Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum 8 cm
A scarlet-backed flowerpecker perches on a thin branch of golden flowers. Flowerpeckers, sometimes grouped under sunbirds, have distinctive features including short tails and short, thick bills with a down-curve. Their tubular tongues are perfectly suited for nectar feeding, but surprisingly, they do occasionally season up their diet with some small insects. Scarlet-backed flowerpecker, the most common type in Singapore, can be found in gardens.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops superciliosus 30 cm
Having plumed its bright sage-green suit and fixed its rufous collar tie, this slender migrant stares vigilantly into space on the rooftop garden outside Jingxian Library, on an outlook for the sight of bees patronising the pots of bougainvillea flowers. This bird can be told apart from its less common blue-throated relatives from its rufous throat. “Chiwi”, you might hear this shrill call as it takes flight in excitement and darts towards its prey.
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 26 cm
This male black-naped oriole pecks at its brilliant yellow feathers on a tree behind Science Research Centre. Exclusive to South and Southeast Asia, this residential bird is ranked among the top 10 most common bird species in Singapore. The species has been spotted all over Hwa Chong campus, from college canteen to the drive along HCIS. This cheerfully-coloured bird is also a skillful singer, with over 50 types of calls! The famous chinese poem “两个黄鹂鸣翠柳” manifests the singing of two orioles during spring.
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 30 cm
The spotted dove has black collar with white spots at back of neck, as if it were wearing strings of pearls. The spotted doves are loving birds — you can often spot them in pairs, fluttering in the languid afternoon sun. With the pale yellow walls of our 黄城 as backdrops, scenes of dancing doves remind us of poetic Chinese paintings.
Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus 11 cm
Oriental white-eyes are unmistakable with the striking white ring around their eyes. What distinguishes it from other white-eyes would be the yellow ventral stripe that goes up its grey-white belly. They love to gather around the tembusu trees near the clock tower. You can hear their cheerful and shrill “chew” calls among the leaves and branches. Sadly, these petite birds are threatened by pet trades.
Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 20 cm
These birds’ noisy calls ring as the early morning school bell. They have a distinctive glossy blueish-green plumage and striking dark-red eyes. Shown in the other picture is a juvenile, with fluffy freshly-plumed feathers and a white belly. They love to gather in flocks around the fig trees on the drive to Block D college section.
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 20 cm
A red-whiskered bulbul gazes proudly on as it perches on foliage. They have a prominent black crest and red “whiskers” beside their eyes, as well as a brown plumage. There are about 5 bulbuls that call the Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) tree near Block D home. They are songbirds with beautiful, intricate songs.
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica 13 cm
The adorable little bird can often be seen perching quietly on trees outside Kong Chian Administration Block. But don’t be fooled by its innocent look; its sharp beak is perfect for capturing insects. When it spots its preys, it darts out swiftly to capture insects on the wing. Without it, there will be even more mosquitos in Hwa Chong.
Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa 鹩哥 29 cm
Slightly larger in stature than Javan Mynas, common hill mynas are residents of primary and secondary forests. The small canopy near college reception has attracted a few from Botanic Gardens and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Their calls are loud and far-carrying. Their unique feature are the orange-yellow wattles on nape and below eyes.
Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans 30 cm
The male pink-necked green pigeon is probably the most colorful pigeon in tropical Asia with its green back, orange breast and pink neck. The beautiful birds often nest in forests, but are attracted to Hwa Chong by the Weeping Fig(Ficus benjamina) trees near Block D. The bird likes to perch acrobatically on thin branches, looking down at students coming and going.
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia 13 cm
This charming songbird has a wide range of calls -- its lingering whistles in the early morning welcomes Hwa Chong students into the campus. In fact, the sub species found in Hwa Chong is Singaporensis, a sub species unique to Singapore. Small it might seem, iora is carnivorous -- it feeds on caterpillars thus keeping the trees in Hwa Chong healthy.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 19 cm
Brown shrikes have a distinctive black mask around their eyes. Their harsh chatterings and rattlings often wake people up early in the morning. Don’t be deceived by its petite stature: this bird is a “butcher”, with a wide diet ranging from insects (mainly butterflies and moths) to even small birds and lizards! The shrike in this photo perches erect on the tree branch, searching for preys, which will be brutally impaled on plant thorns.
Zebra Dove Geopelia striata 20 cm
This small and slender dove, also known as peaceful dove, is one of the most common dove species in Singapore. The narrow black lines on its pale-gray plumage gives the bird a zebra-like appearance, hence the name “zebra dove”. Unfortunately, its high, far-carrying ka-do-do-do-do calls have attracted predation from bird-traders.
Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos moluccensis 13 cm
One of the smallest woodpeckers, this resident woodpecker is most frequently found in mangroves and coastal areas, yet also common in gardens. This species can be deciphered from the black mask around its eyes, a brown plumage, as well as white, striated flanks and underbelly. “Dook, dook”, you can often hear it pecking wood in the campus.
Olive-backed sunbird Cinnyris jugularis 11 cm
This little bird is perhaps the most common bird in Singapore. The Olive-backed sunbird enjoys feeding on the nectars of the colorful flowers of our tropical city, including the favorite with Biology students -- hibiscus. The sunbirds are even seen building their own nests with twigs and catkins on the potted plants near the junior college mother tongue department.
Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris 25 cm
The collared kingfisher is not just a “king” fisher — it is also a very good insect hunter. Looked at its prominent beak: a pair of “pincers” that never fail to capture their preys. The kingfishers are sometimes seen perching on the nets of our street football court or on the trees near our canteen, searching for the unfortunate little bugs. Unlike like most birds where the female birds are duller than the female birds, the female collared kingfisher features a jade-like green whereas the male features a plainer blue.
Blue Crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus 13 cm
This colourful bird is called “hanging parrot” for a reason — it likes to hang upside down on trees and would even take a bath in the rain in the same position! You can often spot the birds pecking at fruits and flower buds in an acrobatic manner. The adult males have a blue crown and a red throat, while the female birds are green all over. When you spot the parrots, don’t try to talk to it — this species of parrot does not have the capability of imitating human speech.