Bird List Revision for March 2019

The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 9.1.

Changes are as follow:

  1. Addition: Black-headed Bunting – A single bird seen at Kranji Marsh/Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 18th November 2018 (Martin Kennewell and friends). There are doubts about the condition of tail feathers, but the occurrence of other Black-headed Buntings during the same period including at least four on Mantanani Island off Sabah, Malaysia, one in Itbayat Island, Philippines and a couple in Thailand – makes for a compelling case that it’s a genuine vagrant. A search in the various bird shops did not yield any bunting species for sale.
  2. Replacement: Swinhoe’s White-eye takes the place of Oriental White-eye due to new revision on white-eyes taxonomy. (Lim, B.T.M., Sadanandan, K.R., Dingle, C. et al. J Ornithol (2019) 160: 1. Molecular evidence suggests radical revision of species limits in the great speciator white-eye genus Zosterops)
  3. Taxonomic change: Spoon-billed Sandpiper‘s scientific name changed to Calidris pygmaea
  4. Language revision: Chinese names of the following birds have been revised: Common Moorhen, Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Eastern Barn Owl, Plume-toed Swiftlet, Blue-winged Pitta, Buff-vented Bulbul and Black-crested Bulbul

The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.

Bird List Revision for November 2018

The fourth revision of the Singapore Bird List for 2018 is now available at our website. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.

There are two new species added in this revision.

Large Woodshrike
A female Large Woodshrike was seen at Jelutong Tower on the morning of 22 October 2018. This species was reported as a former resident of Singapore until at least the 1940s in the Bukit Timah area. There were additional unconfirmed records in 1970 from Changi, unfortunately without supporting evidence. It is highly likely the species have been extirpated in Singapore for a long time, and the newly recorded bird is a non-breeding visitor to the island. Perhaps it is a post-breeding dispersant or a wandering bird.

Large Woodshrike at Jelutong Tower. Photo credit: Francis Yap

Eurasian Skylark
A lone juvenile Eurasian Skylark was seen along the bund of Pandan Reservoir on 3 November 2018. Just a day before, a similar juvenile was recorded at Mantatani Island in Sabah, Malaysia.

Its inclusion to the Singapore list is not a given though. Various species of larks are sold and bought in Singapore. Although there is currently no evidence of juvenile Eurasian Skylarks being offered for sale, the possibility cannot be ruled out. However, the concurrent sighting in Mantatani does strengthen the case of the bird being a genuine vagrant. Furthermore, the seen bird’s feathers seemed to exhibit no abnormal wear which would indicate captivity. On balance, the evidence suggest that particular skylark is a good candidate for inclusion to the list.

Eurasian Skylark at Pandan Reservoir. Photo credit: Francis Yap

Other changes in the Singapore Bird List in accordance with IOC World Bird List version 8.2 are as follows:

  1. Lesser Cuckooshrike has been reassigned to genus Lalage following Jønsson et al, 2010.
  2. Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler has been reassigned to genus Helopsaltes following Alström et al, 2018.
  3. Moved Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike and Large Woodshrike to Family Vangidae.
  4. Resequenced Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes) and Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers and allies) families.

Bird List Revision for June 2018

The third revision of the Singapore Bird List for 2018 is now available at our website. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.

There is one new species added in this revision, the Great Slaty Woodpecker. Previously considered to be extirpated from Singapore, with 2 unconfirmed sightings at Changi in the 1970s. A female woodpecker was photographed at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 1 May 2018. The woodpecker was seen again feeding near the summit from 4-6 May 2018. A female (probably the same bird) was photographed at Central Catchment forest (along the pipeline trail) from 11-12 May 2018.

A white-rumped storm-petrel was also observed and photographed at a distance on a pelagic survey on 12 May along Singapore Strait. It is likely to be a Wilson’s Storm Petrel, but because of the distance involved, a conclusive ID cannot be obtained without totally ruling out other white-rumped storm-petrels. Hence the decision to withhold the inclusion of this species into our checklist until further sightings are reported.

Bird List Revision for April 2018

The second revision of the Singapore Bird List for 2018 is now available at our website. The Excel format of the list is available HERE.

There is one new species added in this revision, the Indian Paradise Flycatcher. A single bird was reported by Feroz Fizah at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 23 March 2018 and seen the following day and week. Once its identity was established, Oliver Tan managed to retrieve from his photo archive an older record at the same location on 2 December 2017. Presumably, the bird was wintering in the vicinity the entire season.

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in March 2018

With this addition, our Singapore bird list now stands at 400 species. Eleven years ago in 2007, the Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore (2007 revised edition) by Lim Kim Seng listed 364 wild bird species being recorded in the country. Subsequent additions and removals resulted in a net gain of 36 species. In other words, we have had a net increase of 10% in the total number of wild bird species recorded compared to 2007. If current trend continues, we can expect addition of an average of 3 new species a year.

Part of reason for this rapid addition of new species into our list can be explained by advancement in the field of bird taxonomy resulting in splitting of what used to be one species into multiple newer ones. A key example is that in the past, the Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Amur Paradise Flycatcher and the newly included Indian Paradise Flycatcher were once lumped together as a single species, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher.

Another important reason is the increasing number of birders and bird photographers in the field over the past decade. There are simply a lot more people in the field looking for birds these days compared to merely a handful in the past. The relative affordability of camera systems play a big part in the increase of number of bird photographers, and a greater awareness of our environment contribute to more people taking up the hobby as well. These days, our nature reserves, parks and gardens are teeming with people participating in all sorts of outdoor activities (including birding), increasing the odds of finding rare birds in our midst.

