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Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus ©Owen Chiang Website

The Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong lies on the southern coast of China close to the Tropic of Cancer. Its 1,070 sq kilometres are divided into four main areas - Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands.

Hong Kong's tropical climate, typified by the unpleasantly hot and humid summer months with the occasional typhoon thrown in for good measure, is influenced by the continental landmass to the north so that temperatures can occasionally fall as low as 5ºC in winter. Autumn is the most pleasant time of the year weather-wise, being usually relatively dry and clear, whereas spring can be unsettled - and from an ornithological perspective, the more unsettled the weather at this time of year, the better the bird watching tends to be.

Hong Kong's image as an intensely urbanised area is an accurate one yet roughly 40% of the territory is made up of country parks or special reserves, some of which contain excellent forest areas. The best of these is Tai Po Kau, an easily accessible reserve that offers excellent woodland birding. Sadly, however, many of the ecologically important sites in the territory are not found within the country park boundaries and the northern New Territories in particular, with its low-lying areas of fish ponds, vegetable farms and marshes, is earmarked for intensive development over the next few years. Fortunately the marshes and mudflats in the Deep Bay area, centred on the internationally renowned nature reserve at Mai Po, have been declared a Ramsar site and it is this area that is the main ornithological focus in the region.

Over 480 species of birds have been recorded in the territory. The vast majority of these are passage migrants and/or winter visitors and the best time to visit is from September to early May. Although Hong Kong lies within the Oriental region, it is perhaps most famous for the large numbers of eastern Palaearctic waders that occur on passage, especially in April, which is the main month for overseas birdwatchers to visit in search of such species as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Asian Dowitcher and Nordmann's Greenshank. The territory regularly attracts other Palaearctic species that are major rarities in Britain and North America. In fact approximately 80 species described in A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain and Europe (Lewington, Alström and Colston 1991) occur here.

Most accommodation is located on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. Although visiting birdwatchers will spend most of their time in the New Territories, this is no problem as the transport system is very efficient and access to the main birding sites is easy. For those wishing to be closer to the birding sites, there are two good hotels in Sha Tin in the southern New Territories and less luxurious, but perfectly adequate accommodation is available at Mai Po itself [Book in Advance].

Immediately to the north of the Hong Kong Semi-Autonomous Region is Guangdong Province. A number of sites in the province are accessible from Hong Kong provided the birdwatcher has a few days to spare. The best of these are Ba Bao Shan and Chebaling, both in the north of the province and both a day`s combined train ride and bus journey from Shenzhen, the Chinese city just over the border from Hong Kong. These sites have a number of enigmatic Oriental species not found in Hong Kong e.g. Cabot`s Tragopan and Silver Oriole (summer) at Ba Bao Shan, Blyth`s Kingfisher and the (very rare) White-eared Night Heron at Chebaling.

These and other sites in Guangdong, as well as the main sites in Hong Kong, are detailed in Where to Watch Birds and Other Wildlife in Hong Kong and Guangdong (Woodward and Carey, 1996). Birds of Hong Kong and South China (Viney and Phillipps, 1994) remains the essential field guide to the region. A new, very detailed account of the birds of Hong Kong, The Avifauna of Hong Kong (Carey et. al) is due out in the latter half of the year 2000.


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 529


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Useful Reading

* Field Guides & Bird Song

For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Asia as a whole - please see the Asia page of Fatbirder - for China wide fieldguides see the China page

A Field Guide to the Birds of China

John MacKinnon, Karen Phillipps (Illustrator); Dave Showler (Illustrator) Paperback - 600 pages (31 May, 2000) Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198549407

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Field Guide to the Birds of China

Xu Wei-shu, Zhao Zheng-kai, Zheng Guang-mei, Yan Chang-wei and Tan Yao-kuang 521 pages, 2346 col illus, 1253 col maps. Kingfisher Press 1996 ISBN: 9579923809

A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia

Craig Robson Hardcover - 504 pages ( 1 February, 2000) New Holland Publishers (UK)

ISBN: 1843307464

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Hong Kong and South China

Clive Viney, Karen Phillips and Lam Chiu Ying 255 pages, 91 col plates, b/w illus, 4 maps. Hong Kong Government Information Service 2005

ISBN: 9620204042

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Avifauna of Hong Kong

by G.J. Carey, M.L. Chalmers, D.A. Diskin, P.R. Kennerley, P.J. Leader, M.R. Leven, R.W. Lewthwaite, M.S. Melville, M. Turnbull, L. Young
Published by Hong Kong Bird Watching Society November 2001 - 564 pages - GBP ?34.50 or US $53 inc p&p

