In addition to the majestic Collared Kingfisher that triggered my birdwatching interest, I have identified four more birds that regularly come to visit my garden. 

The ubiquitous and rowdy Eurasian Tree Sparrows who monopolize the birdfeeders; the beautiful but very shy Chestnut Munias who make their nests in the bamboo trees; the lone Philippine Collared Dove (locally known as Bato-Bato); and the blush-inducing name of the Philippine Bulbul.

 


Philippine Bulbul

 

I have also spotted an owl during one of my evening walks around the village. I learned the names of these birds from this excellent book: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by Maia Tañedo, Adrian & Trinket Constantino and Robert Hutchinson. Every bird lover must have it.

 

 

 

According to Birdwatch.ph, of the 572 bird species recorded in the Philippines, 172 species are endemic or found only in the Philippines. And one of them is the Philippine Bulbul (Hypsipetes philippinus), a songbird species in the bulbul family, Pycnonotidae.

The Philippines is also part of the East Asian-Australian Flyway (it’s like the Skyway for migratory birds) and close to 500 migratory bird species pass through this flyway every year. Our archipelago is truly an amazing and exciting destination for birds. And in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, each island has its own specialties and hundreds of endemic birds according to authors Maia Tañedo et al.

Unless you live in a high-rise condominium, birdwatching can be enjoyed anywhere, even in our traffic-congested city. In addition to the bird guide, buy a good pair of binoculars, and if you’re also an avid photographer, a telephoto lens to shoot and collect the birds you have ‘shot’. To attract birds in your garden, backyard or balcony, provide food (bird feeders), water, cover and a place for them to raise their young. You will be awakened every day with the early morning medleys of birdsong which feel comforting and reassuring, knowing that another brand new day is upon us.

One thing I learned in this pandemic is that one doesn’t need to go very far or have a visa to enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of nature. A natural paradise can be found right in our own backyards.

 

Best of health,

Romy Sia

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