"..a bardy view!"

The Trouble with Philippine Birds….

The trouble with birds is that they fly. This is the inevitable consequence of having wings. It's downright inconsiderate, particularly to those man-made machines which also have wings – namely aircraft.

This is the problem encountered by authorities at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in the Philippines, which happens to be in close proximity to a natural bird lagoon whose migratory feathered visitors tend to fly into planes with increasing regularity.

These bird strikes, which are common throughout the world, have not caused any injuries over Manila skies as yet, but that's not stopping the men in suits to consider paving over the sanctuary.

The sanctuary, which is protected by law, is a stop-over point for 80 species of migratory birds. Presumably they have been following this path long before the airport was built. I'm not an expert on bird migration, but I suspect that if they have ever changed their routes it would be due to the global climate as opposed to the economic one.

The cynic in me indicates that this potential pave-over is purely down to the latter. The Manila International Airport Authority – MIAA (acronyms abound in the Philippines – now that's really a phenomena) are seeking to create another bird sanctuary away from the flight paths over the city's airport.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) it will take more than a local ordinance to overturn a Presidential Proclamation which declared the lagoon a bird sanctuary and eco-tourism area, and besides, said its director, the recent strikes could not be caused by migratory birds, because the migratory season has not yet begun.

The problem may well be local pigeons. Apparently pigeon breeding is common in the Philippines and there is an 18 year-old ban on breeding them within three miles of the airport.

Meanwhile, up steps the Wild Birds Club Philippines (WBC..etc) who say that the proposed changes will interfere with the natural flight path of wild birds because the whole of Manila Bay is considered an IBA (Important Bird Area). So they will either die because they must fly further or look to find an open space nearby, which will likely be the airport! You really couldn't make it up!

But here's the rub – the crux of the matter. There is already a $350m reclamation project being pushed in the area, which has seen the bird population deteriorate from 28,000 four decades ago to only 5,000 today. Why then is there an increased activity of bird strikes when the bird population has decreased so significantly?

Either there are more aircraft flying for the few birds left to hit, or perhaps it's a disguised ruse to ensure development for the next generation of hotels, homes and office blocks? Surely not!

Whichever the reason (and I suspect it's both), conservation, ecology and environmental protection in the Philippines is a major battle against the protagonists who are nearly always big business conglomerates. Money talks – it's the fiscal Esperanto.


July 10, 2011 - Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Right on the button as usual. My common sense tells me that a migratory pattern is something ‘innate’ in the birds? Therefore paving over a sanctuary protected by law, makes little or no sense whatsoever? Then again, if it’s a choice between human lives and darling little wee, feathered ones, then guess who is going to win? I can’t see that being the case here but then again I might be wrong. Need more information although something smells and it smells like “money”?


    Comment by Spook Moor | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. You’re right! The notion that removing a transit point for migrating birds will somehow educate them to plan another route is nonsense. Indeed, it is astonishing ignorance. Perhaps the original point of departure should be modified, which presumably will be more northern climes – Siberia or China for instance. After all, birds migrate according to climate.
    I can see the Russian’s taking this on board. “You birds are ok from here – but when you get to the Philippines you’ll have to change direction – don’t blame us!”


    Comment by Bar De Ness | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  3. Amen.


    Comment by Spook Moor | July 10, 2011 | Reply

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