Following Spoonies to migrate, Spoon-billed Sandpiper Flyway Exchange

by Jason Loghry, May 28 2015

Each year, Spoon-billed Sandpipers fly from their breeding ground in Siberia and pass through Japan, Korea and China, down to Southeast Asia for wintering. The main threat this species faces is increasing habitat loss (inter-tidal wetlands) all throughout its migratory and wintering range, in addition to the threat of bird trapping.

To help raise awareness for this Critically Endangered species, a very special postcard project was initiated to get children along the flyway to draw postcards of Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Spoony) and send them across the real Spoony’s migration route, sharing a message about the importance of conserving tidal flats and helping to save Spoon-billed Sandpiper along the way.

With the help of the postcard project, children will learn the story of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, about its journey, and why it’s important to conserve habitat. Students from Myanmar, Thailand, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia have joined this activity.

Representing Korea, students at Obang Elementary School in Gimhae were so excited to join this flyway postcard project. They were surprised when they learned the distance these postcards had traveled and where they will go to next. They were astounded when they learned how far this little bird flies each year and troubled at the kinds of obstacles it is now facing on migration.

For many of them, it was their first time to hear about Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Alarmed at the small that number that remains in the wild many students expressed some sadness, concern and they felt the need to help.

About twelve of our grade 6 students who helped with this project are a part of a special bird club program at our school, while another 38 students were from grade 5. We’re very proud of these students and their work and we’re all looking forward to hearing about the safe arrival of Spoonies in Russia. Thank you to all of the students who sent us your beautiful postcards!

Very special thanks to Ms. Vivian Fu, of the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society for inviting our school to join this project, and to the students from China who sent us postcards. Also special thanks to Mr. Gerrit Vyn and Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the SBS documentary footage from the breeding grounds, that we can watch on Youtube. The students love watching Spoonies!

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