By Roel Pareño
February 11, 2014
Press conference at the Zamboanga City Hall (L-R) Maritess Falcon, Mike Lu,
WBCP President Gina Mapua and DOT IX Director Mary June Bugante
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - This southern port city will be the site of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival and expected to draw local and international birds watchers, according to officials.
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Tourism (DOT) will start the two-day event on February 28.
The promotion of the festival kicked off on Monday during a briefing at the city hall with the presentation of its proposed mascot - a barn swallow.
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) who are loyal to its founding chairman, Misuari-faction.
Gina Mapua, president of the WBCP, said barn swallow 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.
Georgina Fernandez, chief of the biodiversity and conservation section of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said they have no actual count of the birds but said it has doubled its number as the birds have occupied already a long stretch of cables and power lines along Major Jaldon Street.
“We suspected the barn swallows thrive due to the presence of insects that are attracted by the lights at night and the presence of lines and crevices,” Fernandez said.
The Barn Swallow was chosen as the icon of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival
According to the officials, the objective of the festival is to open the city to bird watchers and tourists.
The birdwatchers have also chosen the city as several birding sites have been discovered here. Among the birding sites spotted in the city is the Pasonanca Natural Park, which is one of the old growth forests in Mindanao rich in biodiversity and home to the various bird species, including the Philippine Eagle.
Also a known site for migratory birds in the city is the vast pond area in the east coast. The pond area is a breeding site for the Great White Egrets in the Philippines and is also being frequented by other migratory birds.
The Bog Lake in Barangay Calarian is also teeming with various bird species, including the Purple Swamphen.
“There are really an amazing number of birds in Zamboanga City,” Mapua added as she expected the event to lure local bird watchers.