First Long-Term Stay Within the Prefecture in 46 Years
At the beginning of December 2019, a Japanese crane, a special protected species in Japan, was seen flying into Fukui Prefecture’s Wakasa Town, spending over two months hibernating until the last part of February. Within Japan, the main habitat of Japanese cranes is in the east region of Hokkaido; a confirmed sighting within Honshu is a rare phenomenon. According to the Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ), this is the first time in 46 years for a Japanese crane to stay within the prefecture for along period, since 1974.
The Japanese crane is a unique species of wild crane, breeding domestically. At about 1 metre and 40 centimetres tall, and with a wing span of 2 metres and 40 centimetres, it is the largest species of birds in Japan. Until the Edo period, the Japanese cranes inhabited every part of Hokkaido, and can be seen within the Kanto region; however, because of over-hunting and land developments of its wetland habitats, the crane’s numbers drastically dropped to a few dozens in a short period of time. Cranes inhabiting Russia and the north-eastern part of China would spend winter within the Korean peninsula or the southern part of China.
According to Akio Kojima, vice-representative of the WBSJ-Fukui, the crane was seen flying into a rice field in the Narude area of Wakasa Town, by Mikata Lake on December 3rd, 2019. Its wing tips are a light shade of black, and from the faint red colour at the top of its head, it is believed to be a young crane of two or three years old. There is a possibility that the cranes were carried in by the seasonal winds, as it travelled across the continent.
The crane took a rice field as its nest, energetically feeding itself within the surrounding area. Keeping an eye on the crane, Mr. Kojima and other WBSJ-Fukui associates hoped not to spread the information among local farmers and photography enthusiasts, and to provide a peaceful environment for hibernation as much as possible.
“With its large body, it stands out, even from far away,” says a male farmer (aged 54), being careful not to go through the nearby farm road.
“Its beautiful, and impressive,” says the man (aged 67) living in the town, who took the photo in January.