Wednesday, February 19, 2014

9th Philippine Bird Festival in Zamboanga City: Birds Fly Without Fear, Without Worries

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Bird watching as an activity for tourists has become prominent all over the world. In the Philippines, major milestones contributing to its growth are the coming together of Filipino bird enthusiasts forming the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and the release of Volumes I and II of the book ‘Birdwatching in the Philippines’ which made a significant contribution in the promotion of bird watching in the country.

Birdwatchers are a group of people who have a peculiar passion of observing birds in their natural habitat. They find satisfaction in watching birds in the wild while making a compendium of birds personally encountered in their natural environment. They operate on the value of honesty in compiling their respective list of birds seen in their lifetime. They have the tendency to be challenged, racing among themselves to the top by having the most number of birds encountered. Since their activities involve travelling to far flung and remote areas, birdwatchers mostly belong to an affluent group who finds pleasure, not only in their hobby, but also in the culinary offerings of the places they visit.

Seeing that local and international birdwatchers are a potential niche market for ecotourism destinations such as Zamboanga city, the Department of Tourism -Regional Office 9, after participating in the 8th Philippine Bird Festival held in Manila last December 2012, pitched for the hosting of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival with the main objective of promoting tourism in Zamboanga city.

The Philippine Bird Festival annual event, organized yearly by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, has been hosted in different places in the Philippines – previously in Dumaguete, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, etc. Now on its 9th year, it will be co-organized by the Department of Tourism - Regional Office 9 and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The event was supposed to be held October last year, but was moved to this year because of the September 9 siege staged by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The Philippine Bird Festival event in Zamboanga has the following objectives:

· to promote birding in Zamboanga City;
· to raise awareness on the importance of preservation and protection of different bird species found in the city; and
· to drum up positive activities geared towards improving the image of the city, especially to international birding enthusiasts who are regular delegates to the Philippine Bird Festival.

There are a number of identified birding sites in Zamboanga city:

Pasonanca Natural Park

1) The Pasonanca Natural Park is one of the old growth forests in Mindanao rich in biodiversity. It is the home to various bird species, some of them are even endemic to the region. Documentation undertaken by international and local ornithologists recorded not less than 200 bird species in the park. For this reason, the park is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in the Philippines and is considered as one of the bird watching destinations in the country with visitors mostly coming from European countries.

Fish pond at Zamboanga

2) The Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology (ZSCMST) Fish Pond was recently discovered as the first documented breeding site of the Great White Egrets here in the Philippines. It is also frequented by other migratory birds, some of which have become mainstays in the pond. Regular bird count shows an increasing number of bird species, especially with the protection efforts of the ZSCMST management.

Bog Lake from Maiabird Brain

3) Bog Lake in Barangay Calarian is also teeming with various bird species, including among others the Purple Swamphen which finds their sanctuary in the lake.

Although there are other birding sites in the city, the above mentioned sites are the most proximate to the city center.

The mascot for the event is a barn swallow that was chosen to be the festival icon because of the presence of thousands of its flock, although migratory and not endemic, resting on the power lines and cable wires in the downtown commercial district. The barn swallows have drawn the attention of visitors as it turned the business district as its resting hub at night.

There are really an amazing number of birds in Zamboanga City so it is expected that the event will lure local birdwatchers and tourists from all over the world.

See you on Zamboanga City for the 9th Philippine Bird Festival soon!

*Photo credits to respective owners

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