Key Species: South Korea's Most Urgent Priorities for Conservation
Nial Moores, Birds Korea, August 2005


In an ideal world there would be no need to prioritise key species for conservation: all species would be conserved, all ecosystems protected. However, due to the pace of human population growth, industrial development, and the loss and degradation of many key habitats worldwide, a recent estimate found that perhaps 20% of all bird species globally are already either threatened or near-threatened with extinction: “a total of exactly 2,000 species in trouble – more than a fifth of the planet's remaining 9,775 species" (Ed Parnell, Birdlife International website, June 2005).

Key species are defined here as those which are globally Threatened or Near-threatened with extinction (and are so-listed in the Red Data Book, Threatened Birds of Asia); discrete populations or sub-species that are threatened; and/or species which are believed to be in significant decline at the national level (in the absence of data, showing declines in population in South Korea suspected to be 50% or more in the past 25 years).

In addition to these threatened and near-threatened species, there are many threatened populations (/sub-species), many species threatened in parts of their range (e.g. at the national level), and many more still-widespread species that are also undergoing serious declines. Such declines have perhaps been best monitored and responded to in the UK and other parts of Europe (as e.g. part of NGO-led initiatives or as part of commitments by the European Union to biodiversity and sustainable development, e.g. see:, but they are apparent in almost all parts of the world – including here in South Korea.

It is apparent that key species need to be at the centre of the most urgent research and conservation initiatives. Their status indicates that the habitats that they depend on are also under threat (along with most other species occupying a similar habitat); and their small or declining number reveals that little time remains to implement conservation measures.

In South Korea, a densely populated nation with very intense demands on natural resources, the conservation of key species is hampered by a lack of data, by weak domestic legislation, and by the lack of genuine commitment to existing international conventions - including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention. In a similar vein, as South Korea lacks a national partner to the main international wildlife conservation NGOs (such as Birdlife International, Wetlands International, Conservation International or WWF-International), there is an especial need to gather and communicate data on such key species, not only for local/national needs - but also to fill in knowledge gaps at the regional/global level.

This Key Species section of the website therefore has three main aims:

  1. To provide a brief background to conservation with an overview of some of the key species in South Korea;
  2. to present data and existing information on key species arranged in a table and in single species accounts (allowing easier sharing with other conservationists both domestically and internationally, including e.g. for use by Birdlife in their online Red Data Book, and Wetlands International for updating Waterbird Population Estimates);
  3. to create a more efficient area for receiving and storing further data and information on key species.

We therefore respectfully urge concerned persons to please continue contributing their Korean records - but especially of threatened and near-threatened species; to help us identify rapidly declining species and studies on them, published or unpublished (in Korea or outside of it); and to provide advice on or links to information on all such key species' ecological requirements and conservation needs.

Background to Conservation of Key Bird Species in South Korea

South Korea (located in a wider region of very rapid industrialization, economic development, and human population pressure) has experienced enormous changes in land use over the past century, with the deforestation and tidal-flat reclamation of the Nineteenth century accelerating during the Japanese occupation in the first half of the Twentieth, followed by war, and then increasingly rapid industrialization from the 1960s to the present.

A few recent changes at the national level have been largely positive, with for example extensive re-forestation of vast treeless landscapes especially since the 1970s. Although such planting has perhaps contributed to the loss of the previously very scarce scrub-loving White-browed Chinese Warbler Rhopophilus pekinensis to South Korea (last recorded in 1964), and has very likely caused major declines in all species of lark (with most especially the Crested Lark Galerida cristata now very local and nationally threatened - being confined largely to open patches with poor soils), it has surely benefited a significant number of forest-nesting species, including several regional endemics.

Some changes have been more obviously negative, however. The almost complete conversion of natural freshwater floodplain wetland into intensively cultivated rice-fields or land for building is one of the root causes for the loss of breeding Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon (Endangered) and Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana (Endangered) – the former extirpated nationally, and the latter now a very scarce and apparently declining winter visitor – and to very major declines in the once numerous but now very local Watercock Gallicrex cinerea. Such species have been largely “replaced” by the much more tolerant and abundant Little Egret Egretta garzetta (like several other Ardeidae showing significant increases in recent decades - perhaps due to reduced persecution, creation of now almost 1 million ha of seasonally-flooded rice-fields nationwide, as well as to a warming climate).

