There are many bird corners in Singapore, such as Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Serangoon North Avenue 1 and Bukit Purmei, but probably none is as old as the one at Tiong Bahru.
Formerly known as Tiong Bahru Bird Arena, the bird corner was situated at one end of the demolished Block 53. It has been around for more than 50 years since the sixties, and was once a favourite gathering place for countless bird lovers from all around Singapore, and even from Malaysia and Thailand. When the old blocks were torn down in 2007 to build the current Link Hotel, the bird corner was preserved and renovated.
In the past, hundreds of bird-lovers would gather here on weekend mornings, admiring each others’ prized pets in their nicely decorated cages, chatting and sipping coffee at Ting Heng Kopitiam just beside the bird corner. In fact, the bird corner was a brilliant idea of the former owner of the kopitiam, who started it to attract more businesses.
Tiong Bahru bird corner even gained global fame in the late eighties when a Dutch reporter Guus van Bladel wrote about it, attracting attention from other reporters in United States, Holland and Japan. It prompted Dutch airline KLM to sponsor hooks, number tags and even bird-singing competitions.
Currently, the bird corner boasts more than 320 hooks with number tags, but no bird cages are found, not to mention the song birds. Despite spending $200,000 by the hotel in the renovation, the corner failed to regain its former glory. Gone were the enthusiastic owners with their songbirds such as jambu, sharma and mata puteh. Today, the corner is quiet and deserted, unnoticed even by the passers-by.
Let’s hope the half-a-century-old bird corner will be filled with the chirping and songs of birds again.
Published: 02 June 2011
Updated: 13 June 2013