Singapore’s avifauna diversity is more than just mynas, pigeons and sparrows. In fact, our island nation is home to 402 species of birds. The Monetary Authority of Singapore issued a series of currency notes featuring nine charismatic birds between 1976 and 1984. The birds were chosen to symbolize the strength, independence and adaptability of Singapore as a young nation. Here are some facts about these birds that still exist in Singapore today.
#1 Black-naped Tern
This coastal bird is white and slender, with a forked tail and narrow wings. It was one of the bird species identified and named by the founder of Singapore Sir Stamford Raffles in 1822. Nationally endangered, it is now considered a rare bird to sight because its breeding sites are heavily disturbed by human activities. If you are lucky, you may spot one at Pulau Ubin, Changi Beach or Labrador Park. Not only was the Black-naped Tern featured on the old $1 currency note, it also appeared on local stamps and CashCards.
#2 Red-whiskered Bulbul
A song bird with distinct whistles, the Red-whiskered Bulbul is recognized by its black crest and red cheek and undertail patches. Usually seen in pairs, the bulbul was introduced to Singapore during the 1910s as a result of escaped caged birds. It has been sighted in various parks and gardens in Singapore, but is less common than its cousin the Yellow-vented Bulbul. The bird has been featured on the old Singapore $5 notes and the 1978 postage stamp series “Singing Birds”.
#3 White-collared Kingfisher
If you hear a raucous call that is distinct like a laughter or see a flash of blue dart past you, chances are that a White-collared Kingfisher is in the vicinity. This bird is fairly common in parks, gardens and coastal areas. Wherever there are water bodies, you may chance upon one on a rock or tree branch nearby. It feasts on not just fish, but also crustaceans, insects, lizards, and even frogs. The kingfisher was featured on the old Singapore $10 notes, CashCards, as well as five local stamp series.
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