Melia Purosani Hotel: The Last Javan Sparrow’s Fortress?

This morning, i had to pick up my friend at Jombor Terminal. He is mas Ady Kristanto, an avid birdwatcher friend from Jakarta, and today he came here to be a speaker in a wildlife photography workshop. He asked me if i can take him somewhere, and i happily agreed.. off course, he paid me for the fuels and foods 😀 (now you know why i happily agreed).
It didn’t take a long time to wait for him at Jombor Terminal. Soon after we met and greeted, we moved to Bionic’s Basecamp. Here, he asked me if i knew some place for hunting. I was thinking about Javan Sparrow at Melia Purosani Hotel, some of my friend reported that this is their breeding time. I thought it would be a good place and time to took its picture.
“How many birds there?” he asked me.

“Many.. Usually they perched high. But a report a week ago said that they currently build some nest and they were seen perched so low, and easy enough to take their picture.”
“Well, worth to try.”
So we decided to visit Melia Purosani before we moved to his workshop place. An hour later, we departed to Melia Purosani Hotel, wich located near to the so-famoust Malioboro street.
FYI the Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora) is a beautiful bird, it ‘was’ endemic to Java and also was the most common bird in agricultural area, became a serious pest for rice and grain. However its population decline sometime around 1990s. Nowadays this cute, funny pink-billed finch is so rare due to over-caught for pet, and listed as Vulnurable in IUCN’s red list. The remaining population is scatterd around this island, hiding from the poachers eyes, while some well-established feral colony grew up somewhere in other countries such as Singapore, Philipine, Thailand, or even Hawaii. This bird is a tragic example as victim of bird-trade, formerly the most common bird and now become one of the rarest bird in their native island.
Back to the story. We arrived at Melia Purosani hotel. At first we didn’t see any sign of this bird, while mas Ady’s face showed a pesimistic expression if we can find the target bird. There’s only Eurasian Tree Sparrow, the other finch that survive the bird-trade due their ‘unspecial’ apperance or voice, and also the main nesting rival for the Java Sparrow. There are many of them, together with Scaly-breasted Munia and Sooty-headed Bulbul.

We look up to the high balconies where the Java Sparrow usually perched, but none of them here.. We then walked several meters, only to find another thick-billed bird family, White-headed Munia and Javan Munia, the later is another endemic finch in Java that luckier than the sparrow.
Suddenly, a black-and white flash flew from somewhere on hotel’s roof to a nearby small park. I got a good feeling about it, and we rushed towards this little plantation area. The black-and-white flash flew again, hovering in the air for a little time, when we realized that it was our target!
The bird came back to the plantation, where we revealed that it had a juvenile there. We got so close with the bird and it didn’t show any stressed expression, and mas Ady started to took it’s picture. The bird was tame enough, it simply feeded its juvenile while mas Ady got closer to take their picture.

Mas Ady took Javan Sparrow's picture
Mas Ady took Javan Sparrow’s picture
"There's the Sparrow!"
“There’s the Sparrow!”
Javan Sparrow with it's juvenile. Copyright Ady Kristanto.
Javan Sparrow with it’s juvenile. Copyright Ady Kristanto.

The juvenile, in very much way, resembled an oversized Munia’s juvenile, with brownish feather in all of it’s body, totally different with their grey-black-white and pink adult. The Sparrow feed the juvenile for some times, we didn’t know where it got the food. But when we got too close to them, the adult flew away while the juvenile stayed there, probably couldn’t fly yet. We decided to move and leave them, so it can feed the juvenile again.
We moved to another side of the hotel, to the pine trees at the western side. Here, we saw even more Java Sparrow, maybe 15 or 20, some of them were building their nest inside some holes in the hotel’s roof. Some other perched on the pine trees for unknown reason.
A security asked as what we were doing, and mas Ady explained that we just took the birds picture. At first, i felt that he would prohibit us to do it, but no, he allowed us to continue take the sparrow’s picture and smile to us. It seemed like he is usual with birdwatcher who came here only to see the sparrow.
Below the pine trees, we found the reason why the sparrow kept flew to this trees again and again, there is a bird feeder with rice grain hanged there. Peoples hanged a birdfeeder is uncommon here, since the peoples prefer to caught the birds inside the cage instead of watch them free in their garden. It seemed like the hotel hanged this birdfeeder to make sure the sparrow’s life, as the sparrow became an attraction to the visitor here.
At the end, we counted about 20+ sparrow with one juvenile. It’s a big number, and even great number for the vulnurable bird in the middle of crowd city and tourism place like here. They keep struggle for their life, eventough they started to loose their own home. They keep struggle, to their freedom and live. I’m glad i can still see this bird, and i hope the hotel will continue protect this bird so my grand grand grandsons can see it, just like when i saw it today.
Well yeah, it was a great day!

List of bird seen:
Java Sparrow 20+
Javan Munia 3
White-headed Munia 1
Scaly-breasted Munia 5+
Eurasian Tree Sparrow uncounted
Cave Swiflet uncounted
Sooty-headed Bulbul 5+
Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker 1


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