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Birding in Singapore

Birding in Singapore
9 Jan 2008

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Blue-winged Leafbird                                          Photo ©Paul Huang
The Republic of Singapore is made up of one main island and some 60 islets situated at the southern tip of Asia.  It comprises some 690 square km and is home to more than three million people.  Despite the rapid urbanisation and the high population density, some 364 species of birds have been recorded in Singapore within the last 50 years, and new species are being added to the list yearly. 

This is due to several factors, most important of which are its location within the heart of the bird-rich Oriental region, the world’s richest after the Neotropics; the protection offered to the last remaining natural and semi-natural areas of the republic as nature areas, currently approximately 5% of the total land area; and the faithful band of birdwatchers and ornithologists, who have kept meticulous records of their observations through the decades.  Of these 364 species, 168 are residents, 149 winter visitors or passage migrants, 18 non-breeding visitors and 28 accidentals.

Singapore’s efficient network of roads and highways, wide-ranging public transportation system and good hotels make it an ideal place in which to pursue and enjoy the birdwatching passion.  Most sites are accessible by public transport, and equipment and literature are readily available in photographic equipment and book shops.

The Nature Society (Singapore) conducts birdwatching outings for its members every month and readers who are interested to find out more about Singapore’s natural heritage can contact the society.  You can also join a bird forum such as to learn about the latest news and rare birds.

Despite its relatively rich birdlife, there is no place for complacency as more than one-third of Singapore’s original resident avifauna is now extinct and another 56 species are currently listed as at risk from extinction.  In addition, 12 species out of the 364 species recorded in Singapore are also considered as globally threatened.  Protection of the remaining nature areas and its inhabitants is therefore paramount.  Just as important is public education and this publication hopes to achieve its objective as a primer for readers who want to learn more about Singapore’s fascinating birdlife and ultimately the need for their protection.