Back in June 2014, on the Old Erlang Road in Sichuan, China, Craig Brelsford, executive editor of, photographed a female Firethroat Calliope pectardens, one of the least-known chats in the world. The Firethroat is shy, the female particularly so, and photos of the female are rare.

Calliope pectardens

The photos Craig took add to the world’s understanding of Firethroat. There is an intriguing amount of slaty-blue coloration in Craig’s bird, and whether that amount is normal is not fully understood. It is however clearly an adult female Firethroat and not a first-summer male, as a first-summer male would have white flashes at the base of the tail.

Firethroat breeds in the mountains of central China, as well as in southeastern Tibet and adjacent Arunachal Pradesh, India. The non-breeding range is poorly understood. There are records of Firethroat from Bangladesh, northeastern India, northern Burma, and northern Thailand. Old Erlang Road is in central Sichuan, the heart of Firethroat’s breeding range.

Read his full account here