Yong Ding Li has been looking at birds since he was 12 years old. Now that he is reading life sciences at the National University of Singapore, his knowledge of birds is definitely beyond the plumage. Yes, he started off as a typical twitcher, listing the species he saw and compiling list after list of the different locations he visited – in Singapore as well as in Southeast Asia. To date, he has ticked off 1,217 species, but his recent trip to Sri Lanka has boosted the number to 1,280.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a twitcher. After all, most birdwatchers start off as twitchers. Except Ding Li went beyond twitching and is now observing birds, not just looking at them.
His exposure to academia during the last few years has deepened his appreciation of the avian world. And his knowledge is definitely not confined to guide books only but also to ornithological texts and journals articles. His recent writings reflect this and I refer in particular to his paper on “Bird Species New to Science from Southeast Asia – The Last Ten Years.” I am sure Ding Li will be happy to send you his manuscript if you e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his website to view his bird writings and drawings – yes, he is also an artist, although he prefers to be known as an illustrator.
Indeed, Ding Li has proven to be a rare birder who is fast becoming an ornithologist in the real sense of the word. That is him above, on the left, with the Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis) that appeared in Changi on 23rd January 2006. He is currently attached to the Conservation Ecology Laboratory of the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS. He is reading for his Honours degree under the supervision of Prof Navjot S Sodhi, the internationally renowned ornithologist and conservation biologist. Ding Li’s academic interest is avian fauna.
Singapore has only a short history of birdwatching (Wee, 2006). Introduced during the colonial era, the active birdwatchers were then mainly members of the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) that later morphed into the Nature Society (Singapore). The society then had a loose following of birdwatchers and it was only in 1984 that a formal Bird Group was constituted. The core leaders then were Clive Briffett, Christopher Hails and Sandra Sabapathy. Of these, only Chris was an ornithologist, being recruited by the government to attract birds back to the urban environment.
This newly formed Bird Group initiated activities like annual bird race, water bird census and bird count to attract members. The committee also started the Singapore Avifauna to record bird sightings and updated the checklist of birds. It is heartening to note that all these activities have been faithfully carried out every single year until today.
When Chris left for WWF a few years later, the birding community was led by recreational birders. And stress was naturally on recreational birding, with birdwatchers just looking at birds.
This may at last be changing. Ding Li is now editor of Avifauna, a privately circulated newsletter put out by the Bird Group of the Nature Society (Singapore). Hopefully, this is his introduction to further involvement in the leadership of the Bird Group. Should this happen, there is an excellent chance that the local birdwatching scene would experience new, challenging and innovative activities.
(The image of Ding Li was taken from the NUS’s Conservation Ecology Lab website while that of him with the Himalayan Griffon is by Wang Luan Keng.)
Wee, Y. C., 2006. Forty years of birding and ornithological research in Singapore. Birding Asia 5:12-15.
I just found a young dollarbird in the garden.. It seems to have left the nest too early and cannot fly yet. How am i to keep and feed it for a few days untill it can fly.???
March 20 is world sparrow day!
CHIRP FOR SPARROWS!
TWEET FOR SPARROWS!
TEXT FOR SPARROWS!
We have a small pond in our garden surrounded by trees and steep bedrock. The other day we saw a heron flying over and attempting to land – I guess to try to eat our small stock of fish. We managed to frighten it away before it landed, and have since installed trip wires around the pond in order to dissuade the bird. The amount of shelter around the pond means that a heron would have to land practically vertically. Does anyone know whether these birds have the agility to hover and land in this way, or do they always need a “glidepath” in order to land successfully?
Khng Eu Meng
Today, at the former Bidadari Cemetery, there was a buzz about a sighting of a Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). I heard some birders say this nightjar isn’t commonly seen in Singapore. After some hunting, we spotted it asleep on a tree branch, some 15 m above ground. This was rather interesting as my previous encounters with nightjars have been on either terra firma or on low branches.
Is this perching so high up the tree normal or is it unusual? I have posted a photo of it on my Facebook Timeline: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151125012234135&set=a.108191464134.96538.617499134&type=1&theater
Bird Sanctuary At Former Bidadari Cementry
1)Which is the best spot in Bidadari cemetery for bird watch?
2)Where this bird usually resident at?
3)What are some of the rare bird species that can be found at Bidadari?
4)Where is the particular hot spot for the hornbills, eagles, kingfishers and some of the rare migratory bird?
5)Which part of Bidadari are richest in it wildlife?
6)Can you name me the 59 migratory bird species found?
