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Egret From Japan Stirs Bird Flu Fears In Philippin

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    Posted: February 13 2007 at 1:55am
Egret from Japan stirs flu fears in Philippines
13 Feb 2007 05:38:01 GMT
Source: Reuters
 
MANILA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The Philippines urged people on Tuesday not to touch migratory birds in case they are infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, after an egret believed to have flown from Japan died two days after being captured by a farmer.

"You can watch, but don't capture or touch migratory birds," Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, told Reuters by phone.

The Philippines, a known sanctuary for migratory birds, has remained free of the virus that has killed at least 166 people worldwide but the death of the egret, captured on Feb. 5 in a village in central Sorsogon province, has sparked concern.

"There is no evidence at this time that would prove that the egret died of avian influenza," Lim said, adding it was not wise to exhume the bird for testing.

"The egret has a leg band that indicated it came from Japan."

Village officials in Sorsogon, 350 km (220 miles) southeast of Manila, presented the dead bird to the mayor, who ordered its immediate burial for fear it had avian flu, a newspaper reported.

Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes urged the public not to touch migratory birds, to prevent any possible human infection.

"The Philippines is still bird flu-free, but the threat of the virus is ever present," Reyes said in a statement late on Monday.

Many of the Philippines' neighbours, including Thailand, Vietnam and China, have been infected by the disease.

Indonesia has the highest human death toll from the virus of any nation in the world, with 64 known deaths.

H5N1 remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, killing millions within weeks or months.

So far, most human cases can be traced to direct or indirect contact with infected birds.
 
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Egrets.

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.


Every 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.


Southward migration: Anticipating the scarcity of food and the winter cold, birds fly south as far as Australia from late July to late November. On Olango the peak months for the southward migration are from September to November, while those for the northward migration fall between February and April.

One such favorite place for birds flying the East Asian Migratory Flyway is Olango Island, a Ramsar site.

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 (E. garzatta). 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.


Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes)

Scientific name: Egretta eulophotes.
Local name:
Tagak
Habitat: Wetlands, seashores, tideline, marshes
Population: World population estimated at 2,500 individuals
Diet: invertebrates
Habits/behavior: Regular winter visitor (seasonality: October, January, March, April, June)
Threat category: ENDANGERED
Threats: Destruction of breeding/feeding areas

(Source: Philippine Read Data Book, Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines, 1997, Bookmark)

con't

for more birds link http://www.oneocean.org/ambassadors/migratory_birds/in_search_of_a_safe_refuge.html
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