Text by Raoul J. Chee Kee
Bird photos by Romy Ocon, www.birdwatch.ph
of us who grew up in the city would be hard-pressed to name
another type of bird aside from the maya. Yes, Eurasian tree
sparrows are all many of us are familiar with.
I do remember gazing out the windows of my third year high
school classroom during particularly boring lectures and seeing
small green birds with long tail feathers. I never took the
time out to find out what kind of birds they were since we
were always too busy with geometry or chemistry or some other
this mentality that members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
want to address and, hopefully, change.
C. Lu, one of the club's founding members said that when we
started bird watching a few years ago, he also thought that
all the birds in his neighborhood were mayas.
lived my whole life in Manila and I thought that that was
the only species that thrived in this environment. However,
since we set up the club last year, we've listed over 100
species. From one species, the list has 'grown' to over 120
just because people started looking around and taking down
Dennis P. Liuag, a senoir assistant manager at Planters Development
Bank, is also a bird fanatic.
before anybody thought of putting up an e-group (internet-based
group) dedicated to bird sightings, he had been gazing up
at the skies.
an article he wrote for the Planters Bank News, the company's
in-house magazine, a couple of months ago, Mr. Liuag recounted
how his earliest memories of birdds were of raptors.
"[My mother] always pointed them out [as they soared]
above the house on hot summer afternoons in San Pablo [Laguna],"
he wrote. "Though I was born in Year of the Snake, I
like to think that it was the kali (Brahminy Kite) that chose
itself for me. I remember its passage directly overhead, putting
me in its shadow foe a brief yet life-changing moment. [Since]
then, the presence of the kali has been a source of comfort
the bird book to identify the birds seen at the American Cemetary
at Taguig (Photo by Jonathan Cellona).
of us would consider a bird's flight a life-changing
moment, but from that day on, Mr. Liuag was hooked.
He spent countless mornings and afternoons looking out
for birds. Now, as a new father to a young daughter,
he makes it a point to share with Sasha and his wife
his love for the outdoors.
we live in Bangkal, Makati, I often see terns, night
herons, kingfishers, swallows and fantails despite it
being a very congested nieghborhood."
Liuag finds it easy to list the different types of birds because
he started bird watching quite early. By joining some of the
club's bird walks and taking down notes in a notebook, it
won't be long before one can tick off some of the birds one
may come accross.
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines was officially launched
on July 14, 2003 but it actually started out as two informal
groups that freely exchanged information on wild bird sightings
and other related information.
McCarthy who lives in Silang, Cavite, is an experienced birder
and he was the one who brought up the idea of formalizing
the group," Mr. Lu said. " He said that having an
official group would give credibility to our reports."
second more pressing reason for the information of the club
was in order to facilitate requests to check out other posible
we wanted to visit a certain place, we would invariably be
asked what organization we were from. Wala kaming maibigay
na sagot (We couldn't give them a straight answer). Once the
club was formed, we didn't have as hard a time as before,"
Mr. Lu said.
Mr. Liuag admitted that he continues to have "run-ins"
with policemen and security guards who cannot fathom why anyone
would choose to linger on the marshy, reclaimed land near
Roxas Boulevard, waiting for a flock of birds to appear.
THEIR BIT FOR SCIENCE
around listing the types of birds spotted during a bird walk
might appear to serve no higher purpose than bragging rights,
Mr. Lu said that bird watchers actually help contribute to
example, the Cebu flower-pecker that was believed extinct
in the 1960s was recently 'rediscovered' by a foreign bird
watcher. Apparently, it had never disappeared. It's just that
nobody had taken the time to take notes util then,' he said.
we talk about bird watching, we are asked if [Mr Lu] and I
have degrees in science and I say that we do, 'He has a science
degree in computer science and I have a science degree in
commerce.," Mr. Liuag said.
say that to drive home the point that one doesn't have to
be a scientist to be a birdwatcher. While one needs to be
scientific, anyone can be a birdwatcher if one is enthusiast
ic enough about the hobby."
the club was formed, the Philippines used to be a black hole
of knowledge when it came to the migratory patterns of birds
of birds of prey travel from Japan, Siberia and Taiwan towards
the Philippines and the equator. Every year, people in Taiwan
number of birds and there are literally thousands,' Mr. Liuag
ng boundary ng Philippines and Taiwan, wala na. Lalabas na
lang ulit sila sa Malaysia (When they reach the boundary of
the Philippines and Taiwan, the birds 'disappear'. They are
only spotted again when they pass through Malaysia)."
like a black-hole of data," Mr. Lu said.
aid them in identifying certain bird species, Mr. Lu said
that they rely on The Guide to Birds of the Philippines by
Robert S. Kennedy et al. aside from thr book which costs roughly
PhP1, 600, the only other item to invest in is a pair of binoculars.
Liuag said one can buy a good pair of locally made 8x40 binoculars
for Php2,400 or less while the imported ones go for PhP12,000
the annual membership in the club is PhP300, Mr. Lu said one
can only become a member after joining at least one bird walk.
hold monthly guided tours that are open to the public. Those
who are interested in becoming a members should try and join
at least one tour. since these tours are easily filled, interested
parties can check out the website, www.birdwatch.ph,
for the next scheduled trip."
tours are usually held early morning and last around two hours.
Mr. Liuag gave a list of areas in the metropolis where one
can see a variety of birds.
list includes the American War Cemetery and the Libbingan
ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig; the UP Diliman Campus,
especially the area around Math and NIGS biuldings or around
the Lagoon; The Ateneo de Manila University, in particular
the edges of the Observatory and near the Church of the Gesu,
among other locations; the Tambo wetlands just off Macapagal
Boulevard, jump-off is the Coastal Mall; the Arroceros Park;
the Ninoy Aquino Park in Quezon City; and Nayong Pilipino
in Pasay City, although one needds a permit to go their.
what he got out of watching our feathered friends, Mr. Lu
put it succinctly when he replied, "It's like hunting
without the blood."