AVA, town council reveal measures taken to manage Yishun swallow population

Residents say the birds are causing a mess - and a stink - with their waste
Residents say the birds are causing a mess - and a stink - with their wastePHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - Yishun residents are getting their feathers ruffled by the appearance of many barn swallows there in the evenings, in what appears to be a seasonal affair.

The birds are causing a mess - and a stink - with their waste, residents told Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News.

"Their numbers are simply too many. We worry that they will enter our homes and defecate. I usually don't even open my windows until the morning - and each time I open them, I can smell their faeces," said Ms Huang Xiuling, a 38-year-old housewife, to Shin Min in the Sept 30 report. She lives at Block 170 Yishun Avenue 7.

The birds appear to roost mostly in Yishun Avenue 7 and Yishun Street 11, according to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

However, the authority also told The Straits Times that there has been only one case of barn swallow-related feedback for the two areas this year up to Sept 30. There were 33 cases in 2016 and 11 in 2017.

It added that the barn swallows are migratory birds that are known to be in Singapore from late July to early April, and that the roosting population of the birds can reach up to 7,300 in Yishun during the season.

"AVA has been liaising with the town council to step up cleaning work at the affected blocks, and has also provided it with information on possible measures, such as bird proofing, that can be taken to prevent swallows from roosting," said an AVA spokesman.

A Nee Soon Town Council spokesman said the seasonal roosting may have already been happening for more than a decade.

She added that the town council carries out cleaning regularly to remove the bird droppings.

Regular tree pruning is an example of a measure the town council has taken to manage the bird population, she added.

"We are looking at long-term solutions such as reducing food sources which lead to breeding, through an upcoming public education campaign," she said.

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng will also introduce a Bill in Parliament to amend the Wild Animals and Birds Act to address such issues at the national level, the spokesman said. One of the amendments will help tackle the issue of the feeding of wild animals. It will be a Private Member’s Bill.

AVA is sharing the ecology and behaviour of the species with residents who give feedback, said the authority's spokesman.

For example, the birds "are insectivores and feed on insects such as midges and mosquitoes", she said.