The Korea Herald

ssg
피터빈트

70% of globe's hooded cranes now in S. Korean bay: experts

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : March 6, 2024 - 14:53

    • Link copied

About 14,000 hooded cranes converge in Cheonsu Bay in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap) About 14,000 hooded cranes converge in Cheonsu Bay in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)

Nearly 70 percent of the entire global population of hooded cranes, an endangered migratory bird species, is thought to be resting in a South Korean bay, local experts said Wednesday.

A joint on-spot survey of Cheonsu Bay, in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, reported the spotting of about 14,000 cranes in the area -- 11,000 at the eastern part of Ganwol-ho, an artificial lake in the bay, and another 3,000 at the western part.

The research was conducted by Seosan Birdland, an ecotourism center providing bird watching programs, in collaboration with local bird watchers group Waterbird Network Korea.

About 14,000 hooded cranes converge in Cheonsu Bay in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap) About 14,000 hooded cranes converge in Cheonsu Bay in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)

Given that the total population of hooded cranes is estimated at around 20,000 globally, this means nearly 70 percent of the world's birds have now congregated at Cheonsu Bay.

The hooded cranes are designated and protected as a Class II Endangered Species and National Monument No. 228.

They breed in southern Siberia and northern China, and they migrate to spend their winters in warmer regions such as Japan, the southern Korean Peninsula and eastern China, before returning to Siberia in spring.

The Cheonsu Bay area is a rest stop for the birds during their migration both ways.

The latest research on the birds visiting the bay reveals that the hooded crane population has recovered from the 2022-2023 avian influenza outbreak, Waterbird Network Korea said.

Approximately 10 percent of their population was thought to have succumbed to the disease, which had spread from Izumi in Kyushu, Japan and Suncheon in South Jeolla Province.

About 14,000 hooded cranes converge in Cheonsu Bay in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap) About 14,000 hooded cranes converge in Cheonsu Bay in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)

Hooded cranes, measuring 96-100 centimeters in length, are considered small among the crane species. They feature white heads and necks while the rest of their bodies are black. Both males and females have a patch of bare red skin above their eyes covered by hair-like bristles.

Hooded cranes, which form lifelong monogamous pair bonds, inhabit environments such as rice paddies, plains, tidal flats, rivers and estuaries. Their diet primarily consists of fish, crustaceans, insects and cereals, and they also consume the roots of rice plants and sedges.

Non-governmental organizations, along with the city governments for Cheonsu Bay and Suncheon Bay, the two globally-recognized habitats for migratory birds in S. Korea, provide food for the birds annually.