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Barn owl a surprise visitor at PM Lee Hsien Loong's office

Published on Nov 21, 2013 4:06 PM
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A barn owl made a surprise visit to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's office on Wednesday morning. It had most likely flown into the building overnight and was found perched high and out of reach, said PM Lee in a Facebook post, on Wednesday, Nov 20 2013.  -- PHOTO: TWITTER

A barn owl made a surprise visit to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's office on Wednesday morning. It had most likely flown into the building overnight and was found perched high and out of reach, said PM Lee in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

He added that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Jurong Bird Park were called in to help. The bird was later caught and released unharmed behind Sri Temasek.

"The Istana grounds are a green refuge for many species of birds and animals," PM Lee said in his post. "We should preserve and create many such green spaces all over our island, so that in our urban environment we can enjoy the natural flora and fauna of Singapore."

The post has since garnered more than 23,000 likes and shared some 1,400 times, with many applauding the Prime Minister for releasing the bird unharmed. Facebook user Loh Wai Poon said in a comment: "We are sharing this planet with other creatures and we should let each other live as free as possible. Why should we harm a bird when it accidentally (flies) into our homes?"

Background story

Owls native to Singapore

Silent and nocturnal, owls are rarely seen in urban Singapore. Of the nine species of owls that have been recorded in the Republic, some like the barn owl which found its way into Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s office on Wednesday do thrive in the concrete landscape. Here are three species of owls you might spot here :

Barn owl
About 33 cm in height, the barn owl is commonly found in many habitats and is not endangered. It is frequently encountered in places like factories and buildings, and largely preys on small ground animals like rats. 

Brown hawk owl
An insect-eater, the brown hawk owl is often found in forested areas of Bukit Timah and the Central Catchment nature reserves. It is slightly smaller than the barn owl and stands at about 30 cm.

Spotted wood owl
One of the largest owls in Singapore, the spotted wood owl dwells in wooded areas such as in Pulau Ubin and the Southern Ridges. It feeds on animals like bats. It is rarely sighted these days because of loss of its habitat.