Haribon leads quest for the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill
By Kitty Amante
Environmental group Haribon Foundation marked its first birdwatching activity this year in search for the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) in the wetlands of Candaba, Pampanga.
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The Black-faced Spoonbill is a long-legged wading migratory bird with a white plumage, black face and an elongated spoon-shaped bill. The IUCN red list estimates less than 4,000 Black-faced Spoonbills in 2017 worldwide. They are recorded as Endangered due to foreseen rapid population decline over the next years because of habitat loss.
"The Black-faced spoonbill has been seen many times in Candaba, that is why we are here as part of the annual Asian Waterbird Census this migratory season," said David Quimpo, Haribon wildlife researcher.
In the Candaba marshlands, the Black-faced Spoonbill was last spotted in 2016.
Still not in sight
During this quest, the elusive spoonbill was again not sighted among the swamp lands and plantations of Candaba.
According to Quimpo, various factors affect why the Black-faced Spoonbill was no longer observed in the past couple of years including its possible change of habitat and the conversion of Candaba ponds to vegetation.
"The number of duck species here have also declined compared to the previous years," lamented Quimpo.
Despite this, members and volunteers of Haribon recorded a total of 37 species of migratory and resident birds such as the Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Black-crowned Night-heron, Chinese Pond-heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Yellow Bittern, Wandering Whistling-duck, Garganey, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Barred Rail, White-browed Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, Philippine Swamp hen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Whiskered Tern, Red Turtle-dove, Zebra Dove, Common Kingfisher, Collared Kingkisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Pied Triller, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pied Buschat, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Striated Grassbird, Philippine Pied Fantail, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Chestnut Munia and Zitting Cisticola.
"I learned that there are a lot of beautiful bird species around us," shared first-time birdwatcher Daniel Bernal.
Zero waste advocate and Haribon member Sherry Gocecho said that it is important to take care of the resting stops of migratory birds because it is where they feed and breed.
"This is their venue to feed and breed so they won't be endangered or go extinct," shared Gocecho.
Giving birds a home
According to Haribon, everyone can do practical ways to conserve these homes that all of us share. "Properly segregating our trash helps reduce wastes among the wetlands that welcome our migratory birds," advised Quimpo.
"I am practicing the 5Rs which lessens the waste that goes to the landfill," echoed Gocecho. She shared that since the landfill affect the toxicity of the soil, doing the 5Rs or the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose and Refuse principle helps in preserving the habitat of our birds.
"Plant trees," said Bernal. "In our backyard garden, there is a small bird that frequently perches on one of the trees. It's like our 'adopted' bird and I felt moved to care for them."
"I think that birds hold a sense of peace and being free, so if we let them be, we will also have a peaceful coexistence with the environment," pondered Bernal.
About Haribon Foundation
Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. is a membership organization committed to nature conservation through community empowerment and scientific excellence. Hatched in 1972, it is the pioneer environmental organization in the Philippines. Haribon’s natural and social scientists work with communities and people from all levels governance to promote biodiversity conservation.