Tuesday, January 3

a twitchy new year

how my birding has changed in the past year!  for a self proclaimed non-twitcher, i could not resist sightings near my home and place of work!  and it all started with a ferruginous flycatcher in late 2010.  i twitched a red-bellied pitta, leading to the discovery of the now famous ashy ground thrush. then a ruddy kingfisher. then white wagtails.  and now i start my birding year twitching a family of philippine eagle owls!

i had not connected with the internet since the school break started on december 16 and so i was completely (but refreshingly) out of the loop.  andrew had texted me yesterday if i wanted to see the owl.  of course my response was:
what owl?

apparently the latest city bird sensations were a family of philippine eagle owls in diliman!  i was suffering from a low grade fever and very bad sore throat (the worst i had ever!) and it was the day before school resumed, but a few text messages and encouragement from maia & jops (who dropped by the house after an owl encounter) and adri & i were set to meet the owls. it would be a lifer for adri & a definite upgrade for me.  i had seen the owl several years ago on the dark highway of mt. palaypalay with alex, tere and mang boy.
at 5pm, just before sunset, they were not hard at all to find, beginning with an adult high up in a rain tree, staring down at us. such a large bird up an equally large tree!  there it was, probably wondering what all the commotion was about several days in a row.  we (karen, tonji & sylvia, christian, mark jason, bram, arne, melanie, adri & i) could not help but gawk.
an very large adult philippine eagle-owl was perched on a rain tree as we drove up.  this is my picture using a 420 (300mm + 1.4x TC) lens

it was probably the female, being a bit paler. later, a very dark reddish brown juvenile hopped up on a planter box ledge on the neighboring building to poop outside of the box.  was this the nest of this elusive owl? then a darker adult (perhaps the male?) flew in and perched on a fire tree on our left, several meters from the first adult.  it was a delight to watch the owl family, especially the juvenile, which waddled like a penguin on the edge of the planter box and bobbed its head up and down in a circular motion like a dashboard doggy. later as the light waned a night fell, both adults flew silently in separate directions. in less than 10 minutes one of them returned with a large rat in its claws! it momentarily perched on the rain tree before flying to the planter box where the hungry juvenile immediately dropped into the planter box out of sight.  soon they were joined by the second adult, and we imagined the nice family dinner they were having.

here are adri's pictures using his lumix attached to his swarovski spotting scope:
adult philippine eagle owl #1 perched on a rain tree: female? notice the paler belly

adult philippine eagle owl #2 perched on a fire tree: male? compare to the first 2 pictures above

juvenile philippine eagle owl perched on a building flowerbox: much smaller than the adults and much more rufous-y. not to mention much, much cuter!

after a few minutes both adults flew out again eventually and we heard a very low hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo in the dark.

kennedy describes the habits of Bubo philippensis as "lives in forest and forest edge... also coconut plantations with patched of second growth. little is known about this secretive owl. no breeding information."

now we can add... prefers to nest in concrete planter boxes four to five storeys high!

much thanks to karen o. for sharing another wonderful city discovery!


  1. wow! we hope to witness the "family dinner" soon =) ganda ng pics of all the members of the family!!! =)

  2. come out of hiding and go see the owls! =)

  3. thanks maia!

    @drew: mwahahaha. mainggit ka paaaaaaaa. si mel kasi eh. ;-)

  4. ganda nung baby photo! super cute!

  5. thanks abby! adri was quite surprised he got a clear-ish photo because it was already quite dark.

    yes, super cute. i want life sized plushies of the whole family!