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People's Republic of China

Redstart
Hodgson's Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni) ©Alister Benn Website

Birding China

The Peoples Republic of China, or The Middle Kingdom as it is known, is large; about the same size as the United States of America, but with roughly six times the population. The majority of people live in the agricultural East and South, leaving huge expanses of the West more sparsely populated. As one would expect from a country spanning 35 degrees of latitude and 65 degrees of longitude, the geographic diversity is equally enormous; tropical rainforests in southern Yunnan, alpine valleys of the eastern Himalaya, endless grasslands, deserts and cultivated valleys surrounding some of the worlds longest rivers.

This variety provides habitat for lots of birds; around 1250 species in fact, with over 60 endemics, including 14 Pheasants, 7 Laughingthrushes, 4 Parrotbills and 4 Rosefinches. The country is also excellent for Cranes, with 7 species regularly recorded, and Tits, with a staggering 28 species.

Unfortunately, the pressure imposed by the huge population spells bad news for the wildlife; apparently nearly 8% of the country is set-aside as reserves, but this does not mean the areas are protected. Logging and hunting persist, the waterways are polluted beyond belief and much of the northeast is under threat of desertification as a result of merciless deforestation in the north. The government in Beijing has firm plans to do all it can to extend the protection of wildlife, but the recovery will be slow, and quite probably too late for some of the countries more vulnerable endemics.

If the possibility of amazing birds encourages you to get on a plane and discover the wonders yourself, the logistics of travel have to be considered. Even in the largest cities of Beijing and Shanghai, very little English is spoken, and once you are out in the countryside, a shouted 'hello' is about all you will get. The prices for foreigners are often inflated, so be prepared to haggle, and even though the freedom of movement has improved tremendously in the last decade, some hostility and bureaucracy may still be experienced in more remote areas.

In light of these potential difficulties, many of the birders deciding to visit China come on tours, of which there is a great selection. The endemic heartlands of Tibet and Sichuan are popular destinations, as are Beidaihe and Happy Island on the east coast. The latter having been a Mecca for birders for nearly 20 years now, as they arguably offer the best chances to encounter 'Sibes'; the Shorebirds, Warblers, Flycatchers, Buntings and Chats that occur as vagrants in Europe and North American.

For those prepared to get stuck in, China offers an excellent adventure; language problems, questionable sanitation, erratic drivers, rugby scrum queues, wonderful/terrible food, unreliable bus timetables, and in some areas, the potential of altitude sickness. Areas of prime habitat can be devoid of bird life, whilst polluted drainage ditches can be alive with Buntings and Warblers. The sense of being somewhere foreign is always profound, and the ability to toast the days birding with cheap beer is always a bonus.

Many trip reports, reserves information and etc. can be found on the individual state pages accessed via the interactive map or links below it.

Top Sites

Qinghai

High altitude wetlands of Koko Nor, grassland specialties and the Snowfinch/Rosefinch capital of the world.

Sichuan

The areas of Wolong and Jiuzhaigou are on the tour circuit. High-altitude birding, spectacular scenery and perhaps 30 endemics.

Yunnan

Xishuangbanna, for tropical rainforest birds like Pittas and Broadbills. Ruili for SW endemics and stragglers from Myanmar. The wetlands of CaoHai for Black-necked Crane. Fantastic old towns with ethnic minority populations and in my opinion, the best culture in China.

