A 646bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and a 293bp fragment of the 18S ribosomal RNA gene were sequenced from 20 species of the Passeriformes, primarily of the family Muscicapidae. Phylogenetic trees of the cytochrome b gene indicated monophyly of the genus Turdus except T. dauma and close relationships among T. chrysollaus, T. obscurus and T. pallidus with a high bootstrap probability. The tree showed an early divergence of Corvus macrorhynchos from the other Passeriformes. Sturnus cineraceus was not closely related to Corvus macrorhynchos and included in the branch of Muscicapidae with a relatively high bootstrap probability. Although the trees suggested monophyly of the families Emberizidae, Ploceidae and Zosteropidae, the relationships among the families of Passeriformes were unclear. The sequences of the 18S ribosomal RNA gene were the same in the Passeriformes examined except the Tarsiger cyanurus, Monticola solitarius and Ficedula narcissina. These three species shared a single substitution at the same position, suggesting monophyly of the three species.
A comparative study of feeding ecology of the Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) populations breeding on Mt. Hakusan and Mt. Norikura was conducted in June and July, 1994. To capture and band the birds, artificial feeding grounds using millet seed were established on the top of both mountains. In June, Alpine Accentors on Mt. Hakusan did not respond to the supplemental food and fed on insects on snow surfaces, while those on Mt. Norikura used the feeding grounds frequently and foraged mainly in snow-free areas (rocky slopes and alpine deserts). The main foraging habitat of Alpine Accentors on both mountains shifted to alpine meadows in July. In June, the average number of insects per 50×50cm quadrat taken on snow surfaces on Mt. Hakusan (117.5) was much greater than that on Mt. Norikura (24.0). In July, the average number of insects per quadrat was 8.4 and 4.7 on Mt. Hakusan and Mt. Norikura, respectively. Hemiptera constituted the main taxa, accounting for 79.7% of 395 samples collected. Aphids were the most frequent of the Hemiptera identified to family level, accounting for 87.3% of 315 Hemiptera. These insects were brought by updrafts from lowlands to the alpine zone. We conclude that Alpine Accentors on Mt. Hakusan relied less on supplemental food because they foraged on abundant insects which were easy to capture and detect on snow surfaces. The breeding unit of Alpine Accentors is a group consisting of about seven members who share a large territory. It is possible that the different food items in each mountain population have different effects on group size, range size and timing of reproduction.
Habitat selection of Intermediate Egrets Egretta intermedia was studied in the Kokaigawa and Sakuragawa areas of Ibaraki Prefecture in the eastern part of the Kanto Plain, Honshu, Japan, during the breeding season between June and August in 1993. Selection may be for areas with easier hunting and food availability; i. e., they avoided rivers and dry fields throughout the season and flooded fields with deep concrete waterways and pipelines in June. Flooded rice fields were favored by the egrets in June but avoided in July and August because rice plants grew too thick for them to hunt. Fish, crustaceans and insects were recorded as the main prey items in flooded fields, and only insects were taken in fallow fields in August.
An oil-polluted Spectacled Guillemot was found emaciated on the coast of Niigata Prefecture on 5 February, 1994. This is the first record of this species for Niigata Prefecture, even though it probably winters along the coast of the Japan Sea in western Honshu. The bird did not seem to have suffered any damage to its body and internal organs, but it died soon after it was found. It did not have any food in the stomach or gut, and its body weight was low.