• Tourists of the feathered kind celebrated this week

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    A Little Egret flies over Manila Bay – Expanding reclamation projects, as seen in the background, threaten the last remaining mangrove habitats in the area.

    The Haribon Foundation welcomed World Migratory Bird Day on Wednesday (May 10) with birdwatching activities, coastal clean-ups, and information sessions about migratory birds that visit the Philippines.
    May 10 is World Migratory Bird Day, an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.

    Two thousand species of birds make regular seasonal movements all around the world, and 64 globally threatened species can be found visiting the Philippine islands.

    David Quimpo, wildlife researcher of the country’s oldest biodiversity conservation group, the Haribon Foundation, has spent hours on the field studying migratory birds.

    “Migratory birds are the indicators of the health of our environment. These bird species are shared not only by us but with other countries,” said Quimpo.

    The country’s precious wetland and forest habitats are important rest stops and destinations for these feathered tourists. Birds take the risk of traveling long distances to escape the harsh winters of the north from September to March. In between their journey, they search for places to rest and feed.

    Half a million of them stop by or pass through the Philippines, where they intend to find food and regain the weight they lost. Migratory waterbirds, in particular, look for food in wetlands and coastal areas like mangroves, estuaries, mudflats, bays; or freshwater areas like large lakes, rivers, and even rice fields. One of the more frequent sightings is the large, white, egrets, also known as tagak, flying over coastal and wetland areas,.

    The Bar-tailed Godwit can fly non-stop for 8 days, crossing 11,000 kilometers. For now, it is a common site in Philippine waters during the migratory season. HARIBON FOUNDATION PHOTOS

    Why care about our feathered tourists?
    These same mangroves, coastal areas, and wetlands that migratory birds rely on are important places human beings depend on as well. These habitats contribute greatly to human life; mangroves provide protection against storm surge and are also a source of livelihood, while bays and lakes provide fish and recreation, among a vast number of other things that they offer.

    Without these habitats, our feathered tourists will stop visiting, and humans will be further exposed to calamity, as well as the dangers of depleted fisheries and unhealthy coastal areas.

    About World Migratory Bird Day
    World Migratory Bird Day celebrations began in 2006 in Laikpia, Kenya, organized by the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). For more information on the celebration visit www.worldmigratorybirdday.org.

    Haribon Foundation organizes the annual Welcome to the Birds, a movement initiated by the world’s largest biodiversity conservation partnership BirdLife International.

    To help, sign up for the Haribon Foundation’s newsletter Haring e-Bon at www.haribon.org.ph, follow Haribon on Facebook or Twitter at @goharibon, or join Haribon Membership to get further opportunities to learn and help save the Philippines’ migratory bird destinations.

    ALBERT BALBUTIN/HARIBON FOUNDATION

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