Photos by ROSS RAWOLLE 

Whether you’re living in a subdivision, the middle of the city, or a rural area, you’re sure to bump into wild Birds in their natural environment. The great news is that observing these quirky animals has been proven to boost mental health and is an easy hobby to get into!

We asked Ross Rawolle, a Bird photographer, about his experience observing Birds in the wild. Here is how he started and met some of the Avian friends he made in his neighborhood.

Question: Tell us more about how this hobby of yours came to be.

Answer: Nakahiligan ko ito noong mapansin ko na marami pala tayong iba’t-ibang uri ng Ibon na matatagpuan dito sa siyudad. Pati sa mga bakasyon ko, hindi ko na maalis ang mata ko sa mga puno dahil naaaliw ako makakita ng mga bagong Ibon sa bawat lugar na napupuntahan ko. Napagdesisyunan ko nang bumili ng camera para makilala ang mga ito at maibahagi din sa ibang tao na mayroon pala tayong mga ganitong Ibon dito at dapat mapangalagaan pa ang kanilang tirahan.

(I started to enjoy this when I noticed that there are many different kinds of Birds here in the city. Even when I go on vacation, I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off of the trees because I was amazed by the new Birds whom I saw everywhere. I eventually decided to buy a camera to get to know them, but also to let others know about them and share that we need to take care of their habitat.) 

Q: Where do you get information about the Birds in your photos?

A: Noong nagkaroon na ako ng camera, sumali na din ako sa mga Facebook group ng mga Birders dito at mayroon ding mga Bird identification app para din malaman kung endemic sila at kung ano ang conservation status nila.

(When I got my camera, I joined Facebook groups of local Birders, and there are also Bird identification apps for when you want to find out what their conservation status is and if they’re endemic.) 

FLOCKING TOGETHER
Groups like the Birdwatch Philippines Community, an online Facebook group run by the members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, are a great place to ask for help in identifying the many Birds around you. You don’t need a high-end camera to start basking in Birdlife!

Q: You took photos of the Brown Shrike, Zebra Dove, and Crested Myna in Paranaque — tell us where and how you spotted them. Can you tell them apart based on their Bird calls?

A: Madalas, sila ay makikita sa mga lugar na marami pang puno, at dahil sa libangan ko na ito ng ilang taon, pamilyar na din ako sa huni ng ilang mga ibon.

(I usually see them in areas that still have trees. Because of my years of bird photography, I have become familiar with the calls of the birds) 

BIRD SPOTTING? TRY IT!

Backyard birding is fast becoming a common hobby, especially because of the pandemic. If there are any forest patches, creeks, or grasslands in your area, try and take some time to visit in the early morning to listen and observe Philippine Birds in the wild.

Who knows? You may even fall in love with them, just like Rawolle. 

WHERE THEY BELONG
Taking photographs of Birds is a great way to get to know them without disturbing them.

When asked how seeing and hearing them in the wild makes Rawolle feel, he has this to say: “Bilang isang vegan, nais ko din ipaalam sa iba na hindi nila kinakailangan pang ikulong ang mga Ibon na ito sa hawla para lamang mapagmasdan at mapakinggan. Napakasarap pagmasdan ng mga Ibon sa natural nilang pamumuhay at hindi [stressed], at ang pagbili sa kanila ay pagtangkilik lamang sa mga tao upang ang mga Ibon ay hulihin at pagkakitaan. (As a vegan, I want others to know that caging Birds are not the only way to experience and hear them. It’s an amazing feeling to meet them in their natural habitat. Buying caged Birds will only encourage others to catch and earn from the trade.)”