Elves on the border between China and Myanmar - the river tern


White feathers, yellow beak, black top and red feet, the beautiful river tern is one of the least abundant birds in China. On July 6, the COP15 "Secret Place of Western Yunnan · Biodiversity of Yunnan Dehong" interview group came to Dayingjiang Wetland to visit these elves living on the border between China and Myanmar.




[Photo provided by Sun Xiaohong, a nature photographer]

River tern is a kind of medium-sized waterfowl, 37-43cm in length. They often live alone or in small groups of 2-3. Their foods are mainly fish, frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans and aquatic insects. These birds were once widely distributed in southern Asia, but its population is declining rapidly in recent years, and it has disappeared in some countries. In China, river tern used to live in southeastern Tibet and western Yunnan, but today, it can only be observed in Daying River Basin. The adjusted "National Key Protected Wildlife List" has upgraded the protection level of river tern from level 2 to level 1, which shows the urgency of protecting this species.




[Photo provided by Sun Xiaohong, a nature photographer]

Each nest usually lays 3 eggs which are hatched by male and female in turn. The incubation time is 21 days. The condition for nest building of river tern is rather harsh. They usually dig a shallow pit on the fine sand ground, surrounded by small stones and some sparse herbaceous plants, which can be used for young birds to enjoy the cool below.


[Photo provided by Sun Xiaohong, a nature photographer]

In the past, villagers would take home directly the river tern eggs, but now they will inform professionals to protect them at the first time. This great change means the whole improvement of people's understanding about river tern protection. Since 2017, Dehong Prefecture has actively carried out some special rescue work for river tern, explored ecological protection mechanism, and took measures such as coordinating water level control of hydropower stations, habitat protection, building artificial nest protection network, disseminating river tern related knowledge, and hiring bird guards etc. Since then the number of endangered river tern in China increased from 7 to 13 in early 2019.

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(Editors: Amy, Christine)

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