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Although most of Singapore's original tropical forest has been lost there is still much of interest for birding visitors. This small and overcrowded country, covering about 640km2, is a major business centre and flight stop-over and a good selection of the commoner tropical Asian birds can be seen easily on a short visit. Around 335 species have been recorded in Singapore and although many breeding species have been lost in the last two centuries around 140 species are still resident.
Suburban areas hold species such as Pink-necked Green Pigeon and Spotted Dove, Lesser Coucal and Blue-throated Bee-eater and passerines including Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pied Triller, Common Iora, Oriental Magpie-Robin and Black-naped Oriole. Many of these can be seen in the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Holland Road.
Bukit Timnah Reserve
Forest birds can be found at the Bukit Timnah Reserve in the centre of the island which protects the only sizeable primary forest left in Singapore. Jambu Fruit Dove, Blue-rumped Parrot, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Red-crowned Barbet and Banded Woodpecker can be seen here as well as passerines such as Greater Green Leafbird and Lesser Green Leafbird, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker and Crimson Sunbird. The reserve is situated on the island's highest hill and can be reached by heading for the Upper Bukit Timnah Road from the city centre, turning into Main Road (Hindhede Drive) and continuing to the end. The reserve covers about 0.75km2 of primary forest with an adjoining 25km2 of secondary woodland and there is a network of trails.
Sime Road Forest
The secondary growth woodland of the Sime Road Forest has a similar range of forest birds as well as raptors such as Black Baza, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and night birds including Spotted Wood Owl and and Large-tailed Nightjar. A concrete walkway from Bukit Kalang Reservoir, reached from Island Club Road, provides good birding.
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Singapore's best area for wetland birds is in the north at Sungei Buloh Nature Park where the mudflats and mangroves attract such rarities as Chinese Egret, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint and Asian Dowitcher. Other birds to be seen here include Eastern Reef Heron, Black Bittern and Watercock. Also viewable at the site are territorial mudskippers and large water monitor lizards and estuarine crocodile are being sighted increasingly here. The park can be reached via Neo Tiew Crescent below Kranji Dam
St John's Island
St John's Island off the south coast of Singapore and reached by ferry from the World Trade Centre has resident Pied Imperial Pigeon.
Birds you can see here include:
Swinhoe's Storm Petrel, Brown Booby, Lesser Frigatebird, Christmas Island Frigatebird, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great-billed Heron, Great Egret, Chinese Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Eastern Reef Heron, Green-backed Heron, Cattle Egret, Chinese Pond Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Malaysian Night-Heron, Yellow Bittern, Schrenck's Little Bittern, Cinnamon Bittern, Black Bittern, Lesser Whistling Duck, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Osprey, Black Baza, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Pied Harrier, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Chinese Goshawk, Besra Sparrowhawk, Asian Crested Goshawk, Grey-faced Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Black-thighed Falconet, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Indian Blue Quail, Red Junglefowl, Barred Buttonquail, Blue-breasted Quail, Red-legged Crake, Baillon's Crake, White-browed Crake, Ruddy-breasted Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Watercock, Common Moorhen, Black-backed Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Greater Painted-snipe, Oriental Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Great Thick-knee, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Malaysian Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Oriental Plover, Sanderling, Red Knot, Great Knot, Temminck's Stint, Red-necked Stint, Long-toed Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Common Snipe, Pintail Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Far-eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Asian Dowitcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Spotted Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Brown-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Bridled Tern, Black-naped Tern, Little Tern, Greater Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, White-winged Tern, Feral Rock Dove, Red Turtle Dove, Spotted-necked Dove, Peaceful Dove, Emerald Dove, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Little Green Pigeon, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Jambu Fruit Dove, Green Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little Corella, Ring-necked Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Blue-rumped Parrot, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Red-winged Indian, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Fugitive Hawk-Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Plaintive Cuckoo, Indonesian, Brush Cuckoo, Violet Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, Asian Drongo Cuckoo, Common Koel, Black-bellied Malkoha, Rufous-bellied, Greater Coucal, Lesser Coucal, Barn Owl, Collared Scops Owl, Buffy Fish Owl, Brown Hawk-Owl, Spotted Wood Owl, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, Grey Nightjar, Long-tailed Nightjar, Edible-nest Swiftlet, Black-nest Swiftlet, White-bellied Swiftlet, Brown Spinetailed Swift, Grey-rumped Swiftlet, House Swift, White-vented Spinetail Swift, Pacific Swift, House Swift, Asian Palm Swift, Crested Treeswift, Whiskered Treeswift, Common Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Black-backed Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, White-collared Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Eastern Broad-billed Roller, Red-crowned Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Sooty Barbet, Sunda Woodpecker, Grey-capped Woodpecker, Rufous Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Banded Woodpecker, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Laced Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Olive-backed Woodpecker, Common Goldenback, Bamboo Woodpecker, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Grey-and-buff Woodpecker, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Black-and-red Broadbill, Banded Broadbill, Hooded Pitta, Fairy Pitta, Mangrove Pitta, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Asian House Martin, Forest Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Richard's Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Pied Triller, Ashy Minivet, Small Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Large, Straw-crowned Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Grey-bellied Bulbul, White-eared Bulbul, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Olive-brown Bulbul, Cream-vented Bulbul, Red-eyed Brown Bulbul, Spectacled Bulbul, Crested Olive, Common Iora, Great Iora, Greater Green Leafbird, Lesser Green Leafbird, Blue-winged Leafbird, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Tiger Shrike, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Siberian Blue Robin, Asian Magpie-Robin, White-rumped Shama, Siberian Stonechat, White-throated Rock Thrush, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Siberian Thrush, Eye-browed Thrush, White-chested Jungle Babbler, Abbott's Babbler, Moustached Tree Babbler, Short-tailed Jungle Babbler, Large Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-winged Tree-Babbler, Pin-striped Tit-Babbler, Melodious Laughingthrush, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Oriental Great Reed-Warbler, Black-browed Reed-Warbler, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Common Tailorbird, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Ashy Tailorbird, Yellow-browed Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Siberian Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Narcissus Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Mangrove Niltava, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Chestnut-winged Philentoma, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher, Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Black-naped Blue Monarch, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Mangrove Whistler, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Yellow-throated Flowerpecker, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Plain-throated Sunbird, Blue-naped Sunbird, Van Hesselt's Sunbird, Macklot's Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, Yellow-backed Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, Grey-breasted Spiderhunter, Swinhoe's White-eye, Java Sparrow, White-backed Munia, Javan Munia, Spotted Munia, White-headed Munia, Chestnut Munia, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Baya Weaver, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Chinese Starling, Violet-backed Starling, Daurian Starling, Black-winged Starling, Common Mynah, Jungle Mynah, White-vented Mynah, Common Hill Myna, Black-naped Oriole, Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Crow-billed Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo, House Crow, Large-billed Crow
Considering Singapore's dense human population a surprising number of reptiles are present. Estuarine Crocodile are a very rare sight in the northern wetlands but monitor lizards are commonly seen at most nature reserves. Reticulated Pythons are also present, occasionally in quite urban settings. Smaller reptiles of note are the Flying Dragon and Paradise Tree Snake (often sighted in the Botanic Gardens).
A population of human habituated macaques lives in Buket Timah.
History and Use
Access and Facilities
All the best birding areas on Singapore are easily accessible and most can be reached by public transport.
- Bird Ecology Study Group Nature Society (Singapore)
- Visit Singapore, Tourist Information
- Singapore on Google Maps
The writer's description is very good. I had a wonderful time birding in Singapore. It was my first time in Asia, and so almost every bird was new, and it was a very steep learning curve!! One picks up beautiful birds in the trees along the street, let alone going to the various reserves mentioned. Transport is easy and excellent, as nowhere is ever very far away from anywhere else. I took taxis on a number of occasions and it wasn't expensive. I strongly recommend Singapore as a birding destination.
- Easily accessible
- Traffic/people!! (i.e. lots in a small space)