Poyang Lake Bird Protection Area
The Poyang Lake Bird Protection Area is a sanctuary for many rare species of birds. Measuring 224 square kilometers (about 86 square miles) in area, it offers a mild climate and a habitat rich in aquatic plants and fish with no industrial pollution. In winter, Poyang Lake is home to the world"s largest population of birds.
Every November, thousands of birds fly in from Siberia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, and the northeastern and northwestern regions of China. These migratory birds spend the long winter in Poyang Lake together with the native widgeons, egrets, and mandarin ducks, leaving gradually as the weather starts to warm in March. Poyang Lake is considered by many to be the largest bird sanctuary in the world. Every winter it plays host to 95% of the world"s white cranes, a fact that gives it two of its popular names: "World of White Cranes" and "Kingdom of Rare Birds".
The white crane, which is one of the world"s endangered species, is a large wading bird about 135 cm (about 53 inches) tall. All of its feathers are pure white except for a few black ones on the tips of the wings, which give it its alternate name of "black sleeve crane". Its sword-like beak is brownish yellow, and it stands on a pair of long, pink legs. White cranes mate for life, and because they can live 70 years or more, the Chinese call them "immortal cranes" and consider them a symbol of propitiousness.
Serious birdwatchers use telescopes to get a good look at the birds, which are very shy and will fly away if you get too close to them. Colorful birds are everywhere, skimming the surface of the water, soaring high in the sky, or circling and diving for a morsel of food. The elegant white cranes can be seen flapping their wings and playing with each other. There are so many of them that they can look like a great white wall - a truly incredible sight.
Other rare birds that can be seen here include white storks, black storks, bustards, pelicans, and many more.