8 super-pretty birds captured up-close on video that live or pass through Singapore

Definitely not the ones that eat your food at the kopitiam.

By Zhangxin Zheng | January 18, 2017

For most of us, going on a hike through a nature reserve or reservoir park chiefly constitutes seeing, well, a lot of this:

Photo from Bu Shay
Photo by Flickr user Bu Shay

That’s why for the regular not-so-lucky and irregular nature visitor like you or me, if asked what types of birds Singapore has, chances are you’d come up with mynahs, sparrows, pigeons, and perhaps the occasional crow.

Oh, and who can forget the one who wakes you up every morning:

Yet, these nature areas and reserves are home, if not pitstops, to some 390 bird species found here. They may be too small and fast, or sometimes camouflaged from our sight, especially unaided by binoculars or long lens cameras, but they are there nonetheless.

And thanks to sharp bird-watchers like photography couple Teong & Nina, we can check them out from the comfort of Facebook.

They produced a video, humbly captioned “A few birds found in Singapore”, of eight bird species they spotted here, each as colourful as your Faber-Castell colour pencils — doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty cute too.

To help you save on your mobile data, we introduce you to them here:

1. Olive-Backed Sunbird

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

The Olive-backed sunbirds are very common resident breeders in Singapore, actually — they can be found at parks, mangroves and forests. The male has a glittery blue sheen on the upper breast just like the one in this picture.

2. Coppersmith Barbet

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

Coppersmith barbets are also common resident breeders here, and are relatives to the woodpeckers. They were named because of their call, which sounds like a coppersmith hitting copper sheets. They also have bristles around their beaks.

3. Oriental-Pied Hornbill

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

The Oriental-pied hornbills are uncommon resident breeders. This is the only remaining hornbill species in Singapore (the rest are extinct 🙁 ), which you’ll likely see quite often at Pulau Ubin or Changi Village.

4. Blue-Eared Kingfisher

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

Okay, this is a rare one. There are an estimated 10 of these guys in Singapore, and they don’t go to parks and gardens the way Common Kingfishers (their close cousins) do.

So if you do happen to ever spot a blue-eared kingfisher, go buy 4D.

Some of these 390 species are winter visitors to Singapore, which fly over here to escape the winter cold. Others are passage migrants from as far as Siberia, which stop over at places like the Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve to rest and refuel before they continue their flight to Australia.

Speak in human terms? Okay.

In essence, Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve and other nature areas in Singapore are like Changi Airport transfer points for birds around the world during their migratory season, which spans between August and March.

Yes, it is happening right now(!).

Here are four transiting air travellers who choose Singapore as their stopover location:

5. Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

This one comes in ombré, k. In style also.

Anyway, blue-tailed bee-eaters are common winter visitors which eat bees, wasps and other insects. They can be spotted at various areas ranged from manicured parks to lowland forests and mangroves.

6. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (aka Black-Backed Kingfisher)

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

The Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers are rare winter visitors which have been sighted along less-disturbed forest streams and ponds.

Should you buy 4D if you see these guys? Yes.

7. Common Kingfisher

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

The Common Kingfishers are common winter visitors which can be spotted frequently at various habitats ranged from manicured parks to lowland forests.

No need to buy 4D if you spot one of these.

8. Tiger Shrike

Photo from Teong & Nina Photography
Photo from Teong & Nina Photography

The Tiger Shrikes found here can be either common winter visitors or passage migrants. They’re striped at all ages, be it a juvenile or adult, hence their name.

They also live up to the name “tiger” — their modus operandi: stabbing their prey against thorns on branches and ripping them apart with their hooked bills.

Shivers down our spine.

In the summer, they fly to the East Asia and East Russia, and travel here, as well as in Malaysia and Indonesia, in winter.

You really should see all of them in action in the video, though, which you can watch in full here:

Top photo collage from Teong & Nina Photography

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About Zhangxin Zheng

Zhangxin’s favourite pastime is singing Mulan’s soundtrack in the mangrove forests. She hopes to perfect the art of napping in a hammock in the mangroves without being drowned by rising sea levels.

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