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Migration of grey-faced buzzards through Taiwan biggest in decades

Grey-faced buzzards are on the move across southern Taiwan (CNA, Tsai Yi-jung photo) 

Grey-faced buzzards are on the move across southern Taiwan (CNA, Tsai Yi-jung photo) 

The number of grey-faced buzzards migrating through southern Taiwan has reached a 31-year high this year, mainly because of favorable weather conditions, the Wild Bird Society of Pingtung (WBSPT) said Saturday.

So far this year, some 76,000 grey-faced buzzards have landed on Taiwan's Hengchun Peninsular on their southern migration route, which was the largest number in 31 years, the WBSPT said.

On Oct. 10, 16 and 17, the daily total landing in Kenting National Park was more than 10,000, according to Tsai Yi-jung (蔡乙榮), WBSPT managing director and former employee at the park headquarters.

Tsai said the record number of migrating grey-faced buzzards this year could be attributed to the weather, which has been relatively stable, with little rain and no typhoons so far.

The grey-faced buzzard is an Asian bird of prey that breeds in the Korean Peninsula and migrates to Southeast Asia to escape the harsh winter. Taiwan lies on a major migration route, and large numbers of the birds can be seen moving southward from October, stopping on the Hengchun Peninsula.

The buzzards usually stop in Pingtung's Manjhou Township every evening to rest before continuing on their southward migratory path.

Pingtung residents used to hunt the birds for food, but they no longer do so, thanks to the educational efforts by the Kenting National Park Administration over the past two decades and the imposition of heavy fines, according to Kenting Park Deputy Director Hsu Shu-kuo (許書國). (By Kuo Chih-hsuan and Ko Lin)