Avian fest to highlight plight of threatened bird species

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 September)—Asia’s first birdwatching festival that opens this week at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here will call attention to pressing conservation issues, particularly those involving threatened bird species, event organizers said.

Alice Villa-Real, chair of the festival’s organizing committee, said the bird fair seeks to promote birdwatching and generate public interest to protect endangered species of birds at the same time.

“We can protect the rich bird life and habitats of our islands while promoting responsible enjoyment of nature and encouraging sustainable businesses in local communities,” Villa-Real said in a statement.

Some 300 birdwatchers, hobbyists and conservationists, including 18 bird enthusiasts from Asia and Europe, will arrive in Davao on
September 24 for a two-day fair that will feature lectures on birdwatching basics and biodiversity conservation, booths to showcase
various bird festivals all over Asia and tour packages to the city’s birdwatching sites in Malagos and Eden.

Richard Bautista, assistant communication officer of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), said 18 foreign delegates are coming,
including three members of the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society and two members of the Oriental Bird Club in the United Kingdom.

The event opens at a time that birds from Japan, China and parts of Siberia begin their autumn migration to tropical countries like the Philippines, some of them even reaching as far as Australia.

The Asian bird fair will be held in tandem with the 6th Philippine bird festival, a major avian conservation and ecotourism event in the
country organized by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

Tatit Quiblat, PEF communications officer, earlier said Davao City has been chosen as venue for Asia’s first bird fair because it is the habitat of the Philippine Eagle, considered as the “Holy Grail” among birdwatchers.

“They wanted to do it here because they also wanted to see the Philippine Eagle considered by birdwatchers as their ‘Holy Grail’,” she said.

Bautista said the Philippines also features more endemic bird species aside from the unique ones, like the Philippine Eagle and other raptors.

He said the local tourism industry is eyeing to promote birdwatching among the potential ecotourism packages in the region.

Among the birdwatching sites in Mindanao with very rich potentials are Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, which is known for its raptors, the Davao
Gulf where there are unique species of herons, and Mt. Apo, which is known as a midland areas for birdwatching.

“We haven’t explored yet the other birdwatching sites in Davao but we will work it out,” Bautista said.  (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)