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[Sado Wildlife in Focus] Extra Colorful Ibis: For a Limited Time Only

Photojournalist Fumie Oyama delights again with some rarely-seen images of extra colorful crested ibis and an insider's view of their release into the wild.



A crested ibis with wings painted red and blue to allow for observation after release into the wild. (© Fumie Oyama)

Read the full story on Japan 2 Earth - [Sado Wildlife in Focus] Extra Colorful Ibis: For a Limited Time Only

For a limited time, the beautiful orange feathers of some Japanese crested ibis are extra colorful – painted in hues of red and blue. Designated a national treasure, these endangered birds have their wings painted before release into the wild. Ibis with painted wings are a special sight on Sado Island. In fact, uninformed tourists often mistakenly believe the bird to be this colorful naturally. 

Vivid and Surprising Colors

Of course, red and blue are not the natural colors of the crested ibis. Once extinct in Japan, the bird has been reintroduced to the wild on Sado Island. September 29, 2023, marked the 29th release of birds bred in captivity.

extra colorful
Ministry of the Environment staff painting the wings of a crested ibis before release into the wild. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of the Environment)

Before their release, the ibis' wings were painted in two places on the inside and outside using animal markers. The birds were also tagged with leg rings, but the colors allow for distinguishing between birds in flight.

Continue reading the full story on Japan 2 Earth to learn more about why crested ibis are painted when released into the wild.

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


(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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