Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Bird-Singing Corner - Uniquely Singapore

Singapore’s bird-singing corners
A group gather to stare and listen to the birds of their friends and possibly competitors

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.

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.

read more

Bird Singing Corners in Singapore

A little bird told me that Tiong Bahru is the place, but not sure exactly where or when. Have also heard vague mumblings about Petain Rd and Chinatown. 

Do you know anywhere it goes on daily - can't always book a Sunday into my stopover! (But do have one in March).

No escaping the dreaded early start here I fear! Many thanks from me and Henry (canary).

read more

Tiong Bahru Bird Corner
Let’s hope the half-a-century-old bird corner will be filled with the chirping and songs of birds again

There are many bird corners in Singapore, such as Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Serangoon North Avenue 1 and Bukit Purmei, but probably none is as old as the one at Tiong Bahru.


Formerly known as Tiong Bahru Bird Arena, the bird corner was situated at one end of the demolished Block 53. It has been around for more than 50 years since the sixties, and was once a favourite gathering place for countless bird lovers from all around Singapore, and even from Malaysia and Thailand. When the old blocks were torn down in 2007 to build the current Link Hotel, the bird corner was preserved and renovated.

In the past, hundreds of bird-lovers would gather here on weekend mornings, admiring each others’ prized pets in their nicely decorated cages, chatting and sipping coffee at Ting Heng Kopitiam just beside the bird corner. In fact, the bird corner was a brilliant idea of the former owner of the kopitiam, who started it to attract more businesses.

read more

Active Bird Singing Corners near Tiong Bahru

Anybody know which Bird Singing corners are closest to Tiong Bahru, and active in the morning?

I’m doing a documentary on Tiong Bahru, and one of the things we’re featuring in the programme is that the once-active bird singing corner there is now devoid of people, ever since the Link hotel took over the HDB block next to it.


So I’m hoping to shoot an existing active singing corner to show what Tiong Bahru’s bird corner was once like, which is a metal ceiling rail next to a void deck coffee shop. This pic is the old Tiong Bahru Bird Corner.

read more

BIRD-SINGING CORNERS

There’s more to this concrete city than meets the eye. For instance, did you know that there are dozens of special aviaries hidden around the island? Where can you find them? In the heartlands! ‘Bird-singing corners’ are little concrete nooks with towering poles, sometimes set in unsheltered grounds or at void decks. Old retirees are a common sight here - coming round at the crack of dawn and gathering for a chat and coffee as their feathered friends sing and bask in the sun.

The more serious hobbyists will engage in friendly competition among each other, revelling in their love for the sport. Birds like the oriental white-eye are prized for their singing ability and if you can’t appreciate the tunes, you’d be sure to admire the ornate wooden cages that house them. Like many things in the heartlands, there’s an undeniable kampong spirit in these corners that make them so iconic.

Prized birds are valued at tens of thousands of dollars, and are judged in categories such as singing ability, liveliness, stamina and beauty. While bird-singing corners are dwindling, strongholds remain in Ang Mo Kio and Serangoon North.

read more

Bird Singing Competition
There are many bird corners in Singapore, such as Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Serangoon North Avenue 1 and Bukit Purmei, but probably none is as old as the one at Tiong Bahru

Formerly known as Tiong Bahru Bird Arena, the bird corner was situated at one end of the demolished Block 53. It has been around for more than 50 years since the sixties, and was once a favourite gathering place for countless bird lovers from all around Singapore, and even from Malaysia and Thailand. When the old blocks were torn down in 2007 to build the current Link Hotel, the bird corner was preserved and renovated.

In the past, hundreds of bird-lovers would gather here on weekend mornings, admiring each others’ prized pets in their nicely decorated cages, chatting and sipping coffee at Ting Heng Kopitiam just beside the bird corner. In fact, the bird corner was a brilliant idea of the former owner of the kopitiam, who started it to attract more businesses. Tiong Bahru bird corner even gained global fame in the late eighties when a Dutch reporter Guus van Bladel wrote about it, attracting attention from other reporters in United States, Holland and Japan. It prompted Dutch airline KLM to sponsor hooks, number tags and even bird-singing competitions.

