Historical and recent records of occurrence of Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris in southeastern Russia and Japan were reviewed to better describe movements and vagrancy south of their breeding range in Russia. Small numbers have occurred recently and historically off the southeastern Kamchatka Peninsula at or near the southern end of the breeding range. We clarified that two 1828 type specimens were collected by F. H. von Kittlitz at either Petropavlovsk or northeastern Kamchatka. Only 13 specific records (10 confirmed, 3 unverified but credible) are available south of the breeding range, with 11 records since 1975. Near the south end of the Kamchatka Peninsula, only one confirmed record is known at Vestnik Bay (1972). At Sakhalin Island, three confirmed records were at Kholmsk (1986; 40 km offshore), Moneron Island (1986; 43 km offshore), and Chaivo Bay (1999). In the Kuril Islands, confirmed records were found for Paramushir Island (1928), Kunashir Island (2009), and an unspecified locality and date (<1890). For Hokkaido, early reports (<1890) were later found to be misidentifications or from the Kuril Islands; no other historical records were found prior to 1975. Five recent records (1975–2004; two confirmed, three unverified but credible) off northeastern Hokkaido were collated, with one record 65 km offshore (Tokachi/Kushiro Bay—March 1999). Very small numbers recorded in the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin Island and Hokkaido (within 1,500 km of nearest suspected breeding areas) apparently reflect individuals that moved further south than normal in certain years but still within cold waters projecting south to Hokkaido. One other confirmed 2004 record near Tokyo Bay (∼950 km south of eastern Hokkaido) apparently was a long-distance vagrant, possibly related to unusual weather conditions. Future well-documented records are needed to develop a more solid baseline for monitoring changes in southern occurrences of the Kittlitz's Murrelet in eastern Asia.
A previous study has demonstrated that the population size of the Tree sparrow Passer montanus in Japan is declining. To confirm this, we examined reports on the number of tree sparrows banded in Japan from 1987 to 2008. If the population size of the tree sparrow is actually diminishing, then the numbers banded should also reflect this. Results showed that the number of tree sparrows banded over this period decreased by more than half, and support previous studies documenting the decline of the tree sparrow in Japan.
The Copper Pheasant Syrmaticus soemmerringii is endemic to Japan and information on its breeding ecology in the wild is fragmentary. To examine the breeding schedule and mating system of this species, I set artificial feeding stations at three sites in Mie Prefecture, Japan, from 2003 to 2009, and observed courtship display, drumming, wattle around the eye, and molt of individuals. Individuals were identified mainly by body (and tail) size and plumage color. The egg-laying period was estimated to be from mid-March to April, based on the breeding schedule of individuals in cages. Males and females had bright red wattles from late-February to April and late-February to May, respectively. The mating period was obscure because courtship displays were observed in June, September and November. Males molted their tail from late June to early November. Some young females and adult females used feeders together until the following May. If they belonged to the same family, the family period lasted for one year. Young males disappeared from the family group in late August. At each feeding station, there was one male and female that continued to use the feeder and appeared together at the feeder. Although other males and females sometimes used the feeder, courtship displays were observed only between the male and female that used the feeder continuously. Only the male that continually used the feeder showed drumming by wing whirring. These results suggest that the Copper Pheasant is socially monogamous.
A vagrant individual Branta canadensis visited Hokkaido on migration in spring 2006. We present details of its eventual identification as Branta canadensis parvipes and our observations of this rare visitor, which has not been formally described from Japan. We describe its staging at two separate locations in southern and northern Hokkaido, its association with other geese, and its length of stay.
