Continued from Birds n Buddies Show
We thought that three hours of visit would be enough to fully appreciate the bird park in Jurong (Singapore). Thinking that it will probably just be a little better than the mini-bird parks we saw in Malagos and Philippine Eagle Center in Davao many years ago. But the Birds n Buddies Show (BBS) signaled that we have just tasted one slice of the cake. The brochure-map of the park is helpful enough that it points out the not to be missed experiences. Albeit the sleepyheads (that’s us) came late, we were glad that we covered almost everything. Each species of birds and the activities were fascinating but aside from BBS, we had our “own must-experience”:
If you are short on time, try to defer your visit to the many captivating creatures that you will meet right from the entrance. You better catch up with them later. Go straight to Lory Loft, the world’s largest walk-in lory flight aviary. It houses at least a thousand free-flying colorful birds. Imagine a rainforest ambience at 3,000 square meters. Do not think twice about shelling out an extra SGD 3 to buy a special nectar mix to feed the lories. Once you have it, they will flock on you. This reminded us of that liberating experience when the monkeys of Kuala Selangor came to us the moment they ascertained that we have some edibles at hand. With the lories though, the experience was more wonderful since the birds are superficially colorful and more charming as they chirped.
At first glance, their being colorful seemed to be just a statement of fact. But under scrutiny, the uniqueness is glaring. If only it is possible to bombard you with (more) photos, I will do. Heehee. These are my favorites:
WORLD OF DARKNESS
Jurong Bird Park has the Asia’s first nocturnal bird house. I was soooo overhelmed to have seen 31 owls (of different species)! While there are narratives provided for each glass cage, I did not pay attention to read everything because I have been too busy observing them since I read that part that owls cannot roll their eyes because they are fixed in the eye sockets. To see what is behind them, they have the amazing ability to rotate their head 270 degrees and almost upside down. And that is true! We have seen it with our own eyes (although not as amazing as theirs, their eye sockets take almost 40% of the skull ).
The observation was so amazing that I kept telling it to some people as if I have just witnessed a miracle. I tried capturing those moments of rotating heads but I cannot keep up. It was almost spinning. I cannot take a decent video either since it is not allowed (and flash photography). But I did not miss the opportunity to snap the look of the “Great Gray Owl”.
Although the park is easy to navigate and the walk is enjoyable because of the clean trail, I suggest that you try the panorail. When we bought the park hopper ticket (discounted ticket for the visit to Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park) online a couple of weeks before the trip, buying the panorail ticket at a rate which is few dollars cheaper than when bought on actual day of visit was an option. But we ignored it, thinking that we will not mind exercising with few more steps. It was too late when we realized that it was almost necessary.
Even if our feet were not tired from walking in the previous days, I will still prefer to take it for the experience. From the main station (near the entrance), it will entail a lot of of walking to reach lory loft, aviary falls and other highlights of the park. Hence, while heading there we opted to enjoy the leisure ride (since it is fully airconditioned) while catching a panoramic view of the entire park. There are also birds and other sightings which are only possible if you will ride in it. The commentary which was customized for each area also added to the enjoyment. We noticed that the seats in the last cabin is foldable to accommodate wheelchairs. Lifts are available in each of the three stations (main, lory and waterfalls).
AFRICAN WATERFALL AVIARY AND AFRICAN WETLANDS
Another must-see is the African Waterfall Aviary. Like in Lory Loft, there are plenty of free-flying birds of different species. It follows that no one should miss to pose with the tallest manmade waterfall in the world. On the other hand, the wetlands try to give an African experience to the visitors with the presence of unique species of birds like the saddle-billed storks, shoebills and more.
BIRDS OF PREY SHOW
Swooping in aerial loops are eagles, hawks and falcons. While the UAE is highly associated with falconry, it was only during the Birds of Prey Show that that we have witnessed simulated hunts.
Like in the other bird shows, the participation from the audience complemented our overall fascination. Taking photos and videos became more enjoyable and challenging as the birds fly over your head (out of a thin air!), above the treetops and everywhere. The training done for the birds is impressive.
[She was the main host and I commend her for being so patient with the birds regardless of their size. I have imagined for the nth time the weight of the birds that she has to carry with grace on a daily basis. “I hope all of you already got a good shot of (insert here the name of the bird she held)”, she cheerfully exclaimed to all of us who were constantly fascinated.]
Since that day I have seen the movie Happy Feet, I always looked forward to seeing penguins (even the penguin dancers in Universal Studios). And I think that the feeling will forever be like that. There is something magnetic about their movement, them trying to find a balance, and the challenge to find the uniqueness from the other. Like the lories, the 200 penguins looked so identical at first. But they are actually of five species (Humboldt, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Fairy and King Penguin). Did you notice that they do “fly” when they are underwater?
I know people like me who have thought all their lives that they are not interested on something. (I did not know there is a lory fan in me). Hence, I was more than willing to skip a visit to this amazing bird park. It turned out that I now consider this as one of the highlights of my Singapore trip (two notch next to Singapore Zoo, coming in a separate post). Aside from those mentioned above, not to be missed are the pelican cove (catch the endangered Dalmatian species!), bee-eater, pelican, ostritch, and hornbill chitchats, and parrot show (I regret that we had to skip this due to lack of time; I am sure we could have been mesmerized further by the other multi-lingual singing parrots). Visiting the Jurong Bird Park was indeed a memorable experience.
Do not tease or feed the birds with your own food since they have a distinct diet. Do not pluck their feathers (you try to imagine your hair being pulled). Even outside the World of Darkness section (owls house), do not partake in flash photography as respect for the eyes of the birds. The park is smoke-free.
Jurong Bird Park is open daily from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Although I am tempted to write in here the information on how to get there, admission rates, and other details, I opine that it will be worthwhile to check it from their website. It is impressive and colorful just like the birds. 🙂