KETINGAN TOURISM VILLAGE
Chosen Habitation for Thousands of Herons


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Dusun Ketingan, Desa Tirtoadi, Mlati, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
0822 2789 386

The busy voice of thousands herons was heard as we entered the area of Ketingan Tourism Village. It's been years since the birds chose to stay on the tall trees there, sharing quarters and living together with the local people.

Updated on 1/28/2016

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No one thought that the official announcement of the village's gate by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X in 1997 would be the starter of a new life for the people of Ketingan Village, Tirtoadi, Mlati, Sleman. That's because, a few days later, a peculiar phenomenon occurred. Thousands of herons suddenly came and nested on almost all of the tall trees in the village. What's more unique was that the birds stayed only in Ketingan, not in any other villages, despite the fact that other nearby villages also has similar vegetation. The arrival of the thousands birds inevitably changed the whole sides of the local people whose ordinary life gradually turned extraordinary.

At first, the local people saw the birds as pest. They were afraid that the production of melinjo fruit would decrease as the trees were turned into nests by those birds. They were also concerned that their health would be impaired by the birds droppings often found in the yards and along the village roads. That's why some people tried to chase the herons away. The birds, instead of going away, bred and multiplied in number. The local people eventually gained awareness and were willing to share their living quarters with these birds. Nobody wanted to hunt them anymore, and signs of warnings prohibiting bird huntinh in Ketingan were assembled in several corners. They were even willing to treat the fallen heron babies until they healed and ready to be released back to their habitat.

For animal researcher and bird lovers, Ketingan is a heaven. Observing the behavior of the herons that counted to 7,000 is never boring. Even the local people, who have lived with them for years, continue to observe them. The local people are very familiar of when these herons feed, make new nests, mate, hatch, and migrate. That's right, in September, these herons will migrate, leaving Ketingan for a while. Their voices will not sound so lively anymore and there won't be any birds to accompany the farmers while cultivating their rice fields early in the morning. They will be gone for a moment, leaving the local people to return to their normal life just as before the birds came. Then, in mid-October, the herons will come home, recreate their nests and continue living as they have been.

In addition to bird watching, a routine event of Merti Bumi held regularly in September also attracts attentions. During the event, we can see various arts and cultural performance such as shadow puppet show, carnival, and kenduri (festive dining)-as a form of gratitude to The Creator for the abundant crops. Deciding to stay there for a couple days and engrossed in the euphoria would surely be nice. If you don't have the time to come in September, try to live in for a few days before the harvest season and join the wiwitan (a thanksgiving before the rice harvest). Alternatively, you can come before the planting season and participate in the angler (a thanksgiving before the planting season) tradition. In addition of those events, Ketingan Tourism Village remains open for anyone who wants to know and learn more about the birds while enjoying local arts such as gejog lesung (traditional musical performance by beating a lesung-a big mortar, made of hollowed log), jathilan (traditional dance from Java) and pek bung (traditional percussion musical instrument made from kelenting).

During your visit, don't forget to wear hat or head protector so that you won't risk being exposed to bird droppings. For photography lovers, it's best if you bring telephoto lens for taking pictures of the birds since they are always in a considerable distance. To avoid losing any moments, try coming in the morning or afternoon when the birds are hunting for food in the rice fields and then returning to their nests. It will be more exciting if you pay a visit during the season when farmers are plowing their fields. You can see the herons clearly, unhindered by any paddy plants. To be able to get the chance of visiting and watching such a unique phenomenon would make us realize that it's nice and beautiful to share with other living beings.

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