birds of prey, also known as raptors, often hunt and feed on other vertebrates. Such birds include eagles, ospreys, kites, buzzards and falcons.
They have keen eyesight that enables them to detect prey from a great distance while in flight. Their strong feet are armed with sharp talons, or hooked claws, that they use to grasp prey easily. These birds then use their powerful curved beaks to tear flesh apart.
Reversed Sexual Dimorphism
Male raptors are typically smaller in size compared to their female counterparts. Additionally, various raptors display sexual dimorphism whereby the male and female of the same species look different.
It is believed that it is more advantageous for the male to remain smaller as this provides higher agility, allowing it to hunt better. The female, on the other hand, is larger in size so that it can incubate eggs more efficiently.
The next time you are out in our green spaces, look up to the sky. Who knows, you may be able to spot one or two of these majestic beasts out hunting for its lunch!
The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a medium-sized raptor with brownish upperparts and tail. Measuring about 55 cm, it can be easily identified by its yellow iris and prominent brown-black stripe across its eyes.
The Osprey’s main diet is fish and it catches them by diving into the water and gripping them using its powerful talons. It is a common visitor to Singapore and is usually seen along our coastlines.
The Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) is a small raptor, measuring about 32 cm in size. Its crown, face and underparts are mostly grey with black feathers. Its large red eyes are also distinctive.
An inhabitant of grasslands and open areas, this bird can sometimes be seen hovering in mid-air as it scans the area below for prey.
At about 45 cm, the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) is a medium-sized raptor found throughout Southeast Asia. A common resident in Singapore, it can often be seen soaring over urban areas. Adults are distinctive with their white head, nape and chest contrasting with a chestnut-coloured body.
These birds are particularly conspicuous around freshwater and coastal wetlands. They are not adverse to consuming dead organisms and therefore play an important role as scavengers in these ecosystems.
White-bellied Sea Eagle
The White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is the largest resident raptor in Singapore, with some adults attaining a wingspan of over 2 m. It has a white head and underparts with greyish wings and a wedge-shaped tail.
Sea Eagles can often be seen soaring over large water bodies like reservoirs and canals while searching for fish. They build large nests on tall trees and even man-made structures such as telecommunication towers.
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Don’t be fooled by its small chicken-like head. The Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus) is an excellent hunter that specialises in dismantling the nests of bees and wasps to feed on their larvae.
This medium-sized raptor, that measures about 60 cm, is a winter visitor to Singapore and can be observed in a wide variety of habitats, including the roofs of apartment blocks. Its plumage is highly variable depending on its age and gender but is generally brownish with a combination of streaks and barrings. Its best identification feature is the aforementioned small chicken-like head in proportion to its body.
For more information
Want to learn more on identifying garden birds? During this period, you can do so even without leaving your house! Learn more about our common birds through our interactive e-learning module, accessible via Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox browser.
Visit NParksSG, our refreshed YouTube Channel that serves as a one-stop repository for close to 300 video resources. It also provides you a platform for existing and future digital outreach including DIY gardening and related crafts, virtual tours of our green spaces, and livestream events.
If you are heading to our green spaces, do the right thing and be socially responsible. Maintain a safe distance from other park goers and keep to not more than five persons in a group. Always wear a mask except when you are engaged in strenuous exercise or when consuming food, drink or medication.
Do check out the visitorship levels of our parks using our safe distancing portal before you head down and avoid the ones with high visitorship.
For more information about the flora and fauna found in Singapore, please visit NParks Flora and Fauna Web.
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Text by Ang Xin
Photos by Francis Yap
About the writer
Ang Xin is a final year Life Sciences student at National University of Singapore. She worked at NParks’ Communications and Community Engagement department for five months as part of her university’s Final Year Internship project. She curated content for the various NParks’ social media platforms and produced digital illustrations and infographics that translated dry scientific information into interactive and accessible messages that could be better understood by the general public.
Please email email@example.com for more information on our internship programme.
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