3 Chinese “Birds of Legend” seen in Davao Region

Cleanergy Park in Davao City where migratory birds mingle with endemic species during winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

DAVAO  (MindaNews / 26 January) – Three extremely rare Chinese Crested Terns (𝑇ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑢𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑖) have been spotted this month in three areas of Davao Region, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao.

In a statement released on Thursday, the DENR-Davao said the three migratory seabirds have been seen in the wetlands of Carmen town and Panabo City in Davao del Norte and Barangay Bucana in Davao City.

The agency said the Chinese Crested Terns, a species tagged as the “Bird of Legend,” were first seen among the migratory birds visiting the coastal wetlands of Panabo last 2019.

Sightings of those birds in the region surprised conservationists who thought their species was already extinct.

“Some studies say that it was last seen in 1937 and had unconfirmed sighting years after,” it added.

The DENR-Davao said the birds made another appearance in Davao del Norte in 2021 and in Davao City, particularly at the mouth of Davao River, in 2022 during the Annual Asian Waterfowl Census for migratory birds.

The agency participated in the census through the Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section.

The country regularly participates in the Asian Waterbird Census, along with Africa, Europe, Central and West Asia, and Latin America under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census.

“Amid threats from climate change and environmental degradation, waterbirds serve as bio-indicator of ecosystem changes,” the DENR-Davao said.

It predicted that Chinese Crested Terns could be Davao’s regular visitors after frequenting the region for three years.

The global population of the critically endangered Chinese Crested Terns remains sparse “with only more or less a hundred of them left,” necessitating a “close monitoring and extensive effort for its conservation through keeping an eye on its breeding colonies,” it said.

It said migratory seabirds “are usually seen migrating to the coastal wetlands in the Philippines in the first quarter of the year, during which its originating countries are in the winter season which results in food scarcity.”

It cited that birds move to warmer regions “in search of warmth and sustenance.”

Conservationists also sighted other migratory birds such as the Eurasian and Far Eastern Curlew in the region.

Birdlife International has listed the Chinese Crested Tern as critically endangered owing to “a tiny population, which is in decline owing to egg-collection.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)