Sunday, April 07, 2013

Parrots (Phylum Chordata: Order Psittaciformes) of Singapore

Parrots (phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, superclass Tetrapoda, class Aves, order Psittaciformes) are birds with short, rounded, hooked beaks and relatively large heads. They are mostly gregarious and make loud screeching calls. Many of them have become popular in the pet trade due to their colourful feathers, their ability to mimic human speech and other sounds, and their intelligence (which allows them to be easily trained to perform tricks).

Parrots feed mostly on seeds and fruits, though they may sometimes feed on flowers, pollen, nectar and even insects. Their hooked beaks allow them to easily peel away fruit skins and seed coats, and they have muscular and flexible tongues to help handle and retrieve what they want to eat. Parrots generally nest in tree holes.

Many of the parrots seen in Singapore are introduced species, though native species can also be seen sometimes. Here are some of the parrots that can be found in Singapore.

Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (Loriculus galgulus)
The Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (Loriculus galgulus) is an uncommon resident bird with a mostly bright green plumage, blue crown, red throat, yellow upper back, and red rump. This small parrot (about 13cm) is often hard to spot as it camouflages very well with the surround leaves. It is called a "hanging parrot" because it often hangs upside down on branches when it is feeding. Its diet includes fruits, seeds, flowers and nectar. Small flocks or individuals can sometimes be seen in forests, parks and gardens.

Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda)
The Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) is a common resident bird that can be seen forests, wooded areas, parks and plantations. The adult has a mostly green plumage, with a pink face and a long blue tail. The male has a red upper mandible, while the female has a black one. The above photo also features a male on the right, and a juvenile on the left with duller colours. The length of adult birds reaches about 40cm. This species is often encountered in flocks. It feeds on fruits, seeds and flowers.

Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)
The Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) is a common introduced species which can be seen in areas with tall trees. It can be differentiated from the other parakeets found in Singapore by its pink breast. This species grows to about 35cm long, and feeds on fruits, flowers, leaves, buds, seeds and nectar.

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
The Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) is an uncommon introduced bird that can be found in wooded areas, forest edges and parks. It is mostly green with a dark ring around its neck. The above photo features a female with a faint, dark green neck ring (the male has a distinct black ring). This parrot gets to about 40cm long, and feeds on fruits, seeds, flower buds and shoots.

Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini)
The Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini), also known as the Tanimbar Corella or Goffin's Cockatoo, is a common introduced species that has established itself well in wooded areas and open habitats with tall trees. It has a white plumage except for a pinkish patch between its eyes and beak. The adult is about 30cm long. It feeds on fruits and seeds.

  • Briffett, C. 1986. A guide to the common birds of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Robson, C. 2010. New Holland field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: New Holland Publishers. 304 pp.
  • Singapore birds. Retrieved Mar 25, 2013,
  • Sreedharan, S. 2010. The birds of Singapore. Retrieved Apr 6, 2013,
  • Strange, M. 2000. Photographic guide to the birds of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Periplus. 398 pp.

No comments: