Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Kaohsiung rare finch sighting excites twitchers

By Chen Wen-chan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Japanese grosbeak perches on the branch of a tree in Kaohsiung’s Weiwuying Park on Wednesday last week.

Photo: Chang Jung-chin, Taipei Times

The rare Japanese grosbeak has been sighted in Kaohsiung, presumably due to a navigational error, electrifying local bird-watchers, the Kaohsiung Agricultural Bureau said.

The Japanese grosbeak, a finch that breeds mostly in Siberia, China and other northeast Asian nations, is distinguished by its big yellow beak and the black feathers on the front half of its head, the bureau said.

The bird is rare in Taiwan and it probably stopped at Kaohsiung’s Weiwuying Park (衛武營) to recover strength after getting lost during its winter migration, the bureau said.

The grosbeak’s presence in the city is unprecedented, it added.

The park has a lot of trees which provide ample food for the bird to eat, as that is necessary for the bird to build up its stamina ahead of a long migratory flight, it said.

The grosbeak mostly winters in the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi — usually flying in pairs or in flocks — although it has been known to have visited New Taipei City’s Jinshan District (金山), the bureau said.

The bird favors woodland on plains and particularly the canopy, which is an advantageous position for finding fruit and insects, and to surveil possible predators, it said.

The grosbeak is shy and difficult to photograph, the bureau said.

The grosbeak’s presence at the park is an encouraging sign for the Kaohsiung City Government’s conservation efforts, bureau official Yeh Kun-sung (葉坤松) said.

Park visitors are reminded to keep their distance from the bird, and to refrain from making loud noises or chasing the bird, he said.

It is also forbidden for bird-watchers to break branches, which some people have done to get a better field of the rare bird, he said.

Doing so harms the environment and would prevent rare birds from visiting Kaohsiung, he added.

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