When the sun sets every day, thousands of herons from all over Bali fly to the village of Petulu, creating a beautiful vision of white for those who are there to witness it. The birds are believed to be the guardians that watch over the villagers and protect them from harm. It’s certainly a sight to behold – during the peak period (around 5pm – 6pm) thousands of herons can be seen roosting in the trees of Petulu, watching the people from above.
At sundown every evening, droves of Kokokan birds (herons) fly from all over the island to settle in this tiny strip of a toy town. The birds come home to settle in a handful of the fifty or so trees that are dotted around the village. The show lasts around 2-3 hours and is made up around 20,000 heron.
The herons, mainly the striped Java pond species, started their visits to Petulu in 1965 for no apparent reason. Villagers believe they bring good luck (as well as tourists), despite the smell and the mess. A few warung (food stalls) have been set up in the paddy fields, where you can have a drink while enjoying the spectacle. Walk quickly under the trees if the herons are already roosting.Petulu is a pleasant walk or bicycle ride on any of several routes north of Ubud, but if you stay for the birds you’ll be heading back in the dark.
Best place to watch? To the south of the village, there’s a look-out point ideal for bird watching. Next to the road, you’ll see a sign that reads “the best place to see the herons”. And here’s where it points to – a small wooden house in the middle of a rice-field owned by an old lady selling cold drinks. So at the right time, you can see the flocks of herons arrive.
The best part – you just need to sit back and enjoy the whole phenomenon with a drink in hand.
Petulu, about 2.5km north of Jl Raya Ubud, squabbling over the prime perching places before settling into the trees beside the road and becoming a tourist attraction.
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