Saturday, July 23, 2016

A date with the birds @ Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

Jurong Bird Park, home to some of the largest free-flying aviaries is one of the most renowned bird sanctuaries in the world. A prime tourist attraction located in the Jurong region of Singapore, this Park has been drawing in flocks of visitors since 1971. Boasting a collection of more than 5,000 birds across 400 species, the exhibits within the Park mirror the natural environments of their feathered residents.



What the Park has to offer:
  • Aside from their colorful inhabitants, the Park features educational and interactive shows where visitors can catch the birds in action. 
  • There are plenty of opportunities to feed the birds and get professional photographs taken with them. 
  • The Park makes sincere efforts towards breeding and conservation and those interested can get in on the behind-the-scenes operations at the Breeding & Research Centre (BRC). 
  • There is also a lot of fun in store for the little people. The Birdz of Play is a bird-themed playground with wet and dry play zones and indoor games room. 
  • There are several cafes and refreshment stalls interspersed throughout the Park which caters to the weary and/or peckish tourist. 
  • Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the Park or else hop on board the guided trams to explore the attractions. There are lots of sign boards to help you navigate your way.

I have been to the Jurong Bird Park more number of times than I can recount but my last visit had been three years ago. The opportunity to revisit presented itself recently when I had family visiting from India. On a bright sunny, with the kids in tow (and sans the husband), we set off for a half day of bird gawking.



I don't have an insane number of photographs in this post (like I usually do) since I had two hyperactive toddlers to wrangle! I wasn't entirely satisfied with my captures but I did the best I could.

Here is a summary of the attractions in the Park and what you can expect.

Exhibits

Waterfall Aviary
The Waterfall Aviary is apparently the second largest walk-in aviary in the world, covering 2 hectares and housing more than 600 free-flying birds of more than 50 species. The man-made 30-metre high waterfall is a highlight of this cavernous and richly forested space.


A number of birds flutter freely around the surroundings and nature lovers can immerse themselves into the world of the pretty starlings, turacos, rollers and more. Visitors can enjoy close encounters with the birds during daily feeding sessions. Birdwatchers can look for the birds listed in the information guide at the entrance and photography enthusiasts will have a field day capturing the vivid subjects (cough *me* cough)



Dinosaur Descendants
This corner of the Park houses a section full of prehistoric-like flightless birds: ostriches, emus, rheas and one of the world's most dangerous bird, the cassowary.

My kids were thrilled with this section as they didn't have to squint to see the birds! 

The Lory Loft
About nine storeys high and covering 3,000 square metres, the Lory Loft is the world's largest walk-in flight aviary for the Australian natives - the lories and lorikeets. The ambience is similar to that of a rainforest valley in tropical Northern Australia.



Visitors can engage with the chirpy and friendly lories while feeding them with a specially concocted nectar mix. It is pretty exciting to watch them eat right out of your hands so get your cameras ready to capture the moment!


Penguin Coast
Located at the entrance of the bird park, this exhibit houses five species of penguins.

Penguin Coast is home to the residents of the Antarctic - Humboldt, rockhopper, macaroni and king penguins, which live in an indoor, climate-controlled den. The outdoor enclosure showcases African penguins, one of the few species that are adapted to the tropics.

World of Darkness
Asia's first nocturnal bird house features a system of reverse lighting, converting day to night and vice versa. On display are birds such as the night herons, fish owls, boobook owls and snowy owls. It is akin to a quiet nocturnal walk along a starlit jungle path, watching birds in their nocturnal surroundings and hearing them beckon each other.

Pelican Cove
Visitors catch a glimpse of all seven species of pelicans, including the endangered Dalmatian pelican. There is a boardwalk where visitors can stroll and observe the birds. Visitors can also see the pelicans at the world's first underwater viewing gallery for pelicans, where the birds scoop up fish at feeding time.



Flamingo Lake
The open concept Flamingo Lake is another must-see where hundreds of greater and lesser flamingos strut around one of the most picturesque sights in the Park.

This photograph doesn't do justice to this part of the Park. You need to see it for yourself to appreciate the placid beauty of it.



Swan Lake
One can stroll along the tranquil Swan Lake and admire the beauty of the graceful white and black swans.

The day we visited had seen some rain early in the morning so I'm not sure if that is the reason but the lake looked quite muddy and murky to me. This one did not make for a pretty picture.



Shows

High Flyers Show
This bird show has the world's largest number of performing birds in a single act. Besides highlighting the antics of talented birds like the mimicking cockatoos, this show is also a window onto the natural behaviour of birds like pelicans, flamingos and hornbills.

My toddlers sat through this entire show and that is saying something! 

Kings of the Skies 
Catch majestic eagles, hawks, owls and vultures in a spectacular display of agility and sharp-eyed accuracy right before your eyes at the Kings of the Skies Show at Hawk Arena.

Why you should visit?

The Jurong Bird Park is a paradise for bird lovers (not so much if you aren't into birds). This is a serene place away from the hustle and bustle of the city that seldom feels crowded. I wouldn't say that the location is exactly convenient to get to. From the nearest MRT station which is Boon Lay, you need to take bus No 194. If you having young children or the elderly accompanying you, driving by car or taking a cab would be your best bet. The Park is clean, green, well-maintained (for the most part) and the staff are welcoming and pleasant. I would advise you to go on a weekday and explore the Park by foot if you can. I would also suggest you to check out the timings of the shows so you can plan your viewing of the Park exhibits accordingly. Half a day is doable if you breeze through the exhibits but if you prefer a more relaxed pace, you can devote a full day to this Park. For me, the highlights of this destination are the Waterfall Aviary, Lori Loft and the High Flyers Show. On the downside, I felt that the elevation in certain places causes significant exertion while walking and the prices for the professional photographs were too high (but I guess, that is the case everywhere in Singapore). Sigh!

I'll be honest with you - this is not my favourite attraction in Singapore but it is definitely worth a one-time visit. My twins although only 20 months old, had a wonderful time despite the muggy weather and were delighted to see the birds (many of which they were able to recognize).

So, slather on a thick layer of sunblock, pack some water bottles and an umbrella and don't forget to bring your camera! You will find yourself captivated in an exotic paradise of memorable experiences and personal encounters with a host of feathered friends.

Jurong Bird Park
2 Jurong Hill
Singapore 628925
Tel: (65) 6269 3411
enquiry@wrs.com.sg

Opening Hours:
8.30am to 6.00pm daily
(Last ticket sale at 5.30pm)

Admission fee:
Adults: $29
Children (3-12 years): $19
Senior Citizen: $13


Information in this post obtained from:
Jurong Bird Park - Official Website
Jurong Bird Park Wikipedia page


Cheers,


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