Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bird Songs in Your Home

Coppersmith Barbet

     Birds have the unique ability to fly. It is a skill shared only with bats, insects, and ancient pterosaurs. Because of this special ability, birds are not limited by geographical boundaries. They, unlike most other animals, can make the whole world their home. They can ascend a mountain in mere minutes. They can summer in Europe and winter in Asia. It is heartening then to discover that of all the possible places in the world, a bird has chosen your particular patch of garden to call home. What are these special birds that are living in your backyard? How can you identify them?

     One way to identify birds is by their call. Some birds are more easily heard than seen. Many birdcalls are difficult to remember because they are also difficult to describe. Birdcalls do not fall within the regular musical scale. They are more like sound effects. However, there are some birds whose calls are very distinctive, memorable, and easy to recognize. It also doesn't hurt that their calls are also very loud and usually repeated several times.
     The Savanna Nightjar is one of the easiest birds to identify by sound since it is the only bird active at night. There may still be Grass Owls in the village, but they have not been seen recently.  The Savanna Nightjar's call sounds like "Tchwieeep! Tchwieeep! Tchwieeep!", but pronounced like a whistle. It is a stocky brown bird with big eyes, a tiny beak, and a broad white patch under the wing.
     The Coppersmith Barbet has a very unique and distinct sound. Unlike most other birds that chirp and tweet, the Copppersmith Barbet’s call sounds like a loud and steady “hoop, hoop, hoop” that is repeated for several minutes. The Copersmith Barbet is a chunky, gaily colored bird. It has a red crown, yellow face and chest, and green back and wings. Despite its bright colors, it is surprisingly good at blending into the leaves of trees.

     The Black-naped Oriole's call sounds like a long whistle. It has many different kinds of calls, but all of them have a whistle-like quality. The Black-naped Oriole is a big yellow and black bird with a reddish beak.

     The Olive-backed Sunbird has a high-pitched, persistent call that sounds like zwiiit-zwiiit! It is a small, olive colored bird with a yellow chest. The males have an iridescent blue throat. They have a long, thin beak that curves downwards.

     The White Collared Kingfisher is the most common of the Philippine kingfishers. It is also unmistakable when seen. It is large and has a blue head and body with a white collar, chest, and belly. It has a large, heavy black beak and black legs. Its call is a loud, harsh squawking-like “waak, waak, wakk”!

    Getting to know the birds and bird sounds around your house can be rewarding. It is something that will add a different layer of color to your day. It's another way to connect with nature in your everyday life, even while living in a village like Ayala Alabang.

To see a picture gallery of Ayala Alabang birds, click here

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