birding-aus Mystery bird from P.Sudong

Subject: birding-aus Mystery bird from P.Sudong
From: "John Lynn" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 21:43:08 PDT
Hi folks,
Remember the unknown bird I saw while on reservist training at Pulau Sudong. After consulting an onithologist friend (S.Sreedharan a.k.a. Slim) and comparing with better photos from one of Morten Strange's bird books, we're quite certain its a Raffles Malkoha. I had a long close up of the frontal view and the it matches nicely with a frontal photo. Its very common in SE Asia but not so in Singapore. Perhaps this one is a stray from the Riau.

The bad news is that I'll have to wait till early next year for another opportunity to go back there. I'll have to get a camera with zoom and some lessons on bird photography.

Slim's email:-

Dear John,

Re. the bird on Pulau Sudong:

Sounds a bit like a male Raffles's Malcoha (P. chlorophaeus):

Size & Shape about 25cm length: OK
Body & tail like Koel but slightly smaller & more sleek: OK

Bill longish and pointed: OK, but what COLOUR was the bill?

Perched on a branch almost horizontal like a Koel and tilted its neck left and right like one: OK.

Head and body (? upperparts, underparts or both): light cream colour with a bit of fine streaks. Well, the Raffles' has a more chestnut mantle, might occasionally have obscure shaft streaks on the feathers.

Underside of the tail checkered: What colour was the tail?  Darker?
Chequered tail, you say. Black and white? What shape was the tail? Did the feathers have white tips to them? Were all the feathers of the same length or was the tail graduated (outer feathers shorter than inner ones)?
All these are important notes for proper identification.

Lower underside of the body near the tail (= vent) also barred but distinct from underside of tail: Distinct in what way? Different colour?

Rest of the upper part of the underside (= chin, throat, breast) light cream coloured: It is buffy to rufous on throat and breast in Raffles's.

Tailorbirds with full top half of the head reddish brown, no dark neck markings: probably Rufous-tailed (O. sericeus), also has reddish tail. If LOWER face is also reddish, then Ashy (O. ruficeps).

Sounds like an interesting site. You might want to suggest that a full bird survey be done there from time to time!

Warmest regards,


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