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Weather change delays northward departure of spoonbills

Weather change delays northward departure of spoonbills

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) Black-faced spoonbills, an endangered species of migratory water bird, were likely to delay their northward departure this spring due to changes in the weather, conservationists with the Taijiang National Park in Tainan said Sunday. The wading bird, which has a worldwide population of around 2,000 and winters mostly in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam, arrived to winter in Taiwan a month later than usual at the end of last year. Over the past few years, black-faced spoonbills usually started arriving in Taiwan after September, with the largest flocks arriving between late November and mid-December. This winter, however, the majority of the birds arrived in Taiwan in January, according to the park administration. Experts with the park speculated that based on their late arrival, the birds' departure would also be one month later than March, when they generally started the journey to breeding areas in the north around North Korea and South Korea. As its name suggests, the black-faced spoonbill has an elongated, spoon-shaped bill. Its plumage is white in color and its face and bill are black. During the breeding season, mature adults develop longer crest feathers at the back of their necks and their breast areas become a golden yellow. According to a Tainan bird watcher, about half of the black-faced spoonbills wintering in Taiwan were usually adult birds and the other half were young birds when they departed. However, this winter, as of last week, only about two-fifths of the birds sighted in the park area have turned into mature adults with golden yellow breeding feathers, the bird watcher said. The number of black-faced spoonbills flying to southern Taiwan to spend the winter hit a record high this year, totaling 1,510, which was nearly twice the 777 recorded last year and higher than the 1,185 recorded in 2010, according to the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, which collected results from the Taijiang National Park in Tainan and other habitats. Most of the birds had wintered in the park and coastal areas of Chiayi County and Kaohsiung City -- the world's biggest wintering area for the birds. The park attributed the arrival surge to warmer-than-usual temperatures in recent months, which caused the birds to migrate later. The birds, which arrive on the wintery seasonal winds from the northeast, arrived later this winter because the winds started later, park authorities added. (By R. S. Chang and Deborah Kuo)


Updated : 2021-08-04 04:08 GMT+08:00