Chek Jawa Mangrove, Pulau Ubin. July 2018.

Orthotomus ruficeps
The Ashy Tailorbird is given its name for the ash-coloured upper back. The ash extends to its breast and fades to white belly and vent. The scapulars, wings and tail is a bronze-brown. The head is distinctively rufous with some having an ash nape. The beak is sharp resembling a needle.

Chek Jawa Mangrove, Pulau Ubin. July 2018.

My first encounter with the ashy tailorbird was in the mangroves, its natural home. I would hear its loud, high-pitch and fast chirps cutting through the humid air and surrounding me. I was not expecting the sound to be coming from such a small bird as I naively equate a loud sound to a large bird. It take several more occasions before I tracked the burst of metallic chirp to the ashy tailorbird.

Coney Island, Singapore. May 2016. These photos from Coney Island shows the ashy tailorbirds on Casaurinas that was quite near the shore. 

A pair of them was flitting among the branches methodically in search of insects. It was fast-moving bird due to its petite frame and legs that are designed to hop quickly from one branch to another. In reviewing the photos I took, I noticed the intertarsal joint is bulbous which I believe creates a strong spring to launch it forward. The leg stands out from other birds in that it is often in an angle where the tibia and tarsus is close to each other. It looks like a bird that has gone through some serious gym training doing squats.

Coney Island, Singapore. May 2016. A pair of tailorbirds.

Pasir Ris Park, Singapore. November 2015.

It can be difficult to get a clear shot of this bird. It seldom stay still for long at a spot, making you hunt for it with the camera. Its foraging strategy is to comb through a tree or shrub in a pair quickly. Each time it does a hop, it will momentarily pause to check for food. You have one to second to frame, focus and shoot. When it is done with a tree, it flies on to the next tree. Occasionally, it stops to take a break and preen its feather. 

Pasir Ris Mangrove, Singapore. June 2018. The lighter ash colour of the rump is revealed here when viewed from the back.

Pasir Ris Park, Singapore. July 2016.

Back to Top