ISBN: 9627508020

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds and Other Wildlife in Hong Kong and Guangdong

Tim J Woodward and Geoff J Carey 197 pages, col photos, line illus, 30 maps. 1996

ISBN: 9628508415

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Hong Kong Birdwatching Society


Room 625, Beverley Commercial Building, 87-105 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. + 852 2377 4387 hkbws@hkbws.org.hk
Hong Kong is an excellent place to watch birds. It is famous for the large numbers of Eastern Palearctic waders that occur on passage, and the territory regularly attracts other species that are major rarities in Britain or North America. The HKBWS was founded in 1957, and is now an active and fast-growing society with a membership of around 400 from Hong Kong and overseas. It publishes a quarterly bulletin and an annual Bird Report. The society runs regular field outings in Hong Kong throughout the year, led by experienced locals and all members are welcome to join. Sometimes groups from the Society visit the People`s Republic of China and other places in the region on bird watching trips. Members participate in waterfowl counts throughout the year. The Society has also set up a project fund, through the funding, another hide off Mai Po boardwalk has built in 1996. The fund has also support updating work of the Annoated Checklist in Hong Kong and the set up of HKBWS China Conservation Fund.

World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong


Mai Po was not recognized as any form of protected area until 1976, when it was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In 1983, WWF HK began to take active management of the Reserve for environmental education and conservation. In 1995, 1,500 ha of wetlands around Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay were formally designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.


Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

Mai Po


Satellite View

The wetlands around the Mai Po Marshes and Inner Deep Bay in the northwestern corner of Hong Kong, have been known as a haven for migratory birds for many decades…

Mai Po Bird Sanctuary


Satellite View

This is the place to be if you are even remotely interested in birds. An oasis in the midst of urban sprawl of both Hong Kong's new territories and the adjacent Schenzen economic zone, this nature reserve is temporary home to many species of migratory birds…

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Hong Kong Ecotours

Tour Operator

…a range of tours to Hong Kong`s wild side…


Tour Operator

To most birdwatchers Hong Kong means two things: the reserve at Mai Po and shorebirds¯thousands of them. Since Hong Kong was handed back to the Chinese, nothing has really changed. Mai Po is still there and the shorebirds still come through in their teeming thousands, presenting as they always did the finest shorebird spectacle in the Palearctic…

Trip Reports

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


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.

2007 [April] - Hanno Stamm


Hong Kong had been quite high on my list for quite some time. Whilst I had been before, it had always been for work or Rugby, never any birding. It would also be an opportunity for my wife, Ha, to visit Hong Kong for the first time. Finally, I was on the market for some new camera equipment, and Hong Kong has a much wider selection than Vietnam…

2012 [March] - Paul Davis


…I spotted Masked Laughing Thrushes, Blue Whistling Thrush, Oriental Magpie Robins, Lemon-crested Cockatoos, Spotted Doves, Black-crowned Night Herons, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Chinese Bulbuls, Black-collared Starlings and Common Tailorbirds on every visit. There are also large groups of Eurasian Tree Sparrows looking for a friendly visitor to feed them and the ever present Black Kites are circling above…


John's Hong Kong Birding Blog


Mainly birding in Hong Kong with a few photos thrown in…

Other Links

Bird Names in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese


What's so great about a list of bird names? After all, the names that men give can never be more than just a pale reflection of the birds themselves. Well, bird-lovers may rejoice in bio-diversity, 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: the site where you`ll find hundreds of bird names in three East Asian languages. Happy birdwatching! Note: The scope of this site is limited to birds found in China (incl. Hongkong, Macau, and Taiwan); Japan, and Vietnam. As the site is still in development, information may be inaccurate or incomplete; any comments or corrections would be appreciated.

Hong Kong Birdwatching


Lying in the tropics, on migration routes for birds breeding from Japan west to Russia and north China, and boasting a range of habitats including the world-renowned Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve, Hong Kong is an excellent place for birdwatching. Here, you can find global rarities that are tough to see elsewhere, encounter stunning songbirds, watch seabirds blasted inshore by typhoons (yes, typhoons – birdwatchers do far sillier things than just lurk in bushes); and savour waterbirds thronging the mudflats of Mai Po.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Owen Chiang - Hong Kong Bird Photo Gallery


I start my bird photo record since Nov 2003. Nearly one year past and I'd setup this bird gallery finally…