When talking about the avian characteristics seen in the Amami islands, endemic or rare species with small population in the region first comes into my mind. In Amami Oshima island, for example it is certainly wonderful that there exist indigenous birds, such as Lidth’s jay (Garrulus lidthi) and Amami Thrush (Zoothera dauma major), that can be found nowhere else in the world but here. However, a more remarkable (and familiar) characteristic may be, above all, that the islands have an overwhelmingly large number of birds. A wide variety of birds, with a large number, can be seen – I might express it as fabulous sighting of birds – which is a very significant feature with respect to birds in this region. Visitors may be surprised at the fact that a summer bird ruddy kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda), a rare bird in mainland Japan, and a winter bird grey-faced buzzard (Butastur indicus), an endangered species, can be commonly seen here.
The large number of birds means that there is a livable environment for them with abundant food supply. Conversely, it is also an ideal environment for their predators. When we see familiar birds less often, this may indicate some major changes in the environment. It goes without saying that it is crucial to conserve indigenous and rare species. I believe, however, that keeping eyes on numerous, common creatures at the same time is the first step to protect the natural environment.
Photo / ©Futoshi Hamada