A crested ibis chick has hatched in the wild for the second year in a row, the Environment Ministry said.
Ministry officials said Sunday they confirmed via video footage that a pair of crested ibises on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, had fed a chick five times since Saturday morning, although the chick itself has yet to be captured on film. It is therefore uncertain when it hatched, according to the officials.
Last year, a crested ibis chick hatched in the wild in Japan for the first time in 36 years.
As the latest chick’s parents are a brother-sister pair, aged 6 and 4, the chick will be isolated for 10 days to reduce risks related to genetic factors. The ministry confirmed the pair built a nest Feb. 28 and started incubation March 14.
Since 2008, the ministry has released crested ibises into the wild on Sado Island every year, with the aim of developing a populace of around 60 of the birds in the wild by 2015.
In 2010, a pair of crested ibises laid an egg, but it didn’t hatch. The first chick was born in April 2012. Last year, three pairs of crested ibises had a total of eight chicks, and all of them subsequently left the nest.
Kei Osada, chief ranger for natural conservation, said that “last year’s hatching was not by accident.” He added he is pleased that the environment is gradually being developed on the island for crested ibises to hatch.
Niigata University associate professor Hisashi Nagata said that “breeding crested ibises is an uncharted field, and we are still struggling.”
To examine factors behind successful hatches, data on at least 10 crested ibis pairs are needed, according to Nagata. Noting the young crested ibises that hatched last year will have a mating season next year at the earliest, he said it will only be possible to claim a step forward when they succeed in hatching chicks of their own.
Overhunting and environmental degradation since the Meiji Era caused the population of crested ibises in Japan to tumble and eventually become extinct in October 2003, following the death of the last one, a female named Kin.
All crested ibises released in the wild on the island are the offspring of one born through artificial breeding in 1999 to crested ibises gifted by China.