Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Hornbill and Bird Watching

A friend of mine sent this beautiful photo to share with you. Not many photographers can catch a photo like this. Thanks S !!

This is the hornbill the most elegant and beautiful bird of Sarawak which is also known as "The Land of Hornbills".

The Foochows of Sibu are generally not very conscious of birds around them because according to one farmer friend of mine,they do not eat a lot of birds although the rich Foochow love birds' nests. Birds are after all very slim and there is little flesh to go around. Burong Pipit or sparrow,a favourite of many of my indigenous friends ,is just too small and too tiring to clean. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why they do not pay a lot of attention to our friends in the air.

Culturally speaking the Sibu Foochows appreciate the birds of China(literary) more than the local tropical birds. The birds mentioned in old Foochow sayings are nightingales and even peacocks and other Chinese birds which have very poetic names. A common saying is "One swallow does not mean summer has arrived." Another one :
" The sky is darkened by ravens." And Sibu is called Swan City.

The Methodist Secondary School publishes an annual school magazine called The Hornbill since 1959. That is a publication which has staying power and people should be very proud of it. Archived this series of school magazines is a rich source of local history and photographs.

If some Foochows keep birds in their own yard the Hornbill is not one of the birds due to the Protection of Endangered Animals Act. One of the favourite birds kept by many of my Foochow friends is the parrot of the imported varieties.

There is a Hornbill Road in Sibu too.

Apart from these there are few other "connections" with the Foochows.

Left in the wild but protected these birds will grace the land and make eco tourists very happy when they are sighted. There is a lot of power and determination in the wings of the hornbills. Just watch their flights when you next visit a rainforest.

Hornbills are important in our ecological cycle as they are the predators of snakes.

And birdwatching is definitely a very rewarding and healthy hobby. Sibu could become a centre for birdwatching in the years to come provided that we have the initiative.

Some additional notes to my posting today :

Here is an excerpt from a Tibetan birdwatcher (Ref : China Birdwatching Society
I shot birds in Tibet for 40 days this summer. There
were around 200 species recorded throughout the entire
journey, and many of them were interesting. Since
our team consisted of many photographers, we got quite
a lot of good pictures. However, there must be many
great species that we have missed because we lack a
person who is proficient in bird watching. In this article,
we focus on Xiongse Si, Linzhi and Namucuo. We found
the “Three precious in Tibet” which are Brown-cheeked
Laughing Thrush, Tibetan Eared-pheasant and Giant
Babax in Xiongse Si. The greatest view that we saw in
Linzhi was the mating process of a pair of Common
Rosefinch. In the saint lake Namucuo there were not
only many birds but also species of great interest.
Namucuo is especially a great place for taking photos
because of the suitable environment, light situation and
bird species seen there.

And another snippet :
The author Liu Yuyi has taught bird-watching lessons in
Beijing 101 Middle School for a semester. In the class, she
told her students how to watch birds and told them how
interesting the bird world is. After the lessons, the students
wrote some articles to express their feelings about birds
and nature. ...................

Famous Foochow Ornithologist A world renown and famous son of Fuzhou.

In memoriam: Tso-Hsin Cheng, 1906-1998
Auk, The, Apr 1999 by Hsu, Weishu
E-mail Print Link WEISHU Hsu

China Ornithological Society, c/o 1-1-302, Beijing Commission for Science and Technology, Balizhuang, Haidian District, Beijing, 100037, People Republic of China

Tso-hsin Cheng (the name is sometimes transliterated as Zheng Zuoxin), Corresponding Fellow of the AOU since 1978 and Honorary Fellow since 1984, died 27 June 1998 at the Beijing Hospital at age 92. He was founder of the Beijing Natural History Museum, an Honorary Fellow of the British Ornithologists' Union, and Honorary President of the 22nd International Ornithological Congress, 1994-1998.

Cheng's long and illustrious career in ornithology was well founded in his early age at home. He was born 18 November 1906 in Changle County, Fujian Province. From childhood, Cheng loved nature, especially the colorful birds in the forests. When in primary school, he learned to identify many birds by their calls. He entered the Fujian Christian University (FCU) in Fuzhou City in 1922 and graduated with his B.Sc. in 1926.

