When someone says Japan, the last thing you think of is bird-life. Japan is a country that has a lot of people in a small area. In fact it ranks in the top 10 of the most densely populated countries in the world (source). This means there is less area for both birds and wildlife alike.
Having said that when I visited in 2013 I was pleasantly surprised that there is more than enough to keep a bird lover like myself very busy. In fact I was out there for 3 full days.
The type of birds you will see while birdwatching will depend on what time of year you go. Unlike a lot of Asian countries, Japan has it’s full weather seasons meaning a lot of the birds migrate during winter. There are however still plenty that stay the full year. Here’s a weather breakdown for the year.
Here are three of my favorite birds I saw while there (unfortunately the photos I shot while away have been lost when my computer crash – hence I have used photos from a great Facebook page about Japanese bird watching)
The blue rock thrush is one of the bigger birds in Japan and generally breeds in open mountainous areas. It nests in rock cavities and walls, and eats a wide variety of insects and small reptiles in addition to berries and seeds.
The male is unmistakable, with all blue grey plumage apart from its darker wings. Females and the young are much less striking.
The male blue rock thrush sings a clear, melodious call that I really enjoy.
This colorful little guy was probably my favorite out of the bunch. You will find the ruddy kingfisher all over Asia, but is actually quite rare in Japan. Ruddy kingfishers typically inhabit forested areas from the temperate to tropical zones, most often in thick jungles and rainforests.
The highlight of the bird is undoubtedly it’s big beak (not quite as impressive as the Toucan though). These birds typically travel in pairs (though the one I saw was by itself) and feeds on fish, crustaceans and large insects.
This little guy was the first one I saw while out out birdwatching. You can tell the difference between the male and female by the red throat and a black and white color (on the male). They typically nest near the ground and are very territorial during the nesting period.
These are just a few of the many birds I saw while I was there. It really is a beautiful country. The language is very difficult though. It’s not impossible to learn though. A good educational package like Rosetta Stone Japanese will help you learn at least the basics so that you won’t be out of your depth.