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Taiwan still hosts most black-faced spoonbills

Taiwan continues to draw the largest population of black-faced spoonbills to spend the winter season.

As many as 1,562 of the endangered birds stayed on the island during the past winter, accounting for 58 percent of the world total of 2,693, according to the latest worldwide survey.

Officials at the Taijiang National Park Administration in southern Tainan City said that the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society and wildlife conservation groups in Taiwan jointly compiled the latest figures Jan. 14-15 this year.

The number of the large and beautiful migrant birds seeking sanctuary in Taiwan also set a new record since the worldwide data were first compiled in 2001.

Hong Kong came in second with 393 of the endangered birds choosing to spend the winter there this year, followed by mainland China, 328; Japan, 283; Macau, 51, South Korea, 41; and Vietnam, 35.

Thailand and Cambodia had two of the birds each, but the figures were not included in the statistics because the four birds did not appear during the two designated census days in mid-January.

The 1,562 black-faced spoonbills found in various areas across Taiwan were much higher than the total of 834 registered in 2011, compared with slightly more than 1,000 in the years of 2008 and 2009.

Taiwan has long been the most vital place for black-faced spoonbills to tough out the winter seasons. When the worldwide population of the birds reached only 835 in 2001, those spending time in Taiwan accounted for 434 or 52 percent of the global total.

Because of the higher temperatures in the southern parts of Taiwan, the birds choose mostly to spend their winters there, with the highest concentration in Tainan City.

The combined figure of the birds spending the past winter in Tainan and the coastal areas of adjacent Chiayi County and Kaohsiung City totaled 1,500 this year to constitute the majority of 96 percent for another historic high.

Further breakdown of the figures show that 474 of the birds stayed and searched for food on the coast of Tainan City southern of the Tsengwen River, followed by 442 in the area of more fishery ponds at Cigu, 153 on the border of Chiayi and Tainan, and 123 in the mountainous region of Cigu in Tainan City.

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This undated photo shows a flock of black-faced spoonbills taking flight in Taiwan. A record high of 1,562 black-faced spoonbills, or 58 percent of the global total, spent the past winter in Taiwan. The endangered birds stayed in Taiwan for the winter because of the warmer weather, bountiful foods, and a generally safer environment in the southern parts of the island.(CN)

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