Nov 23, 2018

Not all birds flying in the city are mayas. If you take a closer look, some of these small brown birds happen to be paddyfield pipits, which are songbirds, or brown shrikes, which have flown across the seas from northern Asian countries to avoid the winter season.

Frogs and lizards are not the only reptiles prevalent in the city, either. There are also worm snakes (don’t worry, they’re nonvenomous!) and sun skinks, which are shiny lizards.

If you haven’t noticed any of these, don’t worry. When you think of the habitat of exotic plants and animals, you rarely really picture the city. The only unusual animal breeds you expect to see in urban areas, after all, are the ones in zoos and sanctuaries, all kept for educational purposes. If not only for this campus-based wildlife project, we wouldn’t also notice the varying types of birds, reptiles, insects, and plants living within one of the busiest areas in the Metro.

The Ateneo Wild Project, which has been making rounds on social media since last August, sheds light on the “wide variety of wildlife” present within the Ateneo de Manila University campus along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.

Here’s a look at some of their posts:

Don’t you just envy the birds for mastering the secrets of flight? This airborne creature is the yellow-vented bulbul…

Posted by The Ateneo Wild on Saturday, November 3, 2018

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We were excited to hear from some of you about these big white birds walking around Bellarmine field in the mornings and afternoons this past week – thanks for the tip! These Eastern cattle egrets (Bubulcus coromandus) are likely to be migrants which have come from mainland Asia to spend the winter months here. In rural areas, egrets complete a common pastoral scene: perched on top of carabaos or following farmers tilling the fields. They chase after insects jumping from the grass or mud when disturbed by the beast of burden's footsteps or exposed by the farmer's plow. Here in Bel field, they seem happy to bask in the early morning or late afternoon sun. Watch them stretch out their long necks trying to catch jumping insects! We suppose only the wildlife is exempted from the requirement to secure a permit to use Bel field! :p #cattleegret #birdsofbelfield #migrants #urbanecology #urbanbirds #birdsinthecity #citizenscience #campusbiodiversity #theateneowild

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Are you ready to meet our campus reptiles? This is the wolf snake (Lycodon capucinus), named so because it has a squarish head, shaped like a canine snout. It has a dark back and lighter belly and can be identified by the white neck band (check it out in the photo!) The local name for it is "ahas tulog" because it's nocturnal – asleep during the day, when we are out and about. The wolf snake is NOT venomous – and its diet consists mainly of small lizards like house geckos (butiki) and skinks (bubuli), which they crush to death with their powerful grip. Because of their preference for house geckos, wolf snakes are often found resting in corners or small, tight spaces indoors! Make sure you keep all doors and windows sealed to prevent them from getting inside. If you see a snake DO NOT approach it! Snakes will attack when they feel threatened. Please do not harm them, too – they are important members of our ecosystem and they help in controling pests, so it's best to leave them alone. There are other species of snakes which may be found on campus. Have you seen any of them around? #snek #wolfsnake #snake #reptile #herps #justwatchdontcatch #urbanecology #citizenscience #campusbiodiversity #theateneowild #PSA

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This forester moth (Ophthalmis lincea) is giving us Halloween feels! 🎃 Although not as fondly regarded as butterflies, moths are very important pollinators, too – and they can also be beautifully attired! This forester moth's wings are bordered by a rich tangerine, and the lighter streaks on its black wings are actually an azure blue. How can we tell moths and butterflies apart? Moths usually rest with their wings open, while butterflies rest with their wings closed/folded. Moths also have different kinds of antennae: fuzzy or thin but with tapered ends; while the butterflies' are thin and clubbed at the ends. Have you seen other moths around campus? Let us know! #moth #forestermoth #urbanecology #philippinelepidoptera #citizenscience #campusbiodiversity #theateneowild #Halloween

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Look, they even found some crustaceans by the campus waterways:

Made to “instill an appreciation for urban biodiversity and the importance of green spaces in the city,” the project is spearheaded by faculty members Trinket Canlas Constantino and Abby Favis—from the Department of Biology and Department of Environmental Science, respectively. They use social media as a tool to “highlight campus biodiversity and to encourage citizen science.”

Constantino and Favis post photos and information of exotic living species seen on campus on their Facebook and Instagram pages. They either find some of these creatures themselves or let members of the Ateneo community submit photos and its location to them.

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Just look at the size of this beehive! This photo was taken by Francis Matthew de Guzman, Discipline Formator of the ADSF-Office for Student Discipline. During the local migration of giant honey bees (Apis dorsata), they sometimes pass through the campus and we get reports of huge beehives like this one. Giant honeybees are the largest of the honey bee species and thousands of bees can make up a colony which builds a single hanging honeycomb, typically hanging several meters from the ground. Honeybees are hugely important pollinators of our agricultural crops, estimated to be more than a third of everything we eat! Without them we would lose a lot of our food supply! Bee populations worldwide have been falling rapidly in the recent years, due to a combination of various factors like habitat loss, pesticides, and disease. Keeping in mind their significant ecological roles, it is also important to remember that giant honeybees can also be very aggressive and their stings can be very painful (and dangerous if you are allergic!), so human-bee interactions must be carefully managed so that both bees and humans are kept safe. So when it comes to bees on campus, bee observant and bee careful! #apisdorsata #gianthoneybee #beehive #honey #wednesdayshare #urbanecology #citizenscience #campusbiodiversity

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“In a nutshell, our project started as a way to involve the community in achieving campus sustainability goals by reporting any wildlife they come across in the Ateneo campus,” the duo told They cull the information from “various sources [such as] our own experience, from scientific literature, from fellow nature enthusiasts and experts in respective fields of the natural sciences.”

The Ateneo Wild also conducts guided nature walks from time to time. Although this event is currently exclusive to the Ateneo community, Constantino and Favis hope to offer the walks to the external community soon.


Header image and photos used courtesy of The Ateneo Wild

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TAGS: animal Ateneo ateneo de manila biology birds environmental science Fishes Instagram katipunan photography Plants quezon city Reptiles research Snakes wildlife