Tacurong City’s Baras Bird Sanctuary was showcased during Zamboanga City’s 1st Ecotourism Fair for the 9th Philippine Bird Festival on February 27 to March 2, 2014.

Photos of migratory birds inhabiting Tacurong’s one and three-fourth hectare-bird sanctuary were displayed for local and international bird watchers, students, and locals. These migratory birds include the Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Rufous Night Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, and Javan Pond. The exhibit also included the the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines’ sightings of the Variable Dwarf Kingfisher and Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.

The Philippine Bird Festival is organized by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) in different regions annually. Each festival is conducted in coordination with local government units, Department of Tourism, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This year’s festival theme is Birds: Fly Without Fear, Without Worry. In Chavacano, Pajaros: Bula sin Miedo, Sin Lingasa.

Visitors in Tacurong City’s booth during the ecotourism fair for the Philippine Bird Festival

Bird watchers in Victoria wetlands

This year’s bird festival is participated by local and international bird enthusiasts, conservationists, and government and non-government organizations. Among the list were: Wild Bird Society of Taipei, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Bird Watch Palawan, Haribon Foundation, Malaysian Nature Society, Polillo Islands Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc., Katala Foundation (Palawan), Save Freedom Island Movement, Earth Island Institute, Philippine Native Plant Society, Borneo Bird Club, Swarovski Optik, PENAGMANNAKI (Negros), DOT-CARAGA, Balanga City, and Bataan Province.

Participants of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival

Delegates were treated with a pre-festival tour to Victoria wetlands and Mt. Baluno, two of the popular bird-watching sites in Zamboanga City. During these visits, bird watchers spotted the Philippine woodpecker, whiskered tree-swift, sunbirds, serpent eagles, the endemic Zamboanga bulbul, among others. Bird watchers also had a glimpse of the Rufous hornbill, one of the most threatened birds in the Philippines.

WBCP also engaged college, high school and elementary students in the festival through lecture series on biodiversity and birding. Students also enjoyed guided bird watching trips and nature walks with the WBCP in the Intake watershed, Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST) fishponds/bird sanctuary, and Bog Lake.

The ZSCMST opened its gates to the public to showcase their bird sanctuary in their fisheries campus at the heart of the city. Mangroves serve as habitat and breeding grounds to migratory birds such as egrets and herons. After this year’s festival, WBCP identified 10 bird species in the sanctuary, in addition to the 31 previously identified species.

WBCP donated a spotting scope and four binoculars to ZSCMST for the school to continue to educate the public about bird conservation through their sanctuary.

LGU Tacurong City plans to work with WBCP to further develop and protect the Baras Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary serves as habitat and breeding ground for more than 20,000 egrets and herons. “There could still be more bird species that we can discover with the help of the wild bird club,” said Mayor Lina O. Montilla. (LGU-Tacurong City Information)