Republic of Singapore

Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting ©Kennie Pan Website
Birding Singapore

Singapore is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree (137 kilometres or 85 miles) north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia’s Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore’s territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 square kilometres or 50 square miles). The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore’s urbanisation means that it has lost 95% of its historical forests and now over half of the naturally occurring fauna and flora in Singapore is present in nature reserves, such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, which comprise only 0.25% of Singapore’s land area. To combat this decline the government introduced (1967) the vision of making Singapore a ‘garden city’ aiming to soften the harshness of urbanisation and improve the quality of life. Since then, nearly 10% of Singapore’s land has been set aside for parks and nature reserves. The government also has plans to preserve the remaining wildlife.

350 species of birds are found in an area of just 650 square kilometres making Singapore an ideal place to start learning about the fascinating birds (culture and food!) of Asia. Although highly urbanised, the excellent network of roads makes access to the major birding sites a breeze. There are hotels of all sorts to suit your pocket and no need whatsoever to rough it out in the wilds. The weather is tropical, which means it is usually warm (24-32 degrees Celsius) and sunny throughout the year except for the occasional thunderstorm.

Singapore offers good birding throughout the year but is best between August and April when the migrants, mostly from the Palearctic, are in, together with the resident birds so birding is most exciting at this time.

Imagine seeing Oriental specialities such as Red-crowned Barbet, Banded Woodpecker, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Crimson Sunbird sharing the same habitat as migrants from Siberia like Asian Brown Flycatcher, Arctic Warbler and Daurian Starling. And that’s just the morning.

In the afternoon, take a sampan (local boat) to Ubin Island and hunt for the local attractions like Red Junglefowl, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Laced Woodpecker, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Straw-headed Bulbul, Mangrove Pitta and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Enjoy the terns (Great Crested, Lesser Crested, Black-naped and White-winged) on the way back to the mainland.

Well within reach (a two hour car journey across the causeway) Panti Forest reserve in Malaysia is a great day out! Early mornings, as always, are best.

Whether you are passing through with half or one day to spare, or staying up to a week, Singapore offers the adventurous birder the chance to see, without too much hassle, some of the most exciting birds in Asia whilst letting you enjoy the culture, food and sights of the country too.

Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 402

    (As at January 2019)

    National Bird: Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja

Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • * Field Guides & Bird Song

    For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Asia as a whole - please see the Asia page of Fatbirder ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore

    By Allen Jeyarajasingam & Alan Pearson | Oxford University Press | 2012 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 628 pages, 74 colour plates, b/w illustrations, 2 b/w maps | ISBN: 9780199639434 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Guide To Common Birds Of Gardens and Parks Of Singapore and Malaysia

    by Morten Strange | Select Books Pte. Ltd. | 2005 | Unbound | 50 Drawings | ISBN: #165520 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Singapore

    By Yong Ding Li & Lim Kim Chuah | John Beaufoy Books | 2017 | Edition 3 | Paperback | 176 pages, 300 colour photos, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9781912081653 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore

    By Geoffrey Davison & Chew Yen Fook | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2017 | Paperback | 144 pages, 280 colour photos, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9781472938237 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Singapore

    Bird Guide App ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Singapore

    By Christopher Hails & Frank Jarvis | Marshall Cavendish | 2018 | Paperback | 176 pages, illustrations | ISBN: 9789814794473 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore

    By Lim Kim Seng & Dana Gardener | Sun Tree Publishing | 1997 | Paperback | ISBN: 9789813066007 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • State of Singapore's Wild Birds and Bird Habitats

    (A Review of the Annual Bird Census 1996-2005) | Edited by Lim Kim Chuah & Lim Kim Seng | Nature Society of Singapore | 2009 | Paperback | ISBN: 9789810826727 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birding Aps
  • Birds of Singapore

    Apple iOS |
    | Photographs; 375 species | Nature Society (Singapore) | 120.9 MB | Requires iOS 8.0 or later |

    n this application, there are 578 “best of the crop” photographs from 25 local and overseas bird photographers of all the 399 species based on the Bird Group’s Records Committee’s 2017 Checklist. Many of the species will be shown in both sexes with some in their juvenile plumages. Most raptors will have flying images showing their undersides and wings. All photographs were selected for their distinctive features to help with their identification. The uniqueness of an application is the ability to produce sounds and this allow us to include over 110 calls of selected species to complete the package.
  • Singapore Birding Checklist

