Herons and Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo nested at Chikubushima Island in Lake Biwa, Japan, during the Edo and Meiji periods (18th century – early 20th century). Local residents had much experience with these bird species and a deep folkloric knowledge. The local residents ate the eggs and meat of these birds, and used their feathers for fishing gears and other purposes. Some of them caught the young cormorants and trained them for “cormorant fishing” in Fukui, in the Japan Sea side. However, from the middle of the Showa period (the mid-1900’s) they no longer utilized these bird species, even after the population increase of these bird species during the 1990s.
We provide information on two early specimens of the Japanese Reed Bunting Emberiza yessoensis collected by Thomas Blakiston in Hokkaido in early Meiji times. One of these specimens was regarded as lost, but we rediscovered it. The other had become separated from its year and locality of collection. We have reunited the data with this specimen by analyzing Blakiston’s notebook and specimen catalogue. We have also shown that one specimen, a potential type, was collected in Hakodate. These rediscoveries are of importance in determining the taxonomy of the Japanese Reed Bunting, for proving that these early specimens were truly the Japanese Reed Bunting, and for demonstrating its historical and current distribution and relationship to climate and weather.
Fault bars are narrow structural malformations in feathers. Procellariiform seabirds have long wings that generate lift and power at high speeds and short tails that may not provide dynamic stability. We predicted that Procellariiformes would have fewer fault bars in their wing feathers than in their tail feathers. We examined Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis (bycatch in the Japanese pelagic longline fishery in the western north Pacific) and compared the occurrence of fault bars between primary remiges and rectrices using hierarchical Bayesian models. As expected, the models suggested that albatross primary remiges had fewer fault bars than rectrices.
The first importation of live penguins to Japan took place when two Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) arrived in 1915 from Chile. One of them was donated to the Tokyo Imperial Household Museum Zoo (which later became Ueno Zoological Gardens) on June 9, 1915 by Mr. Isokichi Ozawa, the chief engineer of a Japanese merchant ship with regular service to South America. After its death it was preserved as a stuffed specimen, and its record was found in the specimen database (Tensanbu Daicho) of the Tokyo Imperial Household Museum. After the passing of this penguin, the other individual was purchased by Hanayashiki, an amusement park in the Asakusa district in Tokyo. In 1951, Mr. Haruo Takashima discovered the record for a specimen of the Humboldt Penguin registered by the same specimen number in the Tensanbu Daicho at the National Museum of Nature and Science; he later reported that it was an immature bird (Takashima 1952a). It is now believed that the specimen of the immature Humboldt Penguin at the National Museum of Nature and Science, previously considered to be of unknown origin, was one of those first two living penguins imported into the country. In addition, I found that the penguin illustrated in a traditional Japanese hanging scroll was modeled after the individual kept at Hanayashiki and that it was also an immature bird. This has led this author to assume that immature penguins that were easy to keep, were chosen for shipment to Japan.
Studies on the breeding biology of the Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea are scarce due to its habit of nesting in natural cavities and relative reluctance to use nest boxes. Over six years of studies on cavity-nesting birds, we observed a total of nine pairs of Eurasian Nuthatch nesting in nest boxes set in deciduous and mixed forest habitats in Hokkaido, Japan (42°40′N, 141°36′E). Here, we report their general breeding parameters and some characteristics of their reproduction. Mean laying date was 8 May (n=9), and mean clutch size was 7.8 (n=9). Incubation and nestling periods were 18.6 days (n=7) and 20.4 days (n=5), respectively. Hatching and fledging successes were 87.3% (n=7) and 85.3% (n=5), respectively.