Landlocked Sichuan Province has long been one of the most popular Chinese destinations for overseas birders. Although the basin around the provincial capital, Chengdu, is polluted and heavily built-up, the mountains at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau are only a few hours drive to the west. Here there are species that would be familiar to those who have birded elsewhere in the Himalayas, as well as many of China’s fifty-or-so endemic bird species. Clear blue skies, snowcapped mountains and ethnic Tibetan culture all add to the excitement of a visit.
The bird tour companies began exploratory trips to Sichuan in the 1980s. Twenty years on, a typical three-week programme has evolved into visits to isolated peaks such as Emei Shan and Wawu Shan, a visit to Wolong/Balangshan, a visit to the Tibetan Plateau through Rouergai and on to scenically outstanding Jiuzhaigou.
Emei Shan ('Shan' is mountain in Chinese) has a well-developed tourist infrastructure. There are plenty of places to stay at different levels of the mountain. Fit and keen birders can walk from the base (around 600m) to the summit at 3,000m, or descend the many stone steps. Emei can also be tackled by birding around different levels, for example near mid-level Wannian Temple (cable car access to 1,020m) or from Leidongping/Jieyin Hall beneath the summit (at the end of the road at 2,500m).
Wawu Shan is about three hours drive southwest from Leidongping at Emei. Wawu is famous as the place of discovery of Sichuan Treecreeper. It has a remarkable summit plateau habitat of bamboo beneath fir trees, although it is very wet and misty in May and June. No fewer than eight species of parrotbill have been seen at Wawu Shan. It is probably easier to see Grey-hooded Parrotbill and Emei Liochichla here than at Emei Shan.
Wolong was close to the epicentre of the (2008) earthquake, and there was loss of life at both the Panda Research Centre and at Shawan village.
The road from Wolong westwards over Balangshan pass provides access to good habitat up to an elevation of 4,700m. Chinese Monal, White Eared Pheasant and Grandala are among the many special birds recorded near the road.
The Tibetan Grasslands near Rouergai are home to different birds, such as Hume’s Ground Tit, Tibetan Lark and (in summer) breeding Black-necked Cranes.
Jiuzhaigou is a famous, scenically beautiful and hugely popular National Nature Reserve (NNR), still open for business year-round. It is located in the Min Shan, an area with many Chinese endemics. Sought-after birds here include Sooty Tit, Spectacled Parrotbill, Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush and Rufous-headed Robin. These birds may also been seen at the less-visited Wanglang National Nature Reserve, which has a common border with Jiuzhaigou. Tangjiahe NNR, a good site to see mammals such as Takin, as well as endemic Golden Pheasant and Slaty Bunting nearby.
Although the earthquake affected a vast area at the centre of commonly-birded areas of Sichuan, it should be remembered that Sichuan is a huge province with many new site discoveries to be made. These days there are local Chinese birdwatching groups such as the Chengdu Birdwatching Society and Mianyang Bird Society who are exploring the many ornithologically little-known corners of the province.
John & Jemi Holmes
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 776
(As at August 2018)
Number of endemics: 2
Sichuan Hill Partridge Arborophila rufipectus & Sichuan Treecreeper Certhia tianquanensis
The Colour Handbook of the Birds of Sichuan
By Li Guiyuan | China Forestry Publishing House | 1995 | Hardback | 349 pages, Colour illustrations |
ISBN: 7503811692Buy this book from NHBS.com
IBA Mount Emei
Visitors to Mount Emei will likely see dozens of Tibetan macaques who can often be viewed taking food from tourists. Local merchants sell nuts for tourists to feed the monkeys.
Biodiversity is very rich in the Reserve. Tall arbors and shrubs, vines, herbs and moss constitute a harmonious picture…
More than just spectacular scenery, Jiuzhai Valley National Park is home to nine Tibetan villages, over 220 bird species as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, Sichuan golden monkey, the Sichuan takin and numerous orchids and rhododendrons...
