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NP QUARTERLY

December 2019

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Filling the Stomach with Food for a Good Winter - Delicacies for Animals in Winter

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Filling the Stomachwith Food for a Good Winter Delicacies for Animals in Winter

Article / Jer-Haur Li

Just like human beings can sense the seasonal change from autumn to winter in which the days get shorter and temperatures get colder, wild animals also need to adjust their living patterns accordingly. Many significant events take place in the animal world in this season. For example, food resources during spring and summer come to an end, and there comes the abundance of food in autumn and winter. And some individuals complete their tasks in breeding offspring, so the parents can have a good rest and some nutritious food. As for the migrating species, they arrive at the lands where they will spend the winter after a long distance migration. The coldness of winter is actually a great challenge for animals. In order to cope with this challenge, foraging for food and storing enough energy becomes an important job for animals to survive in winter.

An important attribute of an inhabiting area for migrating birds to spend the winter is the abundance of food and suitable for rest. / Provided by Taijiang National Park Headquarters (photo by Dong-Hui Guo)
An important attribute of an inhabiting area for migrating birds to spend the winter is the abundance of food and suitable for rest. / Provided by Taijiang National Park Headquarters (photo by Dong-Hui Guo)

Two Protective Umbrellas

There are many ecosystems covered in the ‘land-type’ national parks in Taiwan from sea level to the mountain tops, among which ‘Pl atalea minor (Black- faced Spoonbill)’ and ‘Ursus thibetanus formosanus (Formosan Black Bear)’are two important animals living in the two major ecosystems— coas ta l waters and mounta in forest. Their foraging activities can be viewed as an indicator of the soundness of the ecosystems. In other word, if their inhabiting environments can be preserved, many lives in the ecosystems shall be protected. This is why they are also called ‘Protective Umbrella Species’. Today let us ‘go up into the mountains and come down to the sea’to explore their food sources and find out details of their food portfolio, in which there are many things worth studying.

The Pplatalea Minors’Shallow Water Fishing’

Taiwan is one of the important regions where Black-faced Spoonbill spend the winter. The most well known inhabi ting area i s the south-west part of Taiwan around Zengwen estuar y. In choosing where to stay during winter months, besides onsidering the warmth and security of the environment, food supply in that environment is also an essential criterion. Therefore, if we want to prote ct Blackfaced Spoonbill by developing local preservation strategies and to evaluate the effectiveness of the preservation, it is important to understand what Black-faced Spoonbill eat when staying at southwest coast of Taiwan and whether the food supply is sufficient or not.

There are totally six species of spoonbills in the world. They have some things in common: having a wide beak and eating aquatic animals as their main food. What they eat includes fish, amphibians, crustaceans, insects and mollusks… etc. Black-faced Spoonbills, having long and thin legs and spoon-shaped beaks like other spoonbills, belongs to the category of waders which form a small group and stand in the water when foraging with their beaks moving left and right to catch food. Their foraging time is mainly in the morning and at dusk, while the rest time is during the day and at night. However, their daily routines do not strictly stick to a certain pattern and their foraging area and rest area might be separate.

Black-faced Spoonbill normally choose to forage in waters at depths less than 20 cm, where they move their beaks left and right to search food. / Provided by Taijiang National Park Headquarters (photo by Si- Lian Fang)
Black-faced Spoonbill normally choose to forage in waters at depths less than 20 cm, where they move their beaks left and right to search food. / Provided by Taijiang National Park Headquarters (photo by Si- Lian Fang)
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