The Kings in Our Midst
To showcase Singapore’s great diversity of animals, our illustrator Chloe drew many of them in the pages of our new book Tiger Tales: Almost True Animal Stories from Old Singapore. They are listed out on page 89 of the book. Have you spotted them?
Better yet, the next time you take a walk around the nature reserves or parks, keep a look out for them and see for yourself why Singapore is still wild at heart. Start with the kingfisher, a beautiful, brilliantly coloured bird that’s hard to miss.
In fact, there are up to eight different species of kingfishers that can be spotted here in Singapore, including the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) pictured here and on the cover of Tiger Tales. Perhaps it is so called because it can be found from Europe and Africa to many parts of Asia and Southeast Asia.
Standing at just 16cm tall, it is one of the smaller kingfishers in Singapore, but also one of the prettiest with its lovely blue coat and orange belly. Look out for it from August to March when it migrates from the colder countries up north. It loves to eat fish – which is why you’ll probably find it near ponds, rivers, canals and even the sea. In fact, anywhere where it can find fish.
The largest kingfisher found in Singapore is the stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis), which stands more than twice as big at around 37cm. The largest kingfisher found in Singapore is the stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis), which stands more than twice as big at around 37cm. With its bright red bill, grey head, orange belly and blue top feathers, it is quite an impressive sight — if you are lucky enough to spot it, that is. Although it lives in Singapore, it is not very common at all. Occasionally, it has been sighted in Botanic Gardens and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Apart from fish, the stork-billed kingfisher also likes small frogs, crabs and even small birds for its dinner!
Other kingfishers found in Singapore: the collared kingfisher, the most common one on the island; the ruddy kingfisher that’s probably named for its reddish-brown plumage; the blue-eared kingfisher; the black-capped kingfisher which has a black head, red bill and blue feathers; the white-throated kingfisher which has a white patch on its front; and last but not least, the Oriental dwarf kingfisher, the smallest at just 13cm.
Spot the kingfishers at Botanic Gardens, Kranji marshes, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Did You Know?
Many of us have sung of kookaburra, the merry merry king of the bush that sits on the old gum tree. But did you know that kookaburra is also sometimes called the Giant Kingfisher? Admittedly, this native of eastern Australia has some very un-kingfisher-like qualities: it prefers to eat meat, not fish. It is also rather plain with white and brown feathers, unlike its cousins with their beautiful, brightly coloured plumage.
Tiger Tales: Almost True Stories from Old Singapore is available for sale at major bookstores in Singapore, including Books Ahoy, Books Kinokuniya, The Fullerton Shop at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Garden Shops at Botanic Gardens, Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop, Museum Shops at the National Museum and Asian Civilisation Museum, and Woods in the Books.
It is also available online at Books Kinokuniya, Closetful of Books, Epigram Bookshop, Natventure Books, Owl Readers Club and Woods in the Books.