Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birds of the Philippines

Yes indeed!  There is a book of birds in the Philippines.  We have so many species of birds here in our country that a compilation of photos has to be made into a book.  "A Photographic Guide to Birds of the Philippines" is a book by Tim Fisher and Nigel Hicks.  I bought this book about 12 years ago for Php345.00.  I love this book because of the detailed description of the birds and the beautiful photos.  It is also very handy, making it easy to bring along when you want to go bird watching.

Eurasian tree sparrow commonly mistaken as the "maya."
The real maya is the Chestnut munia.
I learned from this book that the birds I grew up knowing as the maya is not actually the maya.  I think the maya was for sometime noted as the country's national bird until it was changed into the Philippine eagle or the Pithecophaga jefferyi.  What we had been referring to as the maya is actually a Eurasian tree sparrow while the real "maya" is called the Chestnut munia.

I have not seen a single Chestnut munia here in Manila.  It is the Eurasian tree sparrow that abounds here in the city which is probably why the new generation thinks this is the maya.  The only time I was able to see a Chestnut munia is in the forest of Lanote, Basilan.  They fly in groups which is a cute sight to see because they are small birds that is brown and black, reminding me of a short cartoon film by Pixar.

The Pied Fantail or Maria Capra.
I love watching this bird dance around our backyard.
Having this book at home has made me aware of the other birds that reside in our community.  A regular visitor at our backyard is the Pied Fantail or the Maria Capra.  This bird is such a joy because it loves dancing around with its tail spread out like a fan.  Another bird I commonly see in our yard is the Long-tailed Shrike.  This bird is usually seen perched on high areas like the telephone line.  It has a proud majestic look sitting there, sometimes I feel that it is watching me too.  Anyway, it sits there for awhile and then swoops down on small insects or lizards that it sees. One time, I was able to see a Zebra Dove walking around out neighbor's roof too by the way.

When I stayed in Basilan with my family for 9 months, I usually see a Rufous-lored Kingfisher perched on our neighbor's tv antenna.  Barn swallows abound at the Lanote farm as there are nests made of mud attached to the farmhouse.  When we stayed in Davao, a common garden visitor is Olive-backed Sunbird.  It loves flowers and they usually feed at our garden in the morning.

This book has definitely leveled up my knowledge and awareness of our feathered friends.  It also feels really cool being able to attach a name to a certain kind of bird and not shout out "Hey!  Look at that bird!"  Now, I can confidently tell my son, "Look!  That's a Pied Fantail!"  And my son would say, "Ohhhh!  A Pied Fantail!"

Word of Thought
I have seen kids using airguns shooting birds from trees.  We should teach our kids to refrain from doing this as they do not even know if the bird they are actually shooting down may be endangered.  Part of taking care of our environment is learning to take care of our feathered friends too.  Note that there are 214 species of birds as noted in this book that can be sighted here in the Philippines.  I read that around 80 of these species are endemic to the Philippines, and sadly, many of them are already on the endangered list.  Let's take part in protecting them from extinction, please.

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