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5 Reasons - to go Birdwatching in the Philippines

Palawan Hornbill

I'm gonna start some sort of a series called "5 Reasons" which would be a rough list of why you should visit a destination or do something out of your comfort zone. I will start with my advocacy which is birdwatching. Here goes....

1. You will be surprised to know that there are more than 4 kinds of birds in the Philippines aside from the sparrows (or maya/ibong bahay), pigeons, chickens and maybe your pet parakeet. In fact, the country has more than 600 species of birds of all kinds of sizes, colors, and beauty. Add to this, roughly 200 of those are called endemics and found nowhere else in this world. These are some of the samplers - Philippine Eagle, Philippine Scops Owl, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Calayan Rail, Negros Bleeding Heart, and more!

2. Its a good way to exercise. Try to do some internet research on the birdwatchers (or birders, if you prefer Euro-speak). You will find out that a lot of the avid birders are well into retirement age. Don't get me wrong that its a hobby for oldies. But look at it this way - birding can be very tiring. As you try to find as many species as possible, you may walk several kilometers (while having fun!) and for several hours without you knowing it. And if you can do that in your old age, try to imagine how healthy it can be!

3. You will gain more friends. Maybe I could say that the serious birdwatching community is a strange kind of population. They have nothing in mind but seeing their dream species. But it can actually have a lot of downtime when the birds start hiding and you will have great bonding moments with your birding mates. Share your stories, laugh and smile at your common passion, or just simply look at the clouds while lying on grass beds.

One tip I can share for those new in the activity is that never do birdwatching alone. You will be frustrated looking at a flying or perched animal and not having an idea what it is. Go with somebody who has done it, get amazed at his excitement as he watches and stutters in identifying a lifer (that's a bird he sees for the first time). You will get better chances catching the birding bug this way.

4. You may not know it, but you will slowly become an eloquent advocate for the environment and conservation. Sooner that you realize it, you will have the passion on everything environment. After 2 or 3 trips, you will realize that its not just looking at the colorful birds. You will have the hunger to know more. About their habitats, their roles in this universe, why they are disappearing, and what are the relationship of bird protection to our own survival. It can initially be very nebulous, but it will be very fulfilling.

5. Its a very good excuse to travel. You may have seen the 10 species in your neighborhood. But more birds are meant to be discovered by your own eyes. Avid birdwatchers are known to spread to various corners of the world just to see even a glimpse of species found only on a small island or a disappearing patch of forest. Yes, its a good excuse to discover other cultures, laze on the beach while waiting for the "birding time," dine in the most exotic buffet tables, and make a more complete travel adventure.


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