Now I’m no binocular-clad bird-nerd, but who doesn’t enjoy wandering around peacock-filled gardens on a Sunday morning?
Last weekend, Andrew and I made our way to Bali Bird Park for the first time. We’d been asked to visit by NOW! Bali Magazine, and whilst I’m not a huge fan of overly touristy destinations (which pretty much rules me out for any organised activity on the island), I was pretty keen to check it out. After all, calling Bali home is already like living in the jungle, so the location lends itself pretty well to a topical bird park as well.
We timed our visit to minimise people and heat, and arrived at 9:00am on Sunday morning. The drive from Ubud is only a short 20 minutes, with the turn-off clearly and easily marked as you approach. Having purchased our tickets, we prepared to walk down the entrance pathway only to find ourselves greeted by an array of oversized parrots as they swung from the branches above. This is probably the best thing about Bali Bird Park – that as well as the smaller exhibits and habitats, it’s pretty much a giant-open air enclosure where birds reign supreme.
Making your way through the park, you’re introduced to native species from various parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Each is distinct not just by the types of birds, but also the habitats. My favourite was Papua, where you walk through a giant-tented enclosure as ferns fan out overhead. Cassowary’s strut at your feet while the Western crowned pigeon flies overhead. Another winner was the Bali walk-in aviary, with over 20 different species of native birds all co-habituating in the same enclosure, complete with its own waterfall.
What lends itself so well to a bird park in Bali is of course the topical foliage; so much of the island is covered in gorgeous shades of green, it’s little surprise that this translates into a beautiful bird sanctuary. As you stroll through the grounds, over bridges, past water features and the dreaded Komodo dragon enclosure, it paints a beautiful and relaxing scene. Best of all, the majority of the enclosures are well-sized, filled with lots of space for the birds to stretch their wings or hide when they’re feeling antisocial. By the standards of some international zoos and animal sanctuary’s, Bali Bird Park is setting a pretty good example.
An unexpected highlight of the trip was the bird shows. We caught two, the Bali Rainforest free flight bird show, and Basic Instinct. The first was held out in the open grounds, as storks, macaws and cockatoos flew from tree-to-trainer over the heads of the audience. I was impressed – I didn’t realise how well birds could be trained with the promise of nuts and berries. Basic Instinct, which showed-off the hunting skills of native eagles, kites and falcons, was also surprisingly enjoyable, the best bit being four macaws as they flew in hypnotic circles overhead, part of their daily exercise routine and a great way to experience something that is increasingly rare in real life.
After three hours, Andrew and I had seen all we wanted to see, not being the type of bird-enthusiast to spend hours reading every sign and label. We ended our day with a quick stop past the park’s restaurant, and to laugh at the awkwardness of the photos taken by staff as you walk through the park (to be optionally purchased later, if having a giant hornbill trying to eat your bobby-pins from the comfort of your shoulder doesn’t bring out your best angle).