In addition, the approximately 45% decline in tidal-flat area nationwide in only a few decades (Moores et al, 2001), exacerbated by the damming of almost open estuaries, has helped cause steep declines in some estuarine-dependent species over the same period, including Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmea (Endangered), and possibly both Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus sibiricus and Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis . Extensive road-building and weir-building along rivers accompanied by greatly expanded recreational use of sensitive wetland habitats has limited areas that can be used by species such as Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus (Endangered) and Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata while other more disturbance-tolerant riverine species like the Japanese Wagtail Motacilla grandis seem to have increased significantly in recent decades (with the first specimen/record in 1953, and widespread breeding 50 years later).

Perhaps the most remarkable status change of any key species in South Korea, however, is that of the Vulnerable Baikal Teal Anas formosa (the logo-bird of Birds Korea, and a very complex flagship species for conservation). Once abundant in East Asia, it declined drastically through much of the Twentieth Century – a victim of excessive hunting, habitat loss and perhaps poisoning by agricultural pesticides. Within the past three decades, however, the species has rebounded in number, increasing from its status as a rare migrant here to becoming South Korea's commonest duck!

Since 2002, significantly over 400,000 Baikal Teal have been present in South Korea each winter (Moores in Kear, 2005). This represents probably more than 90% of the world population of this species.
Its increase is of course very welcome, but it comes as the species exploits rice-fields and agricultural lakes created through the conversion ("reclamation") of estuaries, and tidal-flats – natural habitats critical to the survival of some of the world's most threatened species, including Relict Larus relictus (Vulnerable) and Saunders's Gulls L. saundersi (Vulnerable), Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes (Vulnerable), and Black-faced Spoonbill Platelea minor (Endangered).

Of course, with the vast majority (> 90%) of South Korea's bird species either entirely or largely migratory, it is not only changes within South Korea that are having significant effects on the status of bird species here. Global warming, region-wide habitat loss including the degradation of forests in parts of the Russian Far East and throughout much of South-east Asia, hunting of some species, excessive exploitation of marine areas, pollution, widespread pesticide (ab)use, and inappropriate use of wetlands and sensitive habitats are all likely to play a very significant role in limiting national bird populations.

As a result of this combination of factors, ca 46 (or a little under 10%) of the near 500 bird species which have now been recorded in South Korea are listed as Globally Threatened or Near-threatened in the Red Data Book of Threatened Asian Birds (maintained online by Birdlife International at: All 46 of these are largely or entirely migratory, and fully two-thirds (ca 33) are waterbirds: species dependent on Korea's most threatened habitat types (see e.g. Birds Korea: Wetlands, and Moores, 2002). Of the 46, thirty occur regularly in South Korea, while the rest do not occur annually - 6 being unrecorded since at least 1980, including wetland-dependent species like Swinhoe's Rail Coturnicops exquisitus (Vulnerable) and grassland specialties like Great Bustard Otis tarda (Vulnerable).

In addition to these 46, a further 8 or more taxa have been recorded which either (a) have very small populations in East Asia (including South Korea) while more numerous in other parts of their ranges (e.g. Mute Swan Cygnus olor and Black Stork Ciconia nigra), or (b) have populations which are distinctive, threatened and worthy of urgent taxonomic re-evaluation: i.e. Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus (ostralegus) osculans, the now-extirpated White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis richardsi, and Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula (narcissina) elisae.

Of these, the most significant to South Korea is likely the Eastern Oystercatcher, with probably more than 50% of the estimated minimum total population of ca 10,000 individuals supported by just one site (anon, 2002): the now threatened Geum Estuary.

