The latest update of our checklist, version 2023-1, has been published. It can be accessed at our Downloads page.
Since our last checklist update in August 2022, the Records Committee has considered and voted on over 180 records of rare and scarce birds in Singapore. We would like to thank all the observers who submitted their records, and these votes are published on our Recent Decisions page with our Live Checklist tracking additions and deletions to the checklist on a live basis.
Our “Rarities List” was renamed, as the term Review List more effectively encompasses the full list of species that we track records for; several species on our Review List might not fit the description of ‘rare’. For more information on the workings of the Records Committee, please refer to our simplified operating guidelines which have been published on our About page.
Over 500 historical records have also been compiled by our team and added since August, and nearly all species on our Review List now have records compiled in our database.
This edition of the checklist is version 2023-1, and can be downloaded at our Downloads page. Note that this downloadable checklist is a “snapshot” of the checklist as of February 2023, and may differ from our live checklists available on this site and our Records Committee site. For example, you may have noticed the below additions to the checklist already appearing on our live checklists by late last year – when they were finalised by our Records Committee – even though they are only reflected in our downloadable checklist in this official update.
There are now 428 species in the Singapore Bird Checklist with the changes in this revision.
The latest update of our checklist, version 2022-2, has been published. It can be accessed at our Downloads page.
Since our last checklist update in February 2022, the Records Committee has considered and voted on 80records of rare birds in Singapore. We would like to thank all the observers who submitted their records, and these votes are published on our Recent Decisions page with our Live Checklist tracking additions and deletions to the checklist on a live basis.
We have also launched monthly roundups, published every month, to update the community on the latest sightings every month. Many of these incorporate sightings from our database in addition to eBird sightings, so we would also like to thank those who have contributed by sharing their observations.
Nearly 200 historical records have also been added to our database since February. This is all thanks to the work of our Records Gathering team, comprising Clarice Yan, Geraldine Lee, Hong Yao Lim, Hui Zhen Tan, Kee Jing Ying, Yip Jen Wei, and Zachary Chong, who have meticulously trawled social media, eBird, and other publications for important historical records. This work is still under way, with a further 130 records on track to be uploaded within the next one week, and the updated compilation status for each species is always available in our Rarities List.
Our Records Committee’s operating guidelines have been formalised as well, and will be published on our site in the coming weeks.
This article includes the updates to our checklist since our last revision in February 2022. Our checklist is based on the International Ornithological Committee (IOC) taxonomy, and this version is based on IOC 12.2. This is the latest taxonomical version and was finalised this month.
This edition of the checklist is version 2022-2, and can be downloaded at our Downloads page. There are now 427 species in the Singapore Bird Checklist with the species additions in this update.
Masked Booby Sula dactylatra [Record 383]: The committee reevaluated one record of a bird rescued from the Pan Island Expressway in August 2018, and determined it was most likely a legitimate record. The species was added to Category A.
Black-backed Swamphen Pophyrio indicus[Record 10281]: One sighting of a bird at Changi Business Park was the first confirmed record of this species in Singapore. Features noted by the committee in accepting this record included the shape of the frontal shield as well as the dark head colour, which indicated this was not a Grey-headed Swamphen P. poliocephalus instead. We have identified some past sightings which may also pertain to this species and intend to review them as well in the coming months.
Removed from checklist
No species were removed.
Other minor changes
Western and Eastern Osprey are lumped, so Western Osprey in our checklist is changed to Osprey.
The latest update of our checklist, version 2022-1, has been published. It can be accessed at our Downloads page.
Since the last bird list revision in September 2021, our team has voted on over 100 records of rare species in Singapore. Although our latest votes are always available at our Recent Decisions page, we will continue to publish regular updates to keep our readers updated on the latest avifaunal developments, including recent advances in taxonomy.
Along with this update, we are also launching a live version of our checklist! For the past six years, the Singapore Birds Project has published checklists every half a year. However, with the growth in observer effort and information available, the combined knowledge of Singapore’s birding community is rapidly increasing. Within a short span of five months since our last checklist update, the checklist has seen a net gain of seven species. We will continue to release half-yearly checklist updates in Excel format, but latest developments can be tracked in the live checklist.
