The elegant looking White-rumped Sharma was relatively common up to the 1950s when the local population was poached to near extinction (Lim,K.S. 1992) just like the Magpie Robin before it. They are prized for their melodious song among the pet bird trade and for their beautiful plumage. This former resident of the Central Catchment forests almost disappeared from the mainland until a single bird was heard singing at the Bukit Timah forest on 6 May 1983. This was our first record after many years. Small population existed in Palau Ubin and mostly at Palau Tekong where they were well protected due to the restricted access. We had our first breeding record in August 2002 where a recently fledged young was seen with a adult at MacRitchie Reservoir. We think that most of the birds sighted at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and parks were either escapees or released birds.
Because of its small numbers it is considered nationally threatened, even though there are signs of it making a comeback to our forests in the recent years. This particular photo was taken at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserves which is now undergoing repairs. You will be able to hear it singing at Chek Java at Palau Ubin and if lucky will be able to see them foraging in the dense undergrowth there. Let’s hope that we will be awed by their beautiful singing whenever we venture in the forests in the years to come.
Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009.