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If you are in search of places to visit in Singapore, you have probably heard of its wildlife attractions like the Zoo and the Night Safari, right? But there’s also another wildlife attraction worth checking out in the western part of Singapore called Jurong Bird Park. It is said to be Asia’s largest bird park. Maliciously replicating their natural habitats the Jurong Bird Park is home to more than 5,000 birds representing 400 different species. I personally love this vast place brimming with amazing feathery creatures from virtually every part of the globe.
Let me share with my personal experiences and show you some of what you will see here should you ever visit JBP yourself. I will present the birds here in the order I saw them.
There are many colorful birds at the entrance strategically positioned for a perfect photo op. You can have your pictures taken by the friendly and readily available staff. Of course, you need to pay before you can claim your souvenir shots.
I’ve made my first stop at Penguin Coast – this is the latest attraction in the park and I am very much excited to see the penguins because this is something that we don’t normally see in a tropical country like the Philippines. I was enticed by the Portuguese Galleon facade of this man-made habitat. The Penguin Coast is an exhibit of 5 different species – the Humboldt, rockhopper, macaroni and king penguins and the African penguins. All the penguins except the African had been put in a special temperature-controlled aquarium that mimics their natural habitat conditions.
Outside of the Galleon ship was a pool dedicated for African penguins. This penguin is one of the few species that are adapted to the tropics and they much enjoyed the warm weather along with the Cape Shelduck or South African Shelduck and Gulls.
Carrying a bucketful of fishes, the caretaker wearing a thick blue jacket scoops a few fishes and fed the African Penguins first. Last were the Emperor Penguins that didn’t need to swim for their food. They just stood there proudly while the caretaker hand-fed them. Lazy, lazy penguins… or just simply living up to their names. While I watched them, those Emperors of the Antarctic region – the tallest and heaviest of all penguins – always remained aloof and dignified among all their “lesser” cousins whose behavior was quite different. And, when they moved, it was really amazing to see them torpedo through the water and then nimbly and effortlessly hurdle themselves out onto a patch of ice. They seemed perfectly adapted to life in captivity, even spoiled by the caretakers. After all, there was no need to hunt for the meal. The meal always came to them.
Then, I spotted one particular king penguin lying flat on its belly! It remained in that position for a long time! Ahh! That’s so cute! I had no idea what it was doing, but it was so amusing and adorable! Was it tired? Sick? Having the Monday blues? But later I’ve learned that this is a common behavior among penguins. They typically slide down a slope and land on their cute belly! There’s even a term for this, called “tobogganing”.
The cold temperature inside was a temporary relief from the heat of the sun outside. This area is attracting so many visitors! I probably got in together with 2 or 3 group tours. But staying long inside was not a good idea, Awww! Too cold.
Not far from the Penguin Coast, are the vibrant and attractive Caribbean Flamingos. This will surely get the attention of anyone who will pass by, I mean who wouldn’t be mesmerized by flamingos? These unique birds are easy to spot with three colors on their bills – gray at the base, pink in the middle and black at the tip. Both males and females have bright pink plumage with splashes of red on their wings. One interesting fact that I’ve learned was that their brilliant colors are derived from their diet of crustaceans, and without this dietary supplement, their colors may actually fade. Also, all of them were in a chorus of honking when they felt threatened.
On the other end of the scale, are the smallest in the flamingo family at a height of 80 to 90cm. Their necks are shorter and thicker, and their bills are long and dark. Because of their size, they hold the record for the longest leg relative to the length of their body. Chopstick looking legs!
High Flyers show
After being mesmerized by the adorable flamingos I went to see the High Flyers show. The airy and open-type space was perfect for general viewing of bird tricks and audience participation. I settled on the most elevated part of the amphitheater to get a good view of the show. The birds featured in this show were exceptionally good-looking ones such as the brightly-colored Scarlett Macaw, pink-feathered Greater Flamingo, and sunset-colored beak Great-pied Hornbill to name a few.
Photo credit: birdpark.com.sg
The Yellow-napped Amazon was the star of the show – hearing this bird speak and sing in 3 different languages was hilarious! He surely can pronounce the words properly. Well, judging from his English Happy Birthday song which was the only one I understood. The audience applauded with smiles all around after every song. The most anticipated part of the show was the finale. All the birds fly one by one to the center and the Pelicans and Flamingos go on parade — all those avian hues in motion made quite a spectacle.
African Waterfall Aviary
The Waterfall Aviary adventure is an immersive experience right from the start. At the welcome arch, life-size warriors in full regalia and a recreated hut adorned with artifacts. This will lead you to the welcome foyer which marks the beginning of your journey. At 13 storeys high and 2 hectares wide, the Waterfall Aviary is an enigmatic realm of over 600 free-flying birds from over 50 species. The aviary is named after the 30-metre (98 ft) tall Jurong Falls, one of the world’s tallest man-made waterfalls.
As I walk through the rainforest paths and along the mangrove swamps, I could hear the birds chirping among the trees and some feed at their feeding posts – it’s like music to my ear. There’s just so many of them, but each has its own unique features. Among the species that you can see here are the iridescent Starlings, the Turacos, Rollers, Common Hoopoe, Parrots, Yellow-billed Stork as well as the elusive Crested Guinea Fowls.
What I like most about this place is the suspension bridge with a 30-metre high waterfall as the backdrop. The sound of cascading waters adds to the enchanting atmosphere as I soak in the verdant views below. It is worth the short hike up to the Hut to catch a picturesque view of the falls, and some of the birds that perch on the highest branches. It really feels great to be one with nature. So pristine and very laid back.
