Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Migration routes of gray-faced buzzards tracked

MYSTERY SOLVED? A satellite-tracking project has helped scientiets and birdwatchers who are trying to map the rare birds’ annual north-south movements


Taiwan will solve the mystery of the migration route of the gray-faced buzzard at the end of next month as local conservation experts have tracked the hawk’s movements by satellite, a Forestry Bureau official said yesterday.

The satellite-tracking project, conducted by the bureau, a non-governmental organization Raptor Research Group of Taiwan and Academia Sinica was a major breakthrough clarifying the entire migration route of the rare birds, the official said.

Japan spearheaded a similar study several years ago, but was only able to photograph some of the gray-faced buzzard (also known as Butastur indicus) wintering in the country, the official said.

The bird is a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES).

It is also classified as a rare and valuable species under the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法), the official said.

Between 15,000 and 35,000 of the birds stop over in Taiwan on their north-south migration every spring and fall.

The migration areas of the bird are limited to the east and southern parts of Asia.

The species breeds in the summer in eastern Asia, including northeastern China, the Korean Peninsula, the southeastern part of the Ussuri River of Russia and Japan.

The birds migrate south in the autumn to southern China, the Indochinese Peninsula, the Philippines, Borneo, Sulawesi and New Guinea to spend the winter. A few winter on Ishigaki Island in Japan, the official said.

The number of the hawks passing through Taiwan last year reached 43,516, a 20-year record high, the official said.

Three of the birds were implanted with satellite tracers and then released on Oct. 12 last year in Kenting (墾丁) by a research team led by Liou Siao-ru, chief of the Raptor Research Group of Taiwan, he said.

Gray-faced Buzzards

• Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES), the birds are a protected species.

• They breed in eastern Asia in the summer and then migrate south in the fall.

• Some 15,000 to 35,000 of the birds use Taiwan as a resting area during their biannual migrations.

• The Raptor Research Group of Taiwan radio-tagged three of the birds last fall.

The next day they were tracked to the Philippines, the official said.

One of the trio, nicknamed Cape No. 2, returned to central Taiwan on March 21 and reached Zhejiang Province, China, last Wednesday, the official said.

He said once the bird returns to its habitat expected at the end of next month, the bureau will give a public presentation of the entire tracking project.

The other two tagged birds, Cape No. 1 and Cape No. 3, are in Manila and Mindoro, the Philippines, and are moving northward toward Taiwan, the official said.

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