Birds and Seascape Tour is one of 10 "Highly Commended Honorees" of the
Conservation International's 2000 Excellence
very year during winter, many species of shorebirds and wading birds escape the cold weather in temperate regions and fly in droves toward the warmer, more hospitable tropics. In the summer, they go back the same way, driven by a natural instinct for survival that has ensured the continuation of their species through the ages. Feeding on marine invertebrates and plants found along the shores, these animals are very much an integral part of our coastal ecosystem.
The East Asian Migratory Flyway that includes the Philippines is one of the most important shorebird and waterbird migratory flyways in the world. A total of 77 species of migratory birds use this flyway, and Olango Island supports 62% of this number. Listed below are some of these species.
Some migratory birds found in the Philippines
Egrets. These wading birds feed on the water’s edge, roost in trees and reedbeds, breed colonially in trees and fly with their necks pulled back, legs stretched out beyond tails, broad wings beating slowly. Two very similar species are commonly spotted on Olango Island, Cebu, an important stop for birds taking the East Asian Migratory Flyway: the Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), an endangered species, and the Little Egret. The Little Egret has a black bill and is about 4 cm smaller than its Chinese cousin, while the Chinese Egret has a yellow bill.
(Source: Philippine Read Data Book, Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines, 1997, Bookmark)
Sandpipers. Among the sandpipers that visit the Philippines every year are the Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), the Common Red Shank (Tringa totanus), and the Rufous-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis). Long-billed and long-legged, these shorebirds move about mudflats, their heads down, to feed.
Terns. Two species can easily be spotted during the migration season: the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) and the Little Tern (S. albifrons). The Common Tern is gray-breasted, and its bill and legs are black. The Little Tern is recognizable by its yellow bill and yellow legs. These slender, graceful birds fly with regular wingbeats and hover with bills pointed toward the water. They can be seen diving head first into the sea to catch fish. Terns, unlike gulls, do not ordinarily swim.
Black-bellied plover (Pluvalis squatarola). Also called Gray Plover, this species is a medium-size shorebird with a large head, large eyes, a short neck, short bill and a mottled black-and-white back. It is a carnivore and is often seen feeding on mudflats and wet grasslands. It makes a distinctive whistle-like long rising pyuieh.