The Japanese Crested Ibis, scientifically known as Nipponia nippon, is a rare and precious bird in the world, mainly living at the south foot of Qinling Mountains in Yangxian County located in Shaanxi Province. The bird belongs to the Ciconiidae family of the order Ciconiiformes. It is the only existing population of its genus in the world. The bird inhabits in open woodlands at a height of 1,200-1,400m. History says that, in the past, it was widely distributed in the east of China, Japan Russia, Korea and other places. But due to environmental deterioration and other factors the population reduced sharply and till the 1970s it was disappeared from the wild.
The length of Japanese Crested Ibis is about 79 centimeters and it weighs about 1.8 kilograms. The male and female birds show dimorphism in plumage. Body feathers are white, with slightly pink feather end. There is a bared skin from forehead to cheek known as ponceau. The primary quills are deep pink at the base. This bird species has a beak which is 18-centimeter-long, black, slender having down-curved terminal. The bird wades in nearby rivulets, morass and rice fields. It is also seen hunting fingerlings, crabs, frogs, spiral shells and other aquatic animals, as well as insects.
Being a resident bird, it gads in small groups to low hills and plains in autumn and winter. The eggs are nattier blue with thin brown spots. Both the male and female birds take part in hatching. The squabs come out of the shell in about 30 days and leave the nest after 40 days.
The bird population was rediscovered after many years of survey by Chinese bird experts, in May’81, in Yangxian County. Hereafter a lot of work on the protection and scientific research of this bird has been done and with prominent results. By 1995, the number of this wild bird in China had reached about 35, and the breeding number was 25. These steps brought hope to save this precious bird.