Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Japanese waxwing

Bombycilla japonica

Photo by Garry Bakker (Surfbirds)

Common name:
Japanese waxwing (en); tagarela–japonês (pt); jaseur du Japon (fr); ampelis japonés (es); blutseidenschwanz (de)

Order passeriformes
Family Bombycillidae

It breeds in the Russian Far East and in Heilongjiand province, in north-east China. They winter in Japan, Korea and eastern China, but the exact winter distribution varies from year to year depending on the abundance of food.

The Japanese waxwing is 18 cm long and has a wingspan of 27-30 cm. They weigh 30-32 g.

They breed in coniferous forests. During the winter they wander in search for food, mostly using open woodland or farmland in the lowlands or low mountains. They frequently visit berry-laden trees in parks and gardens.

More than 80% of their annual food intake comes from fruits and berries. Waxwings are known to wander in search for berries. When they find large abundances of berries, they are able to swallow the berries whole, the oesophagus expanding to allow additional fruit to be stored prior to digestion. Individual berries may pass through the digestive system in twenty minutes or less, the faecal material consisting largely of the undigested seeds. In the springtime, they often feed on the blossoms of flowering trees and insects can also make a small part of their diet.

The nest is a cup of twigs lined with grass and moss which is built in a tree. The clutch includes 4-5 eggs, which are incubated by the female for 14 days. The chicks fledge after about 2 weeks.

IUCN status – NT (Near-Threatened)
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generally uncommon, although locally common in suitable habitat. They are suspected to be declining. The main threats to this species are logging and development of its forest habitat, and illegal trade. Since 1998, at least 6000 wild individuals have been imported into EU countries alone, the majority exported from China.

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