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An Extremely Rare Bird Was Just Sighted in Pangasinan

There are over 30 to 49 left in the wild. 
IMAGE Kim Cancino for Esquire Philippines
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Bird watcher Kim Manzon Cancino could not believe his eyes when he saw a super-rare bird while monitoring the shores of the Lingayen Gulf: A Chinese crested tern (Thalasseus bernsteini). The find was reported by Robert Hutchinson on Inquirer

Only 30 to 49 Mature Individuals Remaining

The bird is teetering on the edge of extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, there are 30 to 49 mature individuals of the species left on the planet. 

The IUCN is recognized as the most reliable international authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. It also lists the conservation status of species from “Extinct” to “Least Concern.” The Chinese crested tern is listed as “Critically Endangered,” which is one category away from being extinct in the wild. 

First Sighting in 116 Years

According to the report, Cancino was able to witness the bird in Pangasinan for two consecutive days. Cancino has been monitoring migratory birds in the region for the past year. 

Cancino’s sighting was verified by the Philippine Bird Rarities Committee and is the third sighting in Luzon, and the first in Pangasinan. 

According to the IUCN, the major threat to the survival of the species is the continuing decline in the quality and extent of its habitat. The bird has a generation length of 11 years—which means it takes quite some time for the birds to rear their young. In comparison, the Philippine eagle has a generation length of 18 years, which is one of the reasons why it is very difficult to increase its population even with intense conservation efforts. 

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According to Nature Conservation, generation length refers to the average age of parents of the current cohort, reflecting the turnover rate of breeding individuals in a population. 

The Chinese crested tern is one of the world’s rarest bird species. A sighting of even one individual is exceedingly rare. The bird’s breeding sites are located on islands in China, Taiwan, and South Korea, but migrates south to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand during winter. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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