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Davao hosts 1st Asian Bird Fair

All Headline News
May 7, 2010 3:40 p.m. EST
Kris Alingod - AHN News Contributor

Davao, Philippines (AHN) - The first Asian Bird Fair will be held this year in the southern Philippines, one of the world's most threatened biodiversity hot spots and home to one of the rarest birds of prey, the critically endangered Philippine eagle.

The fair will be held in Davao through a collaboration among bird watchers and conservationists in six countries including China and Malaysia. The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines is leading preparations in the host city, where more than 200 delegates are expected to converge in September.

The Philippines has more than 600 species of birds, of which 192 are endemic or found nowhere else and 67 are globally threatened, according to Avibase. The nation, the world's second-largest archipelago, is a way station for migratory species that regularly travel the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, which stretches north to Russia and Alaska and south to New Zealand.

One wintering area popular worldwide is in Olango in the central Philippines. Asian dowitchers, Eurasian curlew, whimbrels and black-tailed godwits flock to the island from September through November.

Another area is a coastal lagoon in Paranaque, a city just south of the capital of Manila, where herons and egrets are protected by a presidential proclamation declaring the area a critical habitat and ecotourism site.

The proclamation, issued three years ago, was a rare victory in a country that has, according to the U.S.-based group Conservation International, only 7 percent of its original forest cover left. Endemic species such as the Cebu flowerpecker, the Visayan writhed hornbill and the Philippine eagle are confined to living in "forest fragments," the group adds.

Bird watchers and conservationists are set to mark World Migratory Bird Day this weekend by focusing on 192 species around the globe that have been declared critically endangered.

"The focus on the most threatened migratory birds in 2010 acts as yet another reminder to governments that more needs to be done internationally to conserve these species," Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the United Nations administered Convention on Migratory Species, said in a statement.

Apart from forest destruction and poaching, migratory birds also die from collisions with buildings and bright lights from tall structures.

The effect of a building's interior and exterior on migratory birds has prompted some cities such as Chicago to have a "lights out" program. Birds fly lower under cloudy or foggy conditions and are confused by artificial lights from tall structures. Birds can either crash against the building or get "trapped" by light, causing them to circle the structure for hours until they die from exhaustion.

"Confused by artificial lights, blinded by weather, and unable to see glass, birds by the hundreds and even thousands can be injured or killed in one night at one building," according to Toronto's Fatal Light Awareness Program, whose website shows a photo of birds trapped in the "Tribute to Light" spots at the Ground Zero Memorial in September 2004.

"Compared to habitat loss, pollution, and over-hunting, the issue of building collisions is neither well-known nor adequately understood," the group added.