10 Common Birds in Singapore We Bet You Haven’t Seen Before

Latest Articles

BioNTech to Set Up Regional HQ & Manufacturing Site in S’pore; Will Produce mRNA...

Hail BioNTech, the hero whose name people conveniently forget about when talking about the “Pfizer vaccines” they helped to...

10 Best-est Deals Happening This Week (10 May–16 May) That Kiasu Singaporeans Cannot Miss

As we celebrate Mother's Day with gusto, we also grieve for the funds of all the filial children here...

Starbucks Launches Eco-Friendly Bags & Tumblers to Help You Reduce Your Plastic Waste

Every time you buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks, the Earth cries a little. Now, it's not that the...

Father Jailed & Caned for Molesting 11YO Daughter as “Punishment” for Failing Her Exams

The excuses for sexual harassment are endless. Testing the functionalities of your phone camera? Didn’t think they meant “stop” when...

Former Minister Khaw Boon Wan to Chair Board of New Not-for-Profit Entity After SPH...

A general is a high-ranking military officer, or the head of a transport system. A Minister of Transport is a...

It could be that auspicious morning at 5.29am when some friendly Asian Koel decides to ensure no one in the neighbourhood will be late for work. Or the evening when you gallivant down Orchard Road, only to have your mood ruined by thousands of Javan Mynae chirping in the incessant cacophony.

Either way, we’ve all had those moments when we wish we could just hit the delete button on all birds in existence.

But before you fully commit yourself to the pursuit of avian genocide, think about these other birds instead. They, too, are garden variety birds (perhaps surprisingly) that live with us every day, and they might just change your mind.

The White-bellied Sea Eagle

All the talk of Singapore as an urban jungle may have led you to believe only small, garden birds can live here. But it very much has a wild side—and the first on our list, a full-fledged raptor, is proof.

The white-bellied sea eagle, with a majestic wingspan of up to 2 metres (for comparison, a common pigeon is only about 30 centimetres long), is Singapore’s largest—and most common—bird of prey.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Peter McGaffin (@petermcgaffin)

As its name suggests, it typically lives near the sea or other large water bodies like reservoirs to stuff itself full with fish or even sea snakes—and the sight of its dive for the latest prey is truly a sight to behold.

Did we mention it’s been spotted right in the middle of Marina Bay, and even at the Istana?

The Pink-necked Green Pigeon

Nope, this is not the result of some chance encounter with Photoshop, nor the creation of an eight-year-old who tripped over a palette and spilt paint all over an old, drab, regular pigeon.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Derrick Wong (@derrickw0ng)

Though you’d be forgiven for thinking that way: the pink-necked green pigeon, with its vibrant plumes that don’t hold back on gorgeous splashes of pastel, is so unbelievably attractive that the Guardian’s had to dedicate an article to convincing readers the bird truly exists.

The bird above, proudly displaying its swathes of pink that blend into a brilliant orange, is a male specimen; female samples are slightly less eye-catching, but still, comes with a refreshingly green plumage and a reddish-brown tail.

And what’s better is that it lives right here in Singapore, and is supposedly an ubiquitous sight too.

In fact, the Nature Society’s 2015 bird census ranked it the third most common bird in Singapore—more so than even your everyday, grey pigeon.

Do not panic, however, if you think you are somehow living in an alternate universe allergic to pleasures of the eye.


Advertisements  

These beauties are arboreal, meaning that they hide in trees most of the time and only sparingly come to the ground for water. To see them, you’ll have to look up into the leaves until you spot something moving (or until your neck gets sore. Whichever comes first.)

The Collared Kingfisher

Another pop of colour on this list would be the collared kingfisher, decked out in feathers of rich azure.

Chances are, you’ve noticed them before, if not by the flash of blue as they fly by, then by their unmissable call, a loud, coarse “krek-krek” that is sure to disrupt any romantic picnic in the park.

If you decide to invite them to that picnic, they’ll gratefully accept land-dwelling food despite what their name tells you, like insects or small lizards.

But let’s stop and take a closer look at those feathers. While unmistakably blue to any pair of eyes, they actually contain no blue pigment at all.

So you go to social media and it appears that everyone is agreeing with your views. Watch this video to the end and you’d realise that there’s a disturbing reason behind this:

Instead, these kingfishers derive their colour from a phenomenon called structural colouration, where complex arrangements of nanostructures (we’ll skip the science) preferentially reflect blue light back to our eyes, similar to how the sky appears blue. Birds that wear a piece of the sky—a pretty poetic thought!

The Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Unfamiliar to even some of the more seasoned birdwatchers among us, this petite jewel frequents our gardens and parks and feeds on nectar by, well, pecking on flowers.

