19 May 2013

Kuala Lumpur: the KL Bird Park

Kuala Lumpurians love their superlatives so it came as no surprise to me that the KL Bird Park is famous for having the largest free-flight walk-in aviary in the world!

Set in the city’s 227-acre green lung that is the Lake Gardens park, the aviary itself occupies just over 20 acres. It’s only 10 minutes’ drive from the central city and close to several other attractions: the Orchid Park is across the road, the Butterfly Park and National Monument are close by.

The aviary is circled in this picture taken from atop the KL Tower

A Spotted Wood Owl

The advertising blurb says the Bird Park houses over 3000 birds, and I can certainly believe it. They were everywhere, and I’m really surprised I came away without being pooped on!

I don’t like the idea of birds in cages, so was a little dismayed to see raptors like eagles and Brahminy Kites, enclosed in relatively small cages with no flying space. Several species of owls are similarly enclosed and looked miserable.

I also wasn’t impressed with the section where all types of birds are used as props in photos for tourists. When I walked past, a group of 4 young Koreans were sitting on the bench, with owls, macaws, a kite, and various other colourful birds – that would probably have hunted each other in the wild – sitting on their arms, shoulders and heads. I was actually hoping for some pooping then but the birds had obviously been well trained. The only advantage for a photographer like me was that the birds all sat relatively still so I got some good shots, especially of the owls, which I adore.

A Superb Starling

Great White Pelican
The best thing about the park is that its two largest enclosures are huge, free-flight areas where the birds live relatively normal lives in a semi-natural habitat filled with trees, a stream and ponds. I saw the cutest baby peacocks scurrying along after their mum, and there was such a proliferation of doves and cattle egrets that I assume they must also be breeding successfully. The park’s brochure boasts that the birds have adapted so well to the environment that many are breeding naturally.

I enjoyed over 2 hours strolling, sitting, watching, marvelling and laughing at the antics of the some of the birds, particularly two intimidatingly large but obviously harmless pelicans that seemed almost to be competing for my attention. I shot over 200 hundred photos … I hope you enjoy this selection of my new feathered friends.

Thanks to my Facebook friends at the Oriental Bird Club for help identifying these birds.

Black-crowned Night Heron

A Yellow-billed Stork and a Cattle Egret
A Red-and-Yellow Barbet

An Asian Glossy Starling and an Oriole

A Mandarin Duck

A juvenile Sacred Ibis (I think) and a Peacock

Buffy Fish Owl

A Barred-Eagle Owl and an Oriental Bay Owl

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