Contributor

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 1314

National Bird: Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis

Endemics

Number of endemics: 53

Chestnut-throated Partridge Tetraogallus obscurus Rusty-necklaced Partridge Alectoris magna Sichuan Partridge Arborophila rufipectus White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica Hainan Partridge Arborophila ardens Cabot`s Tragopan Tragopan caboti Chinese Monal Lophophorus lhuysii White Eared-Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon Brown Eared-Pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum Blue Eared-Pheasant Crossoptilon auritum Elliot`s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti Reeves`s Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus Hainan Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron katsumatae Chinese Grouse Bonasa sewerzowi Sichuan Wood-Owl Strix davidi Vaurie`s Nightjar Caprimulgus centralasicus Sichuan Jay Perisoreus internigrans Xinjiang Ground-Jay Podoces biddulphi Ala Shan Redstart Phoenicurus alaschanicus Yunnan Nuthatch Sitta yunnanensis White-browed Tit Parus superciliosus Rusty-breasted Tit Parus davidi Yellow-bellied Tit Parus venustulus White-necklaced Tit Aegithalos fuliginosus White-browed Chinese Warbler Rhopophilus pekinensis Crested Tit-Warbler Leptopoecile elegans Gansu Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus kansuensis Chinese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus sichuanensis Hainan Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus hainanus Emei Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus emeiensis Plain Laughingthrush Garrulax davidi Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush Garrulax sukatschewi Barred Laughingthrush Garrulax lunulatus White-speckled Laughingthrush Garrulax bieti Giant Laughingthrush Garrulax maximus Elliot`s Laughingthrush Garrulax elliotii Omei Shan Liocichla Liocichla omeiensis Rufous-tailed Babbler Chrysomma poecilotis Tibetan Babax Babax koslowi Gold-fronted Fulvetta Alcippe variegaticeps Chinese Fulvetta Alcippe striaticollis Three-toed Parrotbill Paradoxornis paradoxus Spectacled Parrotbill Paradoxornis conspicillatus Grey-hooded Parrotbill Paradoxornis zappeyi Rusty-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis przewalskii Mongolian Accentor Prunella koslowi Sillem`s Mountain-Finch Leucosticte sillemi Pink-rumped Rosefinch Carpodacus eos Tibetan Rosefinch Carpodacus roborowskii Pink-tailed Bunting Urocynchramus pylzowi Slaty Bunting Latoucheornis siemsseni Tibetan Bunting Emberiza koslowi

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of China

John MacKinnon, Karen Phillipps & Dave Showler | Oxford University Press | 2000 | Paperback | 586 pages, 128 col plates, col maps |

ISBN: 0198549407

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of China

(Southeast China, including Shanghai) | By Liu Yang, Yong Ding Li & Yu Yat-tung | John Beaufoy Books | 2014 | Paperback | 176 pages, ~300 colour photos, 3 colour maps |

ISBN: 9781909612235

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Photographic Guide to the Birds of China

by Qu Liming | The Straits Publishing & Distribution Group | 2014 | Paperback | 544 pages, colour photos | Chinese Text Only |

ISBN: 9787806919408

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds in China

By Zhang Guangmei, Zhu Xiang & Pang Bingzhang | China Forestry Publishing House | 2002 | Hardback | 274 pages, 500+ colour photos |

ISBN: 7503830875

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of China and Tibet

By Paul Leader, Geoff Carey, Phil Round & Tim Worfolk | Christopher Helm | 2019 | 600 pages, 120 colour plates, maps |

ISBN: 9780713660326

Buy this book from NHBS.com

China Birds

(A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2017 | 12 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map |

ISBN: 9781620052754

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Pocket Photo Guide to the Birds of China

By John MacKinnon & Nigel Hicks | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2016 | Paperback | 144 pages, 300 colour photos, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781472932136

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

China Ornithological Society

Website

China Ornithological Society (COS) is a leading NGO working on ornithology and bird conservation in China. The aims of COS are to develop ornithology in China, set up a nation-wide network and promote international cooperation in research and conservation actions for the threatened species of birds living in the country…

International Crane Foundation

Website

ICF supports the work of the Crane and Waterbirds Specialist Group of the China Ornithological Society to promote crane research and the development of professional networks focusing on crane and wetland conservation in China. Through this effort, ICF supports the Small Grants Program for Crane Research to fund select field research projects and assists in the publication of the newsletter China Crane News…

Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China

Information

Spoon-billed Sandpiper in China © is an organization which protects Spoon-billed Sandpiper and other waterbirds on the Yellow Sea mudflats, the most crucial staging sites for migratory shorebirds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Established in 2008, the SBSC focuses on biodiversity conservation on the Jiangsu coast.

The China Coastal Waterbird Census Group (CCWCT)

Information

The China Coastal Waterbird Census Group (CCWCT) was established in 2005, training birdwatchers in bird identification and counting methods.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

List of protected areas of China

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protected_areas_of_China

This is a list of the nationally protected areas of China. There are many forms of protected areas in China. Based on their relative importance, each type of protected area can be further graded into two to three levels (national, provincial and prefectural/county level). Nevertheless, the highest rank for "pocket nature reserve" (social and mass-based), "no-hunting area", "no-fishing area", "no-logging area", "wild medicinal material resources conservation area", "crop germplasm resources conservation area", "forest tree germplasm resources conservation area" or "source water protection area" is practically restricted to provincial level. The local government at county level is also responsible for the delimitation and declaration of "basic farmland protection area" and "basic grassland".

Nature reserves in China

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Nature_reserves_in_China

List with hot links.

