In search of spoon-billed Sandpiper...

In search of spoon-billed SandpiperA team of international bird experts will begin surveying the Bangladeshi coast Tuesday in search of the endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, whose population they believe has dwindled to just 350 pairs in the wild, organizers said Monday.

With its spatulate bill the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Eurynorhynchus pygmeus is unique among waders and, with its rare occurrence and localised breeding area in Northeast Russia, a very charismatic species.

Recent research carried out at selected breeding sites indicates a dramatic decline in the species' fortune. The current global population might not exceed 300-350 breeding pairs.

The Russian survey had no explanation for the decline, and experts believe something may be happening to the birds along the migratory route.

A 20-member survey team, divided into three groups, will scan southern Bangladesh's Bay of Bengal coastline from Jan. 17-25 for the birds and study their winter habitat to see if factors - such as reduced food reserves or human activities - are causing them to die out.

"We hope our survey will yield results that will help save them," said Enam Ul Haque, a Bangladesh water fowl census coordinator.