The Exotic Village Birds of Changi!
Changi, A Heritage - Habitatnews

Cockatoos and parakeets

Photos by Alan Yeo

You may have heard some exotic screeching in Changi Viillage as you tucked into a meal after some hearty explorations in Ubin. Well, wonder no more, and soon you will have a better idea of what to look out for!

The cockatoo at Changi Village is the Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini). There are usually about 5 birds around the village Angsana trees along the main road and they actually nest in tree holes of a couple of those trees.

There are up to 20 Tanimbar Cockatoos in the Loyang/Changi area. Elsewhere in Singapore, there are a few populations of the Tanimbar Cockatoo including about 40 on Sentosa.

The other parrot commonly using those trees are the Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri), also known as teh Moutacheed Parakeet.

There are also about 3 Yellow-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua sulphurea) in the zone but they hardly visit the village.

Both cockatoos as well as the Red-breasted Parakeet are not natives of Singapore. The Tanimbar Cockatoo is native only to the Tanimbar Islands of Wallacea, and the Red-breasted Parakeet was originally restricted to Java and Bali. Both were introduced to Singapore 3-4 decades ago through the bird trade. All have established themselves in Singapore and have feral (i.e. tame birds that returned to the wild) breeding populations.

In Singapore, the Tanimbar Cockatoo feeds on the fruits of various particular the Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa). Although not native here, Singapore has become the most accessible place to see this species in the wild!

Subaraj Rajathurai
Natural History Birding Consultant & Guide


Additional notes about these exotics
The two species are also exotic in many other countries, possibly as a result of their presence in the bird trade. E.g. the Red-breasted Parakeet is reported from Tasmania and Florida!

Though not endagered, ironically this parakeet is now rare in Java,. The Tanimbar or Gofffin's Cockatoo, however, is still relatively common in the wilds of the Tanimbar Archipelago. It is, however, listed as Near-Threatened in the IUCN Red List.

Many species of parrots are depleted from their original forests by the bird trade and the Wild Parrot Trust supports a campaign to ban the import of wild caught parrots into the European Union.

Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini), Parrots and Parakeets theme, Grenadines, issued 1st March 2000. Source:Kjell Scharning , "Theme birds on stamps":

Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) on a stamp. Parrots theme, Thailand, issued 23rd January 2001. Source:Kjell Scharning , "Theme birds on stamps": Thailand

Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini)

Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)