A total of 2,610waterbirds were seen flocking in five wetlands in Iloilo during the Annual Waterbird Census conducted by the Guimbal Wildlife Conservation Section and Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

Different migratory waterbirds with diverse colors and features were sighted in the wetlands located in the Barangays of Sooc and San Jose in Arevalo District, Hinactacan in La Paz District, Bitoon in JaroDistrict and atKatunggan Park inSitioPanus-on, Nabitasan, Leganes on January 4 and 7-10.

The team of CENRO Guimbal used binoculars and a spotting scope to sight and count the migratory waterbirdswhich look for a temporary habitat to feed and breed in order to save their own species.
Migratory birds are often threatened by human activities such as the conversion of ecosystems for development purposes. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) closely work with organizations of bird watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts to protect migratory bird sites.

Twenty-five species of migratory birds took their annual escape from the winter in temperate regions. These include the Black-winged Stilt, Purple Heron, Whistling Duck, Marsh Sandpiper, Javan Pond Heron, Common Kingfisher, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret.

Other migratory birds are the White-browed Crake, Moorhen, Whimbrel, White- collared Kingfisher, Sea Collared Kingfisher, Redshank, Common Greenshank, Grey Heron, Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Philippine Duck, Northern Pintail, Wandering Whistling-duck, Asian House Martin and Osprey.

In the Philippines, the peak months for birds migrating to the south are usually during September to November. Those travelling to the north migrate between February and April.
Wetlands play various roles in the protection of our environment by reducing the impacts of floods, absorbing pollutants and improving water quality. They serve as a safe haven for different species of migratory birds in search for their food, temporary home and breeding grounds.

Wetlands are also rich in natural resources. It also protects the birds as well as the people in the community. “It is important to conserve the wetlands as they become a transitory abode to migratory birds. We aim for more prolific wetlands that may incline migration of birds to the areas,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 6 adding that wetlands can be ecotourism attractions in the City of Love. /DENR6