Wetlands

Webpage

China currently has 57 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 6,948,592 hectares.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Summer Wong Bird Tours

Tour Operator

Summer Wong Bird Tours specialises in China birding tours of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet & Eastern China...

Alpine Birding

Tour Operator

Birding trips here are made for avid birders including yearly-run trips and new China birding trips developed by AlpineBirding team and guided by our bird experts...

China Bird Tour

Tour Operator

In the recent years,I guided lots of birding groups in China and I think all clients much satisfied with my identify on birds and all other services…

China Birding Tour

Tour Operator

Offering a whole range of birding tours…

Parrotbill Nature Tours

Tour Operator

We are local Chinese. We came into contact birding tourism nearly 15 years. Up to 2016 we have been cooperating with more than 10 of the best birdwatching companies worldwide. Up to 2016, we have operated more than 150 tours involving more than 1200 birders from all over the world. In the last 5 years we have organised around 30 private tours involving more than 180 birders. We have earned lots of good feedback from clients

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2012 [09 September] - Jesper Hornskov - Beidaihe & Beijing

PDF Report

2013 [03 March] - Jesper Hornskov - Yunnan

PDF Report

Based mostly on my own field notes, this brief write-up covers the birds & mammals noted by A Bassett, D Heintz & myself during 12 days in Yunnan, China’s SW-most and biologically most diverse province…

2013 [04 April] - Jesper Hornskov

PDF Report

The pre-tour outings added 27 species to the 151 recorded in Manchuria; of these, 14 were seen only in Shanxi – for want of what else to do with them, and to make it easier for future travellers to decide if it might be worth their while to arrive early and/or extend their visit by a day or two, these are included…

2013 [04 April] - Jesper Hornskov

PDF Report

Wanting more than ‘just’ Manchuria, T Ford & I Robinson came out ten days ahead of our ‘Spotlighting for Jankowski’s’ trip and together we visited Beijing’s Wild Duck Lake, S Henan & NE-most Tibet (China’s Qinghai province) to catch up with some of China’s avian delights before being joined by B Dielissen & P van der Wielen for one last stop before Manchuria: Luliang Shan, Shanxi (home to Brown Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum and the soon-to-be-split lepidus Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus)…

2013 [05 May] - Mark Beaman

PDF Report

…Seeing so many shorebirds in breeding plumage was so marvellous, with Grey (or Black-bellied), Mongolian and Greater Sand Plovers, Spotted Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones, Red and Great Knots, Sanderlings, and Curlew Sandpipers stealing the limelight, although the more sophisticated, or perhaps perverse, found the likes of Pacific Golden Plover, Sharp-tailed and Broad-billed Sandpipers and Long-toed Stints especially handsome…

2013 [05 May] - Rod Standing

PDF Report

…Lifers of the trip for me were the undoubtedly the Sibes – Red-necked Stint, White’s Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat, Siberian Blue Robin, Swinhoe’s Robin and the various warblers (especially Eastern Crowned). Added to these were Eastern species such as Black Bittern, Brown Hawk Owl and Black-naped Oriole…

2013 [06 June] - Keith Barnes

PDF Report

We achieved both of these aims, including incredible views of all the endemic phasianidae that we attempted, and we also enjoyed the stunning scenery and culture that is on offer in Qinghai’s Tibet. Other major highlights on the Tibetan plateau included stellar views of breeding Pink-tailed Bunting (of the monotypic Chinese Tibetan-endemic family Urocynchramidae), great looks at Przevalski’s and Daurian Partridges, good views of the scarce Ala Shan Redstart, breeding Black-necked Crane, and a slew of wonderful waterbirds including many great looks at the iconic Bar-headed Goose and a hoarde of snow finches….

2013 [07 July] - Peter Collaerts

PDF Report

…A few Schrenck's Bitterns were flying over the reed beds and two Blunt-winged Warblers were hopping around in the reed…

2013 [11 November] - Hannu Jannes

PDF Report

…The more spectacular species recorded were Oriental Stork, Black-faced Spoonbill, Swan and Lesser White- fronted Geese (plus six other species of geese), Mandarin Duck (‘real’ ones!), Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal, the beautiful Scaly-sided Merganser, Pied Falconet, Silver Pheasant, the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, seven species of cranes (including Black-necked, Hooded, White-naped, Red-crowned, Sandhill and Siberian), Saunders’s, Mongolian, Siberian and Vega Gulls, Himalayan Owl, Siberian Accentor, Mugimaki Flycatcher….

