Under our wing

Under our wing

As more than 500 species of water birds prepare to spend winter in Hong Kong, we take a look at some of the finest feathers in town

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A spoonbill in flight
A spoonbill in flight
It's show time at Hong Kong Wetland Park in Tin Shui Wai, in Yuen Long. Every winter, more than 500species of water bird flock in their thousands to the park's mangroves and freshwater ponds.

"Being in such a small and cramped city, it is lovely to have so many birds fly here," says Vincent Yau, acting supervisor at the Wetland Park.

Hong Kong is a hotspot for these migrant birds. Our well-kept wetlands provide enough food and shelter for the season, before they undertake the next leg of their great migration.

To celebrate their arrival, the Wetland Park hosts events to educate people about the birds' important role in our ecosystem.

Here's a rundown of a few interesting birds you could spot...

Spoonbills
The black-faced spoonbill is the only sub-species of this creature seen in Hong Kong. It is the rarest of the six types of spoonbills found in the world.

This bird is listed as endangered - which means it may soon no longer exist. The World Wildlife Foundation says only 2,700 of these birds remain in the wild.

Spoonbills use their bills as spoons to scoop fish out of the water, which is how they get their names.

Hong Kong is lucky to have 20 per cent of the world's black-faced spoonbill population visiting Deep Bay every winter.

Sandpipers
Sandpipers are naturally very social birds. This means they like to live in large groups. They eat together on mudflats. Sometimes you can see hundreds of them in one place.

Using their slender, sharp beaks, sandpipers dig out small insects, such as worms and snails, which they find in the ground.

Egrets
These fish-loving creatures like spending time in streams and marshes. The most interesting of these birds to watch is the cattle egret.

You can sometimes find them sitting on the back of water buffalos, picking off insects that might live in their coats.

The male cattle egret's pure white plumage turns a brownish-orange colour to attract females during the mating season.

Sunbirds
Sunbirds are tiny creatures with very colourful feathers. They can usually be found in forest or woodland areas around Hong Kong.

The city's most common type is the fork-tailed sunbird. The males of this species have blue and red feathers on their head, while the rest of their body is green. But females are completely green.

Finding these birds can be very hard because they are so small. The best way to find them is to listen for their high-pitched voice. Or you could find a tree with bright red flowers - sunbirds love these as they mostly eat the plants' nectar.


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