Currently, the bird corner boasts more than 320 hooks with number tags, but no bird cages are found, not to mention the song birds. Despite spending $200,000 by the hotel in the renovation, the corner failed to regain its former glory. Gone were the enthusiastic owners with their songbirds such as jambu, sharma and mata puteh. Today, the corner is quiet and deserted, unnoticed even by the passers-by. Let’s hope the half-a-century-old bird corner will be filled with the chirping and songs of birds again.

read more

Kebun Baru Bird-singing Club
A unique but welcoming tagline

The Kebun Baru Bird-singing Club facility is Singapore’s largest and possibly oldest public area where bird-collecting hobbyists from all across the island and even abroad come to listen and admire these unique prized possessions.

Unlike the void deck bird corners, the Bird-singing club, which is located at the foot of Ang Mo Kio Garden West, contains 426 twenty-foot poles where birds such as the merboks (a bird with greyish face and pinkish body) are hoisted up by a simple pulley system for some much needed sunshine as well as to encourage their beautiful singing whilst in the presence of their fellow species.

Although the exact construction date of the Bird-singing facility is not known, many of the mostly male bird-hobbyist do consider it be the oldest, with one retiree even saying it may have gone as far back to the 1950s.

read more

Kebun Baru Bird Singing Corner

It was a perfect Singapore morning. Blue skies dotted with puffs of cloud, warm weather but not warm enough to deter people from venturing outside (that comes later in the day in Singapore), and the sound of birds singing. Yes, the sounds of dozens of birds singing echoed around the park on the edge of Ang Mo Kio Town Garden and a housing block.

While there are dozens of places to experience nature in Singapore to visit a bird singing corner, like Kebun Baru Bird Corner, is a treasured weekly ritual for avian lovers.

These men’s most prized possession is their bird. Housed in ornately decorated cages – some hand carved from rosewood and sporting jade food bowls – with colourful draped covers, the ritual is to bring their pet to the corner to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air as they are hoisted up a 20 foot pole while the men drink coffee, play chess or checkers and chat.

read more

One Sunday at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

Having lived here for the better part of the past 10 years, I’ve always known that the void deck at my block was nowhere close to being empty of life. In fact, every Sunday morning, many folks – mostly senior gentlemen – would gather at a designated area of said void deck with their lively, singing pets.

Birds. Birds of all kinds. They were all in cages, but they were always singing. Perhaps of happiness, maybe to mate, possibly cries of escape. I don’t speak bird so I shan’t dwell too much on this.

So I was recently jolted by a couple of like-minded individuals to the fact that I hadn’t once taken a shot of anywhere in my neighbourhood, and especially of this weekly affair. Off I went and decided to go on a little “adventure” which led me into the nearby wet market that was always bustling with life.

read more

"Void Deck" Birds

It is a view at the void deck of Blk 817 Jurong West Ave 5 crowded with countless number of bird cages come and go as morning wee hours passed by.

The birds are rhyming here and there while uncles are chatting all sorts of gossips and their grand-children are playing and running around the place care-freely. It seems like everyone is having quality time together at a place filled with sense of companionship and unification.

Featured birds: Merbok, Jambul, Matah Puteh, Sharma, Parrot

read more

“Void Deck Bird Park”

After several exhausting hours running about and climbing around, I would still not be done for the day. There was one last place for me to visit.

Several HDB blocks away was a void deck with a bird-singing corner, which I called the “Void Deck Bird Park”. It was a place where bird owners from near and far would gather with their prized pets, and listen to the birdsongs. You could hear the birds chirping, even from a distance, and it’s sure to make you think you are in an aviary.

Sometimes, the birdsongs were melodious and beautiful, like nature’s own majestic orchestra when they were in sync; but when they were not in harmony, they sounded like an ill-prepared school band at practice.

read more

A Unique Corner in Singapore