Rare Japanese snow grouse

By Channel NewsAsia’s Japan Bureau Chief Michiyo Ishida:

Japanese conservationists fight to protect rare species of snow grouse

27 May 2009

SINGAPORE: A number of animals and plants which have survived for many centuries face the threat of extinction. Conservationists are fighting an uphill battle to protect our planet’s heritage and better understand it.

That’s true of the snow grouse, a rare species of bird found in central Japan, that is believed to have survived the Ice Age.

They are found 2,400 metres above sea level. The snow grouse is known in Japanese as Raicho or Thunderbird because they are believed to be active when there’s thunder.

The birds have been seen in the mountains of Tateyama during the April to June period, usually in the early morning or late afternoon.

Out of a population of 3,000 in Japan, 245 snow grouse were spotted in the 1,700 hectare area that makes up Tateyama. However, catching a glimpse of the snow grouse is not that easy. …

Experts said the Japanese species lives for eight to 10 years, twice as long as similar birds in other parts of the world. But there is still a lot more to be known.

According to Wikipedia, these birds are not a separate species, but a subspecies of the ptarmigan which also occurs elsewhere in Eurasia and North America.

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