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Birder Profiles

By Ruth Francisco

During the pandemic, birdwatchers are on lockdown, but the birds are not. More birdwatchers are bird watching from home.

Nonbirding hobbies

Myles: Watching movies, water coloring

Beng: Gardening

Nina: Crocheting, cooking, designing toys, rescuing cats

Nats: Biodiversity conservation, wildlife photography

My spark bird

Myles: Barn Swallow

Beng: Philippine Hanging Parrot—I first spotted it from our bedroom window

Nina: Pied Fantail

Nats: Black-naped Oriole

The year I started birding

Myles: 2018

Beng: 2015

Nina: 2015

Nats: 2002

Photo by Beng & John Ricarte  

What prompted me to keep birding?

Myles: When I found out that there’s a lot of species of birds here in the Philippines!

Beng: Birding is our “Couple Hobby”, which we chose to gracefully grow old with 🙂

Nina: I first saw all the species of birds in the Philippines in a Wikipedia page. I could not believe there are so many! And some of them didn’t even have photos in the list, so I was pushed to keep looking for birds around online and I couldn’t stop from there.

Nats: Birding is relaxing and the company of other birders is always fun.

I consider myself as a

Myles: Dude birder

Beng: Dude birder

Nina: Serious birder

Nats: Dude birder

Common birds in my backyard/area

Myles: Zebra Dove, Yellow-vented Bulbul (YVB), Eurasian Tree Sparrow (ETS), Olive-backed Sunbird (OBS), Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Large-billed Crow

Beng: Our home backyard area extends to a creek, near Marikina river. We are blessed to have common and even uncommon birds in our area. The common birds are the ETS, YVB, Philippine Pied Fantail, Black-naped Oriole (BNO), Crested Myna, Long-tailed Shrike, Brown Shrike, Striated Grassbird, Phil Hanging parrot, Collared Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Scaly- breasted Munia, Chestnut Munia, Coppersmith Barbets, Zebra Dove, White-breasted Woodswallows, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Olive-backed Sunbird, Little Egret, White-breasted Waterhen, Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Photo by Beng & John Ricarte  

Nina: ETS, YBV, Philippine Pied Fantail, Philippine Magpie-robin, Collared Kingfisher, Black-naped Oriole, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Red Keeled Flowerpecker, Philippine Nightjar, Little Egret, Zebra Dove, Spotted Dove, Golden-capped Cisticola, Philippine Coucal, Striated Grassbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Brown Shrike, White-throated Kingfisher, Olive-backed Sunbird, Lowland White-eye, Large-billed crow

Nats: ETS, Red Turtle Dove, AGS, BNO, Brown Shrike, YVB, OBS, Chestnut Munia, Lowland White-eye

My favorite backyard bird

Myles: I always love seeing and hearing the Olive-backed Sunbirds in our area! They’re so cute and they bring joy to my day! 

Beng: The Philippine Hanging parrot or the Colasisi. Aside it being my “ Spark bird”. It’s attractively multi-colored, endemic species; one would really be amazed on how comfy it just hangs upside-down, while pecking its favorite fruit meal for the day.

Photo by Beng & John Ricarte  

Nina: The Philippine Nightjar near my house calls every other day in the evenings, but I’ve never been able to spot it during the day. This one’s my favorite because it’s so mysterious. It’s also was one of the first species I identified by its call.

Nats: Asian Glossy Starlings. A busy and energetic flock always come in, usually a mix of juveniles and adults. My favorite sighting of them was of a parent feeding 3 hungry chicks who were all chattering and energetic, much like the adults.

Tips on enjoying birds while staying at home

Myles: Learn to appreciate your backyard birds more! If you can, plant trees that attract birds, such as fruit trees.

Beng: Watch some movies (e.g., The Big Year), documentaries (e.g., Netflix’s Birder), journaling, drawing birds 

Nina: Watch livestreaming bird cameras, listen to birding podcasts, read birding magazines, sharing stories with other birders, drawing and painting birds

Nats: Backyard birding—I personally like seeing life unfold for these birds. For example, I like watching them build their nests, mate, feeding their nestlings, and fledging. Seeing this cycle of life makes me more acquainted with a particular bird species, even if it’s just a common garden bird.

Message to other birders

Myles: Always stay curious and get excited about all the species of birds you see! Common or not, all birds are great and they play a vital role in our ecosystem.

Nina: Don’t be afraid to share your love for birding with other nonbirders. You never know who might get hooked on birding, too! But also, you never know how you might change one’s outlook of nature in the city. It might slowdown them down a bit to appreciate the large trees or any wild untouched open lots.

Nats: If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, then by all means, plant some bird magnet plants and shrubs. Creating a bird (and pollinator) friendly backyard is a fun, relaxing, and productive project. 

During these difficult times, I’m most grateful for

Myles: This may not be surprising but… Birds! Watching them through my bedroom while I’m working during the day brings me joy.

Beng: This pandemia has been a blessing in disguise for our ecology. Our air feels cleaner, more birds have been freely flying around, rare birds have appeared, grass and plants have flourished. Birding have kept us healthy physically with bird-walking. It has kept us grateful with slowing down and appreciating nature.

Nina: I’m grateful for joining the club and being a part of a bird crazy community. It really helped me cope with not being able to go out as freely to go birdwatching.

Nats: I am grateful to have been caught in a lockdown in the province where I can indulge in all my nature hobbies, despite certain limitations, rather than in Manila where lockdown in a condo would have me climbing the walls, literally.

Photo by Beng & John Ricarte  

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