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Welcome

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Welcome to Hachikuma project


Welcome to the Hachikuma Project, an open-to-the-public project of bird migration. In spring and autumn, every year, bird migration attracts great interest of many people in Japan and other parts of the world. While it was difficult to track the migration of birds in the past, satellite tracking, a method to utilize a satellite, has been recently established, and tracking the migration of large-size and medium-size birds has become possible for an almost real time use.

The purpose of this project is to make public on the web the real time status of bird migration via satellite tracking, to show it to many people in Japan and other parts of the world, and then to deepen their understanding of bird migration and also of how nature works. To observe how bird migration proceeds every moment on the web should be very stimulating and, we believe, it will significantly contribute to social education, school education, and environmental conservation.

The focal species of tracking is the Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), a species of hawks. It is a unique hawk that feeds on bees and wasps. It rips open a nest of such as Black Hornets (Vespula flaviceps), extracts larvae and pupae and eats them. The honey buzzards migrate from Southeast Asia to Japan in May. They build a nest in Japan, lay eggs, raise young, and then return to south in autumn. The research results so far show that the honey buzzards depart their breeding areas in Honshu in September or early October, fly over western Honshu and Kyushu areas, then cross the East China Sea, enter mainland China, then head south and finally migrate to Southeast Asia. It is anticipated that they will arrive there in mid- to late November.

We call this project “Hachikuma Project” for simplicity. Hachikuma is the Japanese name of the Oriental Honey Buzzard. Hachi means bees and wasps.

Migratory birds, to begin with Oriental Honey Buzzards, fly over many countries for a distance of more than several thousand kilometers or ten thousand kilometers. They do not care about the boundaries between countries at all. It can be said that they would connect natures of various parts of the world and also people who live here and there. Migration itself is a grand drama of nature, and migratory birds can be regarded as a symbol of peace and happiness.

Which actual southward route do our tracked honey buzzards take? When and where do they arrive? How do they come back to Japan next spring? Which natures and people are they connected with? We would like to enjoy tracking them together with many people in the world.


Hiroyoshi Higuchi
Project manager
Project Professor, Keio University SFC
Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo

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