Singapore, 05 August 2010 – It’s time for a honey buzzard to fly back home to North Asia, after the Jurong Bird Park rescued and treated it since January this year. The park, which is the world’s largest bird park and one of four wildlife attractions by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the others being Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, has been treating and releasing native and migrant birds back into the wild as part of conservation efforts.

The eastern honey buzzard was found by a member of the public along the beach. The Bird Park was called as the bird appeared weak. Upon examination by the park’s vets, it was diagnosed that the bird was suffering from crop stasis, which is a condition when the crop, a pouch in the esophagus stops emptying food from it, resulting in the crop becoming distended with fermenting food and fluid. The honey buzzard’s crop became swollen as food did not move from the crop down into the bird’s first stomach. Surgical removal of the crop’s contents was performed by the vets to relieve the discomfort to the honey buzzard. They found out that the bird had eaten cooked chicken meat, onions and garlic. After surgery, the bird was tube-fed for a period of time on a liquid diet.

Having been in a stable condition for some time, the Bird Park’s Hawk Show team has been rehabilitating the honey buzzard to ensure that upon release into the wild, the bird will be able to survive on its own. Recently, a flock of honey buzzards was sighted over Singapore skies, indicating that this the migration period for them and signaling a perfect time to release this rescued honey buzzard.

“As a conservation-driven institution, the Bird Park undertakes the treatment and rehabilitation of wild birds brought to us. So far, we have released birds like the white-bellied sea eagle, zebra dove and the red-whiskered bulbul back into the wild,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Curator, Jurong Bird Park.

He added: “Wild birds which appear weak, injured or disoriented need to be attended to immediately. Jurong Bird Park is a designated rescued avian centre and we have the necessary facilities and expertise to treat injured wild birdlife. Birds generally have a different diet from humans, much less birds of prey, which are raptors. Cooked food suitable for human consumption is generally not suitable for wild birds as their diets may include live insects and small animals. Members of the public can contact us when they encounter injured or distressed wild birds and are advised not to approach injured animals directly as this may cause them to panic, causing further injuries.”

Jurong Bird Park, together with the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo are rescued wildlife centres of choice, receiving an average of 500 animals annually. Over the last three decades, WRS parks have cared for and rescued more than 10,000 animals from all over the world, including Singapore.
Members of the public who encounter injured or distressed birds can contact Jurong Bird Park at the following numbers:

From 8.30am to 6.30pm 6265-0022
From 6.30pm onwards 6266-0638

About honey buzzards
Eastern honey buzzards are also known as Crested or Oriental Honey Buzzards. They breed in temperate and warmer climates of the Old World, and migrate from Eastern Russia (Siberia), China, Japan, South Korea and also North Korea down to Southeast Asia during winter.

Honey buzzards, almost exclusively through their range, are specialist feeders of wasp larvae. They are also known to feed on combs, pupae and adults of wasps, bees and hornets, which of course are their preferred food, hence their name. Other large insects are also taken and so are reptiles, frogs, small mammals and even birds at times. These birds have also been documented feeding on berries and fruits. Types of fruits vary according to range.

Honey buzzards are fully matured around the ages of four to five. And like in most other birds of prey, females are larger than males. Although they are mostly found singly or more often in pairs, during the migration season, they are known to migrate in numbers of up to thousands! Migratory birds fly along coastal areas so that they can ride the thermals, which rise from seas.

The cooked chicken meat, onions and garlic which were extracted from the honey buzzard’s crop.

Sutured wound on the crop of the honey buzzard. Picture courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

The honey buzzard being tube fed on a liquid diet after surgery. Picture courtesy of Bjorn Olesen