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Birds Around Us: Observing the Birds in Tanah Tingal Forest

The sunlight passed through the leaves of the “Bodhi” tree. A musician stood playing an ukulele while children awaited in seats for the next song they would sing together. Some of the children walked down the footbridge; challenging themselves to clear the obstacles in the game area.

Tanah Tingal Family and Culture Festival 2017, which was held on 18-19 November 2017 was a very colourful event. Tanah Tingal itself was a city forest nearby the South Tangerang modern area. It’s a fun area for every family to spend their weekends and enjoy the facilities such as outbound activities, children park, swimming pool and—of course—natural forest with a river in it.

Visitors, especially children, were free to join play-based learning activities namely puppet decorating, painting and bird observation. Old World Sparrows were not the only bird species living in urbans and not everyone knew this fact. Many species inhabited Tanah Tingal and they were fascinating to be observed.

Burung Indonesia invited the visitors to join the adventure of searching and enjoying the beauty of birds. Enjoying the presence of birds in the fresh air of an urban forest is the first step to appreciate the quality of the natural environment in urban areas.

The bird observation was participated in by ten children. They had been trained to use binoculars and potential birds to be encountered in the location. The Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker was the most bird to be observed in the first session. Down the path with watchful eyes and alert ears, they tracked the direction of the chirping sounds.

The Sooty-headed Bulbul, Olive-backed Sunbird and Bar-winged Prinia then consecutively perched on tree branches. As usual, Cave Swiftlets flew across the sky like it's about to pierce the clouds.

They halted in a pond. Ferry Hasudungan, Biodiversity Conservation Specialist of Burung Indonesia, talked to them. “River banks or pondside are the places where we can find Kingfishers. It has a long and sharp beak. They forage on ponds or rivers, and feed on small fishes and shhh…“ he let the children finish his sentence. “… riiiiimps!” they shouted to him before directing their binoculars to the pondside. Unfortunately, the bird was nowhere to be found.

Bird-friendly city

South Tangerang, which is now a buffer city for the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, was once a very large green area. The very rapid rate of urbanization makes most of the area a residential and industrial area.

The rapid pace of urbanization has also changed the composition of the population in Indonesia. Today, about half of the world's population lives in cities. It is estimated that by 2030 around 60% of the human population will live in urban areas.

So, where will the birds live? We need to develop a better city ecosystem. Bringing nature back into the city has a much bigger meaning than simply decorating it. One way to make a city friendly to bird populations is to increase Urban Green Space (UGS).

The UGSs are not only meant to decorate cities, but also to filter out vehicle pollution, reduce noises, and absorb excess rainfalls. It is also a place for wildlife like birds and butterflies to live in. Natural “green-spaces” like Tanah Tingal and house yards contribute as a “stepping ground” for the birds to move between areas. This certainly improves the connectivity between UGSs.

To invite birds, the Sooty-headed Bulbul, Olive-backed Sunbird and Bar-winged Prinia for instance, the residents can start with planting fruit trees and flowers in their yards. Birds could use the trees as a food source and shelter for perching and nesting. Both birds and insects could drink the nectar of flowers.


Since 2011, Burung Indonesia has been encouraging new initiatives for bird conservation in urban areas through the Birds Around Us (BArU) program. BArU is an Urban Green Space development program that is not only green, but also considers ecological principles. The BArU program aims to increase the awareness of urban communities on the importance of preserving the ecosystem around them. Awareness activities for various community groups are one of them, including joint bird watching activities.