The Good, the Bad or the Evil – The Crow’s of Okinawa

The Jungle crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) is found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. They are abundant here and can be found all over Okinawa. Populations have increased due to the readily available food, left on the side of the road and in dumpsters. Its important to keep your trash enclosed in cages to prevent the crows from getting to it.

  • Scientific name: Corvus macrorhynchos
  • Local name: Jungle crow
  • Distribution:  Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat:  Farms,cities ,forests and grasslands.
  • Diet:  Eats almost everything
  • Average size:  50cm  body length 
  • Color:  Black
Jungle crow and plastic

Jungle crow and plastic

Jungle crow -Okinawa Japan

Jungle crow -Okinawa Japan

The farmers in Onna village put up this deterant to keep the crows from coming back.

Crow cross -Onna village

Crow cross -Onna village

Crows can be viscous predators. They often harass other birds, showing off their strength.

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These intelligent birds work as a team to get what they want. I have personally seen them raid baby birds from the nest. I have seen them fly away with juvenile woodpeckers, rails and swallows.

Crow taking the okinawa woodpecker from the nest

Crow taking the okinawa woodpecker from the nest

To control the population of jungle crows in northern Okinawa, they use large traps to catch them in. One way in and no way out !

Crow trap - Northern Okinawa

Crow trap – Northern Okinawa

Possibly a strange growth that occurred from an injury (broken beak). Could this be one of the few crows that made a successful escape from a trap.

A crow with a hook beak

A crow with a extended hook beak

As much as we dislike the crow, they do have a purpose in the ecosystem. They clean the dead animals (road kill) off the road, keeping our environment clean from rotting carcasses. I often see them feeding on cats, snakes, lizards, birds and rats dead in the road.

Mongoose -roadkill

Mongoose -roadkill

Crow feeding on a cat

Crow feeding on a cat by Shawn Miller

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Crows eating roadkill -Okinawa

They also feed on the large green caterpillars that destroy the farmers taro (Taanmu) crops in Kin village

Crows of Okinawa

Crows of Okinawa -The Regulators

Have a great day!

 

Seagulls on Okinawa -

Every winter, I see a few Black-tailed gulls (Larus crassirostris) on our shorelines. They generally do not stay for longer than two weeks. In January 2016,  I photographed eight Black-tailed gulls on Nagahama beach. Four gulls had oil residue stuck on their feathers. The birds were constantly bathing in the sea water and preening. The Black-tailed gulls are abundant on the mainland, but on Okinawa they are a rare sight.

Juvenile Black-tailed gull

Possible reasons why there are no seagulls living on Okinawa.  

  • Warm water temperatures – too warm ( 68F- 88F)
  • Not enough food (fish, worms, mollusks)
  • Competition with other birds ( osprey, terns and crows )
  • Small land mass

A mature Black-tailed gull bathing and preening. It was working hard trying to get the oil residue off its feathers.

Black-tailed gull bathing

Black-tailed gull drying off

Shaking off

Shaking off

Black-tailed gull preening

Black-tailed gull preening

Black-tailed gull

Black-tailed gull

Black-tailed gull

Mature gulls feeding on fish scraps

Black-tailed gull feeding

Black-tailed gull feeding

Have a great day !    

The Ryukyu Robin, Northern Okinawa

The Ryukyu Robin (Larvivora komadori namiyei)  is a subspecies endemic to northern Okinawa.  It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN red list of threatened species.  Its main threats are habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species.

  • Scientific name:  Larvivora komadori namiyei (Stejneger, 1887)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat:  Dense leaf littered forests 
  • Diet:  Earthworms, spiders, insects and fruit
  • Average Size:  140mm 

The Ryukyu robin in its natural habitat. The male has the distinctive black throat and face.

Male Ryukyu Robin

Male Ryukyu Robin, Yanbaru forest

The female Ryukyu robin perching on a guide rope at Hiji falls, Okinawa.

Female Ryukyu robin

Female Ryukyu robin (Larvivora komadori)

A male Ryukyu robin searching for insects on the ground.

Male Ryukyu robin

Male Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu Robin -Yanbaru forest

Ryukyu Robin -Yanbaru forest

These small birds are often seen early in the morning feeding on insects on the road. Watch your speed and pay particular attention between dusk and dawn.

Watch your speed!

Watch your speed!

A male Ryukyu robin that was killed by a speeding motor vehicle on Route 2 in northern Okinawa.

Roadkill  Larvivora komadori

Roadkill – January 17th 2016

Let’s protect the beautiful wildlife of Okinawa, Japan.

Have a great day!

 

Endangered – The Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) Okinawa, Japan

The Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a common winter visitor in southern Okinawa. The spoonbill is currently endangered and has an estimated population of less than 3000. It’s biggest treats are habitat loss, pollution and pesticides. The Black-faced spoonbill is currently listed critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

  • Scientific name (Platalea minor)
  • Distribution: Okinawa, Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan
  • Habitat: Mud flats, mangroves and wetlands
  • Diet:  Fish
  • Average Size:  73.5 cm
The Black-faced spoonbill in flight

The Black-faced spoonbill in flight

The Black-faced spoonbill is a magnificent animal.

The beautiful Black-faced spoonbill

The beautiful Black-faced spoonbill

The Black-faced spoonbills work as a team when hunting for fish.

The Black-faced spoonbill-community hunting

The Black-faced spoonbill-community hunting

Out of all the birds at the mudflats, the spoonbills are the most consistent hunters. They rest most of the day, but when its time to fish they always catch one fairly quickly.

