Birds Research

This is the ongoing collection of data related to birds, migration and impacts of radiation on bird populations. Please add to the post if you have posting access, if not please leave new information in the comments section.

Radioactive Robbins and other birds at Chernobyl

.Key habitats of birds Japan

Hi, I will do my best to help with bird questions. I am a trainee bird ringer, but my husband is very knowledgable and I also have a lot of other ringers in my friendslist, so will be able to ask them for help too 🙂

by jilly_uk 2:04 PM

i Jilly, I think various people had questions related to birds, migration and radiation. One I saw asked about was migration patterns, how we understand those. Is there a way to track the health or numbers of a bird flock?

by lillymunster 2:09 PM

@jilly_uk Hi welcome. If we know the migration map of birds passim over Japan. We can check on then as they arrive in other parts of the world. Universities and Birds love groups can see if we can try track the spreed of the radioactive disaster in bird families


by Majj 2:14 PM

Is there an equivalent to the RSPB or BTO in Japan? These would be the ones who would know about patterns specific to Japanese species. Ringing is the most common way to determine migration patterns. Satellite tracking is expensive. It would be worth contacting the BTO or RSPB in any case, they have a lot of knowledge and experience.

by jilly_uk 2:16 PM

Will go and dig out my migration book.

by jilly_uk 2:16 PM

Found this “The Pacific oceanic route is used by Pacific Golden-Plovers, Bristle-thighed Curlews, Ruddy Turnstones, Wandering Tattlers, and other shorebirds. The Ruddy Turnstones, migrating from the islands in the Bering Sea, have an elliptical route that takes them southward through the islands of the central Pacific and northward along the Asiatic coast. In addition, many seabirds that breed in the far northern coasts as well as on southern coasts and islands migrate across the Pacific well away from land except when the breeding season approaches. The Pacific Golden-Plover breeds chiefly along the arctic coast of Siberia and in limited areas of the Alaskan coast. Some of the birds probably migrate south through Asia to winter quarters in Japan, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of Oceania.”

by jilly_uk 2:20 PM

@jilly_uk what does BTW or RSPB stand for. We could do some research via and find comparable agencies.

by lillymunster 2:20 PM

I find this very old PDF: WEATHER has long been recognized as a contributing factor in bird migration.

In recent years much has been written concerning bird

movements and weather in North America (Lowery, 1945; Lincoln, 1950;

Williams, 1950, 1952; Gunn and Cracker, 1951, Bullis and Lincoln, 1952;

Imhof, 1953; and many others). That the phenomenon of bird movement before

“fronts” of weather would not be confined to North America is selfevident.

Undoubtedly it is variously reported in the many journals and languages

of Europe. Reports of such movements in Japan would be illegible to

most American students unless summarized in English. Because of this, I

wish to present here observations of a movement of birds before a front that

swept over Tokyo on October 31 – November 1, 1953.

Migration through Japan is of long duration, lasting from late July and

early August with the appearance of Wandering Tattlers (Heteroscelus incanus)

and other shorebirds, which have finished nesting in the Arctic, until

late December when the last thrushes have come in from Siberia and Manchuria.

Because of this there is a continuous flow of birds rather than a great

influx. These flights include thrushes, bramblings, bulbuls, etc., reared in the

vast continental areas of Siberia and Manchuria, and those more locally

produced, from Sakhalin, Hokkaido, and northern Honshu. The continental

populations may cross the Japan Sea (Austin, 1947) or move down the chain

of islands from Sakhalin. An unknown percentage of these populations remains

in Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku for the winter, while the remainder

moves on down the Ryukyu Island chain to disperse into the Philippines,

Formosa, and more southern islands. Since almost no banding has been done

these routes and destinations are still poorly

by Majj 2:20 PM

British Trust for Ornithology and Royal Society Protection of Birds, sorry 🙂

by jilly_uk 2:22 PM

In the same manner as stated above, more than 10,000 cranes migrate to Izumi City in Kagoshima prefecture every year. We know that they come from somewhere in the Asian Continent, but their migration routes have been a big mystery. We, bird researchers, have used such generally used method as leg bands or collars, in an effort to unravel these mysteries. First, we mark each bird using a colored band with an identification number. Then, we either recapture or observe these birds; their migration routes are traced according to their identification numbers.

by Majj 2:23 PM

yes, bird banding is what we brits call bird ringing. I also found this site which has a list of species found in various areas of Japan

by jilly_uk 2:26 PM

Japan is located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Being latitudinally long, the island chain covers a wide climatic range; from the boreal to the sub-tropical climate zone. There are also two ecological lines which divide the countries flora and fauna. These are Blakiston’s Line (between Hokkaido and Honshu) and the Watase’s Line (southern Japan). Because of this unusual ecological background, Japan’s avifauna is incredibly rich. More than 600 species have been recorded to date. Most of them are migratory (more than 60%) whilst approximately 60 species are either endemic or sub-regional endemic, including the internationally famous Okinawa Rail, Blakiston’s Fish-owl, Japanese Murrelet, Red-crowned Crane, Pryer’s Woodpecker and Lidth’s Jay.

