JURONG BIRD PARK TEAMS UP WITH STUDENTS TO BUILD BIRDHOUSES TO ENCOURAGE NESTING

Singapore, 22 March 2011 – In conjunction with Earth Day 2011 and Jurong Bird Park’s 40th anniversary, the world’s largest bird park is working with students from Nanyang Polytechnic and Greenridge Primary School to build 40 bird houses. Some of the bird houses will be placed in the two schools, as well as in Jurong Bird Park’s African Waterfall Aviary and Southeast Asian Birds Aviary, and are a part of the Park’s ongoing efforts towards conservation and education.

These bird houses, also known as nest boxes, will advocate nesting of small birds such as love birds, starlings, magpie robins, fairy blue-birds, and white-rumped shamas at the aviaries. Such bird houses are presently provided in the aviaries to minimise aggression and competition for nesting sites when breeding season comes round. These bird houses have proven to be popular, with 80-90% of them utilised every season.

On 22 March, an avian keeper will teach and supervise students as they build and paint the bird houses at a day learning session. Held at the Bird Discovery Centre in the Bird Park, students will have the opportunity to learn more about the different species of birds, nature and habitats available at the park. Members of the public are also invited to visit the park a day after Earth Day on 23 April 2011, where the students will get a chance to engage visitors and assist them in building individual bird houses.

“Jurong Bird Park has evolved from a recreational park into a centre for bird life, with a strong focus on education and conservation. Education plays a pivotal role in the area of conservation and we believe it is crucial for all our guests to be aware of, and understand the importance of biodiversity. Through this, we hope this will inspire our guests, even the very young, to develop a passion for bird life,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

She added, “Bird houses are considered scientific tools when used properly since a great deal of learning can be done by observing birds in them. A good example is the bird house we designed for the Oriental pied hornbill project which led to a successful nationwide re-introduction programme. Bird houses also play an important role in the conservation of birds in heavily populated urban areas like Singapore where very few natural nesting places are found. Birds have different physical and behavioral needs, thus there is not one bird house that is suitable to all. The types of birds that will nest on a garden, yard or property are largely determined by the habitat. As such, a mixture of habitats may attract a greater number of birds back to Singapore. I hope more schools and organisations will come forward to build more bird houses to revive bird life in Singapore.”

As part of this project, Nanyang Polytechnic and Greenridge Primary School will be placing three and five bird houses respectively, on their school compound. These bird houses are targeted to provide a habitat for magpie robins to nest.

“Getting our students to be involved in the bird house project is a small but important step in bringing them closer to nature and especially in caring for our feathered friends. This project will certainly get the students to think about creative ways in making bird houses, and we look forward to their excitement when the schoolyard evolves from a simple garden to a sensorial environment where students can actually get closer to bird life,” said Mrs Chew Lai Mun, Principal, Greenridge Primary School.

Bird houses that will be placed in the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary are painted in earth tones such as khaki green, brown and black, with illustrations of rainforest elements. Although non¬toxic paint is used, bird houses are not painted for the African Waterfall Aviary due to the differences in behavioural characteristics of the birds. Birds in the African Waterfall Aviary have strong beaks, and there is the possibility of them nibbling and scraping off the paint, while their counterparts in the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary have soft bills, which minimise that possibility.

Greenridge Primary students hard at work assembling

Primary students adding colour to the assembled bird houses

A sea of happy faces