The Black-faced spoonbill-hunting

The Black-faced spoonbill-hunting

The Spoonbills in flight

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Black-faced Spoonbill in flight

Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)

Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)

The Spoonbill landing – The art of conveying Motion !

Th Black-faced spoonbill -landing

Th Black-faced spoonbill -landing

Let’s Protect the beauty of Okinawa!

Pryer’s woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) -Endangered species

Pryer’s woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) is the prefecture bird of Okinawa and designated as a natural treasure of Japan. They are a rare species only found in the northern part of Okinawa and are currently listed critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

  • Scientific name (Dendrocopos noguchii)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat: Yanbaru Forest
  • Diet:  Beetle larvae, moths, spiders, centipedes and fruit
  • Average Size:  30cm – 35mm

Shawn Miller featured – WILDLIFE AS CANON SEES IT -Published National Geographic May 2015. Bringing awareness to the endangered species of the Ryukyu Islands one image at a time. 

Woodpecker featured Nat Geo May 2015

Woodpecker featured Nat Geo May 2015 -

The woodpecker can rotate its head 180 degrees to capture the difficult insects. This is the first and only time I have observed this occurring.

Pryer's woodpecker  180 head twist

Pryer’s woodpecker 180 head twist

This woodpecker is unique. It feeds its young only one insect at a time.

Pryer's woodpecker in flight

Pryer’s woodpecker in flight

Both parents stay busy feeding the chicks. The nests can have up to three chicks.

Pryer's woodpecker feeding chick

Pryer’s woodpecker feeding chick

The woodpeckers biggest threats are deforestation and natural predators.

The woodpeckers natural threat

The woodpeckers natural threat – Jungle Crow

My favorite image of The Pryer’s woodpecker.

Pryer's woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

Have a great day!

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens – Birds Of Okinawa

The Canon Ef 400mm f/5.6 USM lens is a light weight high performance prime lens. The auto focus system is impressively fast without hesitation. It performs best when photographing birds in flight and animals on the move. This is a very sharp high quality lens and would recommend purchasing it if you are on a limited budget.

The Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is one of my favorite birds to photograph with the the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

A beautiful Ryukyu hawk owl spotted during daylight.

The Ryukyu hawk owl

The Ryukyu hawk owl (Ninox scutulata)

The Black Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a common visitor in Southern Okinawa.
The Spoonbill is critically endangered and has an estimated population of less than 3000.

The Black Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor).

The Black Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor).

The Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) is the prefecture bird of Okinawa and designated as a natural treasure of Japan. It is a rare species only found in the northern part of Okinawa.

Pryer's woodpecker  (Sapheopipo Noguchii)  Yanbaru forest

Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

A Wiskered tern (Childonias hybridus) shaking away – Kin, Okinawa.

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Wiskered tern (Childonias hybridus)

The Japanese wood pigeon is listed as near threatened on the IUCN red list of threatened species. A very difficult bird to photograph.

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Japanese wood pigeon

The Rudy kingfisher is a summer visitor. Another bird hard to photograph

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Rudy kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda)

 The Japanese white eye (Zosterops japonicus) is popular to photograph in January. The green and yellow feathers compliment the pink cherry tree blossoms.  

Mejiro - Japanese white eye, Okinawa

Mejiro – Japanese white eye

The Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae) is a flightless bird only found in the northern part of Okinawa. It is a protected species and declared a living natural monument. It is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species.  In 2012 populations of this endemic bird were estimated at 1500 by the Environment Ministry.

Okinawa Rail

Okinawa Rail ( Gallirallus okinawae)

The Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is a rare visitor in Okinawa. Nature Photographers travel from Mainland Japan to photograph this beautiful bird.

Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

The male Japanese sparrowhawk ( Accipiter gularis ) has stunning bright red eyes. This bird can pluck the feathers off a sparrow within minutes.

Male Japanese sparrowhawk   ( Accipiter gularis )

Male Japanese sparrowhawk ( Accipiter gularis )

The Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dive bombing a fish. This bird is a spectacular hunter.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dive bombing a fish

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dive bombing a fish

Check out more Images of Birds of Okinawa-

All Images were photographed using the Canon 70d with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens.

Canon 70d with 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Canon 70d with 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Have a great day!

 

Slow Down! – Let’s Protect The Okinawa Rail

The Okinawa rail is a flightless bird only found in the northern part of Okinawa. It is a protected species and declared a living natural monument. It is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species.  In 2012 populations of this endemic bird were estimated at 1500 by the Environment Ministry.

okinawa rail

The Okinawan rail -

The rail is often found feeding on the side of the road. It feeds on worms, snails and insects.

Okinawa rail posing ( Hypotaenidia okinawae)

Okinawa rail posing ( Hypotaenidia okinawae)

When defending its territory, the rail will become aggressive and flare its wings.

Angry Bird- Okinawa rail

Angry Bird- Okinawa rail

 

Okinawa rail awareness signs are posted along the main roads in northern Okinawa for their protection.

Okinawa rail awareness signs are posted

Okinawa rail awareness signs

The speed limit is only 40km/h so watch your speed for the protection of the wildlife. The rails are often seen feeding on the side of the road.

40km/h speed sign

Posted speed limit is 40km/h

I have observed these birds crossing the road on many occasions. They have no problems crossing when people are driving the speed limit. Speeding decreases your reaction time so slow down and pay attention to all crossing wildlife.

Okinawa rail crossing the road

Okinawa rail crossing the road

 

An Okinawa rail that was killed by a speeding motor vehicle on Route 2 in northern Okinawa.

okinawa rail - road kill

okinawa rail – road kill

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa, Japan.

Have a great day!