15 May 2018
The Lake Baikal Foundation will allocate a grant of 250 000 rubles to support the project «Discovering migration routes and wintering areas of Yellow-breasted Bunting (Ocyris aureolus) nesting in Selenga River delta».
Yellow-breasted bunting, a bird of the Emberizidae family, was one of the most widespread species in Russia. The breeding area of the species passed in the west from Finland and in the north to the south-western border of Ukraine. The eastern border of the area passed through Kamchatka and Japan. The population density during the nesting period in the preferred biotopes reached 300 OS / km². Within the Baikal natural territory, the yellow-breasted bunting was spread everywhere, being a dominant species in many areas. However, for the recent 30 years the number of yellow-breasted bunting has began to decline catastrophically.
Being one of the most widespread species, yellow-breasted bunting is now on the Red List of the International Union for Nature Conservation with the category EN (endangered). The species is included in the Red Books of the Irkutsk Region and the Republic of Buryatia. There is a threat of extinction of the species, both in the Baikal natural territory and the world fauna in general.
As part of the international monitoring program for terrestrial bird species in East Asia in November 2016, China held a meeting on the preservation of the yellow-breasted bunting. The directions of work were determined with the aim of preserving the species. Scientists consider that the main reasons for the number decline are the degradation of habitats and the direct extraction of a species by a human in the wintering places and migration. Therefore, one of the priority areas of conservation is the identification of ways of migration and wintering areas of the species. For these purposes, the most optimal method is the installation of bird’s geologists – light sensors, which, by fixing the length of daylight, determine the location of the bird with an accuracy of 20-100 km. This method has been used since the 2000s. Due to the low weight (from 0,65g) and the lower cost, in comparison with satellite transmitters, they can be installed in large numbers on small birds. To obtain information from the sensor, the bird must be caught again. Yellow-breasted buntings are characterized by nesting conservatism. That’s why the bird returns to the same breeding site from year to year, which makes possible to catch it again next year in the same place.
The grant from the Lake Baikal Foundation will allow purchasing the necessary equipment for researching the yellow-breasted bunting on the Baikal natural territory. The Selenga delta, a key ornithological territory of world significance, was selected for researching. Wetlands of the delta of Selenga River are included in the list of the Ramsar Convention sites, are a part of the World Natural Heritage site of UNESCO «Lake Baikal», they are also under the protection of the Federal Reserve «Kabansky». One of the most massive nesting settlements of yellow-breasted bunting in the region and the world is situated here.
As a result of the project, a direct tracking of the migration route for small passerine birds inhabiting the Baikal region and Siberia will be achieved for the first time; this will allow drawing conclusions about the necessary measures to preserve the species. By the way, earlier instrumental tracking of the autumn migration of Baikal birds was conducted only once 20 years ago. Results will be submitted for consideration in the framework of the terrestrial bird species monitoring program of East Asia, implemented by the international organization Birdlife International.
In addition to grant support, the Lake Baikal Foundation will provide media support to the project, as well as launch crowdfunding on the Foundation’s website, where additional funds will be raised to expand the capabilities and geography of the project.All projects