Are you wondering whether you should hand over your P500 annual membership fee to become a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines? WBCP Founding Member Kitty Arce extolls the virtues of becoming a WBCP member. It’s a great deal and will make you feel amazing!
Why You Should Be a Member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
by Kitty Arce
If you are reading this article and not yet a member of the club, then there are basically two scenarios that you may find yourself in —
Scenario 1: You like nature. You enjoy nature trails. You like to hike. You also happen to like animals. But you feel like something is missing…
Scenario 2: You like to watch birds and other people think you are strange.
Another possible scenario is, your membership has just expired and you are contemplating whether to renew or not. Hopefully, this article will be a good reminder of why you signed-up and should sign-up again!
We all know that joining a club is not all peachy to everyone. Some may be shy, some don’t see the need for it, some have bad experiences from it but more than often those who give it a shot, and those who keep their membership active, benefit and enjoy joining a club.
Members of the Wild Bird Club are self-confessed wanderers. They cannot be in the city for too long. They need to be out in fields and forest, marshes and tidal flats, even beaches littered with trash! There are beach bums, happy road trippers, foodies, artists, scientists, animal advocates, photographers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, architects – you name it. The one thing they have in common is the love of the outdoors. Most likely, they had a marvelous encounter with a bird or came across a birdwatcher during one of their outdoor adventures, which intrigued and hooked them into the hobby.
You don’t have binoculars yet? No problem! It is obvious that when you get into bird watching you need, equipment – binoculars! You probably don’t want to buy a pair for yourself just yet, because binoculars can be pricey and maybe you will realize you are not that in to it. But by joining a club, one can borrow a pair of binoculars and get to share telescopes with other club members during field trips! You will also get great advice, even discounts, when you decide to purchase the desired pair for yourself.
Joining the club gives you the opportunity to travel with like-minded people! We have to accept that going on a birding trip can be boring for non-bird watchers. Going on a hike or a picnic with family or friends who are not bird watchers often leads to frustration or you, separating yourself from the group end up going your own way. But with a group of birders, you know your companions won’t be aghast when you say wake-up call is at 4am so you can hike up a steep hillside to locate an elusive endemic owl.
Bird outings need not to be expensive. There are very good sights within Metro Manila and there are so many excellent sights all over the country but that can be expensive. Going out of town usually entails traveling to a remote area by air, sea, and land; hiring a guide; and occasionally, you have to settle for the most basic accommodations or you have no choice but to check-in with the most luxurious. Thus, sharing the cost can be the only way for most people to go on a bird-watching expedition. And where else can you find birdwatchers with itchy feet than in the club. Speaking of trips, it is through a good network that birdwatchers often find out where a birding hot spot is, where a good reliable local patch is or for rare bird alerts.
The club also has members from all over the world, so if you plan to go on a trip out of the country, it will be easy to make a side trip and have a birder pal with you!
We are bird geeks who know how to have fun. The club holds scientific talks and lectures exclusively for members on various topics such as bird identification, latest bird news and conservation issues. These talks usually begin or conclude with a big meal and cocktails. And that means PARTY! Bird club members can look forward to the annual anniversary party and general meeting as well as the Christmas party. Here, members meet, share experiences and encourage each other members to go out there and bird!
Bird watching is a hobby that can be enjoyed alone. Birdwatchers bird a lot. They notice birds in their garden, while buying the groceries, or peering out their office window. Yes, there are more birds in our big cities than most think!
As a solitary birder, you become dependent on yourself in identifying birds. It becomes essential to take notes. To write and/or sketch what you see, the calls you hear, the environment you are in. Birdwatchers are more observant. And at the end of the day, there is a sense of pride when you go through your notes and refer to various materials and make that bird ID. When you end up more confused than ever don’t fret, as a club member you will have access to collective expertise of experienced birdwatchers online.
The free eBON Newsletter (WBCP’s official electronic newsletter), the first of its kind in the Philippines, contains helpful articles on bird watching in this part of the world. eBON also publishes reports by members about their bird watching trips abroad.
That feeling when your heart stops upon seeing a bird for the first time that no bird watcher can really describe. It is best experienced when you are with someone who knows exactly how you feel. If you are going birding for the first time–watch out for that spark bird! What is a spark bird, you ask? It’s that bird that will get you hooked on the hobby and you will know it when you see it!
Birding mostly, if not always, results in a happy ending. 🙂 Sometimes in a location where there were so many birds seen just the other day, you get there and you just don’t see a whole lot of birds. Or perhaps you dipped on a bird during a twitch. Most birders do not despair as the journey, the chase, the camaraderie and simply being in nature makes up for it. When you are part of a club, you celebrate the accomplishment or the lack of it. There will always be stories to tell.
When you join the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, you’re not just adding to your science education while having fun – you’re also doing your part for conservation and the local economy. How? There are many ways! The club is very active in promoting environmental awareness through the annual Philippine Bird Festival, the Asian Bird Festival, through visiting schools and guiding students and teachers alike and even accommodating private corporations for guided trips. As a form of eco-tourism, bird watching has created a growing entrepreneurial niche, providing additional income to rural folk who act as guides, rent boats, and provide food, lodging and other services in coastal villages and the countryside where we bird. By sharing knowledge about wildlife and green spaces, birdwatchers have inspired many local communities to conserve what remains and restore what has been damaged, to preserve and enrich indigenous bird and nature lore, and to consider environmentally-sustainable practices in fisheries, farming and tourism.
Keeping record of birds you see and sharing these to the club is contributing to the conservation of birds (How? Find out on my next article!). The club also gets in to the nitty gritty of habitat conservation. It’s just natural that the club gets in to this because if there are no green spaces, mudflats, forests left – where will we see birds and other wildlife? All these activities and more are sustained by the membership fees of members and the generous donations from individuals and groups who share our mission. So even if you are the quiet type and not really in to active participation, by simply being a member you still get to learn and make a significant contribution to the cause of nature conservation. All the programs and the projects of the club are driven by the volunteerism of club members. Didn’t I tell you the members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines are awesome?!
Well, what are you waiting for? Join WBCP today! Renew your membership! Enjoy nature and birds, help save the planet, and never again feel you’re strange for liking birds! 🙂
Well, what are you waiting for? Join WBCP today! Renew your membership! Enjoy nature and birds, help save the planet, and never again feel you’re strange for liking birds!
Thank you to Ned Liuag for editing this article!