By Anna Valmero
DAVAO CITY, DAVAO DEL SUR - Grade Six students CJ Taglao and Angel Rose Diganow now see birds as more than just house pets after attending lectures during the first Asian Bird Festival held here.
CJ and Angel, together with some 1,700 elementary students, learned a lot about the importance of keeping the birds in the wild and what young kids like them can do to take care of birds in their natural habitats.
The event was organized by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).
The Philippines is among 17 countries that hold majority of the earth’s terrestrial bird species, as identified by the World Conservation Monitoring Center of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
There are more than 600 different species of birds in the Philippines, some 200 of these endemic or can only be found in the country. In 2004, Carmela Española, a Filipino wildlife biologist and WBCP member, discovered the latest bird specie in the country, the Calayan rail.
“Mabuti na may Asian bird festival dito ngayon para malaman ng ibang tao yung mga isyu at matulungan natin yung bird conservation (I think holding the first Asian bird festival here is very helpful in raising the awareness on issues and to help bird conservation efforts),” says CJ, while I chatted with him as he was viewing the photo exhibit by the Philippine Wild Bird Photographers (PWBP).
“Mas maganda na simulan naming mga kabataan na malaman kung bakit dapat hayaan natin ang mga ibon sa labas at hindi nakakulong. Pag inalagaan natin sila, mae-enjoy natin na makita silang lumilipad at hindi sila magiging extinct (It is important that students and the youth like us are aware of these conservation issues so that we will know how to take care of birds in their natural habitats. If we take efforts to conserve and preserve their species, we can enjoy watching them in the wild and they will not become extinct),” says Angel.
WBCP is a nonprofit organization that raises conservation issues through bird watching, said Alice Villa-Real, chairperson of the Asian Bird Festival.
Villa-Real taught the students the basics of bird watching. She says people in Mindanao are lucky because the region is home to numerous endemic species that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world.
Davao, in particular, is home to the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).
Other species that have been recorded in Mindanao include the Philippine frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus), silvery kingfisher (Alcedo argentata), celestial monarch (Hypothymis coelestis), short-tailed glossy starling (Aplonis minor), Apo mynah (Basilornis mirandus), Steere’s pitta (Pitta steeri), Mindanao tarictic hornbill (Penelopides affinis), Apo sunbird (Aethopyga boltoni), Cinnamon ibon (Hypocryptadius cinnamomeus), and Rufous flycatcher (Myiarchus semirufus), among others.
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