'Angry bird'-looking King bird-of-paradise makes surprise appearance in Windsor Nature Park

Very red. Very huat.

Zhangxin Zheng | Zi Shan Kow | December 30, 2023, 02:48 PM



A peculiar-looking bird graced Singapore over the Christmas weekend, attracting hundreds of photographers to Windsor Nature Park.

This is the magnificent King bird-of-paradise.

Image courtesy of Trevor Teo.

Image courtesy of Trevor Teo.

First materialising on Dec. 23, the bird gave enthusiasts across the island plenty of chances to snap away as it continued to make appearances in subsequent days.

Image by Stanley Yow/Facebook.

Looks like "Angry Birds" character

With its cartoon-like googly eyes and scarlet plumage, when photographed from head-on, one birder compared to the iconic "Angry Birds" character, Red.

Image courtesy of Shahrul Kamal.

Photographer Shahrul Kamal told Mothership he had changed his plans and rushed down to Windsor Nature Park from Boon Lay after hearing about the bird from a WhatsApp group.

The bird was not just a "lifer" (a birder's first time seeing a bird) for him, but many other bird lovers too.

A crowd was already building up when he arrived at 9:45 am.

For a while, the king proved a challenge for the birders —  it perched in places difficult to photograph, particularly in a mulberry tree near the park shelter.

It darted between leaves and branches as it foraged, then suddenly emerged, perching almost openly.

He reflected: "Its beauty and rarity captivated my heart and it was worth the S$21 cab fare!"

Image courtesy of Shahrul Kamal.

Attracting hundreds of birders

Birder Alex Han said he "couldn't believe" a King bird-of-paradise could be found in Singapore.

When he joined the flock of photographers after hearing the news, almost 200 people were present, each attempting to get a better look at the bird.

Photo courtesy of Alex Han.

Photo courtesy of Alex Han.

"I was very excited and fascinated by the striking colour of this bird," Han shared.

Han had heard from other birders that many are speculating that the bird is an escapee, but are "not sure" as it doesn't have a leg ring.

"We are very lucky to get this King bird-of-paradise in the wild in Singapore. Now we don't need to spend money and go all the way there to shoot," he told Mothership.

Image courtesy of Alex Han.

Photo courtesy of Alex Han.

Speculated to be an escapee

The bird is not native to Singapore and many birders speculated that it's a pet escapee.

King bird-of-paradise is distributed in mainland of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and on the surrounding islands, including Aru, Salawati, Missol, and Yapen.

It eats mainly fruits and some insects.

As the smallest and most vividly coloured among Birds-of-paradise, it is sometimes referred to as a "living gem".

It is not difficult to see why — the bird is brilliant red, with white undersides, a green band across its chest and cobalt-blue feet.

Above each eye is a black spot, which adds to its comical appearance, and two long wirelike tail feathers that end with a swirl.

Image by Stanley Yow/Facebook.

The female counterpart is duller, being brown with barred underparts.

Aside from having a plant and a local ice cream brand named after the species, male Birds-of-paradise are best known for their elaborate courtship displays, making full use of their flamboyant plumage.

Here is an example of the dance of a King bird-of-paradise and a Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise:

Top images via Alex Han and Shahrul Kamal.