In addition to species/populations that are globally or regionally threatened, there is also an apparently growing list of species that are believed to be nationally threatened (with ca 5 species believed already extirpated since 1950), and/or are showing very significant declines. Data are still insufficient either to define the term “significant decline” rigidly, or to draw up a comprehensive list of such species, but they are likely to include many still fairly widespread species that are typically associated with either less intensive, more traditional agricultural landscapes or with wetlands. Based on a very approximate benchmark of ‘probably 50% or more decline in the past 25 years’ such species might well include Watercock Gallicrex cinereus, Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis, Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus, Daurian Redstart Pheonicurus auroreus, many shorebirds and e.g. Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus. It seems quite likely that, despite extensive reforestation nationally, still some forest species are also in steep decline – perhaps rather more due to habitat loss outside of Korea than within it.


While South Korea itself still suffers a staggering rate of habitat loss and/or degradation of most habitat types, a few indicators do give reason for some cautious optimism – in addition to suggesting a few possible future bird conservation strategies.

Positive indicators include:

  1. Changing attitudes towards birds (including e.g. a recent steady growth in popular awareness about and positive attitudes towards birds; an increasing number of Korean birdwatchers; a gradual improvement in understanding of some species' status, distribution and ecological requirements; the proposed establishment of a Migratory Birds Research Centre on Hong Island by the National Parks Association [in 2005]; and the growth of local bird protection groups and conservation organizations like Birds Korea);
  2. An apparent reduction in most areas of illegal hunting and the persecution of e.g. raptors (with feeding stations instead being set-up for wintering Cinereous Vultures Aegypius monachus in Cheorwon – a species that has subsequently increased greatly, especially since 1999);
  3. An increased public demand for a healthier environment, with environmental education increasingly taught at schools, and some growth in the organic farming sector with “goose-friendly rice” sold at a few key sites (including Seosan);
  4. Increasing awareness in some parts of government of the potential benefits of better environmental stewardship, with increasing interest also shown by e.g. the KNTO in developing eco-tourism (though see: Birds Korea: Crazy Paving);
  5. An anticipated slowdown in new large-scale developments, as South Korea starts to evolve from a “tiger” into a more mature service economy.

Although some approaches for the conservation of key species in South Korea are/will be covered in rather more detail in other parts of the website (e.g. in some of the individual species accounts), it is useful here to list some general points:

  • Successful conservation typically depends on good data and on the best use of appropriate resources available to effect it;
  • Conservation of bird species necessarily entails conservation of their habitats – resulting in the conservation of many other species supported by the same ecosystems. It is clear that conservation of wetlands must remain an urgent priority in South Korea.
  • Conservation of habitats, their species communities, and of functioning ecosystems, provides multiple long-term benefits for people as well as for wildlife.
  • Conservation of birds in highly populated regions often requires shifts in existing value systems, and in certain land and water resource management approaches. Conservation does not necessarily mean “No Use” of a resource; it means “Wise Use” (itself a choice on a scale from No Use to Use with Regulation of varying degree).
  • Conservation of the vast majority of migratory species cannot be achieved by single nations. The conservation of South Korea's migratory bird species can only be achieved by changes in resource use of sites at the local level; by shifts in national policy and laws; and through international cooperation. Such international cooperation can come in many forms: enactment of relevant acts or treaties, exchange of best practice ideas or experiences, and/or the sharing of resources.


Tables - Key Species: Priority Species for Conservation

As defined above, key species are those which are globally Threatened or Near-threatened with extinction (and are so-listed in the Red Data Book, Threatened Birds of Asia); discrete populations or sub-species that are threatened; and/or species which are believed to be in significant decline (in the absence of data, showing declines in population in South Korea suspected to be 50% or more in the past 25 years).

The status of each such species in South Korea is described in brief. (For those species where we have already put species-specific notes or data online we are providing links directly from the species name; other key species notes will be added over time.)

Birds Korea would again like to urge all birders, whether resident or visiting, to contribute detailed records of all key species (including e.g. date, location, number), so that the information can be stored, shared and used for conservation.


Table 1: Threatened Species or Populations in Category 1 of Birds Korea's checklist.

