Rare sight of barn owl in Toa Payoh housing estate wows locals

Toa Payoh residents were pleasantly surprised by the rare sight of a barn owl in a public housing estate along Lorong 4 on Sunday. 

Armed with smartphones and photography gears, bird enthusiasts and passers-by gathered in front of the lone bird till the sun had set yesterday, watching the owl perched in a palm tree and even vomiting at one point. 

“Barn Owls are unable to digest the fur and bone of their prey, which they usually swallow whole,” Adeline Goh from the Nature Society Singapore wrote in a public Facebook group last night, in a video post showing the bird disgorging food remnants from its beak. 

“The indigestible parts are regurgitated (coughed up through the beak) in the form of an owl pellet.”

A chorus of camera shutters could be heard in the background of the unembeddable seven-second clip, capturing the bird in action. 

“This barn owl was the superstar of the weekend,” another eyewitness named Herman Phua wrote to Facebook yesterday.

“Many celebrities would give an arm and leg to have so many photographers shooting away. I was there for less than half an hour and still took nearly 500 shots. Must be almost a million photos taken of it today.”

Others who managed to capture a photo of the bird was a man named Raymond Siew Kung Kiet, who said he snapped a photo at 7:05pm, and another named Derrick Wong. 

“Quickly rushed down to the site once I’ve gotten news of this owl. Only a handful of birders were present … love that heart shaped face,” Wong wrote in his photo caption.

Facebook screenshot of barn owl in Toa Payoh.
Facebook screenshot of barn owl in Toa Payoh.

According to the National Parks Board, an Eastern Barn Owl is considered a resident breeder on the island but it is uncommon to find them. 


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This article, Rare sight of barn owl in Toa Payoh housing estate wows locals, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!