Mynah birds, major headache for Jurong West residents

Appeals to authorities fail to silence birds roosting in trees in Jurong West estate

Mr Lim says the mynahs' chatter grows to a "ferocious roar" between 6pm and 8pm, when the birds roost in the trees of his Jurong West estate.
Mr Lim says the mynahs' chatter grows to a "ferocious roar" between 6pm and 8pm, when the birds roost in the trees of his Jurong West estate. ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

For the last three years, Mr Clement Lim has had a hard time getting any sleep, thanks to his noisy Jurong West neighbours.

But telling them to keep things quiet is impossible in what has become one man's battle against thousands of mynah birds that roost in his estate's trees.

The 38-year-old leasing executive has been struggling to find a solution to the problem since he moved into his flat in February 2011.

The mynahs' chatter grows to a "ferocious roar" between 6pm and 8pm, when the birds return to the trees to roost, he said. Worse, their cries start up whenever a heavy vehicle drives by. One video that Mr Lim sent to The Straits Times shows the birds squawking for 10 minutes at 2.50am.

"When I come back home from work, all I want is a little peace and quiet, but I can't have that unless I close every single window and door in my house," he said.

In spite of several appeals to the authorities over the years, he told The Straits Times he "remains frustrated".

After representatives from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Parks Board (NParks) visited Mr Lim's flat, an NParks arborist e-mailed him on July 10.

He was told that 43 trees along Jurong West Street 72 would be pruned within 12 days.

But only seven had their branches cut by July 22. Mr Lim also felt that the pruning had not done much, saying birds which once roosted in the trees closest to his block simply flew to neighbouring ones.

All eight of Mr Lim's neighbours that The Straits Times interviewed agreed. One said: "I didn't even realise they pruned the trees because the birds are still so noisy."

According to Mr Lim, the NParks tree manager, when pressed, told him that the remaining trees would be dealt with "during the next pruning cycle".

That raised only more questions for Mr Lim. Why promise 43 trees in the first place, and when would the next pruning cycle take place?

NParks told The Straits Times that although the statutory board had "initially intended to prune more trees", it decided to cut only the ones closest to Mr Lim's block after further evaluation.

It added that it was "not advisable to carry out extensive roadside tree-pruning because it can result in birds moving to trees at nearby residences".

The mynah situation continues to be an issue for many Singaporeans, who complain about the birds' noisiness and droppings, especially in other hot spots such as Orchard Road and Clementi.

AVA, which is the first responder for animal-related issues, said it works with several agencies on various measures, including tree-pruning to deter birds from roosting and proper food waste management to cut down on food sources for the birds.

Last October, it also told The Straits Times that it had commissioned a study on mynahs in June last year to identify a more effective way of managing the population here. An AVA spokesman said on Tuesday the study is "currently ongoing".

But not everyone finds the birds a nuisance. Mr Lim's neighbour, Madam Norizah Ramly, 50, said: "I quite like the birds' singing. I think I'd go crazy if it were completely quiet."

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