birding in Japan is increasingly popular. The largest nature conservation NGO, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, has more than 53,000 members and there are more birders who do not belong to the WBS-J. Twitching is becoming more and more common. People can get to rare birds within a few hours of their discovery because of the development of the internet and mobile telephones. (So, Japan`s birding is now more IT!)

by Majj 2:27 PM


I was just going to post that myself Majj 🙂

by jilly_uk 2:29 PM

Found Ornithological soc. of Japan, they have an English

by lillymunster 2:29 PM

This are the people to be contact :

by Majj 2:30 PM

Contact details for wild bird society

by jilly_uk 2:30 PM

Also here

by jilly_uk 2:31 PM

@jilly_uk so do the bird societies track illness or flock numbers? How could we follow the health of the flocks that migrate through or live in these high radiation areas?

by lillymunster 2:43 PM

I don’t know to be totally honest. The British ones do, but I have no idea about the Japanese ones. BUT they would be the people best placed to contact as they will know what birds are around and when and also the kinds of numbers. If they are regular watches they will also have an idea of illness. Once you become a regular birdwatcher it is soon easy to spot any different behaviour or sick looking birds.

by jilly_uk 2:49 PM

@jilly_uk thanks! this really helps at least get us going in the right direction. I have some animal health background but really didn’t deal with wildlife much so it is way out of my realm of knowledge.

Have you ever run across any bird studies related to Chernobyl?

by lillymunster 2:51 PM

I haven’t no, but am going to do a bit of digging, there must be a lot of information out there, it’s just finding it. Will post up any findings 🙂

by jilly_uk 2:54 PM

That would be a huge help. RadioGuy and Bobby1, I don’t think are here right now but were really interested in the bird situation and how it relates.

by lillymunster 2:55 PM

This is interesting it’s a pdf about Key bird Habitats and areas of conservation over there:

by jilly_uk 3:02 PM

Elaine asked me these questions :

by jilly_uk 5:33 PM

They are planting sunflowers as these absorb cesium but what happens when the birds eat the seeds ?

the ocean for miles around the plant is heavily contaminated what happens to the fish eaters

questions like these coupled with where do the birds migrate to after eating this toxic mess ? what other animals do they come into contact with as in food cycles etc

by jilly_uk 5:33 PM

Sorry it entered before I typed what I wanted to say. The answers I was given by another bird bander/ringer was

‎1 & 2 – Toxins may be passed up the food-web in a process called ‘bioaccumulation’. Birds eating cesium-contaminated seeds (particularly c-137 I think) are likely to retain the metal. Similarly, piscivores are likely to retain certain toxins from their fish diet.


3 – I assume this question related to the ecological impact at the end of the migratory route as the route itself will not deviate (note that disease, injury or other factors may cause route deviations). The eventual ecological impact is inherently tied in with Q4:


4 – The most significant interactions with regard to toxins will be between birds and large predators or scavengers as consumption of contaminated birds continues trophic bioaccumulation. Consumption by detritovores such as beetles or small vertebrates is unlikely to cause them harm and will not contribute significantly to local trophic bioaccumulation.

by jilly_uk 5:35 PM

@elainekirk the seed thing is something the sunflower remediation people may not have thought of. Would the seeds of those sunflowers accumulate cesium or is it just stored in the stalks and roots? We should find out about this as the seeds could end up as a big source of bird exposure if the seeds house large quantities. From what I have read talked about stalks storing it so it could end up a non-issue.

by lillymunster 5:50 PM

copied from another blog…Have a garden for the last 30 years,50 miles south of Tokyo. Walking down the street this month and noticed many dead insects on the street.They looked whole and normal just dead. Then noticed that this is the first time in 30 years that my garden is free of leaf eaters and also molds . Checking around and other gardeners are also mold and insect free. No aphids this year, no caterpillar , and no japanese beetle. Must be the radiation……This doesn’t sound good….

by Jo 7:28 PM

@Jo I had a hummingbird feeder out at the time of the Fuku explosions and the hummingbirds completely stopped feeding from it. I ended up throwing it out. I wonder if there might be a connection. Curious…

by LM 7:34 PM

@LM I mentioned yesterday about our finches disappearing when the bird issues came up yesterday.

by lillymunster 7:35 PM

I have just been given another link regarding birds.

It has data from Chernobyl.

by jilly_uk 7:35 PM

@Lilly Wow. I’ve seen hummingbirds..definitely fewer but they went out of their way to not feed from my feeder. They would hover and leave. I found it really strange.

by LM 7:36 PM

Also a response from someone else in Japan….I asked my father in law who owns a huge Mikan-farm in the SetonaIka / Yamaguchi , everything ok there. But I also asked our Gardner who owns a few plotS of land here and he said something similar, that the caterpillars are missing. Yokohama/Tokyo……this goes along with the last post I made…..

by Jo 7:41 PM

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