The migration path of a migratory bird (first-line research)

  Our reporter, Yang Wenming, Jiang Feng, and Su Bin, "People's Daily" (Page 14, April 20, 2022)

  The spring is just right, and it is time for the black-necked cranes to migrate.

The black-necked crane is the only crane in the world that grows and breeds on the plateau, and it is also a first-class protected wild animal in my country.

Every year, black-necked cranes generally move to the breeding grounds in mid-to-late March, and arrive at the wintering grounds from mid-October to November.

  Among the birds migrating this year is a black-necked crane, which was numbered "V021" by Wu Heqi, an assistant researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

During a rescue last spring, researchers put a satellite tracking tag on it.

Since then, its activity trajectory and flight speed have been continuously monitored by researchers.

  What was the flight trajectory of "V021" in this year?

From ringing to satellite tracking, how do researchers monitor the activities of migratory birds?

What new progress has been made in the protection of migratory birds in my country, from habitats, breeding grounds to protection of migration corridors?


  When: March 2021

  Location: Yunnan Huize Black-necked Crane National Nature Reserve

  On March 11, 2021, in the evening, there was heavy fog in the bridge area of ​​the Black-necked Crane National Nature Reserve in Huize, Yunnan.

  At this time, a nearby villager carried a black-necked crane to the bridge management office of the Management and Protection Bureau of the Reserve. The crane guard Zhang Shugang took it and looked at it.

After a full-body examination of the black-necked crane, it was found that it was not injured, Zhang Shugang breathed a sigh of relief.

  It was cold outside, so Zhang Shugang and his colleagues found a cardboard box, spread it with straw, and let the black-necked crane settle down temporarily.

Looking around in several rooms of the management office, Zhang Shugang stared at the shower room, which is the warmest place in the office.

That night, the black-necked crane stayed in the shower room.

  In order to let the black-necked crane rest well, during that time, except for Zhang Shugang, who was in charge of taking care of it, other colleagues did not bother.

Before going out to patrol in the morning, Zhang Shugang would grab a few handfuls of corn kernels and sprinkle them in the shower; when he came back in the evening, he would stay with him for a while.

  With increased protection efforts, the number of black-necked cranes in the Daqiao area has grown steadily in recent years.

In addition to the crane guards, the full-coverage monitoring facilities and electronic fences in the reserve also guard the wintering grounds of black-necked cranes.

Today, there are very few people in the area who deliberately harm black-necked cranes.

  After a few days of careful care, the little black-necked crane regained its vitality.

Zhang Shugang knew that he was about to say goodbye to it.

In the past, Zhang Shugang did not know how the rescued black-necked cranes fared.

But this time, with the help of Wu Heqi, an assistant researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the black-necked crane was put on a satellite tracking tag and had its own number: V021.


  When: March 2021 to April 2022

  Route: Yunnan Huize Black-necked Crane National Nature Reserve to Sichuan Ruoergai Wetland

  At 11:00 noon on March 28 this year, "V021" embarked on the journey of returning home again.

This time, it flew directly to Sichuan Meigu Dafengding National Nature Reserve for a stopover. After resting by the Dadu River in Hanyuan County, Sichuan Province on March 30, it finally arrived at Ruoergai Wetland at 1:00 noon on April 5.

  Wu Heqi still remembered that the day "V021" was released was March 18, 2021.

"This is the record retained by the satellite tracking tag it wears." Wu Heqi said, the V at the beginning stands for success, and I hope it can successfully return to the wild and successfully migrate. 021 is a number.

  Wu Heqi said that "V021" is the first black-necked crane monitored by a team from the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Huize Black-necked Crane National Nature Reserve, Yunnan using satellite tracking tag technology.

According to reports, satellite tracking tags are now lighter and more comprehensive in data collection, from the latitude and longitude of the black-necked crane's trajectory initially to the height, flight speed, and ambient temperature of the black-necked crane's activity.

  Wu Heqi introduced that with the application of satellite tracking tag technology in black-necked crane monitoring, the team can more accurately grasp the black-necked crane's range of activities and migration routes, so as to better carry out targeted protection.

  Since the satellite tracking tag technology monitoring of black-necked cranes began in 2004, Wu Heqi's team has accumulated data on hundreds of bird tracking, including more than 10 black-necked cranes.

Monitoring shows that in my country, there are three main wintering populations of black-necked cranes in the eastern, central and western regions. The eastern overwintering population mainly migrates between the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai, and the central overwintering population is in the Napahai and Bitahai in Yunnan. They migrate with neighboring high-altitude areas such as Daocheng, Sichuan, and the western population with the largest population migrates between the Brahmaputra Gorge and Lhasa and the high-altitude areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Currently, "V021" is on the eastern migration route.

  "V021" is only a sub-adult, and its migration needs are not strong enough.

Unlike adults who quickly arrive at the breeding ground, this subadult stops and goes along the way.

"In summer, in order to breed and take care of young birds, mature individuals have a smaller range of activities, while sub-adults have a much larger range of activities. This may also be the process of its exploration and learning." Wu Heqi analyzed.

