Native Birds' Day aims to educate the public about local species

Jurong Bird Park's Dr Luis Neves, assistant director of the avian department, with some of his feathered charges. The park will mark the inaugural Native Birds' Day during a two-day festival next weekend.
Jurong Bird Park's Dr Luis Neves, assistant director of the avian department, with some of his feathered charges. The park will mark the inaugural Native Birds' Day during a two-day festival next weekend.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Singapore's feathered locals are getting their own special day.

The inaugural Native Birds' Day, organised by the Jurong Bird Park, aims to inform the public about local species such as the White-throated Kingfisher and the Pink-necked Green Pigeon.

The event, which will be celebrated during a two-day festival next weekend, will include activities such as a photography trail and an experts' forum. There are plans to make this an annual celebration.

"Many people who go to the Bird Park think the colourful birds... are exotic ones and not from Singapore," said Dr Luis Neves, assistant director of the Jurong Bird Park's avian department.

The Pink-necked Green Pigeon, for instance, looks like a flying rainbow with its purplish-lilac tinge on its upper breast and sides of its neck, along with its orange and green chest.

The bright blue on the wings and tail of the White-throated Kingfisher help it stand out.

Meanwhile, frequently sighted birds, such as the yellow-beaked Javan Myna, are often confused as native to the island despite having been introduced from other countries through the pet trade or by their stowing away on boats which were bound for Singapore.

Chief executive of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Lee Meng Tat said that the special event brings "native birds to the fore so we can develop greater appreciation for them and ensure they continue to thrive in the community".

Of the 300-plus bird species that have been sighted in Singapore, more than 100 are native to the island.

This figure has remained relatively stable over the years, although dwindling numbers for some species have been observed due to shrinking habitats.

"The best that everyone can do is to try and preserve... these green pockets, and... raise awareness about the bird life we have around here," Dr Neves said.

Yesterday, two pairs of rescued native birds - Black-naped Orioles and Pink-necked Green Pigeons - were released into a rehabilitation aviary at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West to mark the upcoming Native Birds' Day, which is also supported by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Nature Society Singapore.

This followed months of rehabilitation at the Jurong Bird Park, where the birds were nursed back to health by veterinarians there.

Of the four birds, three were brought in by members of the public as chicks. The other, a mature Black-naped Oriole, was brought in with a broken wing.

NParks' director of parks Kartini Omar said: "The aviary... will offer the birds a lush and green environment to rehabilitate."

The birds will remain there for a week until they are accustomed to their surroundings. They will be allowed to fly out of the aviary and into the park on Nov 22.

audreyt@sph.com.sg