Urban Birds of the Philippines: help keep common birds common!
Conservation work may take place in communities in far-flung areas from coastal to forest areas, but the biggest task is to educate those in our biggest towns and cities.
People in urban areas not only threaten local wildlife, but they also directly and indirectly threaten wildlife in other areas in the country by unknowingly getting their food and resources via companies that practice unsustainable ways of harvest, pesticide-use, fish catch methods, logging, mining and more.
At Haribon, we conduct conservation work from the field to the city. And we are doing so in our urban areas the same way we did more than 40 years ago: starting with birds!
Declines in House Sparrows in India
Many Urban Birds may "seem common" but when conservationists in India noticed declines in House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) populations during the 1990's, they took notice.
Although the world population size for the House Sparrow is large, the decline trends continue. Here, declines of our very own Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) have yet to be verified, but trends in Europe since 1980 show a moderate decline of the species.
To increase awareness of urban birds, we launched an Urban Birds photo contest during March and April of 2015, and released a minor bird list below to help people identify the birds in their neighborhoods. By doing so, we hope to begin exploring ways people can connect to the wildlife in our towns and cities, and be more mindful of what we do to our planet everyday.
What to do for now...
Help us "keep common birds common" and spread word so they can continue to spread their wings as our neighbors:
Spay or neuter your petsGrow gardens and urban farmsPlant treesPush for the creation and protection of urban parks and green spaces in your neighborhoodBuy simple binoculars and begin identifying the birds in your neighborhood with the help of the short bird list below
Barred Rail (Hypotaenidia torquata)Look at the cheek! It has a white stripe! And its belly has little "zebra-stripes!" The "tinikling" dance was named after this bird: the tikling bird! 320 mm long (12.5")
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)It's as big as a crow but is bright yellow and black! 268 mm long (10.5")
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)This bird has a stripe over its eyes, making it look like it has a mask on, and has brown back. It's as big as two mayas standing on top of each other. 190 mm long (7.5")
Long Tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)It has a black head with white cheeks and underparts. It has a white patch on its black wings. 240 mm long (9.25")
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)This bird has a dark red body, black head, and light-bluish beak! This used to be the national bird, and is actually the original maya bird! 109 mm long (4.25")
Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus)All black but with a yellow bill, and a white patch on its wings! 255 mm long (10")
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)This little bird is now known as the maya! It has white cheeks, a black beak, a brown back, and can be found almost everywhere! 132 mm long (5.25")
SwiftletThese birds zoom quickly through the sky so it can be hard to identify their specific species! 122 mm long (4.75")
Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis)This bird is big! It is black, has dark-reddish wings and has a long tail. 355 to 400 mm long (14" to 15.75")
Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica)This beautiful bird is named for its tail which fans out occasionally and its belly is white. 190 mm long (7.5")
Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)This dove has a distinctive collar: it is black with white spots. 302 mm long (12")
Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris)This bird is brown with dark streaks on its back and smaller streaks on its head and breast. It also has a long tail. 266 mm long (10.5")
White-collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)This is a beautiful blue stout-looking bird with a distinctive white collar on its neck and a white belly. It has a big bill, common with kingfishers. 240 mm long (9.5")
Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)This mostly brown bird has white eyebrows and can be identified by its long tail which has yellow underneath it. 190 mm long (7.5")
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)This dove, unlike the Spotted Dove, has stripes or "barring" on its uppperparts and sides. 216 mm long (8.5")
Illustrations and visual descriptions from Kennedy et al (2000) "A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines."Trivia and facts from Arkive.org.Worldsparrowday.orgBirdLife International species fact sheets for Passer domesticus & Passer montanus.March 20 is World House Sparrow Day