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Nature Society chirps too soon on official bird

TOP PICK: In a 2002 poll, the crimson sunbird was chosen, as it is small and active, with brilliant red plumage.


    Nov 03, 2015

    Nature Society chirps too soon on official bird

    THE crimson sunbird may be going through an identity crisis of sorts.

    On Sunday, the Nature Society's bird group wrote in a blog post that this bird is now the "official national bird of Singapore". The red-breasted bird has been unofficially touted as Singapore's national bird since 2002, when it topped a poll on the topic organised by the Nature Society.

    But just when its status had seemingly been made official - along with that of the common rose butterfly - comes another twist.

    Anuj Jain, the chair of the society's butterfly and insect group, indicated to The Straits Times yesterday that the "official" status was not quite, well, official just yet.

    ST understands the Nature Society has contacted three government departments to get the bird and the butterfly official standing, but it is still not clear on who will rule on the matter.

    The Vanda Miss Joaquim has been Singapore's official national flower since 1981, approved by the then Ministry of Culture.

    Nature lovers got excited when, in a blog post titled "Crimson Sunbird is now the official National Bird of Singapore", the Nature Society said the selection had been made official and publicly announced by Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society, at a dinner held in conjunction with the 6th Asian Bird Fair on Saturday. The same post said the common rose, a butterfly, was also declared the national butterfly.

    The 2015 Asian Bird Fair, held here for the first time, was a two-day festival for bird watchers and nature lovers.

    But yesterday, the Nature Society backtracked a little. Mr Jain said Dr Lum had shared at a fellowship dinner that the society has "written in" to make the status of the common rose and the crimson sunbird official.

    They thought the fair, which was attended by more than 20 nature clubs, would be a good opportunity to make the announcement.

    However, it was not an official declaration, Dr Lum clarified yesterday.

    "(We hope) the information... will generate public interest in our natural heritage and, in that sense, it is meant for public discourse. The announcement is not, however, a decree and, in fact, reflects the wishes of people who came forward with these selections," he said.

    Alan OwYong, vice-chair of the Nature Society's bird group, said they wanted to announce it at the fair to "claim it first" before others from the region did. Besides Singapore, the crimson sunbird is found in most of South-east Asia. It also lives in India and southern China, Mr OwYong said.

    Voters in 2002 felt the crimson sunbird was a suitable symbol of Singapore as it is small and active, and because of the male bird's brilliant red plumage.

    Yesterday evening, the word "official" was dropped from the title of the Nature Society's blog post.