2014 [11 November] - Hannu Jannes - China's Wetlands

PDF Report

...The more spectacular species recorded were Oriental Stork, Black-faced Spoonbill, Swan and Lesser Whitefronted Geese (plus five other species of geese), the rapidly declining Baer's Pochard, Mandarin Duck (‘real’ ones!), Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal , the beautiful Scaly-sided Merganser, Pied Falconet, Silver Pheasant, White-necklaced Partridge, the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, six species of cranes (including Black-necked, Hooded, White-naped, Red-crowned and Siberian), Saunders’s, Black-tailed, Mongolian, Siberian and Vega Gulls, Amur Falcon, Lesser Coucal, Siberian Accentor, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktails, Collared Finchbill, Chestnut Bulbul, Eye-browed, Pale, Naumann’s, Dusky, White's and Chinese Thrushes...

2015 [05 May] - Dion Hobcroft

PDF Report

Our tour was very successful with largely excellent weather, smooth logistics, good food, and some great sightings. We recorded 225 species of birds including several extremely rare species: Baer’s Pochard, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Crested Ibis, Siberian Crane, and Jankowski’s Bunting leading the charge.

2016 [05 May] - James Eaton - SE China

PDF Report

...Breeding appeared to have started early this year, with several birds feeding young, including a pair of Chestnutbellied Rock Thrush, though not a single Phylloscopus warbler was encountered in the forest with just Sulphurbreasted heard in the distance – amazing! Seciercus warblers were a little bit more conspicuous with Whitespectacled a common bird here, along with Chestnut-crowned....

2016 [06 June] - Roger & Louise McGovern - South China

PDF Report

As we walked around the area we picked up Spotted Turtle Dove, Crested Myna, Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul and Eurasian Tree Sparrow

2016 [09 September] - Per Stensland - Beijing & Shenzen

PDF Report

... In addition I had Dusky Warbler, Taiga Flycatcher, Chinese Grosbeak (picture below), Red-rumped Swallow, Azure-winged Magpie, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Little Grebe, Spotted Dove.....

2016 [10 October] - Rich Lindie

PDF Report

A few stops between the Lhasa airport and our hotel produced Ruddy Shelduck, Citrine Wagtail, Japanese Tit and both Pallas's and Brown-headed Gulls, followed by a stroll around our hotel gardens which added Grey-backed Shrike, Tibetan Blackbird, Oriental Turtle Dove and a handful of Hill Pigeons to the trip list. Dinner included Yak meat in several forms. …

2016 [11 November] - Hannu Jannes - Chinese Wetlands

PDF Report

...China’s winter wetlands and woodlands always turn up lots of great birds, and, as always, our journey through this fascinating, but rapidly modernizing, country proved to be a highly successful one. The more spectacular species recorded were Oriental Stork (photo above by Simon Colenutt), Black-faced Spoonbill, Swan Geese (plus five other species of geese), the rapidly declining Baer's Pochard, Mandarin Duck (‘real’ ones!), Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal, the beautiful Scaly-sided Merganser, Amur Falcon, Pied Falconet, the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, good numbers of Nordmann’s Greenshanks, seven species of cranes (including Black-necked, Sandhill, Hooded, White-naped, Red-crowned and Siberian), Saunders’s, Relict, Black-tailed, Mongolian and Siberian Gulls, Siberian Accentor, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Slaty-backed, Spotted and Whitecrowned Forktails, Collared Finchbill, Chestnut Bulbul....

2016 [12 December] - Zoothera Birding

PDF Report

...From here we visited Emei Feng, a stunning mountain where 7 Elliot’s Pheasants were the highlight, plus we had some views of Cabot’s Tragopan, and both Koklass & Silver Pheasants. We rounded off our tour at Fuzhou Forest Park and an extra day at Nanhui, close to Shanghai with Spotted Elachura, Asian Stubtail and great looks at a drake Baikal Teal...

2017 [02 February] - Gerjon Gelling - East China (Jiangsu, Henan, Jiangxi and Fujian)

PDF Report

...In all we recorded 231 species. Highlights were numerous, but encounters with Elliot's Pheasant, Red-crowned, White-naped, Siberian and Hooded Cranes and most of all Cabot's Tragopan and Reeve's Pheasant will be edged upon our memories forever! The quality of the sightings was very good for almost all of our targets. It was also great to finally tick birds that we'd either seen as dodgy vagrants (Falcated Duck and Daurian Jackdaw), or as feral birds in the Netherlands ("mutant" domesticated Swan Goose and Mandarin Duck; Ring-necked Pheasant for Roland). ..

