Subsequent to publication of the comprehensively annotated check-list of birds of the Japan by the Ornithological Society of Japan in 1974, the number of bird-watchers throughout Japan increased dramatically. With this increase came a surge of new information about the birds of Japan. The authors contend, for a number of reasons, this was particularly true of Okinawa Prefecture. Okinawa is the most southern prefecture in Japan, encompassing most of what is known as the Ryukyu Islands or Nansei Shoto.

This paper presents changes in Okinawan avifauna noted since data were collected for the 1974 Ornithological Society of Japan check-list, with emphasis on new species, sites, and winter records. Recent records for rare species and an update of breeding ranges are included. In so far as is possible, the authors intend to present a status report for every species found in the prefecture.

Since 1980, the authors have collected information regarding the birds of Okinawa Prefecture. The information has come from a variety of sources including scientific journals, locally published material, newspaper articles, photographs, observations by the authors, and observations by others. This article is not intended to be a review of all the literature in print about birds of the prefecture, although all pertinent material has been examined. Higuchi (1985) has prepared a thorough bibliography covering birds of the Ryukyu Islands.

The bulk of the records below come from the work of many field observers and photographers. Much of their original material has been transformed into printed matter of one kind or another. In this category, annotated check-lists were most useful to us, particularly lists for Okinawa Prefecture by the Wild Bird Society of Okinawa (1978), Miyako Island by Kugai and Yamamoto (1981), Yaeyama Islands by the Wild Bird Society of Yaeyamas (1983), and western Iriomote Island and nearby Nakanougan Island by Kohno and Shoyama (1982). Aside from the lists, the most important sources of data were unpublished notes and photographs made by field observers, and notes and photos found in the "Field Note" section of Yacho (Wild Birds), the monthly magazine of the Wild Bird Society of Japan. The main deficiencies of this paper are the lack of field notes from some observers and our inability to verify dates and locations for some records.

In the absence of a "Rare Bird Committee" for Okinawa, the authors have evaluated records for species new to the prefecture with caution. Unless otherwise noted in the text, records are based on confirmed observations. Recent books of photographs published by the Okinawa Yacho Kenkyu-kai (Okinawa Bird Study Society) have helped substantiate many prior sight records (1986, 1993, 1995). A few observations of distinct birds seen briefly or birds difficult to identify in the field are included as "hypothetical". These records are only intended to alert field workers to the likely occurrence of the species; all require further documentation. The first author has sent copies of notes on his rare bird sightings to the Ornithological Society of Japan, the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, and the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan.

In the text below, "winter" arbitrarily refers to the months of December, January, and February. With few exceptions, birds found in Okinawa during these months are not migrating. Possible exceptions are noted. Iriomote, Ishigaki, Yonaguni and the surrounding small islands are referred to as "Yaeyama". Similarly, "S. Ryukyu" will mean Yaeyama plus Miyako and the small islands near it. "Ryukyu" refers to the islands of the prefecture plus the islands north to the Tokara Islands.

Three of the annotated check-lists mentioned above will be abbreviated for convenience in the record citations. The Okinawa Prefecture list (1978) will be "OL", the Miyako list (1981) will be "ML", and the Yaeyama list (1983) will be "YL". Wild Birds of Okinawa by the Okinawa Bird Study Society (1986) will be "WBO", the new edition (1993) will be "NWBO", and the CD-ROM version (1995) will be "CD". The 1974 Ornithological Society of Japan check-list, which was used for most of the bird order, will be abbreviated to "BL", and the Addenda and Corrigenda to Check-list of Japanese Birds (1975) will be "ABL". The Order-name and Family-name were adopted in OSJ news (1991). Nomenclature for birds not on the BL comes from Field guide to the Birds of Japan by the Wild Bird Society of Japan (1982). This book will be "BOJ". Names for birds not in the BL or BOJ come from Yamashina (1986), especially for Japanese names, or Sibley and Monroe (1990). The format for each species is: No., Scientific name, English name, Japanese name, Status, and Record.

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Last modified: April 25, 1997.
Fer-Jan de Vries,