Lastly and more speculatively, climate change may have affected bird migratory patterns causing unexpected vagrants to turn up. Three of the vagrants newly included in our checklist, the Booted Warbler, Indian Paradise Flycatcher and Jacobin Cuckoo are migratory birds that normally winter within the Indian subcontinent. It will be interesting to see whether there will be a measurable increase in the frequency in which such vagrants turn up in our tiny island in the future.

Visitor numbers for singaporebirds.com for January 2017 to March 2018.

On a different note, the number of website visitors for the site have steadily increased as seen from the graph above. We are averaging around 600 page views from 130 visitors on a typical day for the month of March 2018. Of which, about 66% of the page views are from Singapore IP addresses, meaning that a large percentage of our visitors are local readers looking for bird information. It seems we are reaching our target audience as intended.

We are glad that there have been sustained interest in this website’s content, despite the recent lack of regular updates. Thank you once again for your continued support!

Bird List Revision for January 2018

The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 8.1.

Changes are as follow:

  1. Addition: Little Stint– Two birds at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 September 2017 by NParks (David Li, Jacky Soh and Fadhli Ahmad)
  2. Addition: Verditer Flycatcher – A single bird photographed by George Presanis at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 9 October 2017 is the first confirmed record of the species.
  3. Addition: Booted Warbler– Single bird at Kranji Marsh reported on 10 December 2017 by Martin Kennewell and Richard Carden. An earlier sighting on 4 December 2017 of an unidentified warbler by Muhd Fadhil of NParks was subsequently confirmed to be the same bird.
  4. Taxonomic change: The local subspecies of the “purple swamphen” complex (subspecies viridis) is now treated as a subspecies of Grey-headed Swamphen instead of Black-backed Swamphen.
  5. Taxonomic change: Crow-billed Drongo‘s scientific name is now changed to Dicrurus annectens.

The latest list can be found HERE.

Bird List Revision for August 2017

We are pleased to publish the latest revision of the Singapore Bird List to include taxonomic changes based on the latest IOC World Bird List version 7.3.

The changes are:

  1. Replacing Glossy Swiftlet with Plume-toed Swiftlet due to split of the Glossy Swiftlet species complex (Rheindt et al. 2017)
  2. Change of genus name for Garganey and Northern Shoveler from Anas to Spatula (Gonzalez et al. 2009)
  3. Change of genus name for Gadwall and Eurasian Wigeon from Anas to Mareca (Gonzalez et al. 2009)
  4. Family Scolopacidae (sandpipers and snipes) resequenced to follow Gibson and Baker (2012)

The latest list in Excel format can be found HERE.

Bird List Revision for June 2017

We have revised our Singapore Bird List with the following changes:

The changes are:

  1. Addition: Ruby-cheeked Sunbird – 2005 record from Martin Kennewell
  2. Addition: Green Broadbill – 2014 records from Pulau Ubin (Keita Sin) and East Coast Park (See Toh Yew Wai)
  3. Deletion: Western Marsh Harrier
  4. Taxonomic change – Himalayan Cuckoo from Oriental Cuckoo

The downloadable bird list in Microsoft Excel format has also been revised for clarity, printability and accuracy.

A brief sampling of regional bird checklists indicate error rates ranging from 0.9% to as high as 5.5% (sampling English Names and Scientific Names only). A high proportion are typo errors, followed by outdated taxonomy for Scientific Names. To avoid such issues, we have minimised manual typing and linked our list directly to the latest IOC list for every records.

The latest list can be found HERE.

Minor checklist revision for April 2017

There have been some minor English Name as well as Scientific Name changes to be in sync with the IOC World Bird List version 7.2 published in April 22 2017.

The English Name changes are are:

  • Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher from Oriental Paradise Flycatcher.
  • Rufous-bellied Eagle from Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle.

 

The Scientific Name changes are:

  • Ruff from Philomachus pugnax to Calidris pugnax
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper from Limicola falcinellus to Calidris falcinellus
  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper from Eurynorhynchus pygmea to Calidris pygmea
  • Buff-vented Bulbul from Iole olivacea to Iole crypta

The Singapore Bird Checklist is downloadable in Excel format here:
Singapore Bird Checklist-2017-Rev-03

First checklist revision for year 2017

We have made some additions as well as deletions to our checklist based on recent sightings or the lack of them.

The new additions are:

  • Jacobin Cuckoo which was sighted in December 2013 and on subsequent season in 2014, both at Lorong Halus Wetland.
  • Black Hornbill with a subadult male sighting in July 2015 at Pulau Ubin, followed by ongoing sightings of a female also at Pulau Ubin.
  • Bulwer’s Petrel sighting at Singapore Strait on a pelagic trip organized by photographers on 12 November 2016.

The following bird species were deleted from the list:

  • Black-winged Starling
  • Crested Myna
  • White-capped Munia
  • Java Sparrow

All four were introduced species that went feral but subsequently extirpated. Our reasoning is that there is no possibility of re-introduction from neighbouring region since they are introduced species. Any new sighting will have to be new introduction/escapees.

The following species have name changes due to taxonomic revisions:

  • Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, formerly Western Barn Owl as the subspecies javanica in the Malay Peninsula is now clumped with their Australasian brethren.
  • Pomarine Jaeger renamed from Pomarine Skua for consistency as their genetic relationship to Catharacta skuas requires confirmation.

Lastly, thanks to the effort of Tou Jing Yi, the complete Malay name for all the bird species in the checklist is now included. The Chinese name for the birds have also been updated to reflect changes since the last revision.

The Singapore Bird Checklist is downloadable in Excel format here:
Singapore Bird Checklist-2017-Rev-01