It’s been a busy morning! I received a call at 9am this morning informing me of a dead Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus) near Chinatown. The bird was found alive on the ground being harassed by a cat, and it died shortly after of unknown causes despite the rescuer’s intervention.

The second carcass is that of an Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus), a common winter visitor and passage migrant through Singapore, that unfortunately died near the Chinese Library at NUS. I’m not entirely sure what the cause of death was, but the bird was found near to a glass wall (indicative if windowstrike) but it also had a gaping wound on its neck (which could have been caused by a predator, or a post-mortem injury).

Source: David Tan Instagram

Photos: Alaysa Escandor Facebook

Philippines: Bird found lifeless, tied to a fence at UP Diliman
By Aya Tantiangco, 7th January 2016;

Facebook user Alaysa Escandor shared heartbreaking photos of a lifeless bird tied to a fence, spotted at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman.

The area is home to numerous species and is a go-to spot for birdwatchers.

Escandor noted that the bird, yet to be identified (possibly a cuckoo or bittern) because its face is obscured, has been dead for at least a day. She remarked that it probably died of hunger.

In 2014, the senseless killing of a Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) sparked outrage online, especially in the conservationist and bird-watching community. Lu-Ann Bajarias and husband Amado Jr. appealed to the UP Administration to enforce a “no hunting” rule in the campus and stressed the importance of protecting the elusive species that seek refuge in its grounds.

“This is an appeal for clarity on what is allowed. If there was an uproar months back on the cutting of sunflowers along the University Avenue, surely, we can’t only be a handful feeling this strongly about enforcing No Hunting within campus? We talk enough about campuses being among the city’s dwindling green spaces, and how these have become ‘avian sanctuaries’ (regardless of whether this is on paper or not),” she said.

Source: GMA News Online

This is most likely some sort of Cuckoo (F. Cuculidae), although it is difficult to conclusively identify it at the species level unless there are more photos showing other parts of the body.

Got another message yesterday that an Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) was found dead.

I understand some people find it super irritating, it produces a high-pitch Ku-oo (mating calls) that interrupts their sleep.

But they are important too. Being a brood parasite, they control the House Crow (Corvus splendens) population.

Source: Chace Foo Facebook

  • Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus dicruroides)
  • Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus)
  • Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis)
  • Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis)

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.

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Source: Singapore Bird Group

Lone tail feather – 3-toned: grey-white with a white tip adjacent to black band – was a key clue to the identity of this dead bird lying on the trail to Pantai Kerachut: Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus). No visible external wounds, but many lost feathers, on both tail and wing.

Source: Ng Wen Qing Instagram

Picked up a female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) carcass today with an egg lying beside her still-warm body. According to the person who found her, she was flapping about on a balcony and fell to the ground, laying a single egg before she died.

Asian Koels are known to be brood parasites and this rare opportunity allows us to examine what Koel eggs look like to see if there’s any mimicry between Koel eggs and the eggs of their hosts.

Source: David Tan Instagram

The carcasses of a Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) (left) and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus), both migratory birds, spotted in Jurong.

For birds, skyscrapers can mean fatal collision
Many die yearly after crashing into buildings here: Nature Society
By Lim Yi Han, 13th October 2014;

Singapore’s skyline may be revered by tourists but it is spelling death for scores of migratory birds.

The Nature Society (Singapore) has found that every year, many of these birds die after hitting skyscrapers here.

While millions of birds worldwide also die in this way, many studies have been done to mitigate the problem overseas. The society, however, noted that such a phenomenon is “chronically understudied” in Asia.

With the avian migratory season under way, the Nature Society’s Bird Group has started a survey and is asking for those who have witnessed dead or injured migratory birds here to come forward.

It plans to collect information from now until next May and release a preliminary report by late next year. There are plans to run the survey for at least five years to observe short-term trends.

Mr Yong Ding Li, 30, a coordinator of the project, said such crashes may lead to a loss in the bird population, which is already in decline due to habitat loss, hunting and climate change.

“If we know which species are more affected, and what settings increase their risk of crashes, we might then be able to make recommendations to mitigate this,” said Mr Yong, a graduate student specialising in ecology and bird conservation at the Australian National University.

Each year, some 2,000 migratory birds from countries like Russia, Mongolia, China and Japan arrive in Sungei Buloh in August and September for a respite from harsh winters, said the National Parks Board. Some fly off again, heading to Australia or Indonesia, while others live in Sungei Buloh and surrounding areas till the next March or April.

Mr Yong explained that migratory birds crash into buildings because many fly at night. They are often attracted to, or disoriented by, the lighting from buildings, as they navigate using star patterns of the night sky. They may also be confused by the reflection of trees and sky on the buildings’ exterior.

Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai, 51, noting that the study was interesting and worthwhile, said: “We know this is happening but we don’t know on what scale.

"But it’s not an easy study to do because we have such an efficient clean-up system in Singapore… Our clean-up crew may sweep away the dead birds before anyone wakes up.”

Bird Ecology Study Group co-founder Wee Yeow Chin, 77, said: “In other countries, there are architectural adaptations so that birds don’t crash. This study can help us find out the extent of the tragedy and whether we need to take some steps to crack down on this.”

Visit http://tinyurl.com/SGBirdCrash to help in the survey.

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror 1) (Mirror 2)