Situated in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s vast botanical garden is the KL Bird Park. It’s a gigantic free-flight aviary that is home to thousands of different birds. While there are a few cages in the park, the vast majority of the residents at the KL Bird Park are living in an open environment under giant netting. The most noticeable of these are the giant birds like storks, peacocks, and pelicans, but there were plenty of smaller flyers as well. We were in awe of the sheer number of birds flying and walking around.
In the largest section, there is a winding river that connects a few decent sized lakes. This is where the water birds hang out. There are numerous pelicans and flamingos, but they are dwarfed by the sheer number of storks. Prior to my visit to the KL Bird Park, the closest I’ve come to seeing a stork was watching a cartoon version deliver a baby in a blanket. But they have so many more talents than that and were quite fun to see in their element. They hunt fish by sticking their long, slightly open beaks a foot or two into the water where they freeze like a statue. When they see a fish passing through their jaws – SNAP!
With so many around, only a portion of them were actively fishing. Many others were flying around and hanging out with the humans. They would fly up on the bridge or walk around the pathways, especially near the food stands. Begging for human food is certainly easier than catching those wily fish. In between meals, they would also show off. At any given point, at least one stork was walking around while presenting its impressive wingspan.
Speaking of walking around, the pathways were the hangout spot of numerous peacocks and peahens throughout the park. I saw no less than a dozen peacocks stretching out their intimidating ocular feathers. When they are in full extension, it’s such a glorious display. But where do they do this? Right in the middle of the walking path, of course. The full breadth of their feathers stretch to cover the entire width of the walkway, where they would then loudly screech while shaking and presenting their numerous eyes. Their dance is quite mesmerizing. I spent nearly an hour watching them fluff themselves up and shimmy around. In the interest of full disclosure, only part of that time was entertainment. The rest was simply waiting to be able to pass by since I’m not brave enough to approach one of these things while it was blocking the road in full testosterone mode.
While the peacocks and storks made the biggest impressions, partly due to sheer volume, there were plenty of other exotic birds throughout the park. We saw large Black Crowned Cranes that are native to northern sub-Saharan Africa. There were many giant Victoria Crowned Pigeons and multiple kinds of owls catching some winks. We saw various Hornbills as well, with their giant bulbous beaks. There were a couple of Cassowaries, many different Ibises, some tiny Bulbuls, and many more!
Not every bird was new to me though. Separated from the main section sits a 50 yard long “World of Parrots” that gave me a small bout of homesickness (and a bit of a headache). There is a flock of parrots that we used to live by in Silicon Valley. We would often see them when we were out and about, especially in the trees near a grocery store we frequented. (A Safeway in Sunnyvale located here) Many of these parrots at the KL Bird Park have the same piercingly loud call and aren’t afraid to use it. As such, there was a flicker of “awww California” that flashed through my head. These feelings quickly dispersed though, as I realized that we were hanging out with these loud mouths on a Tuesday at 2pm.
All told, we spent close to four hours observing our feathered friends. There was so much activity, it would be hard not to have a great time. We certainly had a blast and I’d recommend a stop here for anyone visiting Kuala Lumpur. Just like leaving an art museum, the KL Bird Park directs visitors to exit through the gift shop. As if he was on the payroll, there was a peacock hanging out at the doorway to aptly named souvenir shop to bid us adieu.