Ashy-headed Green Pigeon Treron phayrei [Record 10001]: The committee deliberated extensively on this bird recorded at Dillenia Hut from 9 to 11 Oct 2021. This species is not known to occur south of the Isthmus of Kra, with no records in Malaysia, but Treron pigeons are known to wander widely in search of fruit sources. The final decision was to accept the individual as a wild bird and place the species in Cat A (for species that have occurred naturally in the wild within the last 30 years), a thorough discussion of this record is available in this article and at the link above.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata [Record 10002]: One record at Kent Ridge Park from 15-29 Oct 2021. While there are recent records in the Philippines and Taiwan, this is the first record for continental Southeast Asia. The committee voted unanimously to place this species in Cat A.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis [Record 10005]: A single bird off Clementi Road, 19-31 Oct 2021. Like the Spotted Flycatcher, this species is a long-distance migrant with most of the population wintering in India and Africa. Regarded as a vagrant and placed unanimously in Cat A.
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris[Record 10082]: One record of a single bird at Marina East Drive from 13 to 15 Dec 2021. A known vagrant with records in Malaysia and further north, as well as Borneo, but this is the first national record. Placed in Cat A on a unanimous vote.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros [Record 10069]: One record at Pasir Panjang, first seen on 28 Nov 2021 and subsequently by many observers; still present as of Feb 2022. Age, sex, and subspecies remain unclear as of writing, but further observation of the bird may provide more insight. Regarded as a vagrant and unanimously placed in Cat A.
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus [Record 10106]:A vagrant individual with Himalayan Griffons Gyps himalayensis at Singapore Botanic Gardens, 29-30 Dec 2021; subsequently found weak and unable to fly near Holland Road. Rescued, rehabilitated, and released early this year. Placed in Cat A on a unanimous vote.
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes [Record 10030]: One record of a vagrant present from 12 Nov to at least 3 Dec 2021 at Macritchie Reservoir was unanimously accepted and the species placed in Cat A. This species is a regular winter visitor to Thailand but is believed to be rarer than the visually identical Sakhalin Leaf Warbler P. borealoides further south in the peninsula.
Previous records not accepted, but species maintained in checklist
Grey-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta [Record 10032; Record 748]: A previous record in April 1991 was reviewed by the committee and not accepted as the descriptions provided do not conclusively rule out Dark-sided Flycatcher M. sibirica. However, a single bird present from 9-17 Nov 2021 was accepted as the first national record and the species was therefore retained in the checklist in Cat A.
Long-eared Owl Asio otus [Record 10042]: After much deliberation, the committee decided on a split vote that the single sighting of this bird at Marina East Drive on 20 Nov 2021 most likely pertained to a ship-assisted individual rather than a wild bird. For more detailed discussion of this record, see the record linked above. Removed from checklist
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii [Past records]: As the last record of this species in Singapore was in Oct 1984, it exceeds the 30-year threshold for inclusion in the checklist. The committee placed this species in Cat B1 (for species which would appear in Cat A, but without records within the last 30 years).
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra [Past records]: Like Temminck’s Stint, this species has not been recorded locally in the last 30 years and was therefore assigned to Cat B1 and removed from the checklist.
Still pending review
Christmas Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi[Record 10163]: A record in May 2013 was outside Singapore’s territorial waters; the most recent confirmed record within Singapore’s geographical boundaries was in May 1986, which exceeds the 30-year threshold for inclusion in the checklist. If the record from Marina East Drive (see record linked above) is accepted, the species would be moved from the Annex to Cat A.
Other minor change
Stejneger’s Stonechat is renamed to Amur Stonechat following taxonomic updates by the IOC.
The Singapore Birds Project checklist is updated regularly according to taxonomic updates by the International Ornithological Committee (IOC). Our team recently conducted a thorough review to vote on additional species to be added to or removed from the checklist. In the spirit of ensuring that accurate information is provided in a timely fashion, we decided to release a Special Edition prior to the next IOC update. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.
Along with this update, we would like to welcome Raghav to the team. Our growing Singapore Birds Project main team consists of Keita Sin (chair), Sandra Chia (vice-chair), Dillen Ng, Francis Yap (site admin), Movin Nyanasengeran and Raghav Narayanswamy. Many of you have provided us generous comments for our work which we are very grateful for. Suggestions and constructive criticisms, as always, are strongly welcome! Please feel free to reach out to us via the Contact Us section.
