Monday 7 November 2011

Birds ruffle residents' feathers

Agencies looking into ways to curb noisy flock that leaves messy droppings in Hougang
By Judith Tan, The Straits Times, 6 Nov 2011

Hougang resident Daniel Heng gets a rude awakening at dawn every day.

A large flock of birds, believed to be mynahs, uses the trees near his flat at Block 362, as a transit point, creating a ruckus.

'They come back every evening around 6.45pm to 7.30pm. I feel sorry for my kids, whose bedrooms directly face the tree,' he said.

Residents at two other blocks along the Hougang stretch of Upper Serangoon Road - Blocks 701 and 302 - are also affected.

Housewife Linda Lim, who lives in Block 701, said that cars parked there also 'get decorated with bird droppings'.

'It is not only unsightly but it also damages the cars' paintwork,' she added.

A Sunday Times team, on a recent weekend visit there, found parts of the walkways dotted with bird droppings. Incessant squawking from the birds was also heard for almost 45 minutes.

Mr Heng said trucks passing by at night would set off a new round of squawking, waking residents up.

During several sharing sessions, residents complained to their Member of Parliament, Mr Yaw Shin Leong.

Understanding that birds cannot be totally eliminated in an urban environment like Singapore, Mr Yaw suggested to the National Parks Board (NParks) to consider hanging old CDs on fishing lines from the tree branches.

'It is cost effective and a feasible strategy to scare away the birds,' he wrote in his letter, posted on the Facebook page of his ward.

Mr Yaw said: 'According to a pest control professional, the prism effect and random movement of the CDs will scare many birds away.'

An Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) spokesman said crows, pigeons and mynahs are 'pest birds' that are not protected under the Wild Animals and Birds Act and 'may be culled to control their populations and safeguard environment health'.

But Mr Yaw told The Sunday Times that he preferred a more humane method to bird traps and the use of poison.

Some residents suggested adopting a similar plan to that mooted for Orchard Road - using trained hawks to control the mynah and starling numbers.

An AVA spokesman said easy food availability and nesting opportunities meant the birds would congregate at such places in numbers.

In March and July, AVA received feedback related to pigeon nuisance around Blocks 701, 302 and 362. It has worked with other agencies on a situation.

AVA's spokesman said people who faced bird nuisance may use repellents, and remove food sources and nesting opportunities, or engage pest control services.

National Environment Agency (NEA) records showed two complaints in the last two years - from one resident on the mynah nuisance from the roadside trees in front of Block 362 Hougang Avenue 5.

Its spokesman said the pavements are cleaned regularly using high-pressure spray jets to wash away the bird droppings.

NParks' spokesman said it has replied to Mr Yaw and informed him that it will be consulting AVA and NEA on the feasibility of his suggestion.

NEA's spokesman felt that, pragmatically, there was no overnight solution for bird nuisance problems.

'NEA, AVA and NParks will do what is practically possible to reduce the nuisance posed to some residents. Scaring away the birds is not a sustainable solution and will only shift the problem elsewhere.'


The National Environment Agency (NEA) receives feedback on bird nuisance from the public islandwide.

Its spokesman said there is no fixed pattern as to where birds roost and forage for food but, based on the statistics, many came from Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Eunos Crescent, Yishun Ring Road and Bedok Reservoir Road:

Total number of feedback:

2008 - 3,284

2009 - 3,585

2010 - 3,024

2011 (Jan 1 to Oct 31) - 1,977

The top three locations in the past four years:


Yishun Ring Road - 51

Bedok Reservoir Road - 49

Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 - 47


Eunos Crescent -70

Yishun Ring Road - 56

Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 - 49


Yishun Ring Road - 67

Bedok Reservoir Road - 51

Eunos Crescent - 47

2011 (Jan 1 - Oct 31):

Bishan Street 13 - 39

Yishun Ring Road - 31

Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 - 29

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