Environmental group Haribon Foundation marked its first birdwatching activity this year in search for the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) in the wetlands of Candaba, Pampanga.
The Black-faced Spoonbill is a long-legged wading migratory bird with a white plumage, black face and an elongated spoon-shaped bill. The International Union for Conservation of Nature red list estimated there is less than 4,000 Black-faced Spoonbills in 2017 worldwide. They are recorded as endangered because of rapid population decline over the next years from habitat loss.
“The Black-faced spoonbill has been seen many times in Candaba, that is why we are here as part of the annual international Black-faced Spoonbill Census this migratory season,” said David Quimpo, Haribon wildlife researcher.
In the Candaba marshlands, the Black-faced Spoonbill was last spotted in 2016.
Still not in sight
During the quest, the elusive spoonbill was again not sighted among the swamp lands and plantations of Candaba.
According to Quimpo, various factors affect why the Black-faced Spoonbill was no longer observed in the past couple of years including its possible change of habitat and the conversion of Candaba ponds to vegetation.
“The number of duck species here have also declined compared to the previous years,” lamented Quimpo.
Despite this, members and volunteers of Haribon recorded a total of 37 species of migratory and resident birds such as the Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Black-crowned Night-heron, Chinese Pond-heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Yellow Bittern, Wandering Whistling-duck, Garganey.
Eastern Marsh Harrier, Barred Rail, White-browed Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, Philippine Swamp hen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Whiskered Tern, Red Turtle-dove.
Zebra Dove, Common Kingfisher, Collared Kingkisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Pied Triller, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pied Buschat, Golden-bellied Gerygone.
Striated Grassbird, Philippine Pied Fantail, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Chestnut Munia, and ZittingCisticola.
“I learned that there are a lot of beautiful bird species around us,” shared first-time birdwatcher Daniel Bernal.
Zero waste advocate and Haribon member Sherry Gocheco said it is important to take care of the resting stops of migratory birds, because it is where they feed and breed.
“This is their venue to feed and breed so they won’t be endangered or go extinct,” she added.
Giving birds a home
According to Haribon, everyone can do practical ways to conserve these homes that all of us share. “Properly segregating our trash helps reduce wastes among the wetlands that welcome our migratory birds,” Quimpo said.
“I am practicing the 5Rs which lessens the waste that goes to the landfill,” echoed Gocheco. She shared that since the landfill affect the toxicity of the soil, doing the 5Rs or “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot” principle helps in preserving the habitat of our birds.
“Plant trees,” said Bernal. “In our backyard garden, there is a small bird that frequently perches on one of the trees. It’s like our ‘adopted’ bird and I felt moved to care for them.”
“I think that birds hold a sense of peace and being free, so if we let them be, we will also have a peaceful coexistence with the environment,” Bernal added.