BirdFair 2009 – Lost and Found

Lost? The last confirmed sighting of the Ivory Billed Wood pecker was in 1987.
Lost? The last confirmed sighting of the Ivory Billed Wood pecker was in 1987. Source: BirdFair 2009 YouTube Video.

BirdFair 2009 was the 21st annual British Birdwatching Fair. Every year the BirdFair event raises money for bird conservation projects. Co-ordinated by BirdLife International, the conservation projects aim to establish which bird species are under threat and to what extent, where these bird species are located / migrate and exactly what is causing the threat. Following this work it is possible to identify the conservation measures that must be put into place to protect a particular bird species. As BirdLife International announces more Critically Endangered birds than ever before, this work becomes more important than ever. However, it is not all bad news, as Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science and Policy, states:

In global terms, things continue to get worse – but there are some real conservation success stories this year to give us hope and point the way forward.

BirdFair 2009

The money from the BirdFair events from 2007, 2008 and 2009 is being used to help fund the Preventing Extinctions Programme. The emphasis on the 2009 part of the project has been called “Lost and Found.” Martin Davies of the RSPB, and co-organiser of BirdFair, explains on the BirdFair 2009 YouTube video (see below).

Extinction is forever. People say that, it sounds a bit like a joke, but it is absolutely true!

Of the 192 birds on the critically endangered birds list, it is not clear whether 45 of them are extinct or whether they still exist. In recent years, birds that were though to be extinct for 50 or 60 years have been re-discovered. The aim of Lost and Found is to raise the profile of these particular bird species in the hope that their existence can be verified and conservation work can begin in earnest. In addition to this, it is hoped that BirdLife will obtain more BirdLife Species Champions, that is, organisations and individuals who make a financial commitment to help conserve a particular bird species.

Lost and Found – Cebu Flowerpecker

Cebu Woodpecker Bird rediscovered in 1992.
Cebu Flowerpecker Bird rediscovered in 1992. Source: BirdFair 2009 YouTube Video.

To highlight the point in case, the Cebu Flowerpecker has become the official BirdFair 2009 emblem of Lost and Found. The Cebu Flowerpecker is a bird officially thought to have become extinct early in the 20th century. The Cebu Flowerpecker lives in forests in the Philippines. Most of the forests had been cleared, however, in 1992 the Cebu Flowerpecker was rediscovered by birder and biologist R J Timmins. The remaining forest is now protected by local communities and it is hoped the Cebu Flowerpecker population will be able to significantly increase from the 85 – 100 individuals that currently remain. Significantly the Philippines Ministry of Tourism has agreed to become the BirdLife Species Champion for the Cebu Flowerpecker.

The Philippines is a country with 190 endemic and 600 migratory bird species. However, more than 200 Philippine birds are now included in the World Conservation Union’s red list of critically-endangered species. In addition to habitat loss and threats from non-native species, illegal hunting of birds in the Philippines is a major problem, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Philippines. Due to these threats, the BirdFair funded conservation of bird species in the Philippines is particularly important, challenging and rewarding.

The story of Cebu Flowerpecker is living proof that by focusing our efforts and resources, we really can make positive difference for the world’s biodiversity. On reflection, this is a remarkable achievement, especially when you consider it’s driven by 20,000 birdwatchers standing around in a few fields in Rutland for a weekend.

Tim Appleton, of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, and co-organiser of BirdFair.

Other Bird species on the BirdFair 2009 Lost and Found list include:

  • Ivory-billed Woodpecker
  • Jamaican Petrel
  • Hooded Seedeater
  • Himalayan Quail
  • Pink-headed Duck

Hopefully within a year or two there will be some very exciting news about these and the other Lost and Found bird species!

Other critically endangered bird species that BirdFair has helped to conserve include Rimatara Lorikeets, Gurney’s Pittas and the Albatross.

BirdFair 2009 YouTube Video

Tim Appleton and Martin Davies, organisers of BirdFair 2009 talk about BirdFair and the “Lost and Found” campaign.


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