Retiree becomes sunbird guardian
Retiree keeps watchful eye on nest of sunbirds found outside his flat
When he first found feathers, leaves and other debris in the corridor outside his Hougang flat on the 14th storey a month ago, he thought someone living above was being inconsiderate.
However, Mr Ong Ah Huat's annoyance soon turned to joy when he found a bird's nest hanging from the branch of a water jasmine plant he was growing.
The surprises did not stop there.
About a week later, the 80-year-old retiree noticed there were two little eggs hidden inside. The eggs hatched into tiny chicks about a week later.
He told The New Paper in Mandarin: "The birds are always chirping away nonstop. But I don't find it noisy, I think it's melodious."
Mr Ong lives in the flat with his 79-year-old wife and son and daughter, who are in their 40s. He has been helping his new feathery friends move into the neighbourhood and aiding them with their "renovation" efforts.
Mr Ong said he would sometimes pick up debris from the nest and glue them back, but only after making sure that the mother bird had left.
He also helped by tying metal wires and strings around the nest and branches to lend the structure additional support.
Mr Ong said: "The birds looked really pitiful... I was afraid the nest would fall or the wind would blow it away."
Mr Alan OwYong, 69, a former chairman of the Nature Society's Bird Group, said the birds are Olive-backed Sunbirds, the most common sunbird species in Singapore.
Mr OwYong said: "It is best to leave the nest and birds alone when nesting.
"Any external disturbance can be perceived by the nesting parent birds as threats. They may abandon the nest if they think the threat is real."
He added: "But in this case, it is fine to secure the nest if it's in danger of falling.
"(But) try to minimise close contact even though this sunbird can tolerate such disturbances."
Mr Ong, who often broke into laughter when speaking to TNP about his newfound friends, said the birds have given him a lot of joy.
He said: "I feel so happy and lucky that out of all places, they chose to build a nest on my potted plant."
"The birds looked really pitiful... I was afraid the nest would fall or the wind would blow it away."
- Mr Ong Ah Huat
Fun facts about the Olive-backed Sunbird
1 The bird was featured in the $20 notes of the Bird Series that were issued between 1976 and 1984 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
2 They are often mistaken for hummingbirds as they are both tiny in size and are seen collecting nectar using their long and slim beaks.
3 Both males and females feature bright yellow underparts and dull olive-brown backs. However, only males have unique metallic purple-black throats.
4 Sunbirds have adapted well to our urban environment and can sometimes nest along corridors of public flats, and even in the bedrooms of large houses.
5 Its close relative, the Crimson Sunbird, was picked last year by the Nature Society's Bird Group as the unofficial national bird of Singapore.