Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis)
Tampines, 9th January 2018
This Black Bittern had died so recently that the body was still warm to the touch, and the blood was still bright red and had yet to coagulate. It is possible that it died after flying into a nearby building. The carcass was passed to David Tan, as part of his research on bird mortality in Singapore.
After a quiet day yesterday, another #deadbird this morning in the form of a Schrenck’s Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus), found at the base of a HDB block in Jurong West. Cause of death remains unknown.
Picked up a dead Von Schrenck’s Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus) From Singapore today. Body was found at the base of an apartment block with no apparent external injuries and no clear indication of a window collision (the body was facing the side of the block that was solid walls with no windows). I did a brief assessment of the pectoral muscles to check if it was malnourished but it was very well-fed so it couldn’t have died of hunger.
Picked up 3 carcasses today in Singapore, one Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) (top), and two Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccensis) (below). The Pittas died after crashing into glass (seems like the main migratory wave is passing through right about now) and the Bittern was found exhausted in the middle of a carpark but died shortly after.
On finding a dead bird, most people are keen to have them disposed of at the earliest opportunity. Not this one guy, he found a dead Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) at the base of his apartment block and kept the bird in his home freezer for 3 weeks while he searched for a research organisation to donate the carcass to. What an angel.
An uncommon winter visitor to Singapore, and one of our more elusive bird species, the Black Bittern is a spectacular bird that lives within the thick vegetation of freshwater swamps and wetlands.
This bird, however, was found nowhere near a wetland habitat, and was instead found dead at the void deck of Block 226 at Pasir Ris St. 21, and was likely to have been dazed by the bright urban lights prior to having met with its untimely end.
Migratory Bird Collisions in Singapore
By Francis Yap, 15th May 2015;
The Black Bittern was exhausted. He had covered hundreds of kilometres during the night. Now the Sun was rising and it was time to find a suitable place to take a breather and find some food. However, everywhere he looked he saw the brightly lit outlines of concrete giants as far as the eye could see. Just then, he saw it. The first rays of sunlight had revealed a giant covered in greenery and, best of all, the unmistakable shimmering outline of a pond in the centre. The bittern changed course and made a beeline for the pond. Breakfast beckoned…
Singapore lies along a major migratory path along the East Asian-Australian Migratory Flyway (EAAF), undoubtedly Asia’s most important migratory flyway. Used by hundreds of millions of migratory birds annually, more than 100 migratory species pass Singapore on their migratory journeys to destinations further south, the most conspicuous being the shorebirds that can be easily observed in our wetland reserves. Less well known to the public are the songbirds, and other migratory landbirds like cuckoos, nightjars and kingfishers. Many of these species migrate at night, and while their journeys are fairly well documented in Europe and North America, species that migrate in eastern Asia remain very poorly known.
The phenomenon of migratory bird collisions is well-studied in North America, where estimates of birds killed range into the high hundreds of millions per annum, with the majority of these collisions occurring in heavily urbanised areas like New York City. According to scientists, these migratory collisions occur for two reasons. Firstly, many migratory birds migrating at night rely on stellar patterns in the sky for navigation, and thus may be misled by artificial lighting from man-made structures, drawing them in and leading to collisions. Secondly, birds are unable to distinguish reflections from real trees and greenery. As a result, birds flying through urban areas that have vegetation may be drawn to the reflections from windows. Either way, avian victims of these collisions are often too severely injured to proceed with their migrations, or otherwise perish.
Although the issue of bird collisions is unfamiliar to many Singaporeans, there have been an increasing number of reports from birdwatchers who were finding dead or injured migratory birds in urban areas beginning from the 1990s. To understand the extent of migratory bird collisions in Singapore, the Bird Group started a long-term (5 year) survey to document these collisions better. Our study aimed to 1) identify bird species that are prone to these collisions, 2) identify the geographical distribution of these collisions, 3) determine which time of the year these collisions are most frequent and 4) identify aspects of the urban landscape that may increase the risks of these collisions.
Yet another avian casualty of urbanisation. This female Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus) was found alone and terrified just outside Simei MRT Station earlier this evening.
Despite her best attempts to escape, the sheer volume of human traffic and the tight packing of urban pillars resulted in the bittern flying into a wall and subsequently dying. The poor thing is now back in the lab and will be preserved in the name of science.