    Android
    | Duncan Watson | 2.0M | Requires Android 4.0.3 and up |

    This application is just for Singapore, and has 401 species (following IOC 7.3).
Organisations
  • Bird Ecology Study Group

    Website
    The Bird Ecology Study Group, a new bird group of the Nature Society (Singapore) since September 2005. BESGroup is committed to knowing something about that bird, not just its name
  • Nature Singapore

    Website
    601 Slims Drive, 04-04 Pan. I Complex, Singapore 387382. + 65 741 0871; kklimsg@singnet.com.sg Night Walk at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park with the Vertebrate Study Group. A chance to watch the raptors fly pass the reservoir towardsthe forest to roost and observe bats coming out at dusk. If weather permits, enjoy all these against an enchanting backdrop of a sunset over the Central Catchment. After dark, listen out for the serenade of frogs and try to identify the species by their calls. The group size will be limited to the first 20 members replying with the All-Purpose Forms to the NSS office.
  • Singapore Bird Group

    Website
    The Bird Group (BG) is a Special Interest Group of the Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS). The Group was inaugurated in 1986 when NSS was the Singapore Branch of the Malayan Nature Society. However, it was a transition from the former MNS Singapore Bird Study Group, which was active in the ’70s.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Bukit Batok Nature Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Bukit Batok Nature Park lies on the outskirts of one of Singapore's newest housing estates, Bukit Batok New Town. It is a small, peaceful park developed on an abandoned quarry site where the quiet visitor should be able to see some of the local wildlife which has adapted to an urban parkland environment. In the evening the park is popular with joggers…
  • NR IBA Bukit Timah

    InformationSatellite View
    The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a small 1.64 square kilometre (400 acre) nature reserve near the geographic centre of the city-state of Singapore, located on the slopes of Bukit Timah Hill, Singapore's highest hill standing at a height of 163.63 metres, and parts of the surrounding area. Together with the neighbouring Central Catchment Nature Reserve, it houses over 840 species of flowering plants and over 500 species of fauna. Today, it is one of the largest patches of primary rainforest left in Singapore. The reserve, along with the adjacent Central Catchment Nature Reserve, has been identified by BirdLife International as the Central Forest Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports populations of vulnerable straw-headed bulbuls and brown-chested jungle flycatchers.
  • NR IBA Central Catchment

    InformationSatellite View
    It is the largest nature reserve in Singapore, occupying 2880 hectares. Forming a large green lung in the geographical centre of the city, it houses several recreational sites, including the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and the River Safari, as well as several newer facilities built to encourage public appreciation of the reserve, such as the HSBC TreeTop Walk. The reserve sits within the boundaries of the Central Water Catchment. Wild birds such as crimson sunbird, greater racket-tailed drongo and kingfishers are found in the reserve, too. The reserve, along with the adjacent Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, has been identified by BirdLife International as the Central Forest Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports populations of vulnerable straw-headed bulbuls and brown-chested jungle flycatchers.
  • NR IBA Chek Jawa

    InformationSatellite View
    Chek Jawa is a cape and the name of its 100-hectare wetlands located on the south-eastern tip of Pulau Ubin, an island off the north-eastern coast of the main island of Singapore. Chek Jawa is among the last few places left in Singapore with a natural rocky shore. The site forms part of the Ubin–Khatib Important Bird Area (IBA), identified as such by BirdLife International because it supports significant numbers of visiting and resident birds, some of which are threatened.
  • NR IBA Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    It is in the northwest area of Singapore. It is the first wetlands reserve to be gazetted in Singapore (2002), and its global importance as a stop-over point for migratory birds was recognised by the inclusion of the reserve into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network. The reserve, with an area of 130 hectares, is listed as an ASEAN Heritage Park. Malayan water monitor in Sungei Buloh Amongst the many birds that can be spotted feeding on the diverse fauna variety of worms and molluscs, are whimbrel, common greenshank, common redshank, Mongolian plover, curlew sandpiper, marsh sandpiper and Pacific golden plover, yellow bittern and cinnamon bittern. Lucky visitors to the reserve may be able to spot the resident family of smooth otters, as well as the rare lesser whistling-duck, and the rare milky stork. The reserve forms part of the Kranji-Mandai Important Bird Area (IBA), identified as such by BirdLife International because it supports Chinese egrets, greater spotted eagles and greater crested terns. Atlas moth, the largest species of moth in Southeast Asia can be found in the back mangrove.
  • NR Kranji Marshes

