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Migration routes, population status and important sites used by the globally threatened Black‑faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor): a synthesis of surveys and tracking studies

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  • Yiwen Chen, University of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Yat-tung Yu, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society
  • ,
  • Fanjuan Meng, Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Xueqin Deng, Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Lei Cao, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Anthony David Fox
Background: The Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a globally threatened species, nesting mainly in western Korea with smaller numbers breeding in Liaoning Province, China, and Far East Russia. Recent winter field surveys to
estimate the species’ population size were almost totally conducted in coastal areas, but tracking studies showed that some individuals now winter inland. To ensure its long-term survival, we need a more comprehensive assessment of
the current distribution and abundance of the species.
Methods: We combined the most recent count data and satellite tracking information to update existing information about the population abundance and distribution of the Black-faced Spoonbill at all stages of its annual life cycle,
and how these have changed during 2004–2020.
Results: Black-faced Spoonbills mainly breed on the west coast of the Korean peninsula, while immature birds show a wider summer distribution throughout Yellow Sea coastal areas, when a few remain on wintering sites in the south.
Combined tracking results and mid-winter counts confirmed known wintering sites on the east and south coasts of China, but showed that the species also winters on wetlands in the Yangtze River floodplain and in Southeast Asia.
During 2004–2020, counts of wintering birds in coastal habitats increased from 1198 to 4864, with numbers wintering on the island of Taiwan contributing most to the overall increase. Latest counts found 5222 in 2021. We also identify
key wintering and stopover sites as well as their current conservation status.
Conclusions: This study revised the known summering and wintering ranges of the Black-faced Spoonbill and assessed the conservation status of key sites based on a combination of field survey and satellite tracking data. We recommend prioritisation of further field research to identify and survey inland wintering areas in the Yangtze River floodplain and summering areas of immature birds. More tracking of adult individuals and birds during spring
migration is necessary to fill these information gaps. We also suggest establishing a Black-faced Spoonbill monitoring platform to store, share and show real-time distribution range and population abundance data.
Original languageEnglish
Article number74
JournalAvian Research
Volume12
Number of pages17
ISSN2053-7166
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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