A write-up of how our checklist operates will be released soon. In the mean time, here are the details for the changes to the checklist.
Crimson-winged Woodpecker at Johor. Photo credit: Keita Sin
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch at Johor. Photo credit: Keita Sin
Masked Lapwing at Marina East Drive. Photo credit: Francis Yap
Milky Stork at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Photo credit: Francis Yap
Painted Stork at Thailand. Photo credit: Keita Sin
Pied Kingfisher at Sri Lanka. Photo Credit: Dillen Ng
Golden-backed Weaver at Lorong Halus Wetland. Photo credit: Francis Yap
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon: A vagrant to Singapore with a single record of a male from Japanese Garden on 22 December 2007.
Masked Lapwing: This species native to Australia has breeding records dating back to at least 2004. The growing population seems to be sustainable and recent sightings include a flock of ~50 birds along a canal in Bedok.
Javan Plover: A single, very likely breeding record from Pulau Tekong in mid-2021. More records of this expanding species might be expected in the near future.
Milky Stork and Painted Stork: Both species of storks have been introduced to Singapore since at least 1987. Their breeding is indicated by ever-present juveniles at multiple sites in Singapore coupled with the numerous nests around Mandai. A recent genomic analysis by Baveja et al (2019) revealed an alarming result that many of the storks in Singapore are hybrids at some level. However, some genetically pure Milky Stork still exists. The Painted Storks sampled in the study were at best backcrosses between first generation hybrids and pure ones, but this species is also added to the checklist on balance that evidence suggest the presence of pure individuals.
Pied Kingfisher: A single record from Punggol on 18 September 1995. The same species was recorded at Southern Johor in early 2016 as well.
Crimson-winged Woodpecker: Sightings from Bukit Timah in 2001, at least one of which was accompanied by sketches. Several other reports continuing up to 2008 are unsubstantiated thus far.
Monk Parakeet: This species is native to South America and has been present since at least 2009, with nesting records dating back to 2012. The presence of multiple breeding records coupled with the recent westward expansion is indicative of an alarming population growth.
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch: Multiple sightings of a single individual in Bukit Timah from 1996 to 1999. A non-breeding visitor to Singapore.
Red-billed Starling: A total of four records in Singapore. While the provenance of each specific record remains to be assessed, increasing evidence of vagrancy from Indochina and the Philippines are indicative that wild birds occur in Singapore.
Golden-backed Weaver: The proliferation of this species in suitable habitats has been highly visible. Strongholds at Kranji Marshes and Lorong Halus show that this species is clearly well-established. The obvious displacement of native Baya Weavers is worrying.
Yellow-crested Cockatoo: This introduced species only occurs in small numbers in Singapore, indicative that there is a lack of a self-sustaining population. Multiple reports of hybridising Yellow/Sulphur x Tanimbar Cockatoos are also strongly suggestive that individuals are struggling to find mates from their own species. Moreover, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are more numerous than this species.
The following species were deleted from our checklist on the basis that there have not been any conclusive records in the nation for over 30 years.
This category houses species that have been recorded in the vicinity of Singaporean waters in the past 30 years. One should keep a lookout as there is a chance that these birds can be encountered within our national boundaries during pelagic trips. We keep an open mind about pelagic species and consider both quantitative (GPS coordinates) and qualitative evidences (descriptions of the sighting and ecological background of the species) when assessing such birds.
Lesser Black-backed Gull: A record from 20 November 2011 along the Singapore Straits with an unfortunate lack of GPS coordinates nor detailed descriptions.
Christmas Frigatebird: A single record outside Singapore waters from 4 May 2013.
Baveja, P., Tang, Q., Lee, J. G., & Rheindt, F. E. (2019). Impact of genomic leakage on the conservation of the endangered Milky Stork. Biological Conservation, 229, 59-66.
The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 11.2. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.
