The Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) also known as the African Grey Parrot is a parrot native to Africa. It is also a very popular caged bird, due to its sensitivity, intelligence and ability to mimic human speech.
Due to its popularity, intelligence and high maintenance, it is just a matter of time before one escape or is released by its owner. In land-scarce Singapore, there are not many places suitable for the parrot to live in the wild. One such place is Malcolm Park where tall trees and ample supply of food made it a haven for parrots of all sorts. There were native parrots and parakeets such as the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots and Long-tailed Parakeets, as well as introduced species like the Red-breasted Parakeets, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Coconut Lorikeets, Tanimbar Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo as well as a single Grey Parrot.
This Grey Parrot has been reported at the vicinity since at least 2005. One day in August 2011, I finally managed to see it on a walkabout. The parrot was first observed perched very high up on a tall tree. Eventually it did come down to a lower tree permitting photography and video. On closer examination, this is the subspecies erithacus, also known as Congo African Grey Parrot. It is bigger in size and have a red tail, in comparison to another equally popular parrot called the Timneh Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh)
In the video below, the bird was very concerned due to the commotion and noise caused by Tanimbar Corellas actively defending their roosting hole from a Clouded Monitor.
The Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (Loriculus galgulus) is a small parrot found in South-east Asia from southern Thailand to Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.
It Singapore they are more commonly found in the forest reserves, Singapore Botanical Gardens, and gardens where fruiting trees are present. There have been reports of sightings in the city centre but one is not likely to find them all that often there.
In my early days of birding, this was one of the harder to find species, and it took me quite some time before finally photographing a few of them at Malcolm Park. They were fond of the oil palm fruits and the African Tulip flowers that were abundant there. The problem with finding the birds are two-fold. They are small in size (13cm in length) and they are green, which meant that they are well camouflaged.
There are of course easy ways to find them if you know their behaviour. They are fond of ripe fruits. A fruiting rambutan tree, or oil palm or a myriad others ripe fruits in the garden tend to attract them. So houses with ripening fruit trees near the forest reserves are likely to have them around. The other give-away of their presence is the sound they make while flying. A very shrill and high pitch “tsi” that once you recognise, will indicate their presence nearby.
A very good place to see them flying about is Jelutong Tower at the Central Catchment Nature Reserves. Every morning, there will be little torpedo-like little green birds flying straight and rather low, with their calls emanating loudly. If you are lucky, they will perch on a nearby tree, giving you better views.
Below are some pictures in the gallery with more information on separating the sexes and also a video of a juvenile feeding on a bunch of African Tulip flowers.