First birdwatching of a ‘non-birder’


Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources is the pioneer organization for biodiversity conservation. It is a membership organization committed to nature conservation, and one of the activities that Haribon regularly conducts for members and friends are bird-watching sessions. This is one way of paying homage to Haribon history, which started as a bird watching society in 1972.

Bird watching has not really been part of my interests as I have mainly been involved and exposed to forestry activities. I took up forestry in Visayas State University (formerly VISCA), Leyte and worked mostly on seedlings, shrubs and trees. Although we had courses on wildlife, we focused more on other flora and fauna.

Prior to joining Haribon, I worked for Energy Development Corp. (EDC) as a project forester but still never got a chance to “meet” the birds. Yes, I see them during field work flying, but I never bothered to identify them.

Haribon Foundation introduced me to birdwatching. Since Haribon is a membership organization, one of the activities put up by the organization is their regular birdwatching activities. Members get to visit Rizal, Batangas, Bataan, Sorsogon to watch birds. Since my work at Haribon focused more on the monitoring of tree planting sites in Pangasinan, Zambales, Laguna and Rizal, I never had a chance to experience bird watching.

On April 25 at UP Diliman, I had an opportunity to go bird watching. As a first-time birder, I frequently asked my expert colleagues to name those bird species. Thanks to this experience, instead of just saying “oh I see one bird, two birds and so on”, I could already differentiate a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, which is said to be endemic in the Philippines, from other birds.

We have recorded 13 species, wherein two are endemic to Philippines: the Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker and the Lowland White-eye; the rest are resident birds.

At the end of our three-hour bird-watching activity, I realized that bird watching is not just about listing, counting, and taking note of their physical features. Birding is one of the tools to help raise awareness on the current status of our forests because these birds are considered barometers of the health of an ecosystem.

By joining, you’re not just having fun with the interesting colors and shapes of birds, but also you help in identifying the many roles of the birds: their uses, purpose and niche in the ecological system. By doing this, you are able to monitor the existence and functions of birds to their specific niches.

Furthermore, I realized that, besides being my past time and my form of relaxation, I am making a difference.

So let us work together, and be part of nature conservation initiatives to help Mother Nature, giving truth to Haribon’s vision that is to “Take the lead in caring for nature, with people—for the people”.

Come and join us in conserving our nature and get hold of our other interesting activities for biodiversity conservation.


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