• Filipinos welcome migratory birds

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    event-posterMillions of animals around the world move seasonally from one place to another and eventually return to where they started. This instinctive behavior that span across the globe is called migration.

    In the Philippines, this phenomenon begins in late September and ends in February when migratory birds enter the country in spectacular fashion.

    These birds of different shapes and sizes move to tropical countries to escape the conditions of their breeding grounds. During this time, their usual diet become scarce and competition for food become fierce. This causes birds to flock to new areas where they can survive the season.

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    Black- winged Stilt PHOTO COURTESY OF LUKE IMBONG

    Their journey to migrate is an extremely strenuous one—full of natural dangers compounded by man-made threats. The survival of migratory birds is tied to the worldwide ecosystem they represent.

    Birds travel around the globe sharing the skies in what are known as “flyways.” The Philippines is part of what is called the East Asian-Australasian Flyway that stretches from the north in Russia, China and Japan to South East Asia and finally to Australia and New Zealand.

    A Water Bird

    A Water Bird

    For this reason, migratory birds are most commonly seen in wetlands where food is abundant. Wetlands are coastal areas like mangroves, estuaries, mudflats, bays and freshwater areas like large lakes, rivers and even rice fields that become home to these feathered creatures.

    Unfortunately, hunting and the illegal wildlife trade affect the number of migratory birds visiting the Philippines. Habitats such as forests and mangroves are being destroyed at an alarming rate, threatening birds and biodiversity in general. Filipino communities are also affected by on going environmental and habitat destruction in the country.

    Little egrets PHOTO COURTESY OF ZOY L. PAGALILAUAN

    Little egrets PHOTO COURTESY OF ZOY L. PAGALILAUAN

    One such area is the Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) or sometimes referred to as Freedom Island. In contrast to other areas of Manila Bay, LPPCHEA is one of the few remaining mangrove areas in Metro Manila that becomes home to thousands of egrets, herons, terns, bitterns, and dozens of species more.

    The return of migratory birds can be seen as a regular health check of our ecosystems.

    Their rising or diminishing population is an indication whether wetlands and forests are recovering or degrading. They serve as warnings for potential problems since their natural habitats contribute greatly to human lives.

    With this, Haribon Foundation has organized the first annual “Ipagdiwang ang Pagbabalik ng mg Ibon,” a unique and remarkable celebration welcoming the return of thousands of migratory birds to the Philippines.

    Welcome to the Birds is a three- part event that combines awareness raising, environmental education and nature appreciation, to benefit 1,000 students of all ages.

    Students will learn the ecological importance of migratory birds and the need to protect their habitat that will enable them to thrive on coastal shores in the country.

    This event aims to promote the traditional welcoming attitude of Filipinos to their friends and families and translate it to the appreciation for migratory birds, which play an important yet invisible role in environmental preservation.

    For more info about Ipagdiwang ang Pagbabalik: Welcome to the Birds, contact Haribon at 421-1213, or email membership@haribon.org.ph.

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