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Okinawa birds targets for easy crow dinners

Date Posted: 2004-07-29

Noguchigera, a flightless bird native to Okinawa, is facing a new threat as local crows have discovered they’re a tasty and easy to catch snack.

The bird, designated a Japanese Special National Asset, is easy prey, as was recently witnessed by Nobuhiko Kodaka, who captured the demise of two noguchigera chicks on video as they were snatched from their nest. Kodaka is a staff member of the Ministry of Environment Okinawa Center of Wildlife Protection.

He says that although it has been suspected for some time that crows pose a threat to noguchigeras, it was the first time that such a tragedy has been captured on video.

Kodaka had set up his video camera in April deep in the forest at Kunigami Village, where he had discovered the nest of the rare bird. Noguchigera is known to be a very shy bird that rarely exits the deep jungle, and avoids the presence of humans at any cost.

He said that the increased number of crows in Okinawa seems to pose a new and serious threat to the bird. “It seems to me that the crow population in Okinawa has increased substantially over past couple of years, and they have intruded to places where we did not see them before,” Kodaka said. “Since we set up our video equipment in April, we have seen crows visiting every one of the noguchigera nests we know of, even empty ones.”

He said that local residents have also told his staff that the number of crows in the area is larger that ever. “Residents say that the crows come after their household trash, break plastic bags and scatter trash all over the place. Either we have to find ways to reduce the amount of trash that attracts crows, or find a way to reduce the number of crows otherwise, in order to save the noguchigera from extinction,” Kodaka states.

Wild cats and mongoose have posed the gravest threat to the noguchigera in the past, but now it seems that the species in more endangered than ever.

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