    InformationSatellite View
    The Kranji Marshes is a nature reserve in the northwest area of Singapore. A freshwater marshland, derived from the damming of the Kranji River to form the Kranji Reservoir, became seen as an important habitat. The area is home to a number of endangered birds, and at least 170 species have been recorded.
  • NR Labrador

    InformationSatellite View
    It is home to the only rocky sea-cliff on the mainland that is accessible to the public. Since 2002, 10 hectares of coastal secondary-type vegetation and its rocky shore have been gazetted as a nature reserve and its flora and fauna preserved by NParks. More than 70 kinds of birds, including the blue-crowned hanging parrot, the rufous woodpecker and Abbott's babbler, have been seen here.
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens

    InformationSatellite View
    The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 158-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of Singapore's Orchard Road shopping district.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Singapore Bird Group

    Sightings & News & Forum
    Promoting birdwatching as a hobby and a healthy lifestyle to every Singaporean
Guides & Tour Operators


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Birding Singapore

    Tour Operator
    My name is Lim Kim Seng. I am a licensed (by Singapore Tourism Board) nature tour guide based in Singapore and I also have an MSc in Environmental Management (University of Adelaide). I specialise in birds but am also conversant with other aspects of natural history. I have been birding since I was ten years old and hope to be able to offer you an introduction to Singapore's spectacular birds, wildlife and natural scenery. Whether it's a short three hour slot or an intensive three-day tour, you will be amazed at what you can discover in a short amount of time in tiny but terrific Singapore!
  • Sungei Buloh Birdwatching / Nature Tour

    Guide
    Tucked away in the north-western part of the island, this ecological gem is a mangrove forest. Covering only 2. 2 square kilometres, this is Singapore's first ASEAN Heritage Park and it is also a member of the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership. Hi, my name is Wan Ling. I am a professional guide and I conduct nature and city tours.
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2010 [07 July] - Gail Mackiernan

    Report
    …BC, GM & CC arrived at the very upscale Changi AP at about 6.30 a.m. and took a taxi to the equally posh Changi Village Hotel. We would be staying there the evening before our flights to Sulawesi, and the hotel kindly let us store our excess luggage whilst we were in Malaysia. Kim Seng met us there and we did a little birding outside the hotel while waiting for AQ, who arrived about an hour later…
  • 2013 [02 February] - Lars Olausson & Hans-Erik Persson

    PDF Report
    …Breakfast around 8 and then some went shopping along Orchard Road while others took a taxi to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and walked around for a couple of hours….
  • 2013 [06 June] - Steve Thorpe

    PDF Report
    …Within minutes the White-vented Mynah were around my feet checking to see if I had ordered any food! Two Striated Heron flew along the river a couple of times. The trees on the opposite side of the river provided Common Mynah (another common species) and Yellow-vented and Red- whiskered Bulbul…
  • 2013 [09 September] - Mike Nelson

    Report
    …The tour started with some birding around Singapore and at the Central Catchment Reservoir we started off well with Short-tailed Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Banded Woodpecker, Van Hasselt’s Sunbird and loads of Pink-necked Green Pigeon. Bukit Batok did well with Straw-headed Bulbul, Common Flameback and Laced Woodpecker and a particularly obliging group of White-crested Laughingthrush….
  • 2015 [04 April] - Pete Aley - New Zealand: North & South Islands with Singapore

    Report
    his report outlines a five week birding trip which I undertook with my wife, Alison Rowntree, travelling from north to south New Zealand, and with a brief stop-over in Singapore. We chose to go in March and April to allow us to combine leave from two different years and maximise our time in the country. Although this meant a few key species were not seen, it gave us a good period of time to see both islands and their birds, in a relaxed fashion, and generally proved to be a good season to visit.
  • 2015 [09 September] - David & Sarah Blair

