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Environment

[Sado Wildlife in Focus] Amid Disaster, Crested Ibis Continue to Thrive

In his first photo essay of the new year, photojournalist Fumie Oyama captures the rare crested ibis as it begins to change color amid a snowy backdrop.

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Like a ballerina in Swan Lake, the crested ibis gracefully twists when applying the dark gray powdery secretion from its neck to its back (©Fumie Oyama)

Read the full story on Japan 2 Earth - [Sado Wildlife in Focus] Amid Disaster, Crested Ibis Continue to Thrive

The year is 2024. A major earthquake rocked the Noto region of Ishikawa Prefecture on New Year’s Day. Sado Island, close by in the Sea of Japan, also experienced strong tremors at an upper 5 intensity. A tsunami was also observed. I am relieved to report that my home and myself were unharmed.

This current photo essay showcases the resilient crested ibis. Even amid a natural disaster this winter, the birds adeptly gather food and thrive.

Preparing for Breeding Season

On January 5, the Ministry of the Environment's Sado Nature Conservation Office made an announcement. The agency had confirmed the change in color of wild crested ibis’ feathers as they enter the breeding season.

crested ibis
Two crested ibis hunting for food in a snow-covered irrigation channel surrounded by stark white snow. Notice the difference in the feather color of the birds. (©Fumie Oyama)

Since late December 2023, feathers around the neck of the ibis have been starting to turn gray. Currently, some birds are sporting the darker color and some have yet to do so. As the cold intensifies, the birds will gradually turn to the darker shade.

Continue reading the full story on Japan 2 Earth to learn more about the crested ibis' winter ecosystem on Sado Island.

And find more great articles on the environment and the challenges of achieving the SDGs on our affiliated website Japan 2 Earth (J2E), sparking a transition to a sustainable future.

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Fumie Oyama

Click here to read more Sado Wildlife in Focus photo essays by photojournalist Fumie Oyama.


Fumie Oyama is a two-time winner of the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association Award as a photographer for the Sankei Shimbun. After covering the reintroduction of the crested ibis to the wild for 11 years, Oyama left the company in 2020 to move to Sado Island. There, he continues to photograph the ibis and other wildlife while engaging in farming. He currently promotes the charms of Sado Island as a photojournalist. Follow Fumie Oyama on Instagram.

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