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A bird sanctuary in the city

A bird sanctuary in the city
By Ibsky Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated June 02, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - There are no eagles inside the Ateneo Loyola Heights campus. But it may come as a surprise to many that Ateneo is a habitat to more beautiful bird species, which include the elusive Black-naped Oriole, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow commonly known as “Maya,” and the Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, an endemic bird that will remind anyone of the cartoon character “Woody Woodpecker.”

Since April 11, the Ateneo Environmental Management Coalition (AEMC), Ateneo Bird Ecology Study (ABES) group and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) have been organizing a two-hour bird walk at the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Walk the trail in awe

The itinerary of the bird walk showcases a visual delight of lush vegetation matched with cool breeze that combats the summer heat. The trail starts at the grounds of the Manila Observatory toward Seminary Road, and then to Lucas Infirmary which then segues to a narrow flight of steps that ends at the Residence Halls. From there, the trail continues to the “mini-forest” part at the vicinity of the Church of the Gesu and finishes at the “Wildlife Sanctuary” facing the Jesuit Residence.

This track is both a common passageway for resident students (dormers) rushing for their PE classes and an exhilarating track for some professors and parents who do their morning jogs or walks inside the campus.

Develop more sanctuaries

Bird-watching can be done anytime of the year. However, it is during summer that most resident birds mate as it is when migratory birds leave the campus. Hence the birders from AEMC, ABES and WBCP have been organizing bird walks since April for interested participants from the Ateneo community.

AEMC’s Abby Favis said the main objective of the bird walk is “to identify and document the different resident and migratory birds that share this campus with us.”

“Knowing which species are present and where they dwell also helps us identify areas to develop as sanctuaries,” Favis added.

The bird walks are guided by volunteer members of the WBCP and it is fortunate that one of its members is part of the faculty of the Department of Biology, Trinket Canlas.

Canlas shared that bird walks are also valuable educational tool for everyone to know wildlife better and appreciate the value of his or her surroundings.

And it is good to know that the Ateneo is one of the few green spaces in Quezon City which can act as a “green corridor” for wildlife, she added.

Going on a bird walk is also a social activity, an opportunity for different people to interact outside the classroom or office setting, strengthening their sense of community, she added.

Get to know the birds in the campus

Surprisingly, a good number of people who expressed interest and who participated in the recently concluded bird walks were an interesting mix of students, faculty, staff and administrators.

The birders or guides from WBCP helped spot the birds and shared interesting facts like predator-prey relationships, the birds’ favorite berries or fruits as well as helped distinguish bird songs.

So far, the groups were able to record 17 species during the first bird walk and 19 species during the second bird walk last May 5.

Aside from the abundant Long-tailed Shrikes and Mayas, some of the notable species are the Black-Crowned Night-Heron, the Chinese Goshawk, the Philippine Hanging Parrot (otherwise known as Colasisi), and the Lowland White-eye (endemic to Luzon).

Among the first-timers of the bird walk was Milet Tendero of the Ateneo School of Social Sciences who was amazed to discover that the White Collared Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Oriental Magpie-Robin, and the Olive-backed Sunbird are among the birds that roam in the campus where she works.

“To be working in a bird sanctuary and in such a beautiful campus is like working at home,” she said.

For more information or bird walk inquiries, contact Abby Favis at 426-6001 extension 5008 or 5650 or via telefax at (632) 426-4321. Also visit www.ateneo.edu.