There are more than 600 bird species in the seven thousand islands of the Philippines which means there are plenty of opportunities to watch the graceful beauty of these flying creatures. Further, thousands of migratory birds can be seen in the islands since the country is located in the Asia-Pacific flyway. Unfortunately, bird habitats are threatened by development aggression projects and the rapid destruction of the natural environment.
In recent years, birdwatching has become more than a fun activity organized by amateurs and scientists across the country. Birders have also actively advocated the protection of bird sanctuaries aside from promoting awareness about the country’s wild birds.
A few weeks ago, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines successfully conducted a bird festival in Zamboanga City, located in the southern island of Mindanao. Zamboanga may have a reputation of being a dangerous city (it figured prominently in the news last year after armed rebels attacked several villages and abducted hundreds of civilians), but it is home to hundreds of bird species, including migratory birds like the Pacific Barn Swallow.
One of the organizers of the festival, maiabird, wrote about some of the rare bird species in Zamboanga:
I also got a lifer while guiding! I saw my first dark phase Eastern Reef Egret! Sadly, it didn't go out into the open but flew into the dense mangroves to hide. But I did get a good look at the whole bird as it glided out of sight.
So, I got three lifers in four hours birding in Pasonanca. I was also able to hear the Mindanao Hawk Owl and Everett's Scops Owl when I joined an owling trip a few days earlier in the area too. The Pasonanca Natural Park is such a wonderful place to go birding in. The place and bird life is amazing (and the trails are easy!) I really, really loved the time I spent there. We will definitely be back and spend more time discovering more of the forest. And besides, I've dipped on the White-eared Tailorbird there twice!
She was also thrilled to see a nest of Great Egrets, a rare finding in the country:
Of course, our bins were automatically drawn to the cluster of nesting Great Egrets which makes the fishponds an important birding site. The occurrence of breeding Great Egrets there is a great subject for further study!
Angela, one of the bird festival delegates, shared a Facebook video of a Philippine serpent eagle which she saw at the Intake Watershed in Zamboanga.
Meanwhile, university professor Arnold Alamon has been uploading photos of birds in Gitagum, also in Mindanao island. The town of Gitagum is near Laguindingan, the site of a new international airport. Below are some bird photos from Arnold’s Facebook page: