Amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, birds have been frequently seen flying and heard chirping and singing from the trees in Iloilo City.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6 sees these as a sign that the environment is healing from the dreadful effects of pollution. The presence of a flock of birds in the trees and skies is a noticeable evidence of a revived balance in nature.

Animals, especially birds, relish the peaceful atmosphere brought about by the limited movement of people and land, air and sea transport in a measure to avoid the local transmission of the virus and contain the outbreak. Air, land, water, noise, light and oil pollution are great threats to birds. 

In urban areas, air quality is greatly affected by smog and noxious gases. Birds have high a respiratory rate making them highly susceptible to air pollutants and airborne impurities. With the limited airline flights and vehicles plying in the streets, birds could now breathe better and soar in the skies.

At night, bright city lights affect the view of the stars in the sky which birds use to determine their route for the next day. These lights affect the flight patterns of birds and break their usual migration paths. When natural light is extremely altered, birds become confused and disoriented. The restricted movement of vehicles because of the curfew in the city, has allowed the birds to see the stars better at night.

Some bird species use vocalization to attract a mate, warn against danger and socialize with other birds in the avian community. In the city, noise pollution affects the birds and their habits. It also interferes with their communication when they vocalize at low frequencies to attract a mate for reproduction. With the city now quieter and with reduced ambient noise, birds are seen and heard vocalizing at low frequencies.

For waterbird species in wetlands and seas, water pollutants reduce the amount of oxygen in the water which causes the death of fish, a source of their food. Oil spills also affect these avian creatures. Oil removes the protective layer of feathers, exposes the birds’ skin and may lead to poisoning. With reduced sea travel, there is lesser water pollution that puts waterbirds at risk.

“Humans have now realized that nature, once left alone, can bounce back to its balance. We have seen something really good amid this COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage all to protect birds and their habitats. Do not capture or poach birds or illegally cut trees. Let us bear in mind that the key to a harmonious life is to live as one with nature,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation is among the ten priority programs of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.#DENR6