The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

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Birdwatchers advocate Philippine bird species awareness

Because of a recent land reclamation issue concerning a bird sanctuary on Manila Bay, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines has taken the spotlight for the past weeks. At the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal Lagoon in Manila Bay lies a nature reserve that serves as a home and resting spot for dozens of bird species, and yet more than 635 hectares are being planned to be reclaimed in favor of a new business center in the area. Mike Lu, the president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, has been one of the proponents against this reclamation project. “Right now, we are looking for a win-win solution. What we’re hoping for is that only half of the reclamation project pushes through,” says Lu.

Beyond this issue, however, few people actually know about the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and what it stands for. The club was founded back in the early 2000s by hobbyists who liked birdwatching. Composed of 11 members back then, Lu and a few officers decided to formalize the club in 2003, creating a venue for eager birdwatchers to come together on weekends and visit potential bird sites in the country. “There are more than 200 species of birds which are unique to the Philippines,” says Lu. What the club is aiming for is a heightened sense of awareness about the ornithological wonders of the country and to get people—both locals and expats alike—interested in indulging in the hobby and preserving the natural habitats of these winged creatures.

Part of the efforts of the Wild Bird Club is to establish and expand their scientific bird records where the species of birds in the Philippines are written. Individual members of the group, conservation groups, and international sources all help add to the list.

Lu relates that foreigners contribute greatly to the reports and to the welfare of the club in general. Besides the fact that British-born James McCarthy used his own funds to establish the club, Danish ornithologist Arne Jensen is the one-in-charge of the Records Committee. Jensen is also the president of the Bird Club in Denmark.

There are more than 200 species of birds that are
unique to the Philippines. How many of them do you know?

Bird festivals like the 7th Philippine Bird Festival in Dumaguete and the 2nd Asian Bird Fair in Taiwan are also connected with the club, providing even beginners an avenue where they can have fun not only by watching birds but also conducting tradeshows, bird origami and face painting activities, as well as outreach programs by collaborating with different conservation nongovernment organizations. “We invite private schools and public schools to come and we teach people on stage about birdwatching,” says Lu.

Outside of bird festivals, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines also delves into the corporate world by conducting bird surveys for various companies. “Different corporations and resorts invite us to do bird surveys for them. They use it to promote their resort,” says Lu.

One can become a member in the club by paying Php400 and by getting the membership form from their website. “Fresh air, sun and nature— better than TV!” their website states. If you catch a glimpse of a Filipino bird taking flight, you will surely agree. Visit their website to see the Philippine species of bird and to discover more details about the club.