Don’t feed the birds: Authorities working together to tackle pigeon problem in Sengkang, Singapore

SINGAPORE — Pigeons have invaded yet another neighbourhood here, sullying white walls of Housing Board blocks with their droppings, to the ire of residents in Sengkang.

On Sunday (Nov 5), Chinese-language news outlet Shin Min Daily News reported that residents living at Jalan Kayu blocks 446B, 447A and 447B have had to endure large flocks of pigeons roosting, chirping and soiling their walls, air-conditioner compressors and laundry racks.

Residents told the daily newspaper that the noise and filth from the urban birds, which are usually considered pests, have become an issue in recent years, with some attributing the problem to bird feeders in the area.

Responding to queries, an Ang Mo Kio Town Council spokeswoman said on Monday that the town council is aware of bird feeding activities in the estate and their impact on the environment and health of residents there.

“We have been closely monitoring the situation. During our inspections, we are actively reaching out to our residents and have put up posters in the lift cars to educate them about the negative impact of bird feeding,” she said, without elaborating on when the town council was first alerted to the issue.

The town council has also alerted the National Parks Board (NParks) on complaints about bird feeding and is working closely with the statutory board to take “active enforcement action”.

Feeding pigeons is illegal and offenders can be fined up to S$10,000.

Some residents have taken the task of warding off pigeons into their own hands.

A 42-year-old housewife told Shin Min that she spent about $300 around five months ago to install netting to prevent the pigeons from entering her home.

The resident said she was worried that the birds would affect her family’s health as their air conditioner is always switched on because of her husband, who wears an oxygen mask and suffers from a serious lung disease.

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Previously, birds would fly into her home and excrete on the floor, she added.

A 35-year-old human resources manager, who wanted to be known only as Hong, told Shin Min that he had installed many discs on his laundry rack to scare the birds, but this has been met with little success.

The spokeswoman said the town council is working closely with the National Environment Agency (NEA) to educate residents about high-rise littering, which can occur as a result of residents feeding the birds.

Those who litter can be fined up to $2,000 for a first conviction, $4,000 for a second conviction, and $10,000 for the third and subsequent convictions. The court may also impose a Corrective Work Order, requiring offenders to clean public areas for up to 12 hours.

The spokeswoman said the town council will forward feedback on such irresponsible acts that endanger public safety and hygiene to the NEA for action.

Rock pigeons are not native to Singapore, and are considered an invasive species that competes with local breeds for resources.

A study conducted in Singapore during the circuit breaker in 2020 found that the population of pigeons islandwide would decline eventually by limiting food resources available to them.

While people may feed the birds out of kindness, a researcher on the study said findings showed that when there were fewer human food sources, the birds went elsewhere to look for food and did not starve.

From June 1, 2020, to June 28, 2023, NParks took enforcement actions in relation to more than 200 cases of pigeon feeding. These included issuing warnings and composition fines.

Pigeons have previously triggered concerns about hygiene in housing estates in areas like Yishun and Sembawang.

The board has also been working with town councils and other agencies to reduce food sources for pigeons, such as by tackling high-rise littering and managing waste at food establishments and bin centres.

ALSO READ: ‘It’s sad and inhumane’: Yishun resident on dead pigeons spotted in estate

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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