The Short-tailed Albatross Diomedea albatrus is a vulnerable seabird that breeds on Torishima, one of the Izu Islands, and on Minami- and Kita-kojima islands in the Senkaku Islands. An unringed bird has been observed at the Hatsunezaki colony on Torishima every year since 1996, even though since 1979 almost all birds hatched on Torishima have been ringed on both legs. This unringed individual was named Deko-chan as, until the 2005/06 breeding season, it made a nest every year near a decoy that was set to attract the birds to Hatsunezaki. Given that losing the rings from both legs while still having sub-adult plumage is unlikely, the natal site of the bird was suspected to be the Senkaku Islands. The identification of Deko-chan's natal site is important to assess whether birds from the Senkaku Islands are coming to Torishima and whether birds from the two islands are pairing. Our previous studies using control region 2 (CR2) of the mitochondrial DNA sequence suggested that the species includes two distinct populations (clades 1 and 2), with birds breeding on Torishima mostly consisting of descendants of clade 1 individuals, and those sampled in the Senkaku Islands comprised of descendants of clade 2 individuals. In this study, we analysed CR2 obtained from down collected from the nest of Deko-chan. The results reveal that Deko-chan has a CR2 sequence that differs from any reported to date, but indicates that it belongs to clade 2, supporting the suggestion that the natal site of the bird is the Senkaku Islands, not Torishima. Although the bird had paired with a ringed bird and reared two young by the 2009/10 breeding season, further studies using bisexually transmitted molecular markers are required to confirm whether the two lineages are able to mix.
A parasitological survey was performed on 11 species of birds introduced into Japan: Cygnus olor, Branta canadensis moffitti, Cairina moschata domestica, Phasianus colchicus karpowi, Bambusicola thoracica, Pavo cristatus, Psittacula krameri manillensis, Pycnonotus sinensis, Garrulax canorus, Leiothrix lutea, Lonchura malacca. A total of 17 taxa of external and internal parasites, including one protozoan (Eimeria sp.), five nematodes (Eucoleus perforans, Amidostomum anseris, Pseudaspidodera pavonis, Heterakis gallinarum and Synhimantus (Dispharynx) nasuta), four trematodes (Echinochasmus sp., Amphimerus anatis, Tanaisia sp. and Dicrocoeliidae gen. sp.), one cestode (unidentified) and six arthropods (Goniodes pavonis, Lipeurus maculosus, Ixodes turdus, Haemaphysalis flava, Leptotrombidium scutellare and Mouchetia sp.) were obtained and identified. Among the obtained parasites, Dicrocoeliidae gen. sp., I. turdus and L. scutellare from L. lutea, and Tanaisia sp. and L. scutellare from G. canorus, are the first host records, while P. pavonis and G. pavonis are the first geographical records from Japan.
A helminthological survey was undertaken on 39 individuals of the Okinawa Rail Gallirallus okinawae that had either died following rescue or were collected as carcasses between 2004 and 2006 from Yanbaru region, Okinawa, Japan. A total of seven helminth species, including three nematode (Heterakis isolonche, Strongyloides sp. and Skrjabinoclava sp.), two trematode (Glaphyrostomum sp. and Tanaisia sp.), an unidentified cestode and an acanthocephalan species (Plagiorhynchus sp.) were obtained and identified morphologically. Except for H. isolonche and Glaphyrostomum sp., the other five helminth species were the first records for G. okinawae. A significantly higher occurrence of Tanaisia sp. was detected for male rails compared to female rails. Since H. isolonche is known to cause nodular typhlitis and/or granuloma formation in bird guts, monitoring of helminths is recommended in this endangered rail species.
We observed a young Gray-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus picking up and eating insect larvae from inside the nest. Taxonomic examination of one of the larvae revealed it to be approximately 25 mm in length and characterized by a thick and C-shaped body with obvious legs on the thorax and no urogomphi. These features indicated the insect to belong to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea within the family Coleoptera. Scarabaeoidea may breed in nests of the Gray-faced Buzzard, as shown recently in other carnivorous birds, including the Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis, Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana and Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo.
Nest sites, breeding seasons and breeding success of the Goshawk Accipiter gentilis were studied in the south of Kyoto Prefecture from 1993 to 2010. The Goshawk nested in the mixed forest of evergreen and deciduous trees and preferred red pine Pinus densiflora as nesting trees. Eggs were laid from mid April to early May, and hatched from late May to early June. Average clutch size was 2.9 (n=8) and average number of fledglings was 1.9 (n=9).
In June 2011, an unusually high mortality of the migratory Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris occurred in Mutsu Bay in northernmost Honshu, Japan. One hundred and fifty six carcasses were recorded along a 1 km stretch of beach. Prior to this stranding, 40 birds had been observed floating in the nearby area of the bay. All of them were presumably juveniles that had departed from their natal places in the austral autumn in late April or early May and mistakenly entered into the semi-enclosed bay through Tsugaru Strait en route to the northern summering waters of the cooler current.