The following are the major changes:
Addition: Wedge-tailed Shearwater – First record of a single bird at Woodlands on 22 June 1998, second record of a single bird at Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park on 23 June 2021. Addition:Malayan Black Magpie – First record of a single bird at Hindhede Nature Park on 9 June 2021. Addition:Siberian House Martin – First record of a single bird at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 3 January 2021.
Along with the checklist update we are happy to introduce new members to the Singapore Birds Project team. Dillen, Keita, Movin and Sandra will be contributing ideas through articles and the checklist management. We take pride in ensuring that the checklist is regularly, accurately and transparently updated. Please feel free to drop any of us a message if you have any queries or suggestions!
This is the latest revision of the Singapore Bird List dated 14 March 2020. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.
The following are the major changes:
Addition: White-cheeked Starling: – A single bird first reported at Picadilly, Seletar on 16 January 2020, which represent the first confirmed record for this very rare vagrant in Singapore.
Addition: Brahminy Starling – Six past records of this species have been recorded in Singapore; on February 2008 (Marina East), October 2008 (Marina East), December 2003 (Bidadari), February 2016 (Punggol Barat), September 2016 (Gardens by the Bay) and January 2020 (Jurong Lake Gardens). A recently published paper (Soe Naing et al 2016) has indicated that this species is now a somewhat regular winter vagrant to Southeast Asia.
Addition: Chinese Blackbird – A single Chinese Blackbird was seen and photographed at Jurong Lake Gardens on 11 February 2020. This is the most southernly sighting of this migratory bird.
Addition: Oriental Turtle Dove – A single Oriental Turtle Dove was seen and photographed at Sisters’ Island on 28 November 2018 during an island survey. Details of this sighting only emerged recently.
Deletion: Richard’s Pipit has now been deleted from the checklist. Upon further investigation and request for identification from pipit bird experts, the photos taken for that sighting is insufficient to positively identify the bird as this species. However it is possible that it may be a very rare vagrant. The chase continues for this species.
Other changes: The Malay names of many species have been updated in accordance to the latest revision by Mr Tou Jing Yi.
The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.
The following are the major changes:
Addition: Taiga Flycatcher: – A single bird first reported at Singapore Botanical Gardens on 1 December 2019 represent the first confirmed record for this very rare vagrant.
Replacement: Japanese Tit – The Japanese Tit replaces the misidentified Cinereous Tit from the previous record and sighting at Tuas South. Further sightings of 2 birds at Pasir Ris Park also on 1 December 2019, together with past sighting of this species at Chinese Garden on October 2011 further support its inclusion into the list.
Taxonomic change: Eurasian Whimbrel – Whimbrel is now split into Eurasian Whimbrel and Hudsonian Whimbrel, and Eurasian Whimbrel is the expected species in the region.
Taxonomic change: Black Bittern‘s scientific name changed to Ixobrychus flavicollis.
The sightings of the Blue Whistling Thrush at Fort Canning Park on 7 December 2019, and the White-cheeked Starling at Picadilly, Seletar on 16 January 2020 has been noted. No decision has been made on their inclusion into the list at present.
The third revision of the Singapore Bird List for 2019 is now available at our website. There are now 408 birds recorded in our list. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.
There are four new species added in this revision.
2 stilts were first observed on 16 July 2019 at Pulau Tekong. Subsequent observations revealed a total of 4 adult Pied Stilts, together with 4 immatures. Nesting was observed with subsequent hatching of a further 3 chicks. Birds were observed at the location until 23 August 2019 when they subsequently disappeared. The closest location to Singapore for Pied Stilts prior to the discovery is in southern Sumatra.
A single bird was seen at Tuas South on 5 November 2019 in the morning. The nearest population is in Kuala Selangor, Malaysia and Sumatra, Indonesia.
A juvenile was seen and photographed near Dillenia Hut on 8 November 2019. Wintering population has been reported in Borneo.
A male was photographed twice at Singapore Botanical Gardens’ Eco Lake area on 12 November 2019. This represent the third record for the species. Previous record of a female at Satay by the Bay in 2013 and a male at a private residence along Cashew Rd in 2014 were taken into consideration in accepting this record into the list.
The other change in this revision is a major revamp of Malay bird names as per communication with Mr. Tou Jing Yi.
Update 21 November 2019: Minor corrections for Malay bird names