We investigated the feeding ecology of the Black-faced Spoonbill in the Yatsushiro Sea, Japan. These birds typically arrive for the winter in late October and remain until early April; however, seven young birds spent the summer of 2009 in the Yatsushiro Sea, Kyushu. As with other spoonbill species, Black-faced Spoonbills perform tactile feeding by immersing their bills in water and sweeping them from side to side. Fish, shrimps and crabs were all recognized as prey, but most prey items were too small to be identified. Tidal flat pools and streams near their loafing sites were important foraging areas. Birds used many different feeding sites during winter, but most foraged in only one river during summer. The birds ate many small prey items in marine areas whereas they ate fewer, larger prey in riverine areas. The low catch rate in riverine areas may be the result of the long handling time required for large prey. Birds may make most effective use of shallow water areas by shifting feeding sites or environments periodically. The preservation of shallow water estuarine areas close to established loafing sites is essential for the conservation of the highly restricted and endangered Black-faced Spoonbill.
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Vol. 13 • No. 2