Why not search the website using the word ‘Bidadari’ to obtain the information you need. There should be sufficient info in past postings to satisfy you.
Hai, I just want to ask did anybody had an experience bring bird from oversea via MasKargo? Did the bird will stress at high altitude?
I heard this interesting bird call in a forest, and recorded it. Could anyone help me identify it?
Hi, I am new to bird photography! Could anyone advise a good pair of binoculars to get for this hobby?
Try this Facebook… https://www.facebook.com/groups/394479540610099/
I am sure there would be someone willing to advise.
I ‘acquired’ a female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 5 days ago – was in a public place when the bird flew overhead hit the wall and dropped right in front of me dazed. I picked it up, it appeared unhurt but could not sustain it’s flight. I have since constructed a fairly large ‘cage’ for it, about 4ft x 2fx x 2ft and placed it there last night. I temporarily placed her in a normal bird cage until I had completed the build.
From what I have read up, it’s a fruit, seed and insect feeder and also nectar, flower buds. It’s doing as well as it can on bananas, papaya, jack-fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loves to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as it easily succumbs to infection.
Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on it’s upkeep? I suspect this bird is an escapee – as far as I can read up, it’s not common, if at all, found in Georgetown, Penang where I am. I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain it’s flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.
I can attach some pictures but not sure how to do this…
Lee Chiu San
The blue-crowned hanging parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You would raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.
The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix.
How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker. Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up.
In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day.
Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a blue-crowned hanging parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken.
If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.
Lee Chiu San
About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily.
If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.
Thank you Chiu San for your inputs. Thus far, bananas and papayas work well. I’m not sure why it did not take to grapes – will try again. Am I supposed to peel it? I didn’t the last time, basically skewered a couple of grapes to a satay stick and positioned it as I did for the sliced and skinned papaya and peeled bananas.
I have yet to try rice and certainly not nectar but will try out your concoction – have half a mind to go to a pet shop to see if they carry nectar for birds. The ice-cube freeze method is a good one, will try that. I might be mistaken on the sunflower seeds… not touched but it did eat the much smaller roundish, mixed colored seeds. Will remove the sunflower seeds.
I’m sure it’s a female blue crowned hanging parrot.. it sleeps like a bat every night.
Lee Chiu San
When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts. As to your remark that the bird sleeps hanging upside down like a bat, yes, that is the way blue-crowned hanging parrots sleep.
Thanks… I need to think like a bird – yup. She has probably not seen a grape much less know that it’s edible, unless the previous owner has fed her with grapes… even then… Today she’s done pretty well making the most of the banana and all of the papaya plus quite a bit of seeds. Will try the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup.
Will regular honey do instead of rose syrup?
Lee Chiu San
About making nectar to feed birds. Most aviculturalists do not use honey for two reasons: 1. It is expensive and does not seem to give any added benefits. 2. Honey is made by bees, and the composition varies wildly. Some honeys are also known to cause fungal infection in birds.
If you do not want to buy a huge bottle of rose syrup just for one tiny bird, there are cheaper alternatives. The first is plain table sugar, though most don’t seem to like it very much.
What many birds will accept quite readily as a sweetener is condensed milk – the type with sugar that coffee shop owners use.
Many, many birds have a sweet tooth (or should I say sweet beak?) Besides the usual suspects of lories, lorikeets, sunbirds and hummingbirds, for whom it is an essential part of the diet, nectar mixture is readily consumed by mynahs, leafbirds, fairy bluebirds, barbets, doves, parrots of all kinds, and a whole host of other species.
I tried the condensed mild, placed in in a small bottle cap.. only the ants showed interest. Am I supposed to dilute it? I didn’t =( I took you advice and refrained from honey. Have yet to find Rose Syrup from the shelves of TESCO… will try to mix the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup/sugar syrup this week…
Can anyone help me identify a bird I saw in Singapore last week. Size of a smakll dove or thrush. Dark metallic back. Grey breast with red throat, chest.
Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers
Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers.
I need help in identifying these 13 birds which i’ve published in a public album on Flickr.
They are numbered 1-13 so if you know what they are please reply with number and name .
I’m doing a personal project to shoot 100 different birds in SG.
Thanks very Much !
One of best souce for the bird watcher’s enjoying knowledge about ornithology
Martin Nyffeler (PhD)
Dear Sir / Dear Madame,
I am a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at a University in Switzerland and I urgently need to get in touch with photographer Chan Yoke Meng, who takes beautiful photographs of birds near Singapore. Would you please mail me the email address of this photographer!