2017 [02 February] - Peter Marsh- South-Eastern China (Wuyuan, Poyang Lake, and Wuning in Jiangxi Province and Donzheng Nature Reserve in Henan Province)

PDF Report

...The van would take us to the prime birding areas of Wuyuan (to look for Scaly-sided Merganser, Short-tailed Parrotbill and Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler)Poyang Hu (to look for four species of Crane, Oriental Stork, Swan Goose and other overwintering birds), Wuning (to look for Elliot’s Pheasant) and Dongzhai Nature reserve (to look for Reeves’s Pheasant)....

2017 [04 April] - Summer Wong - East China

Report

This is a private tour arranged by Michel and his friends. During the tour we changed the itinerary a little bit because in Wuyuan and Dongzhai we got our target species earlier than we planned so we saved 3 days in total, with the extra 3 days we went to Jiangle to look for Blyth’s Kingfisher, and went to Junfeng NNR to photograph Cabot’s Tragopan.

2017 [12 December] - Oscar Campbell & Mark Smiles

PDF Report

This trip report details a birding and tourism visit (in that order!) to Eastern China, travelling from Shanghai to Nancha ng (Po Yang Lake area) by car over the course of 14 days and then flying back to Shanghai. Birding sites visited were the Wuyuan a rea (2 days) , Emei Feng mountain (3 days) and Po Yang Lake (3 days); we also spent a few day s being tourists at Huangzhou city and Huangshan (Yellow M ount ain) and fitted in a little bit of Shanghai birding (1 ½ days) at either end. As relatively few trip reports are available from Ea stern China by birders not on a fully organized tour, we t hought it might be usefu l to outline our trip, a l t hough it was not strictly independent in the sense that we booked through a local agent and, in the end, had an excellent guide with us throughout. Birding was absolutely top - notch with highlights including views never to be matched of Cabot’s Tragopan (see above; four other gamebirds seen well), Scaly - sided Mergansers , many great Asian buntings , thrushes and forktails , plus three full days of cranes , geese and other waterfowl ( including three Baer’s Pochard !) at Po Yang , one of the world’s greatest wetlands for sure

2018 [05 May] - Dave Sargeant - Eastern China

Report

Given the itinerary, this provided an efficient way of connecting with a number of widely spaced specialities and endemics within a short time frame, so was strongly focussed on quality, not quantity. By necessity, a large amount of travel between sites was required, with several internal flights and many longish drives. Despite the complexity, the logistics went smoothly and the trip a great success. As expected, apart from the birds, China was memorable for its insipid beer and insane driving.

2018 [05 May] - James Eaton - East China

PDF Report

Eastern China has an astonishing set of high quality birds, and we were consistently thrilled across the 10 provinces we visited . A total of 318 species were recorded but more impressive is the list of mo uth - watering highlights , in chronological order ; Reed Parrotbill, Spoon - billed Sandpiper, Chinese Crested Tern, White - necklaced Partridge, Cabot’s Tragopan, Elliot’s Pheasant, Blue - crowned Laughingthrush, Short - tailed Parrotbill, Reeves’s Pheasant, Fairy P itta, Brown - chested Jungle Flycatcher, Crested Ibis, Brown Eared Pheasant, Jankowski’s Bunting, Oriental Stork, Zappey’s and Green - backed Flycatchers, Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch, Blunt - winged Warbler, Schren c k’s Bittern and Baer’s Pochar d.

Other Links

Birding Southeast China

Website

Hundreds of reserves, incredibly beautiful landscapes - Rich avifauna, still poorly-known in many areas...

Birds of China

Website

What's so great about a list of bird names? After all, the names that men give are just a pale reflection of the birds themselves. Well, bird-lovers may rejoice in biodiversity, but in matters linguistic they tend to use common or garden English as a lowest common denominator. So, in the interest of 'lingua-diversity', here it is: a list of bird species of China, with names in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian…

China Bird Watching Network

Website

Bird watching is becoming increasingly popular in China mainland. In the past couple of years, more and more bird watching societies have been formed. Learn more about these bird watching societies…

Shanghai Birding

Website

Birding news from Earth's largest city... with much information on China's special birds.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Alister Benn

Gallery

Bird Photography by myself and my wife Juanli. Juanli's galleries also include butterflies, flowers and spiders. The Beidaihe list is just species occuring in our home town…