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Breeding grounds for skylark, shrike decreasing: survey.

TOKYO, Aug. 1 Kyodo

The breeding grounds of a number of native bird species such as skylarks and shrikes have sharply decreased over the past two decades, but several species imported from abroad originally as pets are becoming established in the wild, according to an interim report on bird habitats released Tuesday.

Some 1,700 members of the Wild Bird Society of Japan conducted a nationwide survey for the Environment Agency from 1997 to 1998 into the breeding grounds of 600 types of wild bird in Japan, according to the report.

The breeding grounds of seven of them, however, including the once common triller, skylark and thick-billed shrike, have declined markedly since the previous survey in 1978, the report said.

The society members found only 71 breeding grounds for skylarks compared with 211 in the previous survey. The breeding grounds vanished mainly in northern Kyushu and the Kinki region of western Japan, the report said.

The number of breeding grounds of the thick-billed shrike dropped from 20 to one, found in Aomori Prefecture, while trillers' breeding grounds fell from 37 to eight.

Trillers and thick-billed shrikes were added to the agency's list of endangered species in 1998.

The agency says the decline in the number of breeding grounds reflects the loss to development projects of grass fields and river shores suitable for building nests. Another factor is a decline in the population of certain species that pass the winter in Southeast Asia due to deforestation there.

Meanwhile, a breeding ground for the Peking robin, native to southern China and the Himalayan region, was found for the first time in Japan, in Ibaraki Prefecture. The survey also found a number of places in Kyushu where the bird appears to be establishing breeding grounds.

The Hwamei, a bird originally imported from China's Yunnan Province, has settled in western Tokyo and other areas, the survey found.

The agency believes the Hwamei population in the wild increased as a result of dealers releasing the bird due to poor sales, an increase in bushes suitable for breeding, and the continuation of warm winters.

Commenting on the overall results of the survey, Masae Narusue, a researcher at the wild bird society, said it became clear that ecosystems are being disrupted and biodiversity being lost. She warned that birds such as shrikes will disappear from Japan without urgent protective measures.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Aug 7, 2000
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