Some of the birding highlights include crested kingfisher, Gould’s sunbird, spectacled parrotbill, golden-breast fulvetta and even Temminck’s tragopan. In addition to this fantastic wildlife, Tangjiahe is also complemented by its scenery of lush forests, valleys and vegetated hillsides.
There are 62 kinds of animals, including such first class national protected animals as giant pandas, golden monkeys and takins, etc.; 152 kinds of birds and fowls, including blue eared pheasants, Chinese monals and wall creepers, etc.; 615 kinds of plants, including such rare flowers and valuable traditional Chinese medicinal materials as spruces, cypripedium calceolus, rhododendrons, gastrodia elates and toadstools, etc.
Guides & Tour Operators
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 in the best
Birding and mammal tours for individuals and groups over the whole of China email@example.com
China Birding Tour
China Birding is a travel company based in China, Chengdu and Tibet.We do tailor made itineraries for any bird watchers who have an interest in the birds of China: Qinghaai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet. We have the experience. We can do tour arrangements for individuals or for for birding travel companys visiting China. We can arrange all your hotels, travel and guiding…
Parrotbill Nature Tours
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
Summer Wong Bird Tours
Summer Wong Bird Tours specialises in China birding tours of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet & Eastern China...
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.
2009 [06 June] - Keith Barnes
This was our most successful ever Sichuan trip to date, finishing off with 307 bird species for the tour, including almost all of the major Central Chinese specialties, but it was also one of the toughest. We had to deal with some major obstacles and challenges to travelling through this, simply one of the most beautiful and spectacular parts of the world! Most of the participants had been to Bhutan, in it’s own right gobsmackingly gorgeous, and all had to admit that while Bhutan was more interesting culturally, Sichuan took the cake for physical beauty…
2010 [05 May] - Henk Hendriks
…The hillside behind the deserted Wolong Grand Hotel is sometimes referred to as Sawan. The specialties are Golden Pheasant and Slaty Bunting but a nice selection of more common species can also be observed in the general area…
2010 [06 June] - Keith Barnes
The breathtaking Blue-eared Pheasant standing in the open for everyone on one of the last days of the tour was an undoubted highlight; while others may say that the sheer numbers of the rare and reclusive Lady Amherst's Pheasants seen several times earlier in the tour were much better. We recorded 13 species of Phasianidae on this tour including eight pheasants! We also had some luck with rarer non-endemic species, such as the incredible Saker Falcon that we found with chicks at a nest! Another major favourite was the regal Black- necked Cranes, we saw 17 of these elegant birds foraging unconcernedly near the side of the road, and were able to watch them at our leisure…
2010 [06 June] - Sam Woods
Not only did we do well in terms of pheasant species, but the views were spectacular of almost all of them, from the male Golden Pheasant that lingered on an open trail at Wuyipeng, to the flurry of nine Lady Amherst’s Pheasants that were seen during one incredible day, gracing the road up Wawu Shan’s quiet mountain road, to the male Temminck’s Tragopan that used an open breeze block by the road up Wawu as a calling post in the early morning mist, allowing us to admire his intricate patterning through our well-trained scope! As if that was not enough we should also mention the surprise Silver Pheasant that shocked us near the base of Emei Shan early on the tour; and we should not forget the pair of Chinese Monals feeding quietly in a flower-sprinkled alpine meadow up on Balang Shan; or the marvelous pair of Blue Eared-Pheasants that showed up in the spruce- cloaked slopes of Baxi…
2013 [06 June] - Frank Lambert
…We all heard the endangered Sichuan Partridge, but despite numerous attempts to see one, only Jan managed to get a view of this elusive species through the understorey as it scuttled past us. Another bird briefly seen by a couple of people was Temminck’s Tragopan, two of which we flushed from a tree along one of the trails….
2013 [06 June] - Hannu Jannes
…The winner of the bird-of-the-trip vote was, by a large margin, the incredible Chinese Monal, which we saw extremely well in Wolong, followed by the splendid Golden Pheasant, the amazingly confiding Verreaux's Monal Partridge and Temminck's Tragopan….
