Singapore’s bird-singing corners

Bird-singing corners are the only places legal for old men to display their birds for all to see, and while this unique activity is slowly dwindling, there still remains a healthy number of mainly male hobbyist looking to keep their birds in tip-top condition.

A group gather to stare and listen to the birds of their friends and possibly competitors

A group gather to stare and listen to the birds of their friends and possibly competitors

Located mainly at void-decks or communal areas in neighbourhoods, bird-singing corners are easily distinguished by the tunes of prized birds such as the oriental white-eye or mata puteh. So prized are these birds that most cages that hang from their iron hooks are made of finely-carved ornate wooden furnishings, with some even having blue-jade bowls to contain water.

The history of these bird-singing corners however remains very much a mystery, and the many prideful uncles I spoke to often rattled on about irrelevant stuff before concluding that this hobby must have been either born from the days of catching birds in the kampong or something almost in the line of a sub-culture involving shorts, singlets, cigarettes and good old kopi.

A man hangs up his prized posession for all to see along Block 154 in Serangoon North Ave 1

A man hangs up his prized posession for all to see along Block 154 in Serangoon North Ave 1

The red whiskered bulbulas has a red whiskered patch below its eye, black pointed crest, greyish brown wings and white breast. When a female jambul is nearby, it would sing with an open tail and crest, and spread its wings. This bird was also depicted on the $5 Singapore currency note (bird series).

A Red whiskered bulbulas in its beautifully designed cage complete with blue-jade bowls of water for drinking

Interestingly, most of these birds are mainly domestically reared and are almost never seen in the wild. They value in the tens of thousands for prized ones and are judged in categories such as singing ability, liveliness, stamina and beauty.

It is probably safe to say that these mainly elderly man really like their birds a lot, and though the presence of bird-singing corners are dwindling, there are still a few strongholds in areas such as Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 Block 440 and Serangoon North Avenue 1 Block 154 where even the odd parrot is displayed albeit rather cruelly.

Ultimately however I feel that the presence of these bird-singing corners survive because of the communal spirit and friendly competition it provides amongst like minded individuals, there is also a general beauty in the way that some of the birds sing a tune, and honestly nothing beats the many puns you can have with old man looking at birds.IMG_1551

At Block 154 Serangoon North Avenue 1, parrots are the choice birds on display

At Block 154 Serangoon North Avenue 1, parrots are the choice birds on display

For some, it's all about having something to talk about with your friends

For some, it’s all about having something to talk about with your friends

IMG_1550

While other bird-singing corners are filled with chatters and chirps, others have not been as popular

While other bird-singing corners are filled with chatters and chirps, others have not been as popular

One comment

  1. Pingback: Bedok Reservoir Park – tourist in my own land

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: