Through the Lens
Macao Magazine visual journeys
From Mount Fortress to the trails in Coloane, Macao is gifted with extraordinary birds. According to the most recent edition of Clements Checklist of Birds of the World – one of the ornithology world’s most important checklists – Macao has 411 bird species, with 16 globally threatened and 6 introduced species (birds intentionally brought into a region).
The Standard for Classification of Urban Green Area in Macao (2015) states that Macao’s urban green area covers about 35.6 per cent of the city’s total land area, all of which is supervised by the Department of Gardens and Green Areas of the Municipal Affairs Bureau. Half of this green space is found in Coloane and the rest is spread across the city, from re-forested areas and parks to green belts and greenery along the streets.
Thanks to this, migratory birds have plenty of places to settle during the spring and winter, while non-migratory birds can nest throughout the year. That makes Macao a great place for aspiring bird photographers to find subjects to capture.
João Monteiro, 55, a senior coordinator of criminal investigation for the Judiciary Police of Macao and avid bird photographer, explains that it takes a while to learn how to get the perfect shot, as you need to study the birds and environment and know the best hours to shoot. With time, he says, you figure out where and when to go, and you begin to understand the birds and their behaviour.
“Every time I go out, I take at least a thousand pictures, and from those, I pick 50 and end up editing just one or two for each bird,” Monteiro explains.
Of the many species he has captured, Monteiro picks the cattle egrets – a white heron native to warm-temperature zones – as his favourite bird, describing it as “simply pleasant.” But as these images show, many distinct bird species call Macao home, from colourful leafbirds to majestic herons. For bird-watchers like Monteiro, the city is full of surprises.
“That in a cement jungle like Macao … we have the opportunity to see so many different and beautiful birds, I think that’s amazing.”
Macao has four types of migrational birds:
– Resident birds (stay year-round)
– Winter migrant birds (arrive in late September or October and depart in May or June)
– Summer migrant birds (arrive in late February or March and depart in September or October) – these birds are relatively rare in Macao, as most migratory birds come to the city to spend the winter.
– Migratory birds (stay for just a day or a week, usually in March or April and September or October) – these birds use Macao as a place to recover from the migration, which can extend from Siberia all the way to Australia and vice versa.