Although the Red Jungle Fowl Gallus gallus (RJF) has been thoroughly investigated in captivity outside its natural range, few studies have taken place in its natural habitat. The species is of high conservation value as an ancestor of domestic chickens. To address this paucity of information on its ecology, we examined the population density of RJF in dry evergreen forest in eastern Thailand. Between 2006 and 2009, a capture-recapture study revealed that population density varied between 1.6-2.0 individuals per hectare. Proportions of RJF males and females were not statistically different. On average, maximum ranging distance of males and females was 380.3 m (± 305.1SD). Temporal variations of body weight were detected. In the breeding season, males and females lost up to 18% and 23.6% of their weight, respectively, whereas in the non-breeding season, they gained approximately 21.5% and 23.6% of their body weight, respectively. The maximum lifespan of RJF in nature was estimated to be at least four years.
The feathers of Hodgson's Hawk-eagle Spizaetus nipalensis orientalis, collected from 15 prefectures in Japan, were analyzed for mitochondrial DNA in remaining blood cells and for 11 trace elements (Pb, Cd, Cu, Zn, Ni, Cr, As, Mn, V, Se, and Hg). Of 130 analyzed feather samples, 102 were identified as originating from 51 individual birds based on DNA analysis. The trace element concentrations (mean±SE) were as follows: Pb 4.72±0.28 μg/g, Cd 0.20±0.02 μg/g, Cu 8.57±0.54 μg/g, Zn 44.9±2.0 μg/g, Ni 1.05±0.08 μg/g, Cr 0.74±0.06 μg/g, As 0.21±0.02 μg/g, Mn 19.2±2.3 μg/g, V 0.49±0.05 μg/g, Se 0.94±0.03 μg/g, and Hg 5.74±0.47 μg/g. A significant difference was evident in Hg concentrations among the various prefectures samples. Concentrations of trace elements in feather samples differed even for the same individual. Results of Hg analyses showed that the primary feathers are molted earlier than the feathers of other parts of the body. Moreover, analyses of breast feathers of stuffed specimens showed that the Cd concentration of Hodgson's Hawk-eagle increased after the 1980s.
Variation in the barbule structure of the downy barbs of 30 species of Anseriformes occurring in Japan (six species of geese, one species of swan, and 23 species of ducks, including some domestic forms) was examined to confirm whether or not there were consistent differences among geese, swans and ducks. The distribution of the triangular nodes within one single barbule showed different tendencies among these three groups, although there was considerable overlap. The triangular nodes of ducks were clearly wider than those of geese and swans, but the latter two groups were mutually indistinguishable in this character. The barbules of swans were distinctly shorter than those of the other two groups. Similar tendencies were also found in the feathers of the domestic forms. Thus, this study suggests that it is possible to distinguish among geese, swans and ducks based on the barbule structure. This study also showed that the triangular nodes were absent in primary feathers, alula, primary-coverts, axillaries and very small feathers around the beak in most of examined species. Some species also lacked the triangular nodes in feathers around the oil gland, secondary and tertiary feathers and greater wing-coverts. In fledglings, all of the body feathers lacked the triangular nodes.
Kenji Shimomura (1903-1967) devoted his entire life to nature photography, with the main emphasis on wild birds, and was the first professional wildlife photographer in Japan. By recording birds on camera as seen in nature, he contributed greatly to the advancement of field ornithology. After his death, most of his lifetime photographic materials were donated to the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology. Extensive efforts were made to conserve the materials, carefully placing each of the photographic items (dry plates, negatives, prints, etc.) into acid-free envelopes and storing these in acid-free boxes, then finally housing the boxes in a moisture-controlled dry cabinet. A total of 10,386 photo-related items were catalogued, consisting of 975 dry plates, 3,117 black and white negatives, 983 color negatives and positives, 4,215 prints including 14 in color, 679 movie strips, and 417 miscellaneous items. When 918 non-photographic materials such as manuscripts and paper clippings are included, the entire collection comprises 11,304 items. Data of the items in the collections has been stored on a computer database, and are also available in a concise format in Appendix 1 (the attached CD). The overall results of this report can be reviewed on the website of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology (URL: http://yamashina.or.jp/hp/hyohon_tosho/shimomura_kenji/k_index.html).
A migrating Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus was observed consecutively feeding on a Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura and an Asian Stubtail Urosphena squameiceps on Hongdo Island, Jeonnam Province, Korea. Unlike previous reports of occasional, apparently exceptional, avian predation by the Black Drongo, this sequential observation suggests that the Black Drongo may selectively hunt avian prey. During Black Drongo migration, when other migrating passerines are abundant and insect availability is relatively low, such behavior would help meet its high energy demands.
According to the check-list of Japanese birds, sixth revised edition, the Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax is an irregular visitor in Hokkaido. Two breeding sites of the species were found in the southern part of Oshima Peninsula, south-western Hokkaido; at Nanae in 2000 and at Assabu in 1999. In Nanae 54 nests were counted in the spring of 2009 in a deciduous broad-leaved forest. In Asaabu four nests of the species were counted with 147 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea nests in May 1999 in a deciduous broad-leaved forest. In 2009 Night Herons were absent from the Assabu colony.
The Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi occurs in the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, southern China, the Philippines and the Moluccas. Its breeding has been confirmed only in Japan, to where it migrates at the beginning of April. The ecology of this species was poorly known, but it was believed to be exclusively nocturnal. I used videotape recordings to monitor the parental provisioning of nestlings at two nests in Tokyo during the breeding periods of 2007 and 2008. Result showed that nestlings were fed exclusively in the daytime and never at night. One parent bird mainly returned to the nest at sunset and slept there with their nestlings at night. Both parents began feeding the young mainly from sunrise the next morning. Results showed unequivocally that nestlings are not fed during nighttime, and that at least one of the parents does not forage at night. Furthermore, it is suggested that the Japanese Night Heron may show a diurnal, and not nocturnal, activity pattern during the breeding season.
A single Robin Erithacus rubecula in first winter plumage was observed in Higashiyama, Urahoro, eastern Hokkaido (42°48′N, 143°41′E) from 9 January to 16 February, 2005. This is only the third record for this species in Hokkaido.
A specimen of Rufous-chested Flycatcher Ficedula dumetoria was collected at Shidaihama, Seiro-machi, Kitakanbara-gun, Niigata Prefecture (38°01′ N, 139°17′E) on 15 June 2002. This is the first specimen of this species collected from Japan. However, it is unlikely that this individual had flown to Japan as a wild bird.