The status of 37 species of breeding seabirds in Japan has been reported by Hasegawa (1984). However, since then, no report has been made. The author was involved in the launch of seabird monitoring for the Monitoring site 1000 project by the Ministry of the Environment in 2004. In the over 15 years since then, population and habitat have been surveyed in 30 major breeding areas, including 80 islands and islets in Japan. In this paper, the previous studies including reports based on this project and the seabird colony database were reviewed. The populations of many species at various islands declined, possibly because of introduced predators and human disturbance. The nesting habitats of most of the seabird breeding areas had deteriorated. Therefore, the continuous monitoring of the change of the population and nesting habitat and quick operation of appropriate conservation measures, (eradication of introduced predators and redacation of human disturbance) are required. In this paper, 1) distribution of seabirds, 2) monitoring seabird survey, 3) current status, 4) introduced predators, and 5) conservation activities are summarized. Further 1) necessity of long-term monitoring of seabirds, 2) extermination of introduced predators, 3) reduction of anthropogenic disturbances, and 4) issues of conservation measures are discussed.
Restoration or establishment of colonies using translocation and hand-rearing can be an effective tool for conserving seabirds. However, few such projects have considered the defined goals, the best action for a given set of objectives, and a well-designed post-release evaluation. Many breeding colonies of Diomedeidae are threatened with extinction. The entire breeding population of the threatened Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastoria albatrus is restricted to just two sites, Torishima and the Senkaku Islands, and neither site is secure due to volcanic activity or political instability. To facilitate the recovery of this species by establishing at least one additional colony (final goal: more than 75 breeding pairs), during 2008–2012, a total of 70 post-guard phase chicks were translocated from Torishima to a safe, former breeding site, Mukojima where social attractants were deployed, and where chicks were hand-reared for 100 days until fledging. During the five-year study, fledging success was 99%. Hand-reared chicks had comparable or superior health and similar rates of immediate post-fledging survival to naturally-reared chicks on Torishima. During one month after fledging, the more northerly dispersal of hand-reared birds compared to naturally-reared birds suggests the ability to adjust to a new departure location. Forty-two percent of hand-reared birds (n=29) returned to the translocation site (Mukojima) at least once per breeding season, of which 83% (n=24) also visited Torishima. The occurrence of hand-reared birds returning each year was lower at Mukojima than Torishima. The first breeding attempt occurred five years after the first translocation. Two pairs recruited to Mukojima and nine pairs recruited to Torishima by 10 years after the first translocation. Our preliminary results suggest that even though more translocated and hand-reared albatrosses visited and recruited to their natal island compared to the translocation site, the early re-establishment of breeding by Short-tailed Albatrosses at a historic nesting site 80 years after extirpation would not have occurred without this initial translocation effort. Further study of long-term monitoring is needed to fully understand formation of breeding colonies in long-lived and slow to mature seabird species.
Bird banding is a survey method of attaching uniquely marked rings on a bird’s leg. Recaptured or resighted data of marked individuals enable researchers to study the ecology of birds, such as the migration and life history. The first bird banding survey took place in Denmark in 1899, and now many researchers and organizations around the world carry out such surveys. In Japan, Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce (the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at present) started the bird banding scheme in 1924. The scheme was interrupted during and after World War II, but was resumed in 1961. During 59 years from 1961 to 2019, a total of 6,108,529 individuals (499 species) were marked and released, of which 40,607 individuals (262 species) were recovered. The numbers of marked and recovered individuals in the latest year (2019) were 126,907 individuals (282 species) and 1,254 individuals (88 species), respectively. Based on this comprehensive database, numerous findings and knowledge were obtained, including migration routes and life spans of many species, population trends of endangered species, avifaunal data of a certain region, birds’ response to climate change, contribution to the measure for avian influenza, and so on. The bird banding survey has contributed to the conservation of biodiversity, one of the most critical global issues today. We believe it is important to conduct and continue the survey with a sense of purpose and mission for greater good in mind.
