Saturday, July 10, 2010

The maya bird -- before 1995 -- was the national bird of the Philippines

This is a repost of Pinoys: Will the real Philippine Maya bird please stand up?.

This is a classic case study of mistaken identity and information being passed on from generation to generation. All bird photographs in this article were taken by the Canon 7D camera using a Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS lens with a 1.4x extender.

The Philippine Maya Bird
The real maya, the Philippines' national bird before 1995.

False Maya Bird of the Philippines
This was never a national bird of the Philippines!

One of the most widely spread misinformation in the Philippines is the identity of our formal national bird. Before the Philippine Eagle was declared as the official national bird of the Philippines in 1995, the title previously belonged to the Philippine maya.

Everyone thinks it's the brown bird...
When I was a child, I was told all of those tiny brown birds were all mayas. Everyone around me thought the same. My friends, family, and teachers, all of them thought the brown birds were mayas. Unfortunately what I was taught was incorrect. These brown animals, the most widely seen bird species in the country, is not actually endemic to the Philippines. It's found all over Europe and Asia and was introduced here. The official name of this bird is the Eurasian Tree Sparrow or Passer montanus.

The real maya stands out -- it's red in color
Thankfully this morning, in my backyard in Bacolod, Philippines, a real maya bird visited my garden. This was the first time I've ever captured a real maya bird on a DSLR. He was looking to build his nest and something in my garden attracted him. Soon there were two of them looking around for building material.

The Philippine maya is otherwise known as the Black-headed Munia also known as Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla). While it's family is found throughout Asia, the maya bird subspecies particularly belongs to the Philippines. It's called Lonchura atricapilla jagori.

When they are young, the color of their feathers are brown but when they mature, they turn red.

So there you have it, you have now been given truth. Spread it out and help educate the masses! Teach your friends, relatives, and children the correct information. If you are Pinoy, you should at least know your former national bird wasn't an introduced species by foreigners.

Maya bird, the Philippine national bird before 1995

The National Bird of the Philippines

(Photo credit: Wikipedia/Harry Cruz)

The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyii) is the relatively new National Bird of the Philippines. Formerly, it was the maya bird.

If your looking for information about the Philippine Bird Photography site, please visit

Formerly known as monkey-eating eagle, a Presidential Decree No. changed the name to Philippine eagle 1732 in 1978 after it was learned that monkeys comprise an insignificant portion of its diet, which consists mainly of flying lemurs, squirrels, snakes, civets, hornbills, rodents, and bats.

In 1995, then President Fidel Ramos declared the Philippine eagle as the country's national bird.