About 4,000 Asian openbills, an endangered species in Vietnam, have congregated on Dam River in Tam Ky Town, creating an uplifting spectacle.
The 500 hectare Dam River, about four kilometers from the center of Tam Ky Town in coastal Quang Nam Province, boasts a diverse system of fauna and flora.
The river is almost entirely covered by duckweed.
Asian openbills, scientifically known as Anatomus oscitans, and listed in Vietnam’s Red Book, have recently visited the river to forage.
Every morning, the flock arrives looking for yellow snails, frogs, crabs, and large insects along the river or surrounding rice fields. Yellow snails, a favorite on the menu, are said to have often destroyed local rice crops until the birds made their appearance.
About 2 p.m. each day, the birds take a break on wooden trunks protruding from the water.
The white bird has a 10-cm beak. Its feet are light red, each about 20 cm long. Boasting a large wing span, an Asian openbill typically weighs over one kg.
Apart from the species, thousands of white storks occupy parts of Dam River.
At dusk, the birds fly away to find shelter and return to the river the next morning for food, a perfect time of day for tourists to explore the area.
The bird migration has enticed many people to Dam River.
A boat ride costs VND200,000 ($8.6) per vessel, which can carry between four and 10 travelers.
Local authorities have issued a ban on hunting the birds and planted various trees in an attempt to protect them.
Local officials see the river as a big park. The central province has collaborated with a number of international and domestic organizations to conduct research and develop and restore the river ecosystem for preservation purposes as a vital part of local tourism.