Singaporeans were wowed yesterday by a rare sighting of large coordinated flocks of Asian openbills over the island.
The mass of storks, moving in a flock pattern called murmuration, were spotted over many areas including Choa Chu Kang and the Jurong Lake Gardens in the west, as well as over Pasir Ris and Changi in the east, with several reports the birds were in action at around 6pm.
“Is that Bat or Crow? Happening in Singapore, Choa Chu Kang Area today … Does it mean something is going to happen? What a phenomenon sight (sic),” a Vincent Chew posted to Facebook at nearly 9pm.
Chew’s video, along with others posted online, showed the massive flock of birds swirling in the air, creating hypnotic and almost apocalyptic scenes that scared a few viewers.
“Looks so scary,” Facebook user Clary Clary responded to Chew’s clip, which has been shared 1,400 times.
Another birdwatcher was able to catch a closer view of the birds from her high-rise apartment.
“Migratory birds flying really close to the flats (I’m staying at 12th storey),” Facebook user Jia Hwee Lim wrote in a post to the Nature Society group.
Nature enthusiasts from the group have identified the birds as the Asian openbills, a large wading stork, and noted that now is their migration season.
The storks are found mainly in India and Southeast Asia, inhabiting wetlands including shallow marshes, flooded agricultural fields, and lakes, according to eBird.
They are known to migrate across Southeast Asia but are rarely seen over Singapore. Experts have attributed their appearance to climate change, according to a recent Straits Times report.
Nature Society member Veronica Foo reportedly saw more than 100 of them on Dec. 7 over the Kranji marshes, said to be unusual as the birds are usually found foraging in rice fields in countries such as Thailand.