Bantay Kalikasan

The Birds of La Mesa

Jenie Chan
May 26, 2015

Many say that Filipinos’  favorite past time is “malling”, that is until they discover the thrill and excitement of “birding”  

They  come in all shapes , sizes and combination of colors. The birds of the La Mesa Eco Park bring so much interest and life to the city’s premiere park that bird watchers from all over the world flock to the park to catch a glimpse of these feathered wonders. From 31 bird species recorded in 2002,  there  are currently 120 birds species found in La Mesa.  Apparently, a number of these birds are very rarely seen in a metropolis.

Anthony Balbin, a concessionaire at the park is a photographer and a certified bird watcher. He has documented 90  of the bird species found at La Mesa together with his group, the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP), and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). They visit different bird hot spots all over the country to capture images of birds that visit our archipelago’s skies.  They also actively campaign for the protection of birds from poaching and hunting.

Known as the Birdman, Anthony has photographed almost every bird in La Mesa

The increased sightings of birds at La Mesa was brought about by the active reforestation efforts of Bantay Kalikasan (BK) of the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation.  In the last 15 years, through its  Save The La Mesa Watershed Project, BK was able to reforest 1,552 hectares of the 2,700 hectares of the Watershed. From a mere 9 species of trees that were planted in the mid 70s to the mid 80s, La Mesa is now covered with 99 indigenous species of forest trees. Now lush and teeming with life, other species have also found a home in La Mesa like the endangered Monitor Lizard  (Varanus Salvator) and two species of bats.

Many visitors of the park, mostly children and their parents or teachers come to enjoy the many facilities of the Eco Park like the Kiddie Pool, Zipline, Bungee Jump and Archery.  But unlike other kids,  Anthony’s son  Sean, his  idea of a fun park visit is , just like his dad, bird watching.  The  7 -year old grew a deep appreciation and fondness for birds so much so that during one of his visits, he had his own  pet bird , a Philippine Hanging Parrot released to the forest. He said “ Dad, it’s ok to release Colasisi to the forest so she can fly and be happy , anyway I will still get to see her at  La Mesa Eco Park when I come to bird watch with you.”

Father and son, Anthony and Sean Balbin while bird watching at La Mesa Eco Park

Through the help of 3,890 individual and institutional donors of the Save the La Mesa Watershed , the La Mesa Nature Reserve was not only reforested , but has regenerated biodiversity . It has likewise resulted in the improved water quality of the La Mesa Dam * Today, the La Mesa also serves  as a living laboratory for environmental studies. 14,749 have been trained by its Eco Academy  from 2007 -2013 on the value of the watershed, vermin composting, basic gardening and tree planting.

As summer draws to a close, why not visit La Mesa Eco Park with your family and friends . Park entrance is  just a 50 peso donation ( free if you are less than 3ft tall or a Senior Citizen from QC; P20 if you are a student from QC and P40 is you are a QC resident).Spend a day under the shade of a thousand  trees while having a nice picnic, biking, hiking, and yes, birding. Who knows, you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of Colasisi, hopping  from one branch to the next. 

*Based on  water sampling conducted by Berkman

Black Hooded Pitta
(Pitta sordid)

Spotted Wood-Kingfisher
(Actenoides lindsayi)

Brown Hawk Owl
(Ninox scutulata)



Anthony Balbin, WBCP


Christmas Island Frigatebird
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Little Heron (Striated Heron)
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Crested Serpent-Eagle
Barred Rail
Slaty-legged Crake
White-browed Crake
Plain Bush-hen
White-breasted Waterhen (White-breasted Bush-hen)
Common Moorhen
Greater Painted-snipe
Common Sandpiper
White-eared Brown-Dove
Zebra Dove
Common Emerald Dove (Emerald Dove)
Plaintive Cuckoo
Brush Cuckoo
Philippine Coucal
Philippine Eagle-Owl
Glossy Swiftlet
House Swift
Common Kingfisher
Indigo-banded Kingfisher
White-collared Kingfisher (Collared Kingfisher)
Spotted Wood-Kingfisher (Spotted Kingfisher)
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Coppersmith Barbet
Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Philippine Woodpecker)
Red-bellied Pitta
Hooded Pitta
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Pied Triller
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Philippine Bulbul
Black-naped Oriole
Large-billed Crow
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Pied Bushchat
Ashy Ground-Thrush (Ashy Thrush)
White's Thrush (Scaly Ground-Thrush)
Brown-headed Thrush
Eyebrowed Thrush
Golden-bellied Flyeater (Golden-bellied Gerygone)
Arctic Warbler
Striated Grassbird
Philippine Tailorbird
Grey-backed Tailorbird
Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Cisticola)
Grey-streaked Flycatcher
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
Pied Fantail
Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Pechora Pipit
White-breasted Wood-swallow
Brown Shrike
Crested Myna
Olive-backed Sunbird
Red-keeled Flowerpecker
Lowland White-eye
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White-bellied Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia
Chestnut Munia
Grey Heron
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Chinese Goshawk
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Black-chin Fruit Dove
Spotted Dove
Blue-naped Parrot 
Philippine Hawk Cuckoo
Brown Hawk Owl
White-throated Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Bright-caped Cisticola 
Ferrugenous Flycatcher
Orange-bellied Flower Pecker
Naked-face Spider Hunter
Yellow Bittern
Cinnamom Bittern
Philippine Nightjar