Halcyon smyrnensis with bright plumage and pointed bill

Halcyon smyrnensis (White-throated Kingfisher)

Kingfishers are a family of small to medium-sized and brightly coloured birds.

Halcyon smyrnensis (White-throated Kingfisher) with visible large white patches, 1 July 2016This White-throated Kingfisher is large, 27-28 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The flight of the White-throated kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring. In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

All kingfishers have large heads, long, sharp, pointed or dagger-like bills, short legs and stubby tails.

Most species have bright plumage with only small differences between the sexes.

The kingfishers have excellent vision. They are capable of binocular vision and are thought in particular to have good colour vision. The irises of most species are dark brown.

Taxonomy:

Captivating Halcyon smyrnensis (White-throated Kingfisher) with bright blue back, wings and tail, 1 July 2016

  • Scientific name: Halcyon smyrnensis
  • Common name: White-throated Kingfisher
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Alcedinidae
  • Subfamily: Halcyoninae (tree kingfishers)

Range: The kingfishers have a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring throughout the world’s tropical and temperate regions.

Habitat: White-throated kingfisher is a common species of a variety of habitats, mostly open country in the plains but has been seen at 7500 ft in the Himalayas with trees, wires or other perches. The range of the species is expanding. This beauty is widespread and populations are not threatened.

Breeding: The White-throated kingfisher begins breeding at the onset of the monsoons. Males perch on prominent high posts in their territory and call in the early morning. The tail may be flicked now and in its courtship display the wings are stiffly flicked open for a second or two exposing the white wing mirrors.
Awesome to see a life Kingfisher (White-throated Kingfisher) for the first time outside our backyard, 1 July 2016They also raise their bill high and display the white throat and front. The female in invitation makes a rapid and prolonged kit-kit-kit call. The nest is a tunnel 50 cm long. The nest building begins with both birds flying into a suitable mud wall until an indentation is made where they can find a perch hold. They subsequently perch and continue digging the nest with their bills. Nest tunnels in a haystack have also been recorded. A single clutch of 4-7 round white eggs is typical. The eggs take 20–22 days to hatch while the chicks fledge in 19 days.

Feeding and diet: Halcyon smyrnensis (White-throated Kingfisher) seen behind our home, 1 July 2016It perches conspicuously on wires or other exposed perches within its territory and is a frequent sight in south Asia. This species mainly hunts large crustaceans, insects, earthworms, rodents, snakes, fish and frogs. Predation of small birds such as the Oriental white-eye, chick of a red-wattled lapwing, sparrows and munias have been reported. The young are fed mostly on invertebrates. In captivity, it has been noted that it rarely drinks water although bathing regularly.

External link:
Wikipedia on the Kingfisher.

Citrus mitis with edible fruits and medicinal uses

Citrus mitis (Calamansi, Golden Lime, Panama Orange, Calamondin Orange, Chinese Orange, Musk/Acid Orange)

Citrus mitis (Calamansi, Golden Lime, Panama Orange, Calamondin Orange, Chinese Orange, Musk/Acid Orange) fruiting in abundance in our garden, 14 Jan 2013Calamondin Orange or Golden Lime is the most versatile citrus.

It is highly prized for its ornamental value and its edible fruits.

Wonderful to be grown in one’s garden to harvest its bunches of fruits that are available all year long.
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Lygodium japonicum produces countless sporangia readily

Lygodium japonicum (Japanese Climbing Fern, Climbing Fern, Vine-like Fern)

Mesmerizing green fronds of Lygodium japonicum (Japanese Climbing Fern, Climbing Fern, Vine-like Fern), 27 June 2017The Japanese Climbing Fern or Vine-like Fern sprouts easily via spores.

Also, it spreads vegetatively via underground rhizomes.

It has been reported as an invasive plant by USDA in southern Alabama and Florida and is known to overgrow existing vegetation.
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Spondias dulcis with edible fruits and countless health benefits

Spondias dulcis (Ambarella, Golden/Jewish/Polynesian Plum, Golden Apple, Umbra Fruit, Buah Kedondong in Malay)

Fruits and leaves of Spondias dulcis (Ambarella, Golden/Jewish/Polynesian Plum, Golden Apple, Umbra Fruit, Buah Kedondong), 25 June 2017The edible Umbra Fruit has countless health benefits.

Wonderful to be grown in one’s garden to harvest its bunches of fruits that are available all year long.

In Malaysia, its fruit is one of the favourite ingredients that’s mixed with shrimp paste in rojak.
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Peacock with captivating iridescent colouration

Peacock (Peafowl, Peahen)

Captivating Indian PeacockThe term peacock is reserved for the male while the female is known as a peahen. Both are peafowl. The immature offspring are sometimes called peachicks.

In both species of Pavo, the male has a 90–130 cm body and 150 cm train of tail feathers that are coloured a brilliant metallic green.
This train is mainly formed of the  bird’s upper tail coverts which are enormously elongated.
Each feather is tipped with an iridescent eyespot that is ringed with blue and bronze.
Very attractive Indian PeacockIn courtship displays, the cock elevates his tail, which lies under the train, thus elevating the train and bringing it forward.
At the climax of this display, the tail feathers are vibrated, giving the feathers of the train a shimmering appearance and making a rustling sound.

The blue peacock’s body feathers are mostly metallic blue-green.
The green peacock, with a train much like that of the blue, has green-and-bronze body feathers.
Peacock showing off its iridescent colourationHens of both species are green and brown and almost as big as the male but lack the train and the head ornament.
In the wild, both species live in open lowland forests, flocking by day and roosting high in trees at night.
During the breeding season, the male peacock forms a harem of two to five hens, each of which lays four to eight whitish eggs in a depression in the ground.

Taxonomy:

  • Scientific name:Peacock Each feather of the Peacock is tipped with an iridescent eyespot that is ringed with blue and bronze
  • Common name: Peafowl or Peahen
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Phasianidae (Pheasants and their allies)
  • Subfamily: Phasianinae
  • Species: Pavo cristatus from India and Sri Lanka, Pavo mutinous from Myanmar, Indochina and Java, Afropavo congensis from Congo.

Range: Peacock showing off its iridescent colouration and beautiful eyeshpotAs an ornamental bird, the peacock is a staple resident of many of the world’s zoos and has long been famous throughout the Old World. Green peacocks in captivity must be kept apart from other fowl, though, because of their aggressive disposition. Blue peacocks, though native to hot steamy lands, can survive northern winters. However, green peacocks cannot tolerate much cold.

Habitat: Peafowl are forest birds that nest on the ground, but roost in trees.  They are terrestrial feeders. All species of peafowl are believed to be polygamous. In common with other members of the Galliformes, the males possess metatarsal spurs or thorns on their legs used during intraspecific territorial fights with other members of their kind.

Food plants: Vertical view of the beautiful PeacockPeafowl are omnivores and eat mostly plant parts, flower petals, seed heads, insects and other arthropods, reptile and amphibians. Wild peafowl look for their food scratching around in leaf litter either early in the morning or at dusk. They retreat to the shade and security of the woods for the hottest portion of the day. These birds are not picky and will eat almost anything they can fit in their beak and digest. They actively hunt insects like ants, crickets, termites, millipedes and other arthropods and small mammals. Indian peafowl also eat small snakes.

External link:
1. Wikipedia about the Peafowl.
2. Britannica about the Peacock.