First local bird festival slated in Zamboanga City on Feb. 27

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/13 February) – The Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST) is organizing the first local bird festival in this city.

Dr. Milabel Nazario, ZSCMST president, said they have partnered with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) for the holding of the festival on February 27.

The first local bird festival is anchored on the theme Dia de Aves: “Discubrir Naturaleza en Ciudad (Day of the Birds: “Discover the Nature within the City”).

Nazario said they have lined-up activities that “will mostly be held in the ZSCMST grounds,” which include bird watching, lectures and symposia, photo exhibits and film showings.

Mary June Bugante, DOT regional director, said various endemic and migratory bird species have been recorded in this city.

Bugante said the ZSCMST fishpond has been documented as the “first breeding ground for the Great Egret in the Philippines and is the home of other bird species.”

Bugante said many foreign and local bird enthusiasts have recognized this city as a birding destination after last year’s holding of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival here.

She said most of the foreigners who came here last year were from Denmark, England and France.

“This event is an effort to continually promote bird watching as an activity for tourists, sustain awareness on the value of environmental protection for tourism, and to highlight the uniqueness of this city in the birding community, having been recognized as the first ever documented breeding ground of the Great Egret in the Philippines,” Bugante said.

Aside from the ZSCMST fishpond, she said the Pasonanca Natural Park is also the home of up to 200 bird species, most are endemic to the region, which earned it the status as an “Important Bird Area.”

“These and other areas prove that the city of Zamboanga is a haven for numerous bird species and has therefore caught the attention of passionate birdwatchers,” Bugante added.

She said they are expecting many birders to join the festival since most of them wanted to personally see the different bird species here that they only see through the social media.

Meanwhile, Nazario said they are proud to host the first local bird festival.

“This (festival) is a very positive development for Zamboanga City and we have to move on from what had happened,” Nazario said, referring to the 21-day September 2013 siege.

The bird sanctuary of the ZSCMST is located in “ground zero” of the 2013 siege.

“We want to show the public–local, national and international–that we have moved on,” Nazario said, urging the residents to help promote local tourism including the local bird festival. (MindaNews)