By Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:12:00 03/03/2008
MANILA, Philippines -- A two-hectare lot, which more than
100 species of migratory birds have turned into their temporary
home, will soon become one of Valenzuela City’s main
The city government earlier declared a swampy area in Villa
Encarnacion, Malanday, which is surrounded by trees and teeming
with water lilies, a bird sanctuary.
Residents said the birds, which are from Indonesia, according
to experts, have been flocking to the area for more than five
years, prompting Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian to sign a memorandum
of agreement with the owners of the property for its development
into an eco-park.
“The landscape in the area will not be touched but it
will be developed into a bird and wildlife sanctuary,”
Gatchalian said. No one knows exactly what and how many kinds
of species abound in the two-hectare property. The city government
said it would coordinate with enthusiasts and experts from
the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to identify and catalogue
its fine-feathered visitors.
One of the species that has been spotted in the area, however,
is the “bakaw-gabi” or black-crowned night heron.
Gatchalian said wooden view decks will be built around the
area for the convenience of bird watchers.
“The decks will surround the swamp to give people a
good vantage point without disturbing the birds,” the
mayor added. Best of all, the eco-park, according to Gatchalian,
will be open to the public free of charge.
“We want to protect the birds and at the same time provide
enjoyment to residents and tourists,” he said.
The sanctuary, which is just an hour’s drive away from
Makati City, will also be ideal for students going on field
“The objective is to also educate, not only to entertain,”
Gatchalian said. According to residents, the birds probably
flock to the area, which used to be a rice field, because
they can find food there.
“We see them fly low and dive under the water lilies
and stay there for a while, probably to look for food,”
a man observed. He added that migratory birds abound in the
area during the summer months.
For Gatchalian, the birds come to Valenzuela City for various
“According to experts, our tropical climate is conducive
to molting, feeding and breeding,” he said.
Residents who live near the swamp said that at first, the
sounds made by their fine-feathered friends gave them quite
“They chirp and make a lot of noise especially at night,
which could be scary if one is not used to it,” said
Mario Jaber, whose house is closest to the proposed bird sanctuary.
“When we moved in here five years ago, the birds were
already here,” he added, saying that some residents
in the area who have lived there before him told him that
the birds started arriving one day and have been coming back
since. Jaber said that he has the best “front seat view”
of the birds of any resident in the area, referring to a tree
full of nests right in front of a window on the second floor
of his house.
For those planning to go bird watching, the best time to go
is around 4 p.m. until sunset. During this time, the birds
fly around in droves. At daytime, they remain in the tree
or in their nests, flitting from one branch to another.