Tag Archives: Pulau Ubin

Green Imperial Pigeon – Status in Singapore

The Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea) is a species of forest pigeon. It a large bird, with green-blue metallic sheen on its wings, back and tail. Its head and underparts are off-white.

Its usual range covers southern Asia from India to Indonesia

Historically, this species have been listed as a resident in small numbers at the coastal area (Gibson-Hill 1949)1

Presently in Singapore, it is listed as a non-breeding visitor with it’s usual stronghold in Pulau Tekong where sightings are more common.

Green Imperial Pigeon

In 2011, they were sighted in the adjacent Pulau Ubin between the months of June and August. Up to 5 were perched on a single tree in one afternoon.

Green Imperial Pigeon

Green Imperial Pigeon

Green Imperial Pigeon

Green Imperial Pigeon

In the mainland, there were sightings in Pasir Ris Park area in early 2012. In March 2013, the birds were seen in an industrial estate in Loyang. Ever since then, they has made regular appearances there, whenever the Macarthur Palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii) fruits in the area.

As an observation, the pigeons swallow the ripe palm fruits whole as the sequence of pictures shows.

Green Imperial Pigeon

Green Imperial Pigeon

With the knowledge of the regular presence of the pigeon in the area, the first report of nesting came in late March 2014, with a single chick hatched subsequently. By May 2014, it seems that the chick has fledged and with that the first breeding record of this species have been documented.

In the span of 3 years, this species appears to have dispersed from Pulau Tekong to Pulau Ubin and then to the mainland. And finally in an unlikely turn of events, it started breeding in an industrial estate, feeding mainly on an introduced exotic palm species.

1. Gibson-Hall (1949) A Checklist of the Birds of Singapore Island

Oriental Pied Hornbill – Ballistic transport feeding

One of the joy of birding is to observe behaviour of birds in the field and then having done so, be educated by a fellow birder as to what it all meant.

I had the opportunity to observe a family of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) flying towards a kampung house at Pulau Ubin. One of the adult proceeded to land on a large papaya tree. This tree happen to have one ripe papaya fruit.

Soon enough the hornbill dug into the fruit itself and then retrieve the flesh. It the proceeded to flip the morsel and then with the mouth wide open, swallowed it whole. This method of feeding is call “ballistic transport” and is practiced by hornbills and toucans.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
The hornbill using its powerful bill to tear into the the papaya fruit.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
The flip and swallow routine

Oriental Pied Hornbill
A closer look at another instance. Notice the shape of the morsel is different.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Yet another instance, this time at a different, steeper head angle.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
After one side is done, it goes for the other side. A messy eater.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
In between feeding time.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
All the while, the juvenile is perched quietly just below the papaya tree. As it has the same pose, you can compare its relative proportion.

Soon after these photos were taken, a group of weekend cyclist came by a bit too close. The whole family flew off to another location, and the papaya was left half eaten.

In summary, we know that Oriental Pied Hornbills like ripe papaya fruits, they tear into the fruit using their powerful bill to retrieve morsels of flesh, are messy eaters and then use ballistic transport to feed themselves.


Ballistic transport (“flip and catch”) feeding in hornbills


Twelve Piggies

It was a public holiday yesterday and the rest of the family was holidaying somewhere else. I had a whole day for myself and I intended it to be a photography day.

However, it was coming towards the end of the day, and it turned out that it was not a very fruitful birding day despite my best attempts. I was headed towards the Lower Peirce Reservoir Park carpark when I decided to make a last minute detour to the garden just above the carpark. Maybe my luck may change and in birding, one can only be an optimist.

Strolling along, examining closely every tree for sign of birds, I suddenly saw a figure and it was staring at me…

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1762
Whoa, a wild boar in the garden!

I quickly backed out to keep a safer distance as I know how dangerous they can be. Imagine, a full view of a boar in an unexpected setting. Peering into my viewfinder again…
Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1769-2

There’s more than one! A family with adult and piglets! I braced myself. Nothing more dangerous than a sow protecting its family. I quickly figured that the position I was standing at was favourable enough. I was far enough and I can safely dash downhill and my camera was handheld, not on a tripod. So instead of running off immediately, I stayed and continued scanning the area.

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1808

More pigs to the right!

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1823

In fact there are 11 pigs in the above picture! A quick count without the camera confirms the number. All just above the carpark, and everyone else there was oblivious to them. Amazing!

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1848

Moments later, a mad dash! I was startled initially, but they weren’t charging towards me, thankfully. More clickity-clicks then.. Apparently they were headed back to the forest clearing to my left. My presence was not welcomed by them.

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1877

This mother piggy is bringing the children home.

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1902

The next 3. Hoppity-hop.

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1952

The final 2. Observing me intently before leaving towards the dark forested area.

Wait it minute here, you may say. Whatabout your title? It says 12 Piggies. Kinda feel cheated of one little piggy!

OK, I understand. Well, this morning I was at Chek Jawa in Pulau Ubin…

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1692

And on my way out, I met this little piggy!

Eurasian Wild Pig - IMG_1708

A closer look and a final picture.

Just for your info, the Eurasian Wild Pig (Sus scrofa) is the largest native terrrestrial mammal in Singapore. And it was only quite recently that it has made a reappearance in the main island. There are not many photos of them as they prefer to stay in the forested area and the wise photographer backs out instead of staying around and risk a mauling. Do have a further read here:

Click to access 2010nis227-237.pdf