Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Numbers of some migratory birds fall

COMPARISON:The Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute cannot determine the exact cause of the decline before seeing the data from other nations, a researcher said

By Wu Hsin-tien and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The populations of several species of migratory birds wintering in Taiwan declined this year, with the number of black-bellied terns falling by more than 4,000, the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute said on Tuesday, citing the annual New Year Bird Count.

The count is a national census of birds that the institute has conducted since 2013 with the Chinese Wild Bird Federation.

The latest census was taken between Dec. 17 last year and Jan. 8, with the help of 1,258 volunteers.

The number of black-bellied terns has fallen by 4,238 birds, nearly halving their numbers from last year, the institute said.

The grey heron population decreased by 1,059 birds, the long-toed stint population fell by 980 birds and the ruddy turnstone population decreased by 773 birds, it said.

The institute cannot say whether the declines were caused by habitat losses or changes in migratory patterns until it reviews data from other nations, institute researcher Lin Da-li (林大利) said.

If migratory birds were forced to winter elsewhere due to loss of habitat, their relocation to alternative sites would be seen in the numbers observed in other nations, Lin said.

This year, the number of dublins rose by 5,714 and northern shovelers rose by 4,681 from last year, Lin said, adding that the number of northern pintails, black-headed gulls and Eurasian wigeons rose by between 3,000 and 4,000.

This year’s bird population of 322,353 — comprised of 343 bird species — is the highest on record, Lin said.

In the nation’s 174 sampling areas, New Taipei City’s Tianliaoyang (田寮洋) and Yilan County’s Nanao (南澳) had the highest number of species at 107 each, the census showed.

Chiayi County’s Budai (布袋) had the largest bird population at 36,701 counts, followed by Kaohsiung’s Cieding District (茄萣) at 18,429 counts, it said.

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