The number of black-faced spoonbill continues to rise worldwide! According to the results of the “2022 International Black-Faced Spoonbill Census,” the global population of black-faced spoonbills has reached 6,162, of which 3,824 were recorded in Taiwan, accounting for 62.1% of the population worldwide. In addition to remaining the world’s primary wintering habitat for black-faced spoonbills, the number of black-faced spoonbills in Taiwan has once again reached a record high, with the most significant growth in the number of black-faced spoonbill in Chiayi. Furthermore, the habitat range of the black-faced spoonbill has also expanded significantly, with sporadic individuals wintering this year in counties and cities that were not frequently visited by black-faced spoonbills in the past, such as Taoyuan, Hualien, and Taitung.
Number of Black-Faced Spoonbills Sets New Record High Again
The “International Black-Faced Spoonbill Census” was initiated by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, which regularly calls on investigators from various countries to conduct a synchronized survey in January each year, with Taiwan being the most important wintering habitat for the black-faced spoonbill. The Chinese Wild Bird Federation has implemented the Forestry Bureau’s “Green Network Focused on Bird Species Population Surveys and Conservation Education Program,” where members of bird societies in Taiwan are coordinated to conduct the black-faced spoonbill census. The 2022 global census was conducted from January 8 to 9, and following last year’s record high of 5,222 black-faced spoonbills, the global population continued to achieve new breakthroughs, with a total of 6,162 black-faced spoonbills recorded this year. With the exception of Macau and the Philippines, all wintering habitats have seen an increase in numbers, with an overall increase of 940 birds compared to 2021. A total of 3,824 black-faced spoonbills were surveyed in Taiwan, more than 60% of the global total, showing an increase of 692 birds (22.1%) compared to last year, and the population has maintained an upward trend.
Census Record Shows Black-Faced Spoonbills Found in All 13 Counties and Cities of Taiwan for the First Time
The black-faced spoonbills found in Taiwan mainly winter along the southwest coast, with over 90% of the population concentrated in Tainan, Chiayi, Kaohsiung, and Yunlin. This year, there were 2,158 (56.4%) in Tainan, found mainly in Cigu and Sicao; Chiayi had 962 (25.2%), found mainly in Budai and Aogu Wetlands; in Kaohsiung, there were 369 (9.7%), found mainly in Cieding, Yongan Wetlands, and the river mouth of Gaoping River; and in Yunlin, there were 227 (5.94%), mainly in Kouhu and the south bank of the river mouth of Zhoshui River. Pingtung, Kinmen and Yilan saw stable small wintering populations, with 36 birds (0.9%) in Pingtung, mainly in Dapeng Bay and Tiancuo; 29 (0.8%) in Kinmen, mainly in Cihu, Wujiang River Estuary, and Xihu; and 27 (0.7%) in Yilan, mainly in Xiapu, Toucheng. In particular, there were sporadic sightings of black-faced spoonbills in other counties and cities this year, including Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Changhua, Hualien and Taitung, where there were 1 to 5 wintering birds at the same time, setting a new record where all 13 counties and cities of Taiwan have been graced with the presence of the black-faced spoonbill, the largest number of counties and cities ever recorded in the Census.
Black-Faced Spoonbills Continue to Expand their Distribution Range
From the changes in the data of each region, it can be seen that the number of black-faced spoonbills in Taiwan has continued to increase, and the range of wintering habitats has also continued to expand. This year, the number of black-faced spoonbills in Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Yunlin remained stable with little change, while the most significant increase was in Budai, Chiayi, with a total of 783 spoonbills. Compared to last year’s drought conditions, the conditions of the water bodies are better this year, seeing an increase of 564 birds, which also set a new record for the maximum number of black-faced spoonbills in Chiayi. No black-faced spoonbills wintered in Pingtung in previous years, but there have been records for two consecutive years since 2021, so there is a chance to establish long-term stable wintering locations here in the future. The most unique phenomenon this year is that in counties and cities where black-faced spoonbills did not often go wintering in the past, many individuals were found wintering this year, much to the surprise of the investigators across the country. For example, black-faced spoonbills were recorded on the first day of the Census in Taitung, while there had been no records in Taoyuan, Changhua, and Hualien for many years during the Census. The black-faced spoonbills’ wintering range in Taiwan has become wider and wider, as evidenced by the fact that the number of spoonbills has increased from zero to more and more. The Forestry Bureau, Council of Agriculture, has been promoting the Taiwan Ecological Network, which brings together public and private collaboration to promote eco-friendly habitats, including the preservation of coastal wetland environments. Recently, it is the season where the black-faced spoonbills are migrating back north. It is hoped that the population will continue to grow in the future and that this species can soon be removed from the endangered list.