Bird List Revision for July 2021

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!

Photo: Siberian House Martin, by Mike Hooper

Measurements of the 23 June 2021 Wedge-tailed Shearwater in Bishan

Pelagic birds are rather scarce in Singapore, so news of the grounded Shearwater found at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 23 June must have caught everybody by surprise. The bird was originally found by a passer-by below a HDB block in the area and then transported to the park. It was later spotted by William Khaw, who alerted the birdwatching community and ACRES. Many others contacted ACRES as well but despite being rescued, the bird did not survive. I was fortunate enough to take a look at the bird’s carcass with my colleagues and managed to get some measurements that are reproduced below. While photographs of the bird are aplenty online, I hope that these numbers will help serve as primary documentation for future birders as well as help those still wavering on the identification.

Feature Measurements of the Bishan bird (mm) Measurements (mm) of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (WT) and Short-tailed Shearwaters (ST)
Tail 119.0 WT: 123-138
ST: 78-85
(Pettit et al., 1984; Longmore, 1985; Wells, 1999).
Bill depth at base 11.3  –
Bill depth at nare (tip of the nostril) 10.2  –
Minimum bill depth 7.4  –
Bill to skull 46.5  –
Bill to feathers 39.0 WT: 38.47±1.89
ST: 31.82±1.37
(Bull et al., 2005)
Head plus bill 81.8  –
Wing 279.0 WT: 292.99±9.99
ST: 267.11±13.06
(Bull et al., 2005)
Tarsus 47.3  –
Mid-toe (including claw) 58.5  –
Mid-toe (without claw) 50.7  –

The Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica can be distinguished from the more locally expected (though still rare) Short-tailed Shearwater A. tenuirostris from a number of features. These include the bill shape (comparatively long bill to head ratio) and the tail extension (long in Wedge-tailed Shearwater, shorter in Short-tailed Shearwater). For those who are less familiar, comparison of the measurements against other sources unequivocally confirm the identification as a Wedge-tailed Shearwater; the similar looking Short-tailed Shearwater measures much smaller.

Of the three species of Shearwaters that have been recorded regionally so far, the Short-tailed Shearwater is the most expected around the nation. Although a rare bird locally, it has been reported semi-regularly in recent years along the Singapore Straits during pelagic trips (https://ebird.org/species/shtshe). Instead, there is only one record of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater so far, yet another grounded bird that was photographed at Woodlands on 22 June 1998 (Wang & Hails, 2007). Coincidentally just 1 day apart, although 23 years ago! The third species, Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas is expected, though no verifiable records are present as of yet.

If you find any wild animal that needs help, please contact ACRES at 97837782 and/or the NParks hotline at 18004761600.

Acknowledgements

Massive thanks to the staffs at ACRES, especially Kalai and Ava, who helped keep and pass the carcass to the NUS Avian Evolution Lab, to all who assisted in the rescue process, and to William Khaw for sharing the sighting with the community. I would also like to express my gratitude to Art Toh, Dillen Ng, Martin Kennewell, Movin Nyanasengeran and Tan Hui Zhen for the help in preparing this short piece.

Literature cited

Bull, L. S., Bell, B. D., & Pledger, S. (2005). Patterns of size variation in the shearwater genus Puffinus. Marine Ornithology, 33, 27-39. Link: http://www.marineornithology.org/PDF/33_1/33_1_27-39.pdf

Longmore, N. W. (1985). Two new records of the short-tailed shearwater from north Queensland. Sunbird: The Journal of the Queensland Ornithological Society, 15(4), 84. Link: https://birdsqueensland.org.au/sunbird_issues/Sunbird_Vol15_No4.pdf

Pettit, T. N., Byrd, G. V., Whittow, G. C., & Seki, M. P. (1984). Growth of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater in the Hawaiian Islands. The Auk, 101(1), 103-109. Link: https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v101n01/p0103-p0109.pdf

Wang, L. K., & Hails, C. J. (2007). An annotated checklist of the birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 15, 1-179. Link: https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/app/uploads/2017/04/s15rbz001-179.pdf

Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). London: Academic Press.

Bird List Revision for January 2021

The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 11.1. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.

The following are the major changes:

  1. Addition: Common Swift – First record of a single bird on 9 October 2020 at Jelutong Tower, Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Second record of a single bird on 27 October 2020 at Henderson Waves.
  2. Addition: Hair-crested Drongo: – First record of a single bird seen at Changi Business Park on 26 November 2019.
  3. Taxonomic change: Resequence Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans) to come before Family Phasianidae (Pheasants & Allies) in accordance to standard sequencing protocol adopted elsewhere.

Bird List Revision for August 2020

The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 10.2. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.

