Information collected on birds found in Kita-daito and Minami-daito Islands before World War II revealed records of 85 species, and ambiguous records of 14 species. In the two islands, local populations of the Buzzard Buteo buteo and the Wren Troglodytes troglodytes are considered to be endemic subspecies. However, the absence of information about breeding of these two species before WWII leaves open the possibility that these populations may be other subspecies. The environment of the Daito Islands has changed greatly since reclamation started in 1900, and since that time all seabirds and four species of land birds have become extinct there, and four species have become newly established. The number of the current resident species is 13, which is the same number as that just before the reclamation, which suggests that the resident avifauna may have restabilized.
The Japanese Marsh Warbler Locustella pryeri is an endangered species in Japan. The main reason probably is the lack of suitable breeding habitats. To protect this species, we must understand what kind of habitat they use in the breeding season. Here, I surveyed their detail breeding habitat preferences at Hotokenuma wetland in Aomori Prefecture. The study was conducted at a much finer scale and over a much longer period than in previous published studies. The results show that in May, territorial males preferred areas where the old dead stems of reed Phragmites australis remained unburnt, whereas from June to July, they preferred areas covered with new reed stems of less than 2 meters in height irrespective of the presence of the old reeds. They also preferred areas covered with dense bushes and areas where water depth was less than about 10 centimeters. This species selects this narrow spectrum of vegetation, and such habitat seems to be limited in Japan. To protect this species, we have to maintain the present breeding habitats and attempt to create new habitats.
Identification of suitable habitats is an important first step toward conserving grassland bird populations. Here, I investigated habitat preferences of five grassland bird species, including two endangered species, in a breeding season at Hotokenuma wetland in northeastern Japan. The five species were the Japanese marsh warbler Locustella pryeri, Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis, Black-browed Reed Warbler A. bistrigiceps, Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus and Japanese Reed Bunting E. yessoensis. The results showed that the Japanese Marsh Warbler, Reed Bunting and Japanese Reed Bunting preferred similar habitat: the height of the reed Phragmites australis is low and the height and density of monocotyledons or dicotyledons is high. The black-browed Reed Warbler used various habitats in the study area relatively equally, whereas the Oriental Reed Warbler preferred habitat with tall reedbeds and a high density of monocotyledons. To conserve these species, various type of grassland habitat should be preserved.
Two individuals (A and B) of the Blue Goose morph of the Lesser Snow Goose Anser caerulescens caerulescens were observed for the first time in Japan during the 2006/2007 winter. One individual (A) was found on 19 October 2006 at Shimoike, Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture in a flock of Tundra Swans Cygnus columbianus of a five-bird family. A was afterward observed in Niigata Prefecture from November 2006 to March 2007, and in central Hokkaido from March to April 2007, also among Tundra Swans. A had the typical features of an adult Blue Goose, i.e., white head and upper neck with the lower neck and all underparts dark grey. The other bird (B) was first found at Sarobetsu, Hokkaido, on 27 September 2006, and was observed until 20 October, among flocks of Middendorf's Bean Goose Anser fabalis middendorffii and White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons. B was later observed in southern Hokkaido in October 2006, and in Miyagi Prefecture in November 2006, still among Middendorf's Bean Goose and White-fronted Goose. B's features were intermediate between the two morphs, i.e., its flanks and chest as well as its head and neck were white, still within in the limits of variation for Blue Goose. Past records of blue morph Snow Geese in Japan are discussed in detail and it is concluded that the observations during 2006/2007 winter were indeed the first authentic record of the blue morph Lesser Snow Goose in Japan.
Four individuals of Matsudaira's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma matsudairae were observed in June 2010 in Sagami Bay, central Japan, where the syntype specimens were collected in May 1921. There has been no record of this species in this area since that time. This observation record may provide an important clue to reveal the migration route and fundamental ecology of this species.
The Varied Tit Parus varius was censused along one to three 2-km transects (a total of 990) situated in 879 quadrats (4.5×5 km) in Hokkaido from late April to late July, 1976–2011. Based on census results and records from the literature, Varied Tits occurred in 19% of quadrats at the southern and central parts, in 4% of the eastern part and in 5% of the northern parts, respectively. They were observed mainly in mixed and deciduous broad-leaved forests with occurrence rates (No. of transects of occurrence/No. of transects censused) of 5% and 11% respectively, and at altitudes less than 460 m.
On 27 May 2011 at Mitachi, Ohtsuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, a male Blue Rockthrush Monticola solitarius was observed carrying food to a place where there might be a nest. On 30 May, the nest was found under the eaves of the second floor of a two-story house. The sound of at least two nestlings was heard from the nest. On June 3 and 4, the nestlings left the nest one by one. On 7 June, a fledgling was observed with the parents 150 m away from the nest. This is the first breeding record of the Blue Rockthrush in Yamanashi Prefecture.
A wild male Oriental White Stork Ciconia boyciana was found dead on 27 February 2007. He appeared in August 2002, and was named “Hachi-goro” by residents of Toyo-oka City, among whom he was popular and where a reintroduction project of this species has been underway since 2005. Here we present ecological and veterinary evidence, and suggest that he was weakened greatly during a violent interaction and defeat to a released male, and that this resulted in his death soon after the interaction.
At a fishing port in Hokkaido, Japan, a Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris was observed feeding on startled Japanese halfbeaks Hyporhamphus sajori that jumped into the air when the sea surface was illuminated by car headlights. This note documents a unique way in which artificial lights can provide feeding opportunities for seabirds.
In June 2008, following the closure of his private museum of birds, Oita Yacho-kan, Mr. Masao Oita donated bird skin, egg and nest specimens to the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, Abiko City Museum of Birds, and the University Museum, the University of Tokyo. The Oita Yacho-kan had approximately 300 bird specimens which were collected by Mr. Keikichi Oita and his son, Mr. Masao Oita. The specimens donated to Yamashina Institute for Ornithology were collected from mainly Hida-chiho, Gifu Prefecture, from the 1920s to 1990s, and consist of 174 skins of 102 species, seven skeletons of seven species, five eggs of four species and 21 nests of 17 species.
The authors have reported on the Cataloging and Photographic Conservation of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology Collection of Kenji Shimomura in this journal (Tsukamoto et al. 2010). Subsequently, additional material originating from Kenji Shimomura was found and was treated in the same manner as described in the original report. Thus, 678 items (AVSK_MS_0919–1580 and AVSK_OT_0418–0433) were added, increasing the entire collection to a total of 11,982 items. The additional OT data (original drawings by Shimomura) is shown in Appendix 1, and the MS data in Appendix 2.