A steadily growing population of pheasant-tailed jacanas in the Tainan region has given rise to a project to promote farming practices that could create more habitable land for the birds.
The Wild Birds Society of Tainan, the Guantian Pheasant-tailed Jacana Ecological Park, the Forestry Bureau’s Tainan branch and the Tainan City Government are collaborating on the project.
According to the ecological park, a subsidiary of the Siraya National Scenic Area, the jacana population has been steadily increasing, averaging more than 500 for four consecutive years.
Photo: Yang Chin-cheng, Taipei Times
This year, the population has spiked to 910, the park said.
The mating season for the pheasant-tailed jacana falls between May and September, and the birds usually find a spot to build their nests by July, park Director Lee Wen-chen (李文珍) said, adding that this helps the park tally the population.
Student volunteers from National Cheng Kung University, the National University of Tainan and National Chiayi University help the park log the number of jacanas mating in the Tainan area, which increased 6 percent from last year, Lee said.
The majority of jacanas — about 78 percent — mated in Guantian District (官田), a renowned production area for water chestnuts that is well-suited for the species, Lee said, adding that water shortages in May and June appear not to have had an adverse effect on the jacanas.
More than 80 percent of all adult and young jacanas, as well as their eggs, have been found near water chestnut fields, showing that the birds have a strong preference for that habitat, Lee said.
Siaying District (下營) has the second-largest cluster of jacanas in the region at 10 percent, Lee said.
The birds used to be found across the nation, but their habitat has gradually shrunk due to land development.
It is now only seen in water chestnut fields between Bajhang Creek (八掌溪) and the Zengwen River (曾文溪).
The bird was declared a grade-two endangered species in 1989 and adopted as Tainan’s official bird.
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