Species NameScientific NameStatus:
Minimum Population Estimate (if available)
Status in South Korea
Mute SwanCygnus olor1,000 – 3,000 in East AsiaScarce winter visitor, especially in NE. Only 10-30 annually.
Swan GooseAnser cygnoidesEndangered.
Ca 60,000 globally
Migrant and scarce winter visitor. Peak counts of ca 1,500 individuals annually.
Lesser White-fronted GooseAnser erythropusVulnerable.
14,000 in East Asia; ca 27,000 globally.
Scarce migrant and winter visitor. Probably between 10 and 50 recorded annually.
Snow GooseAnser caerulescens< 300 in NE Asia.Rare winter visitor. Largest flock was of 21 in January 1995 in Cheorwon. Most winters ca 3-5.
Cackling GooseBranta hutchinsii Since first documented record in 1992, near annual and although rare, increasing. Peak counts of 7 together at Suncheon Bay in Jan. 1999 and 5-7 in Oct. 2003 in Cheorwon.
Black BrantBranta nigricans5,000 in East AsiaScarce and declining winter visitor, mostly along east coast and at Gwangyang Bay. Probably ca 100-200 winter annually.
Baikal TealAnas formosaVulnerable
Ca 500,000 globally
Rather local but relatively abundant winter visitor. Ca 450,000 present in recent winters.
Ferruginous PochardAythya nyrocaNear-threatenedRare winter visitor. Three records - the first in 2002.
Baer's PochardAythya baeriVulnerable.
10,000 – 20,000 global estimate (likely to be Endangered with population less than 5,000)
Rare and apparently declining migrant or winter visitor. Now scarcely annual.
Scaly-sided MerganserMergus squamatusEndangered.
3,600 – 4,500 globally
Very local winter visitor (and migrant?). Probably between 20 and 50 winter nationwide.
Black WoodpigeonColumba janthinaNear threatenedScare and local, breeding on islands in two distinct populations: one in East Sea, where believed migratory; other in SW migratory and/or resident. Ca 100-500 nationally.
Siberian CraneGrus leucogeranusCritical.
3,000 globally
Rare migrant. Recently near-annual. 7 records, most recently in 2004.
White-naped CraneGrus vipioVulnerable.
3,200 Korea / Japan population; 7,200 globally
Local migrant and rare winter visitor. Pres. Ca 2 700 move through and over Korea to winter in Japan. Ca 300-600 winter in South Korea (mostly in/near DMZ; fewer Nakdong River).
Hooded CraneGrus monachaVulnerable.
8,500 in Korea / Japan population; 9,500 globally
Local migrant and rare winter visitor. Ca 8 300 move through and over Korea to winter in Japan. Ca 200 winter in Korea (Seosan and Suncheon).
Red-crowned CraneGrus japonensisEndangered.
400 in Korean peninsula population (2002 MPE); ca 2,400 globally
Very local winter visitor. Ca 600 in winter in N/NW (Cheorwon/Incheon) in 2004, with one family wintering Saemangeum area (at least 2001-2002).
Band-bellied CrakePorzana paykulliiNear-threatenedRare migrant: 6 specimens collected between 1910 and 1962. 4 in May, singles in July and November. Further specimen in 1995. Sight record in NW in September 2005.
Nordmann's GreenshankTringa guttifer Endangered.
250 – 1,000 globally
Scarce migrant, more numerous in autumn than spring. Probably declining. Ca 50-100 annually.
Asian DowitcherLimnidromus semipalmatusNear-threatened.
23,000 globally
Rare migrant, first recorded in 1993. Recently recorded scarcely annually, especially in autumn.
Spoon-billed SandpiperCalidris pygmeaEndangered.
< 3,000 globally; declining rapidly.
Scarce migrant; obviously declining. More numerous in autumn than spring. Historic peaks of 215 in Nakdong (Sept. 1970) and 185 Saemangeum (Sept. 1998). Probably only ca 30- 40 recorded in 2005.
Eastern OystercatcherHaematopus (ostralegus) osculans10,000 (East Asia).Local breeding species; migrant; and winter visitor. Since first counted at outer Geum estuary in 1996, regularly >2,000, with peak count of 5,700 in Jan 2001.
Saunders's GullLarus saundersiVulnerable.
7,100 – 9,600
Migrant, winter visitor and rare breeding species. Ca 2,500 winter; probably majority of wintering birds in Kyushu migrate through Korea. Opportunistic breeding at several sites in Gyeonggi Bay area since 1998.
Relict GullLarus relictusVulnerable.
Winter visitor, more widespread in very cold winters. Peak count of 143, at Song Do, Incheon (2001). Numbers range from 10-20 most recent winters.
Long-billed MurreletBrachyramphus perdixNear-threatenedRare winter visitor, with first 6 records (all collected) in South-east, between 1960 and 1961. Scarcely recorded annually. Pelagic so likely under-recorded.
