The skies seem big enough for both planes and birds, but apparently not around airports.
Manila International Airport Authority general manager Jose Angel Honrado said they have recorded some 50 bird strikes in the skies around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) this year.
None have caused any crashes or major damage to planes, but enough of a scare to cause Honrado to join a chorus against birds, particularly migratory birds stopping over in a green pocket of wilderness near the airport, a government-protected bird sanctuary in Manila Bay.
"It is almost impossible to recover the carcass of the birds, but based on observations, talagang yung mga ibon na nakatira diyan sa sanctuary sa may Las Piñas-Parañaque area are the main causes and the main source of the bird strikes within the MIAA area of responsibility," he said.
Philippine Airlines president Ramon Ang has called for the removal of the sanctuary, while Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez supports a study to determine the fate of the sanctuary, also known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque coastal lagoon or Freedom Island. The natural stopover for migratory birds was proclaimed the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009.
The removal of the sanctuary would require the repeal of the Arroyo proclamation by President Aquino, who has not indicated a position on the matter.
Honrado warns that the issue is not bird protection but public safety. "I'm not an expert on species of birds, but the mere fact na nandoon nga ‘yung sanctuary sa tabi namin talagang it causes a big problem. Are we going to wait until may maaksidente diyan?" he said.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.