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Eagles Riding on the Wind: The Lords of the Sky Meet in Manzhou

Taiwan is an important base for migratory birds in Northeast Asia. Hundreds of bird species visit every year, with migratory birds staying for a few months or transiting birds making a short stay.

Gray-faced buzzards, also known as the “National Day” bird, reach their peak migration period around National Day in October. It is a fully migratory raptor and an important migratory bird species in Asia. They can be seen in the Tataka region of central Taiwan and in the Hengchun Peninsula in southern Taiwan.

“National Day” bird-Gray-faced buzzards
“National Day” bird-Gray-faced buzzards

Kenting has been holding the Jonkea Raptors Festival for more than 20 years. This year it will include the “Eagles With Us” special exhibition and landscape installation art.

2021 The Jonkea Raptors Festival
2021 The Jonkea Raptors Festival

The “Eagles With Us” special exhibition showcases a large eagle-shaped outdoor art installation made by artist Legend Lin, with the participation of local elders and children, contributing to a meaningful environmental dialog and passing on precious life stories.

Kenting Eagle Watching is a national activity suitable for families.
Kenting Eagle Watching is a national activity suitable for families.

The landscape installation art includes 15 sets of works such as Grassland Eagle, Wind and Deer, and Snail’s Eye View, forming a grass maze. The artworks are open for public viewing at the entrance of Sheding Nature Park.

Grassland Eagle
Grassland Eagle
Wind and Deer
Wind and Deer
 Snail’s Eye View
Snail’s Eye View

The Kenting National Park Headquarters entered into a three-party collaboration with the local community and schools. Tainan Enterprise Culture and Arts Foundation proposed to turn the 2020 eagle season activity flags into practical carry bags and backpacks to realize the goal of sustainable environmental protection and reduce the burden on the earth.

 2020 eagle season activity flags into practical carry bags and backpacks
2020 eagle season activity flags into practical carry bags and backpacks

Chang Jung Christian University and the Kenting National Park Headquarters signed an agreement of cooperation to promote the raptor migration information system and environmental education for gray-faced buzzards, in order to support the application of environmental education on ecosystem conservation and migration route detection technology. In the future, they will follow the migratory route of the gray-faced buzzards, connecting Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines to work together for ecological conservation.

Around the Tataka Recreation Area in Yushan National Park, one can enjoy the beautiful and spectacular view of flocks of gray-faced buzzards riding the rising air currents and circling around to form “eagle balls” and “eagle pillars.” The Park has the best spots for eagle watching around Linzhi Mountain, which is about 2,900 meters above sea level.

In 2009, the three-year survey program for Tataka raptors’ migration in autumn accumulated fruitful results. The program was launched again in 2020, this time in cooperation with the Endemic Species Research Institute to provide the survey records to the Taiwan Raptor Reporting System. The data was also shared with the Eagle Reports, a civic science society.

In April of this year, the Yushan National Park Headquarters held the “Eagles Over Tataka” special exhibition, introducing the gray-faced buzzard and the common kestrel. Extracts from the 2020 Annual Tataka Autumn Migration Raptor Survey were also turned into posters for exhibition, and there were also precious specimens of gray-faced buzzard and the common kestrel, along with 1:1 height charts and photography works, allowing the public to see these rare raptors up close.

Threats to the lives of gray-faced buzzards have been greatly reduced from the early days when these birds were hunted in great numbers thanks to the rise of conservation awareness in recent years. It is hoped that the next time people look up at the thousands of raptors soaring in the sky, they will feel a sense of awe and respect for nature, and truly experience the smallness of human beings and the preciousness of life.

Tataka raptors’ migration in the early autumn morning.
Tataka raptors’ migration in the early autumn morning.
Around the Tataka Recreation Area in Yushan National Park, one can enjoy the beautiful and spectacular view.
Around the Tataka Recreation Area in Yushan National Park, one can enjoy the beautiful and spectacular view.
There were also precious specimens of gray-faced buzzard and the common kestrel.
There were also precious specimens of gray-faced buzzard and the common kestrel.
the Yushan National Park Headquarters held the “Eagles Over Tataka” special exhibition
The Yushan National Park Headquarters held the “Eagles Over Tataka” special exhibition.
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