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Birding Photography

Common Birds in Urban Manila

Just when I was really getting deep into birding and bird photography, COVID-19 pandemic happened. Suddenly we’re the ones locked up like a cage in our own houses looking out to the wild birds outside. Luckily, if you have a garden or a backyard that’s a luxury enough to enjoy the activity, but for others the window would suffice. Any which way, if you find yourself staring at the open sky or nearby trees, make sure to notice the common Birds in Urban Manila. Birding is an easy activity, one just need a set of eyes, ears to listen and time to observe.

Just when I was really getting deep into birding and bird photography, COVID-19 pandemic happened. Suddenly we’re the ones locked up like a cage in our own houses looking out to the wild birds outside. Luckily, if you have a garden or a backyard that’s a luxury enough to enjoy the activity, but for others the window would suffice. Any which way, if you find yourself staring at the open sky or nearby trees, make sure to notice the common Birds in Urban Manila. Birding is an easy activity, one just need a set of eyes, ears to listen and time to observe.

If you happen to be stuck in Metro Manila, I listed some of the birds I commonly found in the city. This is based in my area of Pasig, in the midst of the metro. There may be more in the coastal areas like Manila which I’ll add when able.

Eurasion Tree Sparrow
Eurasion Tree Sparrow

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Commonly mistaken as the “Maya’, the former Philippine national bird, the Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus) is quite different in looks. It has a chestnut brown crown, black patched face with white cheeks in contrast to the Chestnut Munia or Maya which has a dark head, brown body and white beak. The Eurasian tree sparrow is widespread and can be seen everywhere. Usually in flocks.

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul

Yellow-vented Bulbul

The Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) is easier heard than seen. Quite noisy, especially if they sense your presence approaching. It has a distinctive call similar to tingling chimes. If you do see them they are quite aloof and would immediately fly off. They have a white face and darkened borders on the eyes as if wearing a mask. A yellow underpants below its white chest.

Philippine Pied Fantail
Philippine Pied Fantail

Philippine Pied Fantail

The Philippine Pied Fantail (Rhipidura nigritorquis) is quite territorial. Once it has settled on its location, it perches regularly on its favorite spot. They are not afraid to chase off birds, cats, dogs, fellow birds and even people to protect its territory. Especially when nesting. It has a beautiful tail that resembles a fan when spread wide. They are locally called, Maria Capra.

Zebra Dove
Zebra Dove

Zebra Dove

The Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) is commonly found on the ground scavenging for food especially at the fields. When perched on the tree, they seemed to just hang out and would make pleasant cooing sounds. Most of the time found in pairs or flocks.

Olive-backed Sunbird (female)
Olive-backed Sunbird (female)

Olive-backed Sunbird

Olive-backed Sunbird (male)
Olive-backed Sunbird (male)

Quite a loud bird for its small size. The Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) are very skittish. Flying from flower to flower or way up the trees hopping from one branch to another. They are a songbird if they stay on a branch for a while. The male and female differs as the male has a dark metallic blue-black throat and breast.

Brown Shrike
Brown Shrike

Brown-shrike

Quite surprised at first to see them in the city as I thought the Brown-shrike (Lanius cristatus) are only found at lowland forest and rural areas. But I have seen them around even inside subdivision or busy urban areas homes especially by the riversides. Locally called Tarat, they have a distinctive “cheep-cheep” bird call. Also called the “butcher” as they prey on insects, lizards and even small birds. They are quite a traveller too as they are migratory.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow

Pacific Swallow

It’s easy to miss the Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) as they are small and glides fast into the air. I often see them near bridges and by the river as they make nests under the bridges. Often times they perch on wires but not long as they have tiny feet.

This is a progressive list and will be updated accordingly. Any common birds visiting on your part of the city? Do share!

By Ferdz

Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

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