In a recent census, the Javan myna was dubbed the most common bird in Singapore. Originally brought in as pets in the 1920s for rich Europeans, it proved to be resilient and one of the most invasive bird species in the island. Besides feeding on insects and fruit, these birds often feed from rubbish as well, or food left unattended in hawker centres.
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Common little birds
It is an indisputable fact that these little black birds are the most ubiquitous ones around in Singapore. I might even find something a little amiss if they vanish from our streets. And I have absolutely nothing against birds (or any other animal species) but I do think that seeing these Javan Myna picking on leftover food stuff at hawker centres is really... somewhat unhygienic.
Well, on the bright side, these Javan Myna birds help to prevent food wastage right? But jokes aside, while I do not personally mind these birds roaming around in our Singapore streets, I certainly would prefer if measures were adopted for them to steer clear of the hawker centres and consumption areas for obvious reasons.
I do hope those artificial crows hanging proudly on the ceilings of these hawker centres do help to keep these birds away from disturbing the diners.
Crow of the Day
Most people wake up to the cock crow of the day. Singaporeans on the other hand, wake up to the crow of Singapore.
With it's black body and it's always dishevelled feathers, I never fail to recognise this national bird - if we can even call it that. In fact, every other bird looks the same to me. There is nothing distinct about the black feathers, the yellow claws and the streaks of minute white in their wings - they seem to be clones that are being replicated.
All over Singapore, you see these birds attacking. Attacking the left over food on the hawker table or rummaging through the dustbins of void deck. Their black exterior really matches their hobbies and their instinct to survive - grey, just like the dirt that they sieve through.
A daily encounter
I encounter Javan mynas on a daily basis in the most unlikely of places, the toilet. These pesky birds simply love to perch on the window sills in the camp toilets, which is coincidentally, located next to the row of showers. As such, should I happen to take a shower in the afternoon, when the most number of mynas perch on the window sills, their chirping and knowing looks are akin to the 'tsktsk' a cheeky boy as they critically examined my bare bottom.
The population of Javan mynas have indeed propagated well in Singapore. From being relatively sparse to the sightings at simply every corner of a HDB estate and roads, I can simply say that the Singaporean climate are doing the birds a lot of good. In fact, the abundance of food (these cheeky brats love pinching food from sources such as dustbin, unattended food at hawker centres and even in cafeterias) and shelters (gaps in the stories of HDB flats make safe nests to rear the young) has ensured a dramatic increase in myna numbers over the past few years.
However, although it is really irritating to cohabit the island with these birds, they help keep the insect population in check. (C'mon do you think the authorities neglected to notice the dramatic increase) as well as provide a vestige of animal life even in city areas. Moreover, they've come to uniquely represent Singapore and should be treasured as such.
A Part of Singapore
I think the number of these birds have increased over the past few years. I definitely don't remember them being such a pest when I was younger!
Nowadays these birds are often seen at hawker centres, feeding on food left behind from those who eat there. Although the birds are rather pesky, I somehow associate them with Singapore - without these birds, Singapore wouldn't be Singapore.
When I travel overseas, sometimes there aren't any birds pecking away at leftover food or rubbish. While this is nice, it serves as a reminder that I am not home and it is a tiny detail that does make me feel a little homesick, especially during long trips.
Although our local birds can be annoying, we've got to be thankful that these birds are relatively small in size. When I went to Brisbane, I realised they also have many birds lurking about, just like Singapore - the only difference was that those birds are nearly a metre long and they often knock over trays and other cutlery when they feed off leftover food on tables. Not exactly a great sight!
While most of us have come to dislike our local birds, I feel like they play a part in making Singapore feel like home!