On a Sunday morning in Singapore’s Ang Mo Kio neighborhood, it’s likely that you’ll hear it before you see it: the gentle coos of hundreds of zebra doves, each one in its own ornate birdcage, 30 feet up in the air. Nearby, there’s the high-pitched chirrups of the white-rumped shamas, red-whiskered bulbuls, and Indian white-eyes—and the idle chit-chat and laughter of the songbirds’ owners. This is the Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club, nestled in the lush greenery of Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West, a suburban park.
On a typical weekend, songbird enthusiasts will come here from all over Singapore to train their birds. Songbirds are social animals, and they need the company of other members of their species to sing.
Historical sources suggest that hobby songbird keeping has been practiced in the region since the 19th century, possibly earlier. In 2018, songbird rearing was designated as Intangible Cultural Heritage by Singapore’s National Heritage Board.
Although smaller clubs can be found at corner coffee shops scattered around the city, the facility at Kebun Baru, which means “new garden” in Malay, is the largest of its kind in Singapore. Volunteers help maintain the physical structures and surrounding grounds, and organize monthly competitions that allow avid hobbyists to show off their prized birds. The facility is free, and use of the equipment for suspending birdcages is based on a first come, first served basis. There are coffee shops, food stalls, and a birdcage maker and repair shop nearby.
Know Before You Go
The best times to visit Kebun Baru are on weekend mornings, especially Sundays between 9:30 a.m. and noon. Located on the west edge of Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West, the club’s meeting place is easily accessible via public transit, including the MRT’s Mayflower Station on the Thomson-East Coast Line and several bus routes.