Saturday, April 18, 2009

Surrounded by Chicks!

Before you get other ideas, I was literally surrounded by chicks (the young of birds) - some barely a few days old and clucking, whose feathers were still growing out from beneath their translucent pink skin. The hatchlings sat in small rattan baskets while the bigger chicks had more hopping room inside their cosy quarters. Most had their own suite while a couple were twin-sharing, but each temporary shelter resembled a big round broiler or deep fryer with a sliding glass door.

This was the Breeding & Research Centre of the Jurong Bird Park, equivalent to the paediatric ward and nursery we humans are mo
re familiar with. Together with 22 listeners, Pamela and I were privileged to set foot into the facility which is off-limits to the general public. This was made possible through an exclusive arrangement we secured with the attraction's management for The Living Room's Feathered Fun Day Out! We wanted something off the beaten track and this was it! In fact, we wouldn't have found the centre had we not closely followed Faith, our perky guide off the footpath, through an inconspicuous opening in a wall of towering shrubs and down a flight of stairs.

Apart from seeing the baby birds in close quarters and even gently handling them, two staff members also demonstrated how they fed their charges a liquid diet from a small syringe or with small tongs with which they'd pick up live worms and drop them into the open beaks of hungry hatchlings. We were also shown the incubators where fertlised eggs were placed and awaiting hatchday. I was secretly hoping we'd see a hatch during our visit, but it wasn't to be. Pity no photography was allowed at the centre, but here are photos that captured our educational trip out to the bird park with our listeners young and old.

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