December 8, 2022

Recognized for helping farmers protect their crops from other grain-eating birds, the long-tailed shrike or “talal” is now the official bird of Itogon, Benguet.

The Itogon municipal council said the latest ordinance was based on Resolution 091 passed on July 16, 1991 by the municipal board adopting talal as the town’s official bird.

“This bird was identified as the official municipal bird because of its natural habit of helping farmers in driving away other bird species feeding on young grains of rice and its fascinating unique characteristics to mimic sounds of other birds,” the ordinance reads.

Councilor Dante Godio, chairperson of the committee on environment, said the measure also corrects the scientific name and common name of the bird from the earlier resolution from brown shrike to long-tailed shrike and its scientific name from Lanius cristatus to Lanius schach.

The ordinance prohibits the collection, capturing, harming, and killing of the talal.

The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office shall be the lead office to implement the ordinance.

Menro, in coordination with the office of the municipal mayor, the committee on protected areas and wildlife, municipal tourism action officer, and barangay officials, shall lead the information education campaign in promoting the conservation and protection of the talal in their respective areas.

Talal is a large, noisy shrike. Adult talals have a dark mask and a light gray upper back with a variable amount of orange on its lower back and flanks.

In the book “Looking for Signs: Animals, Spirits, and Death Rituals Ibaloy Perspectives,” it was written that the talal usually comes out in October and is considered a friendly bird in the municipality.

The talal, due to its bigger body, helps in driving away the smaller birds that feed on the rice fields. It also helps in removing worms from plants and gives out loud screeching calls while also mimicking other birds.

The Benguet provincial board is currently reviewing the ordinance. – Ofelia C. Empian