Guide to the birds of Philippine rice fields
Annually, Filipino farmers harvest more than 4 million hectares of rice fields within the country. Even though management and techniques differ from island to island, even among neighboring farmers, the overall habitat is similar and so, rice fields provide an important artificial wetland attraction for an area’s biodiversity and for migrating “feathered” visitors.
Located 50 kilometers south of Manila on the slopes of the dormant volcano Mt. Makiling in Los Baños, Laguna, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has spent more than 50 years developing new rice varieties for poor farmers and studying different environmentally friendly and relatively pesticide-free methods of rice field management that farmers can use. The 209 hectares of rice fields on IRRI’s experiment farm form a mosaic patchwork of different crop stages and varying degrees of wetland habitats, which make them a bird Keeping a healthy rice ecosystem is a target for IRRI on the farm. For example, the Institute uses integrated pest management (IPM), which reduced pesticide application by 96% between 1993 and 2008 and encourages richer natural biodiversity. Although there is no direct evidence on the impact of the reduced pesticide use, it is certainly a contributor to richer bird life in and around the farm.
This guide will help bird enthusiasts identify birds—both common and rare—found frequenting rice fields in the Philippines, spotlighting particularly the rice fields on the IRRI farm as a microcosm for the country as a whole. All of these birds, most assuredly, can be seen in many rice fields within the Philippines, Hence the title of this guide. This guide concentrates on the IRRI fields because they have been intensively surveyed over recent years like no other location in the country.
Highlighted are 93 species that actually use the fields, that is, hunting for food, sheltering within the rice plant canopy, and raising their broods. It also includes five years of observational records at IRRI to approximate what months these birds are most likely to be present.
The guide is available at the IRRI book store for P250/copy. International mail orders can also be made for US$6.00 a copy plus shipping. Contact to order and give shipping information to establish a final price.