《TAIPEI TIMES》 Record number of black-faced spoonbills seen
A flock of black-faced spoonbills wade in a river in Yilan County on March 21. Photo courtesy of a photographer surnamed Lai
RISING NUMBERS: Of the global population of 5,222 black-faced spoonbills, 60% were documented in Taiwan
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter
A record 3,132 black-faced spoonbills, or almost 60 percent of the global population of 5,222, were sighted in Taiwan this winter, an annual census by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society showed.
An international census coordinated by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society in January documented a record 5,222 black-faced spoonbills, the Taiwan Wild Bird Federation said in a news release on Friday.
Among them, 3,132 were found in Taiwan — an increase of 347 from a year earlier, the federation said.
The federation cited the census as saying that 2,114 black-faced spoonbills were documented in Tainan, followed by 408 in Kaohsiung, 321 in Chiayi County and 218 in Yunlin County, with the remainder recorded in Kinmen, Yilan, Pingtung and Penghu counties.
An increase in the number of black-faced spoonbills was recorded in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Yunlin, which recorded annual increases of 275, 167 and 116 respectively, it said.
The overall increase shows that Taiwan maintains good environmental conditions for the birds, federation secretary-general Allen Lyu （呂翊維） said, but added that black-faced spoonbills are facing other challenges.
For example, Chiayi reported a drop of 229 black-faced spoonbills, which the federation said might have been caused by a reduction in salt pan areas or bodies of water due to decreased rainfall.
Meanwhile, from December last year to last month, nearly 40 birds were rescued in Tainan, Chiayi and Kaohsiung, mainly due to botulism, the federation said, adding that at least 12 have already recovered and been released into the wild.
The cases of botulism are related to degradation of the birds’ foraging areas, Lyu said.
Low rainfall might reduce foraging areas for black-faced spoonbills and worsen the trend, he added.
The census showed that the birds’ habitats are expanding north, with Yunlin ranked the No. 4 hot spot for black-faced spoonbills after Tainan, Kaohsiung and Chiayi, the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau said.
Yunlin’s Chenglong Wetlands （成龍溼地） has become a new hot spot for the species thanks to conservation efforts over the past few years, the bureau said.
However, the waters off Yunlin’s coast are where several offshore wind farms are planned, and the government is also promoting floating solar farms in ponds, Lyu said.
Whether the energy installations would affect the living conditions of the black-faced spoonbills and other species would require continuous monitoring, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA