Stairs for Birds?
Stairs made for the endangered Okinawa rail


Okinawa.Org Staff
This came across my desk late this evening. Stairs for birds to get in and out of drainpipes, pictured below, and found around Cape Hedo.

A stairway for the Yanbaru kuina / Okinawa rail to get in and out of drainage ways

Now, you might wonder why birds need stairs. Well, it's because they're built for the Yanbaru kuina—also known as the Okinawa rail. But, you may still also be wondering, "Why in the world do birds need stairs when they have wings?" 🤔

Well, for two very good reasons. The first being that they are a near-flightless bird with short wings, as such, they might not be able to flap and hop out. The stairs help with this problem so that they can find them and easily walk out if stuck. The second reason is that the Yanabaru kuina is an endangered species and indigenous to Okinawa, only to be discovered in 1978; so if they got stuck, it would only lead to extinction faster.

The stairs also are multipurpose. There are other reptiles that need assistance as well. There are also endangered turtles in the area that need to get in and out as well. Some lizards also use the stairs.

Pretty neat effort done by the Government or other organizations to keep these things around longer or forever!

Oh, and watch out for birds crossing the street if you're in the area of Cape Hedo!

Watch out for the Okinawa rail while on the roads near Cape Hedo

G (Original Author) said:
This is cool, found around Cape Hedo. They made steps in the drains so the Yanbaru Kunia a flightless, endangered, indigenous Okinawan bird (link in comments), could escape should they fall in. **Edit - I'm being told the steps are also for turtles and lizards, of any other that happens to get caught down there. There is also an endangered turtle around the mountains forgot the name

An Okinawa rail in its "natural habitat" (Okinawa 😅):

By WJMcBride - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5697969
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.


Okinawa.Org Staff
Someone messaged me shortly after posting this that the stairs are also used for the Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle, which inhabits the same area as the Okinawa rail.

An interesting factoid about the turtle is that—other than it also being endangered like the Okinawa rail—it has a very attractive appearance, making it highly coveted by turtle collectors worldwide.

So, it appears there is a black market for these turtles as they are, as mentioned, endangered. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing though. On one hand, people may be taking them out of their natural habitat and they are dying off with their owners or in the trade. On the other hand, we can only make assumptions here and there are plenty of them out there; that said, if they do become extinct in Okinawa, quite possibly some turtle collectors could help revive the population. What's your opinion on that?

By User:OpenCage - http://opencage.info/pics/large_17197.asp, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20781599
Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Ryukyu leaf turtle)
They were designed and installed as a way out for any small animals who fall in the concrete gutters --- turtles, lizards, rats, etc. In some places, possibly helpful for any very young Agachaa (Yambaru Kuina) who might get stuck, but I never heard that Birds where the priority reason for making them.

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