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.
Never shot a Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) in my few years of birding and now I see this next to my bar. 😦 It is very sad that during migration season, many birds die from exhaustion, crash etc.
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 Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) dies while on migration, and this individual was found being eaten from the inside out by Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) at the carpark near Kent Vale Apartments.
Two bird carcasses today. The one on the left is a Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus), a common resident species more often heard than seen, found dead in St. John’s Island. The one on the right is a migrating Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis), the second in 2 days, found in the middle of the parade square at Marina Bay Fire Station.
A close-up view of the Coppersmith Barbet’s head. It was bleeding from its beak when first found, probably the result of some form of blunt impact.