Travel Tales
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I Used to Like Malagos Garden Resort

Philippine Hawk eagle
owl falconry

this nocturnal bird sits calmly at the gauntlet of its handler, Owl Falconry

The concept of “bird parks” or even bird-populated zoos were not very common in the Philippines way back during my younger years. Seeing the Malagos Garden Resort article in the Animal Scene Magazine back in high school really got me all excited. It was only back in 2011 that I got to finally visit the place thanks to the Davao Food Appreciation Tour (DFAT).

Bird Lover’s Resort

Although primarily the place is supposedly a garden resort with wide open spaces and beautiful flora that grew around the place, they offered a bird show and a large aviary that housed several species of domestic birds at the same time some local species that were “rescued”.

handfed budgeriar

Hand-fed Budgeriars are common in the Aviary

Every Sunday at 10:30am the resort gives a bird show that is something similar to what most bird shows have. This was one of my first bird shows here in the Philippines so you could expect that I was definitely positioned in the first row of the stadium to get the best view of Sir Bo Puentespina as he conducted the Malagos Garden Resort bird show. It really felt surreal because I only ever got to see this show being advertised in magazines and here I was to see it for the very first time! I couldn’t restrain myself and the whole time I just kept chattering just before the show started.

The Malagos Garden Resort BIRD SHOW

Philippine Hawk eagle

At the gauntlet of Bo Puentespina rests one of the most aggressive raptors in the Philippines: the Philippine Hawk Eagle

If you’ve been to several bird shows (by now I’ve been to more than 10 bird shows already) you kind of get the feel of what is gonna happen. It is all pretty much the same feel as the rest of the bird shows. Same tricks, even same species of birds used. What makes a bird show special is the level of skill difficulty involved for that particular trick. A true freelfight trainer would know how difficult certain flight skills would be. Okay spoilers here, but it’ll help for those who want to anticipate the scenes they want to get a good shot of. Normally a bird show would start with a flurry of birds that suddenly make an entrance. It could be large birds, or a flock of flying pigeons or their key flyers that would enter the stage. Short flights here and there just to get the crowd all excited.

Freeflighted macaw

Freeflight is the most beautiful skill a bird trainer can build with his avian partner

When the crowd settles down and the host enters, you then start a quick introductory educational spiel about birds, the environment and introducing the “Stars” of the show. You then have a couple of tricks here and there. A bird show won’t be complete without a bird performing human tasks. After everyone gets their dose of familiar bird tricks, then out comes the larger bird of prey which always have a profound effect in the crowd. Birds of prey are difficult to find these days so seeing these rare birds (rare at least to urban humans). You will have the appearance of raptors the Crested-Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) and the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) both raptors close to my childhood memories.

Black Palm Cockatoo

Way back in 2011 when I had my first encounter with the HUGE Black Palm Cockatoo

Then at the last part of the show you get to have your picture taken with some of the birds. I had mine taken with the Black Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus): the largest of the cockatoo species.

“Crystal Maze” Aviary

Nicobar pigeon

metallic shades of green and blue, the Nicobar pigeon casually walks around the aviary

Do you remember a gameshow called Crystal Maze with Richard O’Brien? Well the aviary basically looked like that final stage in the gameshow where inside would be gold and silver tokens flying around. In this case, Malagos Garden Resort’s crystal maze had a good number of birds flying around.

Golden pheasant courtship

Luckily experienced a Golden Pheasant’s public display of affection

What I really liked about the walk-through aviary was just how huge it was and how many different kinds of birds surrounded me. Since this was one of my very first walk-through aviaries in the Philippines, I was just so lost in the beauty of the moment! I had budgies, love birds, finches, pigeons, cockatiels, and pheasants surrounding me that I just had to calm myself down before I started taking photos. If you’re new to BIF photography (Bird in flight) then this is a great place to practice. The lighting was great and during feeding time, the birds were just all over. Grab a handful of the millet seeds and the flock will just rest in your hands and start feeding away.

So What Went Wrong?

Before I start expressing my disappointment I just want to mention that I’ve never actually stayed in the resort and that what I’ll be describing about the aviary rather than the resort itself.


a lone duck waddles it way around the pond area

Around 2014, I was excited to bring my family to the Malagos Garden Resort because I wanted to share with them the beautiful aviary I experienced with the DFAT group. When we entered the aviary around feeding time, what I saw (or rather, what I did not see) just really made my heart sink. The aviary has become quite empty and the birds I used to see were no longer there. Where have the Java Sparrows gone? Why can I easily count the number of budgeriars I can see? Why is there no pheasant? Where’s the nicobar pigeon? Why can I only see a single duck swimming in the pond? I found out after asking around, that the aviary became emptier when the rat problem worsened. 🙁
Good news though, they’re revamping


I Shall Return

Just like any good resort should, Malagos Garden Resort is actually revamping (I actually found out when I was trying to check their Facebook page).

Java Sparrow flight

I long for the day where I shall see the finches, budgies and others will fill the aviary once more

So maybe one day, Dear Malagos Garden Resort, you will once againshow the wonders of your walk-through aviary ; until that day comes I’m waiting.



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