Because I wanted to see the feeding of the ostrich, I hurriedly boarded the tram headed for the Dinosaur Descendants area. And in less than two minutes I was there. The timing was perfect I got a chance to feed a banana to an ostrich! Hehehe – who said bananas are only for monkeys?
Have you ever wonder why an ostrich can’t fly whereas the pre-historic Peteinosaurus could? Actually, the answer is pretty obvious, apart from their big size and weight, the wings of the ostriches are not strong enough. Thus, these birds cannot fly, yet it runs faster than all its avian cousins. It also has biggest egg and biggest eyeballs among the birds! Well, I guess it is better that they can’t fly, imagine an ostrich flying overhead – that would be scary!
While musing over this peculiar bird, one ostrich suddenly jet-streamed a bucketful of pee, then pooped. The smell was awful. And, as I covered my nose in disgust, the ostrich turned towards me bobbing it’s head up and down as if giggling inwardly at my indignation. It made me laugh. Haha.
Another interesting species of dino-bird here is the Cassowary. At first sight, the blue-headed Double-Wattled Cassowary seems like a cross between an ostrich and a turkey – a unique bird indeed.
Southeast Asian Birds Aviary
This part of the aviary is the area where you can view the largest collection of Southeast Asian birds, in fact, it house over 200 species. There are large, central walk-in aviaries and peripheral aviaries that house the more delicate or territorial birds. A daily simulated mid-day thunderstorm is followed by a cool, light drizzle. Territorial species are kept in large cages while species that can coexist with each other like the fruit doves and pigeons are left to fly free in the aviary.
The Aviary is also home to the exotic and critically endangered birds. It was amusing to learn that the park has successfully bred several of these rare birds. Some of these birds have also been returned and reintroduced to their native environment to ensure the survival of such precious wildlife.
Lory Loft covers 3,000 square meters (32,000 sq ft), about 9 storeys high, and is the world’s largest walk-in flight aviary for lories and lorikeets, with over 1,000 free-flying lories. The ambiance is similar to that of a rainforest valley in tropical Northern Australia.
At the entrance of the Lori feeding station, small cups containing the feed can be collected. The visitors can then just walk around and feed the lories. The birds seem so excited about seeing the cups, it’s actually a very amusing sight. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that there were these colorful and friendly little birds who love to be fed! This is an amazing experience as you get to personally feed the birds who slurp away happily. These very sociable and exceptionally bold birds are a sight to behold and because they are so forthcoming, I really enjoyed it a lot!
World of Darkness
This is Asia’s first nocturnal bird house that features a system of reverse lighting, converting day to night and vice versa. On display are 60 birds from 17 species, like 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 chirp and beckon.
Catch a glimpse of all 7 species of pelicans, including the endangered Dalmatian pelican. What’s great about this area is the boardwalk, where you can stroll along and observe these birds. But if you don’t feel like walking you can still see the pelicans at viewing gallery, where the birds gather at feeding time. As for me, I find walking to be more fascinating. While I was busy wandering about exploring the surroundings I saw a group of kids all giddy, dancing and turning as pop music played in the surround audio system. They seemed to be having a great time.
I stopped and mused over dozen or so of sizable pelicans perched on rocks, waiting for their meal. Never judge a bird by its beak, especially if it’s a pelican. Large, and heavy-looking bird with its massive elongated bill, by logic, ought to be a clumsy creature. But the reality couldn’t be further from that. The pelican is really a nimble fisher, strong flier, and excellent swimmer thanks to its large, webbed feet that help with propulsion and steering.
Birds of Prey
Hawks, eagles, and vultures live side by side in towering enclosures on this magnificent street of kings – kings of the skies, that is. As you walk through this exhibit, look out for the sharp talons and hooked beaks and read up on the amazing stories behind each of these beautiful birds of prey.
Photo credit: birdpark.com.sg
At a glance, you’ll get to see the differences between the types of raptors – some with a wingspan as small as 20 centimeters and others as massive as 3 meters or more. Raptors you can expect to meet include Singapore’s natives Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle, as well as a very special pair of vultures.
One of the popular shows at the park is the “Lunch with Parrots”. As the name suggests, it’s a parrot show that happens during lunch time. While people enjoy their meals, the well-trained parrots do tricks like painting, talking to the audience and few other tricks. The most popular parrot here is “Picasso”, a cockatoo who… you guessed it; loves to paint!
Overall, it was a great experience seeing those beautiful, majestic and amazing birds, to say the least. The admission is $18 – slightly cheaper than to other wildlife places.
Have you been to Jurong Bird Park? What is your favorite zone? Let me know by commenting below!
- Get special ticket packages if you are a lover of animals and nature, you can consider buying the Park Hopper Specials, which gives you 3-in-1 combined ticket entry to The Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park. This will help you to save lots of money!
- Do bring along an insect repellent to keep them at bay!
- Take time to observe and enjoy different types of birds. It will be great if you have more than half a day to enjoy the various activities that the Bird Park has planned for you.
- Have enough water with you when you go to the bird park! If you run out of water, there are water points around the Bird Park or you can purchase them at the different outlets in the bird park too!
- Hop onto the tram. Walking may be tiring especially under the hot and humid weather like Singapore. Simply pay and hop onto the tram and it can bring you around the Jurong Bird Park. There are 3 tram stations around the bird park so you can hop off to explore the area and hop back onto the tram to go to the next station.
- As most parts of the bird park is not sheltered, do bring along an umbrella or a poncho to beat the heat or the unexpected rain.
- General Info: birdpark.com.sg
- For tickets: https://m.wrs.com.sg/
- For the park map: http://www.birdpark.com.sg/assets/pdf/parkmap.pdf
- For their events and promo: http://www.birdpark.com.sg/events-promos/events-promos.html