Brown Shrike (pakis-kis, tarat)

Brown Shrike in the Philippines (© Matt Brady)

The Brown Shrike, known as “pakis-kis” or “tarat” in Tagalog, is a cute little bird with a chattering call, often seen perched on branches or farm buildings. The subspecies of Brown Shrike found in the Philippines, lucionensis, has a grey head, though Brown Shrikes from other parts of Asia have brown heads.

Brown Shrike in Singapore (© Steven Cheong)

Unlike the much larger Red-crested Malkoha or the sharp-billed Spotted Wood Kingfisher, the Brown Shrike is a little, gentle bird and couldn’t possibly be a hunter. Right?

Wait, what’s that?

brown shrike Lanius cristatus eating frog
Brown Shrike eating frog (© Johnny Wee)

It’s eating a frog!!! Surely that’s not normal, right? Wait, what’s that one doing?

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Brown-breasted Kingfisher


Photo by Rodrigo Layug

You might hear the Brown-breasted Kingfisher’s loud stuttering whistle before you see it. This is one of the largest kingfishers around Lilok Farm and it isn’t a bird that cares too much about hiding – it likes to announce its presence!

The Brown-breasted Kingfisher, like the Spotted Wood Kingfisher we talked about before, is a member of the tree kingfisher group. That means that it likes to sit in trees and other high places, whether they are near water or not. However, unlike the Spotted Wood Kingfisher it is still most often associated with water, so the river down below Sakahong Lilok is the best place to find it.

Brown-breasted Kingfisher near the river at Lilok Farm
Brown-breasted Kingfisher near the river at Lilok Farm

But they might show up along the road, on top of a building, looking out over a field, or any other spot where they have a nice perch to sit on and space to hunt for food.

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Red-crested Malkoha

I think I heard a bird? Where is it? Wait, there it is! No, where did it go? I see it again – it’s so pretty! It’s gone!

The Red-crested Malkoha is often seen around Sakahang Lilok. It is big and beautiful, around 40cm long and colored in red and white. Yet it is so sneaky that you rarely get a clear shot at it. If you do, you’ll be amazed.

Red-crested Malkoha Dasylophus superciliosus pauline carmel joy eje tanay epic
A Red-crested Malkoha spotted in Tanay by Pauline Carmel Joy Eje

Of course, such a clear sight is uncommon. I have seen the Red-crested Malkoha several times at Lilok, but only when it was flitting through the understory or flying away. It prefers to stay hidden among the branches, hunting for the big insects that make up most of its diet. If you do get a glance at it, you might not even see the whole bird.

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Spotted Wood Kingfisher

male Spotted Wood Kingfisher Actenoides lindsayi piskador kasay-kasay sakahang lilok farm tanay near manila philippines
male Spotted Wood Kingfisher from forested section of Lilok Farm

The Spotted Wood Kingfisher is a beautiful bird that can be seen in the tree-planted area of Lilok Farm.

Kingfishers (called “piskador” or “kasay-kasay”) get their name because they like to fish. But the Spotted Wood Kingfisher is special – it is the only kingfisher that doesn’t live near the water. Instead of hunting fish in the water, it hunts animals and small insects in the forest – that’s why it’s called a “wood” kingfisher.

Female Spotted Wood Kingfishers look very different from the males. While the male kingfisher’s head has beautiful blue and red marks, the female kingfisher has a pretty green color instead.

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