Crested MurreletSynthliboramphus wumisuzumeVulnerableConsidered a rare breeding species at one or two sites in southwest. Peak count was claim of 200 in October 1987 off Busan. Two recent claims from Guryongpo in winter (Feb. and Dec. 2002).
White-tailed EagleHaliaeetus albicillaNear-threatenedVery rare breeding species. One or two pairs in far SW (and perhaps occasionally in far SE). In SW young fledgling seen in 1999; first proven nesting in 2000. Rather more widespread in winter, with probably 50-150 most winters, mostly along east coast and in NW. Not annual on Jeju.
Stellers' Sea-eagleHaliaeetus pelagicusVulnerableRare winter visitor, mostly along East coast. Probably ca 5-15 most winters.
Cinereous VultureAegypius monachusNear-threatenedRapidly increasing winter visitor, especially since 1999. 837 counted in Dec 2001; 1,236 in 2002/2003. Some even summering in recent years (e.g. 3 on Jeju, July 2005). Estimated 1,000+ in early 2005. Dependent on feeding stations and slaughter-houses.
Greater Spotted EagleAquila clangaVulnerableRare migrant and occasional in winter, annual since at least 1999 (with one on Jeju into June 2005). Most regular in autumn. Probably 5 -15 recorded in recent autumns.
Eastern Imperial EagleAquila heliacaVulnerableRare migrant and winter visitor. Ca 5-10 wintered 1998-2000; only 1-2 in more recent winters.
Chinese EgretEgretta eulophotesVulnerable.
2,600 – 3,400 globally
Summer visitor. Breeds on offshore islands in the NW; migrant in autumn along west coast especially (peak of 615 counted along coast in Sept. 1998); fewer in SE and along E coast.
Japanese Night HeronGorsachius goisagiEndangered.
250 – 1,000 globally.
Rare migrant. Ca 20 records. 9 specimens collected, one as recently as 2001. 4 recorded in 2004 (none in 2005). Recorded in months March-November, with almost all in April and May. Most records from Jeju, SW and SE.
Black-headed IbisThreskiornis melanocephalusNear-threatened.
< 100 in N. East Asian population.
Very rare. Only two records: singles on Jeju in Nov. 1982, and Incheon in Sept. 2004.
Black-faced SpoonbillPlatelea minorEndangered.
> 1,475 (2005).
Increasingly recorded. Breeds on islands especially in NW. Up to 200 in Ganghwa area in recent autumns. Ca 15-20 winter, almost all on Jeju island.
Black StorkCiconia nigra100 in East AsiaIncreasingly recorded as a rare migrant along the west coast in autumn and as a winter visitor to the SW (1 -13 wintering) in recent years.
Oriental StorkCiconia boycianaEndangered.
3,000 globally
Formerly bred (locally very common in one part of now-DPRK before 1940s), and likely more numerous in winter (most specimens collected at that time). Last pair bred in ROK in 1970, before male shot in April 1971, and female poisoned in 1983. Now rare winter visitor. Between 10 and 50 wintering in recent years.
Fairy PittaPitta nymphaVulnerable.Rare and decreasing. Breeding most especially on Mt. Halla, Jeju Island, and perhaps in the SW. No population estimate known (but presumably <50 individuals nationally).
Black Paradise FlycatcherTerpsiphone atrocaudataNear-threatened.Rare and local migrant, very probably declining, breeding most especially on Jeju island and perhaps in the SW and NE. No population estimate known (but presumably <100 individuals nationally).
Japanese WaxwingBombycilla japonicaNear-threatened.Irruptive migrant and winter visitor. Occasionally low 100s recorded (esp. in March); in some recent winters (e.g. 2004/2005) extremely scarce.
Green-backed FlycatcherFicedula elisae Rare migrant. First documented record in 2005, with several earlier claims.
Styan's Grasshopper WarblerLocustella pleskeiVulnerableLocal breeding species, most especially in the South-west and on islands along the west coast. Population probably of several hundred pairs (Park Jong-Gil, pers. com., 2005). Small isolated population on Ulleung Island either of this or another taxon.
Manchurian Reed WarblerAcrocephalus tangorumVulnerableRare migrant. Only 3 records, involving 4 individuals (all since 2000).
Yellow-breasted BuntingEmberiza aureolaNear-threatenedApparently declining migrant; still occasionally fairly numerous (though typically 10s at a single site rather than 100s).
Japanese Yellow BuntingEmberiza sulphurataVulnerableUncommon spring migrant; very few records at other times of year. Probably 30-50 (<100) recorded annually, most in southwest-west and along south coast, but significantly overlooked.
Ochre-rumped BuntingEmberiza yessoensisNear-threatenedScarce migrant and winter visitor, though much overlooked. Perhaps decreasing and most regular along west coast. Many less than 100 reported annually.


