Some 80,000 migratory birds, composed of 63 species, have been observed in Pampanga during the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) held this year.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office in Central Luzon, most of the waterfowl species that were observed include herons, egrets, geese and ducks, rails, gallinules, coots, gulls, and kingfisher.
The annual bird census activity, which serves as an important staging and wintering area for ducks and other threatened waterbirds from the northern hemisphere, transpired in three counting sites, which include the wetland areas in the towns of Sasmuan and Candaba, and the west bank of the Pampanga River that passes through Brgy, Consuelo in the municipality of Macabebe, the DENR-Central Luzon said.
The AWC, which takes place during the second and third weeks of January, aims to obtain annual waterbird populations in the wetlands for the evaluation of the status and condition of wetlands, as well as the changes in the waterbird area distribution.
It was initiated in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent, and has grown rapidly to cover 26 countries of South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Pacific, as well as Russia Far East.
In the Philippines, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) coordinates the AWC conducted in selected wetlands around the country. The census is primarily carried out by volunteers.
The Philippines is part of the East Asian-Australasian Migratory Flyway, hosting a number of migratory birds in protected areas, such as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, and Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.
According to the DENR-BMB, annual bird migration season in the Philippines commences around September every year when migratory birds go on southward migration and ends when they go northwards to return to their breeding grounds in March of the following year.
During the season, migratory birds stop briefly along wetlands—swamps, marshes, intertidal, coastal areas, rivers, ponds, lakes, as well as forests throughout the country, to rest and refuel for their onward journey.
The Philippines serves as habitat to more than 80 species of migratory birds that visit the country every year.
Migratory birds are major players in the ecosystem as they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, and consume insects and small mammals.