Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway between breeding and wintering grounds, undertaken by many species of birds. Migration, which carries high costs in predation and mortality, including from hunting by humans, is driven primarily by availability of food. Migration occurs mainly in the Northern Hemisphere where birds are funneled on to specific routes by natural barriers (source: wikipedia).
In the Philippines, there is this vast marshland called Liguasan Marsh, which, over the years, have become one of the favorite destinations for some migratory birds coming from as far as Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The night heron (Gorsachius goisagi) is one of the most popular specie of birds inhabiting the Liguasan marsh.
Liguasan Marsh is in south central Mindanao, and is the largest swamp and marsh area on the island. It is a vast complex of river channels, small freshwater lakes and ponds, extensive freshwater marshes and arable land subject to seasonal flooding in the basin of the Mindanao River. Most of the area is underwater during periods of heavy rainfall, but some 140,000 hectares dry out during dry periods and are cultivated.
The marsh is home to some 112,000 Maguindanaon families whose primary means of livelihood are fishing when water levels are high and agriculture when they are low. Because of its very rich wildlife, the marsh has considerable potential for nature tourism. However, the area is a stronghold of insurgents, and access is restricted and therefore, whatever life (birds, animals, flowers and fauna, etc.) are left at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals and the night heron is not spared. I am quite certain that this is not the only specie of birds in this marsh suffering from unabated hunting and killing and possible extinction if no alternative measures are put in place by the Philippine government. Other life forms may have also been abused the same way if not worse than this.
I am a self-proclaimed environmentalist or nature lover, at the very least. As an advocate for the conservation of life, wild or otherwise, I am making this post to dramatize the issue with the hope that people and government as well as non-governmental organizations might be enticed to do more, assuming some initial steps have been done in the past to mitigate or check if not totally abate this unscrupulous practice of hunting and killing this birds of prey.
The adult heron is the favorite target of hunters and because of this, the young heron is left on its own and left to the elements, human predators and others. It will be very lucky if it becomes another adult heron.
If only the young heron can speak after the adult parents were gone into the hands of hunters, here is what it might say:
If you had seen me – the young bird that never learned to fly; even though my wing was strong, my beak was long and my eyes were sharp. Did you wonder that I was so fair but never enjoyed the vastness of the blue sky? Did you ever believe that I too had tears in my eyes?
I thought to myself, of the former days, when the wind had blown so strong. And in those days in the past, that strong wind disrupted my dream and my song. Does anyone remember me being blown out of my nest and hitting the ground many times? Did anyone pick me up and put me back into my nest as the cold wind continued to blow amid the dark starless night?
Then I started to gather some remaining strength to flap my wings up into the vast horizon where I was meant to be. But sadly, I never reached that height after falling several times over and over again till I had my wings badly damaged.
Now, I am older, and still in the nest looking out far beyond and imagining how long will I stay here till those raucus hunters find me. I still hope for the day when I can finally fly, bold and without fear. And hope that the same wind that knocked me, will carry me through the air.