Table 2: Key Species in Categories 2, 3, or 4 of Birds Korea's checklist.

Species NameScientific NameStatus:
Minimum Population Estimate
(if available)
Status in South Korea
Emperor GooseAnser canagicaNear-threatened.
84,500 globally
Only one claim: Cheorwon in December 1995.
Crested ShelduckTadorna cristataCritical.
Probably Extinct, but unsubstantiated claim of 6 at Mt. Chilbo in DPRK in May 1987.
Extremely rare/Extinct. Only two historic records, in 1913/1914 in Gunsan and in 1916 in Busan.
White-bellied WoodpeckerDrycopos javensis richardsi< 50(?) remain in ca 3 areas of DPRKRare breeding species, now believed extirpated and last recorded in 1978.
Great BustardOtis tarda dybowskiiVulnerablePreviously rare winter visitor; apparently no records since 1970.
Swinhoe's RailCoturnicops exquisitusVulnerablePreviously rare autumn and spring migrant. Six specimens collected, all in Gyeonggi Province. No records since 1930.
Lesser KestrelFalco naumanniVulnerableOnly one documented claim (in 2001), but several possibles also sighted on western islands during autumn migration.
Crested IbisNipponia nipponEndangered.
140 (2002), with 100 in captivity globally
Formerly bred. Now extirpated. Last accepted claim was in Gyeonggi Province in Dec. 1978. Last claim was in ca 1996, on Han-Imjin.
Dalmatian PelicanPelecanus crispusVulnerableVagrant. Two records, both collected: Nov. 1914 in Incheon, and 1978 in Jeju.
Short-tailed AlbatrossDiomedea albatrusVulnerableVagrant. Three specimens: singles in 1885 and 1891 and one undated.
Japanese Swamp Warbler/Marsh GrassbirdLocustella pryeriVulnerableOnly one record: one collected on November 10th, 1962, in Seoul.


Table 3: Additional Widespread Category 1 species believed to be in “Significant Decline” in South Korea.