  "Satellite tracking results show that Dashanbao, Zhaotong, Yunnan is a very important transit station for the wintering population of black-necked cranes in the east. When some black-necked cranes move south, they will first arrive at Dashanbao to rest and then move to Caohai, Guizhou, Huize, Yunnan and other places. , which also strengthens and confirms the effectiveness of the eastern black-necked crane protection network." Wu Heqi said that the application of satellite tracking tag technology also raised new questions, "Is there any communication between the eastern population and the central and western populations? After all, black-necked cranes wearing satellite tracking tags are a minority, and other technical analysis such as genetic sequencing is needed to answer this question."


  When: April 2022

  Location: Qinghai Nianbaoyuze National Nature Reserve

  On April 19 this year, "V021" has spent more than ten days in Sichuan Ruoergai Wetland, the main summer place for the eastern black-necked crane population.

At this time, Qinghai Nianbaoyuze National Nature Reserve, the blue lake is as level as a mirror, the yellow weeds around are gradually turning green, and the black-necked cranes moving north have come here one after another. A year ago, "V021" also Stayed here for over a month.

  "This is a new discovery from monitoring 'V021'. We didn't know that the black-necked cranes in the eastern population would protect Yuze last year," Wu Heqi said.

  Nianbaoyu is an important breeding ground and habitat for black-necked cranes in Qinghai Province.

In order to further protect the water source and grassland of Nianbaoyuze, in April 2018, Nianbaoyuze Scenic Spot was officially closed due to illegal development of tourism in nature reserves, and it will be closed indefinitely.

Over the past few years, the local ecological environment has been significantly improved, the lake water has become clearer, the vegetation has recovered significantly, and the number of black-necked cranes breeding here has also continued to increase.

  "Nian Baoyu has continued to improve the ecological environment, which may be the reason why 'V021' chose to live here for more than a month." Zhang Tongzuo, a researcher at the Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and chairman of the Qinghai Provincial Zoological Society, said.

  In recent years, as Qinghai continues to promote the protection of wild animals and plants, the construction of nature reserves, and the protection and construction of wetlands, the local ecological environment has improved as a whole, and the population of black-necked cranes has increased.

"But at the same time, the survival of black-necked cranes is still under threat. How to coordinate the relationship between protection and development and solve problems such as the weak scientific research foundation are all issues that must be considered in the protection of rare and endangered species such as black-necked cranes." Zhang Tong make a statement.


  When: November 2021 to March 2022

  Location: Guizhou Caohai National Nature Reserve

  In early November 2021, a cold wave accelerated the process of "V021" returning to the south.

This time, it came to the Caohai National Nature Reserve in Guizhou.

  In the Wumeng Mountains in winter, the wild food is not very abundant, but the potatoes that the farmers missed in the idle farmland become the food for the black-necked cranes.

When spring comes, farmers start to sow seeds one after another, and some black-necked cranes also go to the fields to feed on the seeds of crops.

  "Some villagers reported that the black-necked cranes planed the food that was just planted." Liu Guanghui, deputy captain of the Caohai Patrol Brigade, said that this is often the case during spring ploughing.

While explaining to the villagers, they suggested sticking scarecrows as a warning.

"The rangers will also reduce the black-necked cranes' feeding on crops by building food sources and supplementing food before migration." Liu Guanghui said that at present, the Caohai Management Committee is planning to formulate compensation methods for wildlife accidents.

  Wu Heqi introduced that the protection of black-necked cranes has become the consensus of all people in the distribution area of ​​black-necked cranes. Ecological bird watching tours explored in many areas are also expected to make some attempts to balance protection and development without disturbing black-necked cranes. .

  "As soon as the black-necked cranes arrived in Caohai, many tourists came to watch them. There were tens of thousands of people in a year. Perhaps 'V021' appeared in a tourist's camera." Liu Guanghui said that bird watching is fine. But you have to abide by the rules, "You can't get too close, and you can't deliberately startle."

  This year, will "V021" still go to the annual insurance policy?

Obviously, it requires more exploration, familiarity with the wild environment as much as possible, and mastery of wild survival skills.

Later, it may also reproduce and contribute to the expansion of the black-necked crane population - but it is certain that it is lucky, because, in addition to its own exploration, from reserve staff to researchers, are exploring more Multiple ways and higher quality protection give it enough space and time to grow smoothly.

  Further reading

  Question 1: How do migratory birds migrate in spring?

  In my country, the migration time of spring migratory birds is from March to early May, which is characterized by large individual clusters, fast migrating speed and short rest time.

  From the perspective of migratory birds: the spring northward migration time of raptors is from mid-March to the end of May, the spring northward migration time of geese and ducks is from mid-March to the end of May, the spring northward migration time of shorebirds is from the end of March to the end of May, and the spring time of herons The time for moving north is from mid-March to early April.

Entering May, the migration of migratory birds is coming to an end, and a large number of birds begin to enter the breeding season.

  Question 2: What are the main technical supports for the protection of migratory birds?

  One is to use color marking, satellite tracking and other methods to track the migration process of migratory birds.

This can grasp the migratory routes of some important migratory birds, discover important resting places and activity patterns of migratory birds, and provide scientific and technological support for ensuring the safety of migratory birds.

  The second is to use high-tech equipment such as remote monitoring, automatic monitoring, and big data analysis such as drones to eliminate monitoring blind spots and improve the efficiency of monitoring and patrolling.

  (Reporter Kou Jiangze interviewed and arranged)

  Overall planning: Chen Juan, Cheng Chen, Shen Qian, Zhang Wenhao, He Yuche

  Layout design: Zhang Fangman

  Data source: State Forestry and Grassland Administration