The following are the major changes:

  1. Addition: Shikra: – A single juvenile bird reported flying pass at Jelutong Tower on 21 November 2019 represent the first confirmed record for this very rare vagrant in Singapore.
  2. Addition: White-bellied Erpornis – A single bird was seen at Bukit Timah summit on 16 June 2020. This is Singapore’s first confirmed sighting of this very rare non-breeding visitor.
  3. Addition: White-faced Plover – Subspecies dealbatus of Kentish Plover has been elevated to full species and named White-faced Plover in accordance to IOC Bird List version 10.2.
  4. English Name change: Red Collared Dove – Red Turtle Dove’s English Name has been changed to Red Collared Dove in accordance to IOC Bird List version 10.2.
  5. Taxonomic change: Slaty-breasted Rail‘s scientific name changed to Lewinia striata.
  6. Taxonomic change: Baillon’s Crake‘s scientific name changed to Zapornia pusilla.
  7. Taxonomic change: Ruddy-breasted Crake‘s scientific name changed to Zapornia fusca.
  8. Taxonomic change: Band-bellied Crake‘s scientific name changed to Zapornia paykullii.
  9. Taxonomic change: White-browed Crake‘s scientific name changed to Poliolimnas cinereus.
  10. Taxonomic change: Black-and-white Bulbul‘s scientific name changed to Microtarsus melanoleucos.
  11. Taxonomic change: Black-headed Bulbul‘s scientific name changed to Brachypodius melanocephalos.
  12. Taxonomic change: Black-crested Bulbul‘s scientific name changed to Rubigula flaviventris.
  13. Taxonomic change: Chestnut-winged Babbler‘s scientific name changed to Cyanoderma erythropterum.
  14. Taxonomic change: Pin-striped Tit-Babbler‘s scientific name changed to Mixornis gularis.
  15. Taxonomic change: Short-tailed Babbler‘s scientific name changed to Pellorneum malaccense.
  16. Taxonomic change: White-chested Babbler‘s scientific name changed to Pellorneum rostratum.

Bird List Revision for March 2020

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Other changes: The Malay names of many species have been updated in accordance to the latest revision by Mr Tou Jing Yi.

Bird List Revision for January 2020

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Taxonomic change: Eurasian Whimbrel – Whimbrel is now split into Eurasian Whimbrel and Hudsonian Whimbrel, and Eurasian Whimbrel is the expected species in the region.
  4. Taxonomic change: Black Bittern‘s scientific name changed to Ixobrychus flavicollis.
  5. Taxonomic change: Green Broadbill‘s family name changed to Calyptomenidae.

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.

Bird List revision for November 2019

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.

Pied Stilt
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.

Cinereous Tit
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.

Fairy Pitta
A juvenile was seen and photographed near Dillenia Hut on 8 November 2019. Wintering population has been reported in Borneo.

Daurian Redstart
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

Bird List Revision for May 2019

A minor revision to the checklist to cover changes and corrections to the Malay names of bird species. The changes are as follows (new Malay names in bracket):

Red Junglefowl (Ayam-Hutan Biasa)
Malaysian Plover (Rapang Pantai Melayu)
Oriental Plover (Rapang Padang Asia Timur)
Whimbrel (Kendi Gajah)
Little Curlew (Kendi Kerdil Asia)
Far Eastern Curlew (Kendi Besar Timur)
Eurasian Curlew (Kendi Besar Biasa)
Bar-tailed Godwit (Kedidi-Raja Ekor Belang)
Black-tailed Godwit (Kedidi-Raja Ekor Hitam)
Temminck’s Stint (Kedidi-Kerdil Ekor Panjang)
Sanderling (Kedidi Tiga Jari)
Little Stint (Kedidi-Kerdil Perang)
Eurasian Woodcock (Berkik-Besar Erasia)
Common Snipe (Berkik Kipas Erasia)
Swinhoe’s Snipe (Berkik Siberia Selatan)
Spotted Redshank (Kedidi Kaki Merah Hitam)
Common Redshank (Kedidi Kaki Merah Biasa)
Grey-rumped Treeswift (Layang-layang Berjambul Pinggul Pudar)
Whiskered Treeswift (Layang-layang Berjambul Kecil)
Beach Stone-curlew (Kedidi-Malam Besar Pantai)
Parasitic Jaeger (Camar-Lanun Paruh Lampai)
Malayan Night Heron (Pucung-Harimau Ubun Hitam)
Jerdon’s Baza (Helang-Gerigi Perang)
Black Baza (Helang-Gerigi Hitam)
Short-toed Snake-Eagle (Helang-Ular Utara)
Grey-faced Buzzard (Helang-Rintik Utara)
Eastern Marsh Harrier (Helang-Sawah Biasa)
Brahminy Kite (Helang-Tembikar Merah)
Booted Eagle (Helang Junam Kecil)
Imperial Eagle (Helang Tengkuk Kuning Biasa)
Amur Falcon (Rajawali Kaki Merah Timur)
Eurasian Hobby (Rajawali Tongkeng Merah Utara)
Oriental Hobby (Rajawali Api Asia)
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Burung-Teratai Ekor Panjang)
Lesser Adjutant (Burung-Botak Kecil)

We will like to thank Mr Tou Jing Yi for the updated list.

The link below is for the Excel version of the Singapore Bird List
Singapore Bird List 2019 Revision 2

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.