> Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Aves
seen? These wild 'chickens' are commonly encountered on
Pulau Ubin. They are now also seen in some of our coastal parks such
as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pasir Ris Park. The
Red junglefowl is the wild ancestor of domesticated chickens.
Features: The colourful male (about 80cm) has white ear
patches and a white puff at the base of his tail. The drab female
(about 40cm) has dull brown streaky plumage. She also has white ear
patches and lacks a comb or wattles on her head. Their feet are lead-grey.
The Red junglefowl cockerel's call sounds just like his domesticated
cousin but his crowing is said to be more high-pitched and ends more
If alarmed, these shy birds can fly quite a distance, for example
to cross rivers, and quite high, spiralling upwards to the tree tops.
In fact, they roost in trees. They prefer forest edges, but elsewhere,
they are found in habitats ranging from mangroves to high mountain
Junglefowl food: Like their cousins
the domesticated chickens, Red jungelfowl forage on the ground for
seeds, fruits and insects. They use their feet to scratch away leaf
litter and peck at tit bits hidden underneath. To thrive, these birds
need good ground-level cover to hide and feed in. Some have been observed
feeding on insects flushed out by the movements of larger animals.
Jawa, large groups of 20 or more have been seen emerging from the
coastal forest to forage on the beach with the outgoing tide. However,
they are extremely shy and will flee into the forest at the slightest
sign of danger.
chicks: Red junglefowl cockerels are territorial and maintain
a harem of 3-5 females. Including juveniles, the group can be as many
as 20. The male performs courtship rituals to attract a female. She
builds a nest by scraping out a hollow on the ground in a dense thicket
of vegetation and lays 5-6 beige to pale reddish brown eggs. She incubates
the eggs alone. These hatch in about three weeks. The downy buff-coloured
chicks can run around and follow their mother in a few hours. She
keeps them close to cover until they are well grown. They fledge in
about 12 days.
Ris Park, Sep 09
Ris Park, Sep 09
uses: Red junglefowl are believed to have been domesticated
thousands of years ago. It is said that they were first domesticated
for cockfighting, later for religious ceremonies and only much later
as food. Some chickens were bred for their feathers, which were used
in ceremonial costumes. Like other domesticated animals, there are
now many different breeds of chickens for various purposes from laying
eggs, providing meat or just for their sheer beauty.
Status and threats: The Red junglefowl
is listed as 'Endangered' in the Red List of threatened animals of
Singapore. They are not only affected by habitat loss but also by
poaching and interbreeding with domesticated chickens. They are found
from India to Southern China, throughout Southeast Asia to the Philippines
G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore
Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
Morten & Allan Jeyarajasingam, 1999. Birds
: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and
Sun Tree Publishing Limited, Singapore. 258 pp.
Morten, 1998. Birds
of South-East Asia: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Thailand,
Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
New Holland Publishers. 112 pp.
Morten, 2000. Tropical
Birds of Malaysia and Singapore.
Periplus Editions, Hong Kong. 64 pp.
- Lim, Kim
Seng and Dana Gardner, 1997. An
Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore.
Sun Tree Publishing Limited, Singapore. 226 pp.
G. W. H. & Chew Yen Fook, 1995. A
Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore
New Holland Publishers, UK. 144 pp.
- Madoc, G.
C., 1947 (1992 4th ed). An
Introduction to Malayan Birds.
The Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 227 pp.
John A. S. & Chasen, F. N., 1927 (1990 ed.). Birds
of Singapore and South-east Asia.
Tynron Press, Scotland. 247 pp.