Pulau Ubin: Green broadbill bird declared ‘extinct’ decades ago is spotted in Singapore

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The bird, known for its highlighter-green plumage, was spotted on 27 June ( liewwk Nature)
The bird, known for its highlighter-green plumage, was spotted on 27 June ( liewwk Nature)

A rare sighting of the once “extinct” green broadbill bird in Singapore has created a stir among bird enthusiasts. The bird – known for its highlighter-green plumage – was spotted on the offshore isle of Pulau Ubin on 27 June, according to Lim Liang Jim, the group director for conservation at the National Parks Board in Singapore.

The bird was reported extinct in Singapore 70 years ago.

Local news reports said that on 27 June, birdwatcher Joyce Le Mesurier saw the rare green broadbill at Pulau Ubin, an island to the northeast of Singapore.

The green broadbill used to populate Pulau Ubin, according to the Singapore Birds Project. However, the bird was “hardly seen in Singapore” since 1941, according to the project.

Several local bird watchers thus described this sighting as a “lifter”: the very first time they had seen a bird species.

The Strait Times quoted Mr Lim as saying that even though the bird was declared extinct decades ago, it was spotted on a number of occasions, including on 11 April and seven years ago in 2014.

Experts said the green broadbill seen at Pulau Ubin is “likely a male, distinguishable by its deep green feathers and the broad tuft of fluffy feathers atop its beak”. The male also has a distinct black patch behind its eyes and broad black bars on its wings.

Females resemble males, but are duller in colour and have no black markings.

Although they can be found in many parts along the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo, their population has been rapidly declining, according to Singapore-based digital media outlet Mothership.

The Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee now considers the green broadbill as a “rare, non-breeding visitor”. They can be typically found in forests, but have also been spotted in wooded areas and gardens in Singapore.

It was unclear how long the bird had been at Pulau Ubin. Some suggested the green broadbill is likely a long-distance disperser and could be visiting from neighbouring countries.

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