On Minamitorishima Island, the easternmost island of Japan, 11 species of seabirds were breeding during the Meiji period (about 120 years ago). However, by 1952, nine of these species no longer had breeding populations due to overhunting and environmental destruction. In this study, we clarified the historical background and restored the collected data of specimens from Minamitorishima Island in the Tokyo Imperial Household Museum (TIHM) collection during the Meiji period. As a result, 26 specimens of 11 species from Minamitorishima Island were found, all of which were obtained in connection with the Minamitorishima Island Incident of 1902: the conflict between Japan and the U.S. over the acquisition of this island. For five species of the specimens found in our study, (Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus, Christmas Shearwater P. nativitatis, Brown Booby Sula leucogaster, Black Noddy Anous minutus, White Tern Gygis alba), breeding populations are still absent from Minamitorishima Island. The specimens from Minamitorishima Island in the TIHM collection are useful research resources to elucidate the past breeding populations and/or historical materials to demonstrate a period when seabirds were hunted indiscriminately.
Mr. Shigekazu Kobayashi (1887–1975) was one of Japan’s leading natural history artists, and at the request of many ornithologists and others, including Dr. Yoshimaro Yamashina (1900–1989), Dr. Nagamichi Kuroda (1889–1978) and Dr. Jean Delacour (1890–1985), he painted and drew an extremely large amount of natural history—mainly birds—art. In this paper, I aimed to clarify just when and what kind of work Kobayashi did in relation to Yamashina. I extracted the descriptions of Kobayashi and Yamashina from the diaries from 1921 to 1975 by Yamashina, Mrs. Sugako Yamashina (1905–1966), Mr. Minori Hiwa—research assistant—etc., owned by the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology (YIO), and investigated which books by Yamashina etc. the descriptions were for. As a result, the following became clear: the date of Kobayashi’s visit to YIO and the content of his sketches; Kobayashi painted many works using the specimens owned by YIO as the reference materials; the fees paid for Kobayashi’s original paintings was high, which indicates Yamashina’s high evaluation of Kobayashi; Kobayashi also drew many drawings in scientific journals, and by drawing the color drawings precisely and accurately, he contributed to the development of ornithology. In addition, this investigation discovered that Yamashina facilitated communications between Kobayashi and Dr. Masauji Hachisuka (1903–1953), who was staying in the United States, and that Hachisuka also asked Kobayashi to draw, and paid a large sum of painting fees.
Yamashina Institute for Ornithology has been engaged a DNA barcoding project for birds since 2008. We have conducted this project in cooperation with the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo. In this report, we introduce our activity of DNA barcoding and review its results, challenges, and future subjects. Although the original purpose of DNA barcoding is species identification, such results have impact on many academic disciplines, such as taxonomy, phylogeography, and conservation of birds.
In central Japan, many frugivorous migrant birds have a role as seed dispersers for freshy-fruited plant species in the autumn and winter seasons. Some field studies have suggested that some species belonging to the genus Ficedula may forage fruits and disperse the seeds during the migration, though there are very few cases in which the seed dispersal behavior has been evaluated. In mid-autumn, we observed seed transporting behavior of Ficedula mugimaki and F. narcissina at the Otayama Bird Banding station in Fukui Prefecture. From 2003 to 2019, 73 and 64 individuals of F. mugimaki and F. narcissina were captured, and 59 and 36 fecal samples were collected, respectively. After the sorting, plant seeds were confirmed present in 17 (28.8%) and 7 (19.4%) sample, respectively. The frequency of seed transportation was relatively high in F. mugimaki. Moreover, F. mugimaki transported the seeds of eight plants of diverse species. It seems that F. mugimaki tends to be more frugivorous than F. narcissina. The difference in foraging behavior between these two species may reflect differences in the timing in migration.
A distribution map of the Common Merganser Mergus merganser in Hokkaido, Japan, is presented based upon data obtained by transect and spot censuses, records from the literature, and unpublished personal records. The Common Merganser occurred on rivers, lakes and reservoirs which were situated mainly to the east of Hidaka Mountains and Daisetsu mountainous area and north of 43°20′N. Air temperatures during breeding season in these areas are lower than in other areas. It is considered that air temperature during breeding season is one of the factors determining the distribution of the species.
Japanese names are a useful tool for Japanese speakers to communicate scientifically about birds. However, over 30 years have already passed since the most influential book treating Japanese names for all modern birds (Yamashina 1986) was published. During that time, the classification of birds has undergone major changes. Here we provide a revised list of Japanese names for species of ratites and tinamous (Paleognathae), which adopts the latest classification system (Gill et al. 2021).
On September 1st, 2016, a Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha was recorded by an infrared sensor camera on Iriomote Island, located at the southern tip of the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. This is the first record of this species on Iriomote Island.