2014 [06 June] - Craig Brelsford - Sichuan & Yunnan
...On the Old Erlang Road in Sichuan, spotting, waiting out, and finally photographing a rare female Firethroat, as well as photographing and sound-recording a male...
2014 [08 August] - Petri Hottola - Balang Shan & Emei Shan
...Between 1st and 7th July, 2014, I finally had a chance to visit Sichuan, albeit briefly, with a focus on two sites: Balang Shan (2.000-4.600 m) and Emei Shan (1.000-3.100m). The short duration of the stay was intentional. It was a part of a private RTW tour designed to cross the 7.000 species limit...
2014 [08 August] - Sjef Ollers
In Tangjiahe Nature Reserve in Sichuan white -‐ maned serow, Chinese goral and tufted deer could be added to the list. Birds had to take the back seat on this tour but we still managed to see favourites such as Prz e walksi’s p inktail, Ala Shan r edstart, Kozlow’s b unting, Roborowski’s rosefinch, Pallas’s s andgrouse, black -‐ necked crane and Kozlow’s Babax. A major dip was Tibetan Sandgrouse.
2015 [05 May] - Pete Morris - Sichuan & Northern Yunnan
Our long run of tours to Sichuan continued with another highly successful visit to what is â€˜the heart of Chinaâ€™. As with the previous visit, we tagged on a visit to Yunnan which added a number of additional localized species, and amongst the 350+ species recorded were a vast majority of the specialities on offer
2015 [05 May] - Summer Wong
After tour Carsten wrote: Thanks for all the nice pictures. Blackthorn, Temminck’s Tragopan and Tawny Fish Owl were among the stars on our trip but I was also impressed by the large number of leaf and bush warblers we saw thanks to your impressive collection of calls!
2015 [06 June] - James Eaton - Sichuan & Shaanxi
The vast area covered by China is a major birding destinations packed with endemics and localised specialities, but also offering large and diverse species lists. Top among all of these is Sichuan, where stunning scenery, exciting cuisine and magic birding combine into one of Asiaâ€™s top birding destinations.
2016 [04 April] - Richard Webb
2016 [05 May] - Glen Valentine & David Hoddinott - Sichuan & Yunnan
406 species recorded, the following were just some of the most memorable and desirable species seen: Tibetan and Snow Partridges; Tibetan Snowcock; Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge; the spectacular Temminck’s Tragopan; Chinese Monal; White Eared, Blue Eared, Blood, Golden and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants; dancing Black-necked Cranes; the rarely seen Solitary Snipe; sky-pointing Eurasian Bittern...
2016 [06 June] - Mike Nelson
With newly described species like Sichuan Bush Warbler and Sichuan Forest Thrush the list of big hitters keeps getting better. We racked up 13 gallinacious birds, fourteen corvids including close views of Sichuan Jay, 11 tits, 27 assorted warblers plus a supporting cast of laughingthrushes, bushtits, robins, flycatchers, redstarts and fulvettas.
2016 [10 October] - Stefan Lithner
...Here we eventually managed to call for a collared scops-owl until it came almost up to us. We also heard Northern boobook owl, but circumstances did not allow us to see it. During our walk we also found a seriously injured serpent in the gutter, likely hit by a vehicle. It was photographed and retrospectively identified as brown spotted viper (Protobothrops mucrosquamatus)....
2017 [04 April] - North Thailand Birding
...The excellent breakfast spread available by 06:00, is not to be missed, especially as included in the price. Collected by Sid at 07:00 and set off toward the Tibetan Plateau. A total change in the weather with overcast conditions and rain - much more the usual Sichuan weather. An all day drive to Baxi, with some roadside scans north of Songpan for Blue Eared Pheasant, of which several successfully located....
2017 [06 June] - Craig Robson
...Some of the numerous highlig hts , amongst the nearl y 350 species recorded, were 15 species of Galliform, including Temminck’s Tragopan, Chinese Monal, White Eared, Blue Eared, Golden and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants, Black - necked Crane, Black - tailed Crake, Saker Falcon, Collared Crow, Fir e - capped, White - browed, Pere David’s, Black - bibbed, Sichuan, and Ground Tits, Tibetan Lark, Chinese Wren - babbler (or Cupwing), Sooty Bushtit, White - browed and Crested Tit - Warblers, 23 species of Phylloscopus and Seicercus warblers, 36 species of babbler...
