Vesak Day in Singapore fell on 19th May 2008. On the eve of that day, Tang Hung Bun came across a pair of strange birds at Venus Link (below). Puzzled at the identity of these birds, he posted the images in the BESG’s forum.
Jeremy Lee was the first to respond, identifying one of them as Peach-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis). Tan Kok Hui similarly identified it as the blue form of the Peach-faced Lovebird.
Summerian Turks added, “These are lovebirds (Agapornis sp). From the pictures I can only id confidently the bird on the left as the Peach-faced Lovebird (A. roseicollis) and the other could possibly be a Masked Lovebird (A. personatus) judging from its white-eye ring (can’t see the face well). But these birds are definitely lovebirds. Commonly found in the bird trade and I am certain they are someone’s pets.”
YC countered, “The front-faced bird looks like a Gray-headed Lovebird (A. canus), a male. Peach-faced has a red face.”
But Summerian stated that “A. canus is not in the Singapore bird market for a long long time and they die easily in captivity and some aviculturists here say due to our hot, humid weather. Plus Madagascar, where they originate, is birdflu country and the local authorities do not allow imports from there. There are many varieties of peach-face mutations in aviculture. This is one of them. A. canus is not in our market. Not to my knowledge at least.
“…The abandoned specimens, if I’m not wrong, are the Pastel Blue or the Dilute Blue. They have been hybridised even with A. fischeri and A. personatus and all the subsequent mutations that you actually get a variety of rojaks (mixture) in aviculture. Usually if they are hybridised with an A. personatus or A. fischeri, most mutations retain the characteristic white eye ring with the body having a variety of colors ranging from blue to shades of green and cinnamon, depending on the parent birds. This is from my experience with my flock a long time ago. Another commonly found mutation of Peach-face in Singapore are the Lutino Red Face. They are all yellow with the face being red… I have seen an all grey and diluted yellow Peach-face Lovebird mutations here. The color varieties are amazing.”
Vesak Day commemorates the birth and enlightenment of Lord Buddha and his entry into Nirvana. Among the various rituals that Buddhists undertake is the release of caged birds, animals and even insects. This signifies giving freedom to those in captivity
This practice of releasing animals has resulted in an increase in exotic species in our rural environment as devotees purchase caged animals from pet shops to release them. Unfortunately, these are not local species and many are unable to survive in the wild and eventually succumb to predation or simply die. Others are able to out-compete the indigenous species to eventually displace them.
The lovebirds found by Hung Bun may possibly be released by devotees on the eve of Vesak Day. The chances of their survival are slim. I am sure those responsible are not aware of the misery they are inflecting on these birds.
The National Parks Board has been at the forefront of educating the public and trying very hard to persuade people not to release exotic animals with varying success.