Birdwatching in a city is definitely unpopular, particularly when you talked about Jakarta, one of the most populated cities in the world. Once I uploaded my story of my recent birdwatching activity in the center of Jakarta, I received a suggestion to visit another birdwatching site up in the mountains. Sigh….
To most birdwatchers, seeing a rare, endemic species is maybe like winning a prestigious prize. But, this was not my intention that day. More than 10 years ago, our small bird club carried out a bird survey in the city. Our question was simple. Can we still see wild birds in Jakarta? More than ten years ago, this city still held at least 105 species. Some of the buildings that retain a patch of tall trees in their garden might be a good place to see the noisy Red-breasted parakeet (Psittacula alexandri). Last Saturday right at the center of Jakarta, at the National Monument (Monas) park, I saw them again.
Monas was constructed around 1961 in 80 ha area just in front of Presidential Palace. For the last ten years, Monas has been through a lot of facelift particularly around the edges. More trees have been planted, from palms, Banaba tree or Bungur (Lagerstroemia speciosa), to Jamaican cherry tree (Muntingia calabura). The latter was my favorite childhood tree. The red berry fruits were the one that attract me to climb the tree, just as they attract the birds. Urban environment have been shown to favor birds that eat seeds and insects and thus helping to disperse the seeds and control the urban insect populations. The life of frugivores is much tougher as they really depend on available fruiting trees. But at least the Jamaican cherry tree in this park was able to satisfy the Pink-necked green pigeons (Treron vernans).
This was my bird of the day. Like many green pigeons, they are strong flyers and rarely come to the ground. Ten yeas ago, this bird was not in our list for this park. They tended to be found in old wooded areas, avoiding the crowded central parts of Jakarta.
At the end of the morning, our list grew to 18 bird species. Thanks to our young good guides, the new generation of bird enthusiast, we were able to see the small minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus), the coppersmith barbet (Megalaima haemacephala), and the Asian glossy starling (Aplonis panayensis). Our citiwalk of the day was successful.
People are coming to this park for their weekend exercise, jogging, or picnic while the spotted dove (Streptophelia chinensis) or the Asian pied starling (Sturnus contra) occasionally come to the ground to feed on seeds. It feels good to see that a part of this city is still sustaining a small bird community. The art of urban birdwatching is finding the good sites, foraging for life supporting system of the city for birds and for us…..
PS: this posting has been listed in “I and the Bird“. It’s a very YAY! except that they used he instead of she. Here’s what they say,
“Noonanthome of “Wisdom of Wildlife” compares seeing a rare bird with winning a prestigious prize. Well, he’d know as the newest recipient of the Most Pink-necked Pigeon Award. How prestigious”