2017 [06 June] - Glen Valentine
The provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan certainly offer some of the best birding in all of China and , quite simply , in Asia as a whole . Rockjumper’s 2017 comprehensive Sichuan birding tour and pre - tour extension of Yunnan was , as 2016’s trip , a mammoth success. Birding our way through the picturesque mountains and landscapes of these two very interesting provinces was an absolute pleasure.
2017 [06 June] - Mike Nelson
...bamboo forests of the south we racked up 292 species, with fourteen Phasianids seen including half an hour with a glowing male Temmi nck’s Tragopan, eight Lady Amherst ’s Pheasants seen and seven sightings of Severt z ov’s Grouse...
2017 [06 June] - Sam Woods
Sic huan is often the first reg ion of China b ird ers c hoose to visit; and it not hard to see why. Many reg ional end emic s are present and some standout families like pheasants , parrotbills , and recently too, a key monotypic family, Przevalski’s Rosefinch . This is complemented by the fascinating Sichuan cuisine, and a starkly different culture to much of the world.
2017 [06 June] - Summer Wong
...Grey-capped Greenfinches very active and in big number, Chinese Pond Heron, Black-capped Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret flying across above head. Red-billed Liothrix went crazy to the owlet call, 2 Rufous-capped Babblers came with a few Japanese White-eye and a pair of Collared Finchbill. When we were watching at a small group of Vinous-throated Parrotbill on a open flowering land a pair of Chinese Bamboo Partridges walking alone the edge of bamboo...
2017 [07 July] - Birthe Rasmussen
...ending with birding in Sichuan province of China between 5 th – 25 th July 2017 by a group of four Danish birdwatchers...
2017 [11 November] - Tim Melling
Our roadside coffee stop produced an impressive list : Daurian Redstart, Ye llow - browed Tit, Ashy - throated Warbler, Black - chinned Yuhina, Pygmy Wren - b abbler, Grey - sided Bush Warbler, Grey - winged Blackbird, Rufous - faced Warbler, Red - billed Le i othrix and Oriental Greenfinch. A little further on another stop produced Collared Finchbi ll, Rufous - capped Babbler and White - browed Laughingthrush.
2018 [04 April] - Mark Smiles - Beijing, Shaanxi & Sicuan
This was a trip with my wife aimed at visiting the main Chinese cultural sites and a return to Sichuan, a province I’d had a taste of in May 2015 when I visited with t wo birding friends from the UAE. Although a little early for most of the returning migrants (most of which I’d previously seen in 2015 ), the timing of this trip proved very successful for certain species (esp ecially pheasants & tit - warblers) which become trickier late on.
2018 [04 April] - Summer Wong
...After around 5 hours drive, just before Foping town, we had one stop on the roadside on a slope we got Grey-capped Greenfinches, 2 Vinous-throated Parrotbills, 2 Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Darian Redstart, Collared Finchbill, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler, a male Yellow-throated Bunting, Brown-breasted Bulbuls. Red-billed Blue Magpie, Common Magpie and Large-billed Crow are common all alone the road....
2018 [06 June] - Graham Talbot
...in the end the consensus was to go to Longcanggou in the hope of seeing Streaked Barwing, which was the last one they both needed to complete the “Barwing set”. The area was also good for Lady Amherst’s Pheasant and, as I had only seen the dodgy introduced ones in the UK, it suited me as well...
Sid & Meggie Francis - Sichuan Birds
We're a Chinese/ British couple who have a passionate interest in the exiting nature and countryside that's found in the Chinese province of Sichuan. This blog is intended as a guide for those wishing to visit…
Birding In Sichuan Province
...There are 146 animal species under national key protection here. The province is also a paradise for birds due to the excellent environment. According to investigates, it has recorded 710 bird species...