PM's visitor a real hoot

PM's visitor a real hoot

SINGAPORE - A stray barn owl paid a surprise visit to the Prime Minister's office in the Istana on Wednesday morning.

The bird had most probably flown into the building during the night and was found perched "comfortably high up out of reach" when he went to his office in the morning, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Personnel from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Jurong Bird Park were called in to help, he added.

The 30cm-tall bird was caught and released safely into the grounds behind the Prime Minister's official residence at the Istana, Sri Temasek.

"The Istana grounds are a green refuge for many species of birds and animals," PM Lee said in his post, which has attracted more than 24,000 likes and some 1,500 shares.

"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 AVA said it received a call from an Istana staff member at around 11am on Wednesday.

Together with staff from Jurong Bird Park and the Istana, the owl was caught "using nets, scissor lift and poles".

"The bird was checked when caught and was found to be uninjured and in good health," the AVA said in a statement.

The barn owl, which has a heart-shaped face and a speckled chest, is one of nine species of owls that have been recorded here.

An urban dweller that feeds on rodents like rats, it can be seen in places such as those under bridges and in buildings.

"The Istana is a good place for a barn owl as it is a green lung in the city," said wildlife consultant and nature guide Subaraj Rajathurai, 50.

"The bird was probably out hunting when it flew into an open window."

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