Brahminy kite



The Brahminy kite is a medium-sized raptor or bird of prey.1 It is one of the commonest raptors in Singapore and is frequently seen in flight over urban areas and suitable sites such as Jurong Lake. Large groups also roost on some offshore islands, such as Coney Island.2 While it commonly hunts fish, it will also feed on carrion.

Description
The Brahminy kite is a distinctive-looking bird with its rich chestnut brown body and wings, and white head and breast. It calls with a high-pitched mew.3 Its size ranges from 44 to 52 cm.4


Reproduction
For nesting, the bird typically uses emergent trees in mangroves. It also nests in casuarina trees. Nests are between 60 and 90 cm wide and lined with dried mud. Building and repair of nests occur from late October to March. Eggs are a dull chalky white, and are laid either between December and March, or in mid-June. Usually two chicks are raised in the months from January to mid-August, but mostly in the earlier part of the season.5


Diet
The Brahminy kite typically hunts for fish above water. However, it is opportunistic and will take small birds, amphibians, carrion and even flying termites. The bird is also kleptoparasitic, in that it will snatch food from other raptors. It often eats while in flight.6


Habitat and range
The Brahminy kite lives along the coast, especially where there are mangroves and mudflats. It can also be found inland where there are open spaces like paddy land and old dredge mines. Found throughout Southeast Asia, its range extends from India in the east to New Guinea, the Bismarck islands and Australia in the west.7


References
The second series of Singapore’s currency notes, issued between 1976 and 1984, featured birds. The second-highest denomination note in this series – the S$1,000 note – featured a perched Brahminy kite on the front.8 In Malaysia, the Brahminy kite is the Iban god of war, Singalang Burung.9 It is also Kedah’s symbol. Langkawi is named after the Brahminy kite.10


Variant names
Scientific names: Haliastur indus, Milvus indus.11

Malay names: Helang kembara merah (“Blood-coloured eagle”),12 Lang kawi (“reddish-brown eagle”).13
Chinese name: 栗鸢 (Li yuan)14 (“Chestnut kite”).



Author
Timothy Pwee




References
1.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
2.
Lim, K. S., & Chew, J. (2010). A field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Nature Society, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM); Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)
3.
Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 73. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM); Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1).  San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
4.
Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)
5.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL); Strange, M. (1990, October 7). The gregarious Kite that swoops and kills. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 135. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
7.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, pp. 134–135. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL); Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)
8.
Wee, Y. C., Tan, W. K., & Wang, L. K. (2011). One for the birds: Singapore stamps & money. Singapore: Tan Wee Kiat, pp. 8, 12. (Call no.: RSING 769.5695957 WEE)
9.
Oon, H. (2008). Wildlife guide Malaysia. London: New Holland, p. 98. (Call no.: RSEA 639.909595 WGM)
10.
Ponnampalam, A. (2000, September 5). A national bird for Malaysia? The New Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Chew, D. (2011, September 6). The jewel of Kedah. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL); Lim, K. S., & Chew, J. (2010). A field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Nature Society, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
12.
Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)
13.
Chew, D. (2011, September 6). The jewel of Kedah. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14.
Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist’s guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)



Further resources
Bucknill, J. A., & Chasen, F. N. (1990). Birds of Singapore and South-east Asia. Scotland: Tynron Press.

(Call no.: RSING 598.095957 BUC)

Lim, K. S. (1999). Pocket checklist of the birds of the Republic of Singapore. Singapore: Nature Society, Bird Group Records Committee.
Available via PublicationSG.

Madoc, G. C. (1956). An introduction to Malayan birds. Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature Society.
(Call no.: RCLOS 598.29595 MAD)

Yong, H. S. (1998). The encyclopedia of Malaysia (Vol. 3). Singapore: Archipelago Press.
(Call no.: RU q959.5003 ENC)



The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Birds--Singapore
Science and technology>>Zoology>>Birds
Birds of prey--Singapore
Nature>>Animals
Wildlife