Keen to pursue his advanced studies in the United States, he was admitted to the Biology Department of the Graduate School of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor under Professor Peter Olas Okkelberg. Cheng's thesis was titled "The Germ Cell History of Rana cantabrigensis Baird." In June 1930 he received his Doctorate, and a special prize, the Sigma Xi Key Award, a gold key in a brocade box.

In September 1930 Cheng returned to Fuzhou as Professor and Director of the Department of Biology of FCU. In 1934 he was one of the founders of the China Zoological Society. He was invited to the United States as a Visiting Professor in 1945-1946 under the sponsorship of the Cultural Relationship Bureau of the State Department. On his return to FCU he became Dean of Science and Dean of both Undergraduate and Graduate studies. He published Checklist of Chinese Birds, which was the first checklist of Chinese birds written in Chinese.

In 1950 he moved to Beijing to take charge of curating bird specimens in the Institute of Zoology, Academia Sinica, and in 1951 he founded the Peking Natural History Museum. Since 1953, he has been Director of the Ornithological Department, Research Fellow of the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and editor-in-chief of Acta Zoologia Sinica. From 1954 to 1961 he was concurrently Professor at Peking University, Beijing Normal University, Northwest University, Lanzhou University, and Shandong University.

For more than 60 years, Cheng undertook field work and research in ornithology and conservation. He published more than ten million words in 30 books, 20 monographs, 150 scientific papers, and 260 popular articles. For example, he was first author of A Synopsis of the Avifauna of China (1987) and of 6 of the proposed 14 volumes of Fauna Sinica, Aves; for this he received in Beijing in May 1989 the Special Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation (USA).

In the first one-and-a-half decades of his career in New China, from 1950 to 1966, he carried out avifauna studies in remote areas such as the southern part of Yunnan, Hainan Island, Tibet, and the middle part of Qinglin Mountain; one result was the description of 15 new subspecies. In 1955 he published A Distributional List of Chinese Birds in two volumes, and in 1963 China's Economic Fauna: Birds. All three volumes were translated from Chinese and published in English by the United States Department of the Interior.

From 1970 to 1980 he concentrated on volumes of Fauna Sinica, Aves. From 1980 to 1985 he led his students and colleagues in studies of the ecological biology of endangered species; for this he received the Second-class Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He also promoted studies of "hot points" in avifauna of local provinces throughout China. In 1959 he and his colleagues compiled The Zoogeographical Regions of China, in which they analyzed the distribution of endemic species, dominant species, and the main economic species of birds and other animals. Their identification of Qingling Mountain in the middle of China as the boundary between the Palearctic and Oriental realms has been adopted by most scientists. His long-term studies of bird specimens included subspecies differentiation among scimitar-babblers (Pomatorhinus) and the Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera).

In his last decade, Cheng gradually shifted his main attention to bird speciation and conservation problems. Despite his advanced age, he was as energetic as ever. Volumes of the Fauna Sinica, Aves were published, one by one. In 1978 he attended the Woodland Grouse Symposium in Inverness, Scotland, his first visit to a foreign country after the Cultural Revolution. In January 1980 he led a delegation to the International Conference on Waterfowl and Cranes in Hokkaido, Japan. In November 1980 Cheng was elected by the CAS as the main delegate in negotiations between China and Japan concerning protection of migratory birds. Agreement was reached; indeed, it was the first time China had signed an agreement with another country concerning birds. In April 1980 four individuals who had received their doctorates in the United States were sent by the State Council as a formal delegation to visit the United States. In September 1981 a second visit to the United States, by the China Association for Science and Technology, discussed issues concerning the Giant Panda. During that visit, on 27 September, Cheng visited the University of Michigan, where President Harold T. Shapiro presented him with a Certificate of Merit for Sciences.

2 memories:

Robert Rizal Abdullah said...

Chang Yi,

Wow! You have so much to say about the hornbill. A very informative article. Well done.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hi nice to hear from you. I am just delighted you have the time!
I found it quite hard to connect the Foochows with Hornbills actually.

But I amaze myself for having come across Pro Cheng. I took up birdwatching in KL with a group of Christian friends years ago hoping to start a conservation group. That was abortive because we all had to return to our own states. 34 years later I have not touched a bino to watch a small pipit.

But now there are no birds to watch in Miri....

Hope you will visit again.


web statistics