2011 International Black-faced Spoonbill Census

2011 International Black-faced Spoonbill Census

2011 International Black-faced Spoonbill Census took place on 21-23 January, aiming to update wintering population numbers and distribution of the Black-faced Spoonbill, a globally endangered waterbird with a small population of about 2,000 individuals.

Census covers many areas in East Asia region from the western Japan, southern part of Korean Peninsula, east and south China coast, including Taiwan and Hainan islands, northern Vietnam, and scattered sites in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.

This year yielded a total of 1,848 Black-faced Spoonbills in this region, having a large decrease of 21% from the previous year’s census (2010: 2,347 birds). This is the largest decrease of this species since the commencement of this census in 1993, and also being the fourth time of the result with a decrease of number.

Though the biggest wintering population was still recorded at Taiwan in a figure of 843 birds, there also has the largest decrease among all other wintering sites – 437 birds fewer than the previous years.  Deep Bay area (including both Hong Kong and Shenzhen) recorded a total 411 birds, with a decrease of 51 birds from the previous census, still being the second largest wintering ground of this species.

There were still a few increases in Japan, Vietnam and Macao, but the increase is small and cannot compensate the decrease in the main wintering areas of Taiwan, Deep Bay and China mainland.

Small increases were noted in some areas in the south such as Vietnam and Cambodia. Cambodia is the new site for this census and a satellite-tracking bird still gave out signal in the census period, and also was seen after the survey. This gives a hint that some birds may go to the southern area and it may be related to the severe winter in the northern area in this winter. Another possible reason of this decrease is that breeding was reported not very success in the summer of 2010.

Reason of this big decrease is still unknown. Large number (at Taiwan) was recorded in early winter but birds disappeared afterwards. No large number of dead birds was found and so they ‘vanished’ in the course of this winter. Decrease in Deep Bay area is also unclear. It is speculated with a relation to severe winter in Hong Kong.

The Black-faced Spoonbill increased from about 300 birds in 1993 to 2300 birds in 2010, and then has a drop to 1800 in this winter. Conservation activities of this species have been carried out from 1995 when the first action plan was published. In 2010, the new action plan was announced to update and modify actions to protect this species. Decline of this species in this winter indicates that this bird is still far from totally save from the risk of extinction.

Habitat destruction and degradation are still the main threat to this species. Many coastal wetland areas in this region will be destroyed for development, e.g. in Hainan, Macao and Korea. Hunting is still happening in this region, e.g. 11 birds were rescued in Vietnam, which were caught by local hunters for food.  Development pressure and habitat degradation still are threats to the wintering Black-faced Spoonbills in Hong Kong.

Place        2010 census        2011 census        Difference
Taiwan        1,280        843        Decrease 437 (34%)
Deep Bay (Hong Kong and Shenzhen)        462        411        Decrease 51 (11%)
China mainland        234        198        Decrease 36 (15%)
Japan        258        270        Increase 12 (5%)
Vietnam        46        49        Increase 3
Macao        39        49        Increase 10
South Korea        27        26        Decrease 1
Thailand        1        1        Unchanged
Cambodia        0        1        Increase
Total        2,347        1,848        Decrease 499 (21%)

[ Last edited by yyattung at 2/04/2011 14:09 ]