    PDF Report
    ...there were some good birds such as Blue-naped Parrot, Striated Heron, White-breasted Wood Swallow, Collared Kingfisher, loads of Green Imperial Pigeons and surprisingly two fly in Grey Imperial Pigeons.
  • 2017 [04 April] - Lo Chun Fai

    PDF Report
    Then we headed to Singapore Botanic Garden to see if the two long-staying Pitta (Hooded and Blue-winged) were still around or not. However, due to the heavy rain, we were only able to see the Hooded Pitta. Apart from other common garden birds, an adult Grey-headed Fish Eagle was also seen in the garden.
  • 2017 [10 October] - Stephen Burch - Australia & Singapore: Introduction

    Report
    Over at least the last decade I had been collecting information on good places to visit, which included a few sporadic pieces in Birding World, and even snippets in the Guardian newspaper. Most of these were in Queensland, but I was also keen on visiting Kakadu National Park which was nearest to Darwin. Sydney was almost on our list, but for general tourism only not birds! Given the immense distances involved in Australia, three internal flights would be needed to cover all the places we wanted to visit. The duration of this trip was 4 weeks, which was limited by the maximum amount of time we could both feasibly get off work. Timing was chosen carefully to avoid the hotter months, which sounded increasingly problematic in Australia at present.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Wendy Newnham

    Report
    ...took myself off to the SUNGEI BULOH WETLAND RESERVE on the north side of Singapore Island. The reserve is well set up & very peaceful after the streets of Singapore, virtually bereft of people but heaving with monitor lizards, Estuerine Crocodiles & a good selection of Asian bird species...
Other Links
  • Bird Watching in Singapore

    Article
    Bird watching is a great accessible activity for the whole family and all fitness types. While most people don’t associate Singapore with wildlife, the island is home to a diverse and fascinating population of birds. Whether you’re an ornithology expert or a novice bird-watcher, you’ll find a bird watching session rewarding and enlightening.
Blogs
  • Birding Singapore

    Facebook Page
    I am a freelance nature guide and I run Bird and Wildlife Tours in and around Singapore...
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong

    Gallery
    Photography is a wonderful medium but even at its best, it can only hint at what really exists. The difference between a snapshot and a work of art is that art evokes. It helps you see more and be more. Precisely what is summoned is hard to control. There is an artist in each of us that filters and colors our world. Our complex emotions mediate our senses. Our overall sense of being depends on innumerable details and distractions, but deep inside, one's religious attitude and philosophical background influence one's perceptions.
  • Photographer - Joseph Kellard Nature Photography

    Facebook Page
    I am a semi-professional wildlife photographer from the UK, currently living, working and studying in Singapore. The photographic opportunities here are almost endless!
  • Photographer - Kennie Pan’s Photography

    Gallery
    My name is Kennie Pan & I am a photographer based in Singapore. I started photography accidentally back in End 2004. Back then, I used to dance. Trying to take pictures of myself dancing with an old 3.2Megapixels Panasonic Lumix Lc-33 ( Family’s shared camera ), i was curious on the output – Blurred pictures of myself. In that Basic Camera, even the most basic functions confused me and I told myself, i have to find out what the basic functions do…
  • Photographer - Laurence Poh - Laurence's Digital Birds

    Gallery
    The late and great Laurence Poh - This site is a collection of bird pictures I have taken since Feb 1999 with the Nikon Coolpix 950 and Coolpix 990 digital camera in combination with a Leica Apo-Televid 77 mm spotting scope. All photos were taken by natural available light with exception of one nightjar which was lit by incandescent bulb. Most of the birds are Malaysian species with some foreign birds shot abroad. In Malaysia we have over 600 species of birds. Some are migratory birds that are seen only during the northern winter months. What I have here is just a small collection. In my own way, I am trying to promote Malaysia as a birding destination as the birds are much prettier in real life than my pictures can depict.
  • Photographer - Paul Huang - Nature Stops

    Gallery
    The Kranji area in the north of Singapore is one of the best places to enjoy nature. It is easily accessible and consists of places like Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, Kranji Nature Trail, marshes around Kranji Dam and the Neo Tiew area where you can still find farms. While this area is a hotpot for nature where thousands of migrant waders stopover and where many resident birds reside including endangered species, it is constantly threathened by development
  • Photographer - Tay Hui Meng

    Gallery
    Wild birds in Singapore

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND