In line with the Annual Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC) for migratory birds, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-XI) through its Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section (PAMBCS) started its bird watching and counting activities in the different municipalities of the region.

This activity aims to obtain information on the population of migratory birds and monitor the status and condition of wetlands in the region at the same time. In addition, this activity also aims to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst citizens.

The DENR reminds the public that illegal hunting and selling of migratory birds is strictly prohibited.

In Region XI, PAMBCS are monitoring 8 sites: Carmen, Panabo and Busaon, Davao del Norte; Banaybanay and San Isidro, Davao Oriental; Malalag and Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur and; Bucana, Davao City.

Last week, DENR-XI team together with one of its partner bird expert and photographer Pete Simpson sighted several migratory birds including the critically-endangered Chinese Crested Tern in Carmen, Davao del Norte.

The annual bird migration season begins in September and extends until February of the following year. As part of DENR and its partners in their global effort to monitor the population of the migratory birds, bird watching and counting is being done during that period.

Migratory birds from other countries such as Siberia, China, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand come in numbers during this period as it prefer the Philippine wetlands for their nesting, feeding and breeding grounds while escaping the cold season from their country of origin.

And to further raise awareness about the significance of migratory birds as well as the posing threats on them, the World Migratory Bird Day is being celebrated every second Saturday in May and in October every year. In addition, Wetlands Day is also being celebrated every February 2 of each year to highlight the importance of conserving and protecting waterfowls and its habitat.

AWC was initiated in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent and since has grown rapidly to cover major regions of Asia, from Afghanistan eastwards to Japan, Southeast Asia and Australasia. There are 9 migratory flyways in the world and one of which is the East Asian-Australasian Flyway where the Philippines is a part of it. All these flyways are also conducting its census.

In the Philippines, volunteers from all sectors are encouraged to join this annual census for them to learn and appreciate the importance of the migration season and its flyways as stop overs for the birds.