Species NameScientific NameStatus in South Korea
Tundra SwanCygnus columbianusFormerly considered fairly numerous winter visitor, especially in Nakdong; now very scarce (<100? nationally). Regional minimum population estimate of 86,000.
Ruddy KingfisherHalcyon coromandaSummer visitor. Many in specimen record; few sites with significant populations (< 100 individuals nationally?).
WatercockGallicrex cinereaFormerly widespread and well-known; now very local summer visitor. Probably <100-200 individuals nationally.
Red-necked StintCalidris ruficollisStill widespread and fairly numerous migrant. Peak counts of 10,900 in Nakdong in 1980s, 1,800 at Seosan in 1997, and >5,000 in Saemangeum in 1998 not matched in recent years.
Brown ShrikeLanius cristatusFormerly common (very many specimens), now very local/rare summer visitor. Still regular and fairly common on migration on western islands (Day peak of 70 on Socheong in May 2004).
Pale ThrushTurdus pallidusApparently formerly common and widespread, now only locally common, and apparently declining as a breeding species at several key sites.
Yellow-rumped FlycatcherFicedula zanthopygiaApparently fairly common as a summer visitor in the 1970s and 1980s, now rather local and scarce. Still regular and occasionally fairly numerous as a migrant.
Daurian RedstartPhoenicurus auroreusAlthough still common, apparently much reduced over the past e.g. 15 years, both as a migrant and as a breeding species.
Barn SwallowHirundo rusticaApparently very much reduced in number as a summer visitor. Occasionally still fairly numerous on migration.
(Asian) Lesser Short-toed LarkCalandrella cheleensisBased on specimen record, once fairly common, especially in winter in Gyeonggi Province, with fewer records in April and May. Now rare winter visitor, probably not recorded annually.
Crested LarkGalerida cristata coreensisFormerly considered common and widespread throughout the mainland. Now very local, with only a very few known breeding sites (e.g. Cheonsu and Osan).
Eurasian SkylarkAlauda arvensisDescribed as “abundant” by Lee, Koo and Park in 2000 (partly due to confusion with the commoner Japanese Lark Alauda japonica), but scarce as a breeding species, and declining as a winter visitor.
White WagtailAlba motacilla leucopsisPresumably declined - a single roost of 60,000 was claimed in Seoul in August 1966, but Park (2002) does not list any roosts of over 100 birds during the 1990s.
Chestnut BuntingEmberiza rutilaAlmost 65,000 were ringed between 1963 and 1969 by a research team in one area – suggesting that the species was formerly abundant. Still common on migration, especially in the NW (with a peak of ca 750 on May 15th 2004 On Socheong Island).


References and Sources:

Extensive reference was made to Birds Korea online papers and articles, eg:

  • Review of the year: 2002
  • Review of the year: 2003
  • Review of the year: 2004
  • New Birds in South Korea
  • Anon (2002). Red Data Book of DPRK (Animal). Joseon Minju Juweiin Mingong Hwakuk. Pyongyang. 2002.
  • Anon. (2002) Minimum Waterbird Population Estimates, Asia-Pacific Region. Spreadsheet provided by Wetlands International Asia-Pacific Office.
  • Lee, H., Lee, S-W, Lee K-S & W-K Paek, (2004). The Wintering Status of Cinereous Vultures (Aegypius monachus) in Korea. Proceedings of 2004 International Symposium on Migratory Birds, Gunsan.
  • Lee W-S, Koo T-H., & J-Y Park. (2000). A Field Guide to the Birds of Korea. LG Evergreen Foundation.
  • Moores, N., Kim S-K, Park S-B & S. Tobai. (2001). Yellow Sea Ecoregion: Reconnaisance Report on Identification of Important Wetland and Marine Areas for Biodiversity. Volume 2: South Korea. Published jointly by WWF-Japan, WBK and Wetlands International China Programme.
  • Moores, N. (2002). Wetlands: Korea's most threatened habitat. Oriental Bird Club Bulletin 36. December 2002.
  • Moores N., in Kear J. (Ed.). (2005). Ducks, Geese and Swans. Bird Families of the World. Oxford University Press. Section on Baikal Teal Anas formosa. Volume 2: pp 605-608.
  • Park J-Y. 2002. Current Status and Distribution of Birds in Korea. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Kyung-Hee University. (in Korean).
  • Yu, Y.T. (2005). The International Black-faced Spoonbill census: 21-23 January 2005. Published by The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Limited.