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A Unique Corner in Singapore: Kebun Baru Bird Singing Corner

Kebun Baru Bird Singing Club

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.

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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.

This corner is home to the Kebun Bahru Bird Singing club and their members often compete in bird singing competitions alongside their morning meets.

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When asked what type of bird is the best singer the answer was unanimous – the zebra dove.
Known locally as ‘merbok’ – their Malay name – the small grey bird with blue markings on its face and ‘zebra stripes’ around its neck looked like a small pigeon. I was assured it wasn’t.
These birds are prized for their singing ability and can cost upwards of S$1,500, with a record sale of one for S$96,000 happening just recently.

Their soft, staccato coos are surprisingly relaxing and I was informed that the deeper, slower voices are the most prized and sought after.

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Unfortunately, I noticed that most of the men tending to their birds were elderly gentlemen in their 50s, 60s and 70s which makes me wonder if this sight will soon be gone; much like at nearby Tiong Bahru, a famous bird singing corner in Singapore which now sits silently. I hope not.

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My driver explained to me that, for many, this is a stress release in an otherwise hectic city. It’s a place to sit back and relax with the birds voices filling the air and all thoughts of the daily bustle pushed from their minds. Or at least, they were pushed out of mine for just a short-time.

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 Now it’s over to you

What do you think of these bird singing corners?

Have you seen anything like this elsewhere in the world?

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Details

Kebun Baru Bird Singing Club
Block 159 on Ang Mo Kio Avenue, 5
(The western corner of Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West)

Website: www.kebunbarubirdsingingclub.weebly.com

Directions: Take the North-South MRT line towards Jurong East. Alight at either Ang Mo Kio or Yio Chu Kang. From here it’s about a 13-15 minute walk to the park. The park also has a large car park where taxis can drop you off or you can park your vehicle.
A map is available on the Bird Clubs website.

Notes: Owners will bring their birds out from as early as 5:45am every day though weekends are most popular. Most people will stay until the days heat sets in (usually around lunch time). Come around 10-10:30am for the busiest time of day.

Like any animal, birds will get nervous if you are unfamiliar and get too close so be cautious of space when approaching the low-hanging birds.

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I visited Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Robyn
    April 14, 2015 at 10:36 am

    what a beautiful story Nicole, I had not heard of this at all, what a wonderful way to see the ‘real Singapore’ A must add to a Singapore trip !

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 10, 2015 at 4:54 am

      It’s a really unique Singaporean experience. I highly recommend it when you visit Singapore next. 🙂

  • Reply
    De'Jav
    April 15, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Interesting might have to stop by as I’ll be in Singapore in 2 weekends. Surprising the cost of the bird needless to say.

  • Reply
    rebecca
    April 22, 2015 at 11:36 am

    This is the coolest looking thing ever! I wish I knew about it when I was in Singapore

    • Reply
      Nicole
      April 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Hopefully, you visit Singapore soon so you can enjoy the bird song, Rebecca. 🙂

  • Reply
    Simon
    July 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Nicole, visited Kebun Baru Bird Corner a fortnight ago while on holiday in Singapore. It was one of my favourite things we did (the worst being Orchard Rd). The most common singing bird is the plain looking Zebra Dove or Merbok and according to a local we spoke to they cost about $2,000SG each. However, the record price paid in Singapore is $96,000. Highly recommended activity. The Hawker Centre behind the park was well worth a visit too.

  • Reply
    City Guide: Singapore
    July 15, 2015 at 10:01 am

    […] relax away from the bustle, at any of the places listed in this article, but my favourite has to be Kebun Baru Bird Singing Corner, where locals will bring their prized possession to enjoy the sun and relax with […]

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