Owlet in Seletar attempts to fly but crashes into a drain & gets stuck in net

Fortunately, Acres came to its rescue.

Zhangxin Zheng | March 15, 2021, 12:40 PM

Nature enthusiasts witnessed a harrowing moment for one fledgling buffy fish owl at Hempstead Wetlands Park in Seletar on Sunday afternoon (Mar. 14).

Fledging owl at Hampstead Wetlands Park stuck in a mesh

The birders waited in anticipation for a successful flight from the youngling, but it unfortunately crashed into a nearby drain.

Photo courtesy of Alex Low.

In a tight spot.

Photo courtesy of Alex Low.

The inexperienced owlet, which was said to first fledge on Mar. 13, got stranded on the ground for a while.

It was later caught on a mesh for a short period of time.

Photo courtesy of Alex Low.

The young owl tried to perch on the wobbly mesh.

"I can do this." Photo courtesy of Alex Low.

But it wasn't to be.

"Crap, I'm stuck again." Photo courtesy of Alex Low.

45-minute rescue from Acres won praises from nature community

Fortunately, the owlet was soon reunited with its parents.

All thanks to the wildlife rescuers from Acres (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) who came in the nick of time.

The 45-minute rescue was performed by the co-leads of Acres, Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan and Anbarasi Boopal.

In response to Mothership, Kalai said that Acres received a call at around 3:45pm.

"Thanks hooman, I tried my best to fly back up onto the tree but I couldn't." Photo courtesy of Valli Kannan Cloudy.

When the wildlife rescue team arrived, they first assessed the owlet to confirm it is not injured before trying to place it on a branch that is as high as possible.

The rescue had a few risks, Kalai added, which included the owlet flying off and crashing onto nearby buildings and roads.

Therefore, the process had to be done slowly and carefully to ensure the owlet was not startled in the process.

"Are you here to bring me back to my mum?" Photo courtesy of Valli Kannan Cloudy.

"Just give me a moment to find my balance, y'know I'm pretty new at this." Photo courtesy of Valli Kannan Cloudy.

After placing the owlet up onto a high branch, it was a waiting game for the parents to fetch their youngling to a higher branch where it can be safe.

The entire process took 45 minutes and some birders observed that a parent owl was waiting patiently on a roof as it watched Kalai placing the owlet on the tree nearby.

The adult owl did not attack Kalai during this, which surprised some onlookers.

Photo courtesy of MeiLin Khoo.

After the owlet was placed on the tree, the mummy owl was quick to comfort it.

"It's okay, you will get better next time." Photo courtesy of MeiLin Khoo.

Acres' professional rescue effort won praises from those who had witnessed the whole process.

"The Acres crew were so very professional and they knew exactly what they were doing and had all the equipment," said a witness who chanced upon this rescue while walking her dog near Hempstead Wetlands.

"The owlet balanced itself and looked right back at him as though saying thanks to him!…The parent owls were nearby but did not attack the Acres rescuers. Once the owlet got back on to the tree, the parent owls flew over to cuddle it. Happy ending for now! Hopefully, the owlet learns to fly properly soon!"

A risk that all wild birds face when they learn how to fly

Kalai told Mothership that the tricky situation that the owlet had gotten itself into is not exceptional as there is always a risk of failure for wild birds when they first started to fly.

However, what's important for us to note is to not act hastily as the birds should be left to be reunited with their parents, he added.

Kalai also conveyed Acres' gratitude to the photographers on-site who helped to keep an eye on the owlet prior to their arrival.

"It was a combined effort to ensure that the juvenile is safe off the ground and with its parents," he said.

If you see a wild animal in distress, you can call the Acres wildlife rescue hotline at 9783 7782.

You can watch how Kalai, assisted by Anbarasi, rescued the owlet here:

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Other buffy fish owl sightings in Singapore:

Top image by photos taken courtesy of Valli Kannan Cloudy and Alex Low