They make a metallic clicking chirp that’s easy to recognise, but be warned if you try to spot them: they are restless and fast-moving, and without some patience, all you’ll see will be a blur.


Advertisements  

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Animals Pics (@wildlife.adventure)

Like the pink-necked green pigeon, these birds also exhibit sexual dimorphism, which in English simply means the sexes look different.

In their case, too, the male has a more striking appearance than the female (sorry), adorned with a stunning streak of bright red that extends from the base of its beak all the way to its tail.

Female flowerpeckers, in comparison, are brown throughout, save for a flash of the same scarlet right above their tails.

The Red Junglefowl

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to our favourite domestic chicken, they’ve graced many a time the Instagram stories of curious onlookers, often with captions like “today’s McSpicy” or “chicken rice in the wild”.


Advertisements  

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Barry Baker (@bazzabaker)

Well, according to NParks, they are an endangered species in Singapore due to habitat loss, so maybe hold back on that thought.

But you wouldn’t be wrong to think they are wild chickens: they are, indeed, the ancestors of the domestic chickens we are so familiar with today.

Compared to the drab white of your McSpicy chicken, these are magnificent birds, especially males with a rich expanse of brilliant gold around their necks.

Another upgrade from the domestic chicken is that they can, in fact, fly—while only for short distances, this ability enables them to seek refuge from predators by roosting in trees.


Advertisements  

Or from the hungry Instagrammer in need for lunch.

The Black-naped Oriole

This is another common bird whose appearance never fails to excite. Both sexes are covered in a bright golden-yellow, except a streak at the eye that looks just like sunglasses.

A rather aggressive colour scheme that you find more frequently on supercars.

Befitting of its looks, it is frequently ready for some fighting, raiding the nests of other species to feast on the eggs and, well, fledgelings.


Advertisements  

The presence of this cruel murderer can be identified by its distinctive calls, which include a crisp, whistling sound and a harsher call that The Straits Times describes as cat-like.

The Brahminy Kite

Nope, this is not the kite you fly at Marina Barrage. Instead, the Brahminy Kite is a ferocious bird-of-prey, and can be seen flying over wherever in Singapore it likes, especially near water or large open spaces.

It is best identified by its distinctive reddish-brown plumage, because the other raptors are boring and the Brahminy Kite is too cool for black and white.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PHOTO RAPTORS (@photo.raptors)

A swathe of pristine white gives it a majestic look overall, and it fittingly comes with some cultural significance. The Iban people of Malaysia believe it is the earthly manifestation of the god of war, and Hindus consider it a representation of the sacred bird Garuda, according to Singapore Infopedia.


Advertisements  

The Common Tailorbird

These are tiny birds, often smaller than a palm even when fully grown. Their colours are not so eye-catching either, with most of their bodies covered in grey and white and only a tinge of orange on their heads.

Which means they are easy to miss. But missing them would be a mistake. Because they are so cute. Seriously, look at them.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rajath (@mrr.grapher)

But also because of their unique nests. They are so named for a reason—they will stitch foraged leaves together when building a nest, just like tailors.

According to NParks, the tailorbird will take care to make an equal number of perforations on the edges of a leaf, and weave a piece of fibre back and forth, exactly like sewing.


Advertisements  

Except they do these all with their beaks. Hastily hides a collapsing piece of crochet square

The Oriental Magpie-robin

You might not have seen them before, but did you know these used to be the most common birds in Singapore?

That is, before their population dwindled due to competition from the introduced Javan Mynae and excessive poaching by pet traders.

They are sought after in the pet industry because of their melodious songs, which can take myriad forms though most often mellow and crisp. These birds can even mimic the calls of other birds.

I, too, would love to have the voice of whoever I want. Adele would be nice.


Advertisements  

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by N.G. (@kandongkanxi.nature)

They bear an unmistakable livery covered in dark navy with white wings and underparts; females have their throats in light grey. There’s a subtle elegance to their colours, like the swift, graceful way they fly.

The Little Egret

If your bus or train passes by a canal, look closely and you might just see one or two of them wading in shallow water, searching for their next prey.

And the white waterbird actually has many creative ways to find its food.

Sometimes, it spreads its wings to form a shadow over the water, tricking fish who want some solace from the sun. It can also disturb the water with its feet, to scare the prey into moving and for it to make its move.


Advertisements  

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by KT (@birderee)

According to The Straits Times, these now-common birds were once highly prized for their plumes, and uncontrolled hunting nearly doomed them to extinction.

The long, flowy feathers of perfect white became coveted accessories, and they could once fetch twice the price of gold.

Don’t get any ideas.

Featured Image: Instagram (derrickw0ng/calestine.kaz.chee/birderee)


Advertisements  
Like writing? Goody Feed is looking for writers! Click here for more info!