Thursday, January 21, 2010

Migratory Birds of Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) is one of my favourite birding sites in Singapore. During my last week's visit (14-20 Jan), I spotted many migratory birds in the garden, included the Hooded Pitta, Orange-headed Thrush, Malayan Night Heron, Tiger Shrike, Common Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater and Red-legged Crake.

The most fascinating migratory birds I spotted in the garden were the Hooded Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush. In my last visit in December, I managed to digiscope the Orange-headed Thrush, but sadly, the pictures were spoilt by the excessive flashes used by the paparazzi. The thrush in my digiscoped pictures became a "Halo-ed Thrush".

This time, the paparazzi were gone, but both birds were still there together with a new migratory bird, the juvenile Malayan Night Heron.

The Hooded Pitta has very distinctive multicolours, with black, white, brown, green, red, blue and yellow. It has very close similar plumage colour as compared to the Fairy, Mangrove and Blue-winged Pitta, with the distinguishable blackish face, brownish cap and greenish chest and belly.

Let me share with you the colourful Hooded Pitta through my digiscoped pictures.

These pictures are my first digiscoped Pitta, they were digiscoped in the shady place without using any artificial flash light, but with the moderate ISO level, lower shuttle speed and taken from a distance with minimum disturbance to the bird. So, if possible, please leave your flash gun at home.

I saw two Orange-headed Thrushes in the garden. It was a wonderful moment for me to observe their distinctive behavior of taking their evening bath. Here are their pictures, but I couldn't distinguish which is male, which is female? If you can, please tell me by leaving your comment here.

The first thrush:
The second thrush:

This species of thrush has the similar daily bathing behavior as the Blue Whistling Thrush in Kek Lok Toong, Ipoh, I noticed that both species prefer taking bath in the free running water, eg. waterfall. Thrushes could be one of the cleanest birds on earth based on my observations of their distinctive daily bathing behavior.

Orange-headed Thrush taking its evening bath (courtesy of Khng Eu Meng):

The Malayan Night Heron that I spotted in the garden was the juvenile, it has very different plumage as compared to the adult, it is grayish in colour. The adult can be viewed in my earlier blog about the Taiwan's Malayan Night Heron, CLICK HERE to view, you will then be able to distinguish the differences between the adult and the juvenile .
The Tiger Shrike that I spotted in the SBG was a juvenile bird as well. I wonder why there were more juvenile migratory birds that I spotted in the SBG, could it be the juvenile cannot compete with the adult birds for their feeding ground and were pushed further south to Singapore.

front view:
side view:
and back view:
Another beautiful migratory bird I spotted in SBG was the Red-legged Crake, it was my lifer, unfortunately I missed the chance to digiscope it, but thank to Meng Meng for his fast reaction to record this bird, here is the picture (courtesy of Khng Eu Meng):
I spotted both the Common Kingfisher and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters in the SBG during my last visit in December, and they were still there in the garden after a month. Here are the pictures I took in my recent visit to the garden.
I had a wonderful and memorable visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, this garden has provided me many precious moments to observe and digiscope the migratory lowland birds, especially the Hooded Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush. I learned that a well planned and well managed Botanic Garden can serve as an important shelter to many avifauna, not only to the resident species, but also the migratory ones. Well done to Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Check out my previous BLOG about Birding in Singapore.

Special thank to Meng Meng for taking me to this wonderful birding place in the city of Singapore.


  1. What excellent photos ... well done! And what an eye-opener it is to know that in a relatively small area there are so many beautiful birds.

  2. AT, now I realized why many Singaporean birders only visit the highlands in the peninsular, coz most lowlands, wetlands, or migratory birds can easily be seen in Singapore's gardens, parks and reserves with well maintained and comfortable facilities.

  3. Love the Hooded Pitta and new to me...

  4. Hi Yen, the hooded pitta is very lovely, I can't believe when I saw my lifer in Singapore Botanic Gardens, a garden close to the famous Orchard Road.