People’s Republic of China

Hodgson's Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni) ©Craig Brelsford 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.

This page is sponsored by Alpine Birding

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.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 1314

    (As at April 2020)

    National Bird: Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis

  • Number of endemics: 58

    18 Non-Passerines
    Sichuan Partridge Arborophila rufipectus, White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica, Hainan Partridge Arborophila ardens, Hainan Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron katsumatae, Przevalski’s Partridge Alectoris magna, Chinese Monal Lophophorus lhuysii, Verreaux’s Partridge Tetraogallus obscurus, Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti, Reeves’s Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii, Elliot’s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti, Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus, White Eared-Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon, Brown Eared-Pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum, Blue Eared-Pheasant Crossoptilon auritum, Severtzov’s Grouse Tetrastes sewerzowi, Vaurie’s Nightjar Caprimulgus centralasicus, Pere David’s Owl Strix davidi, Chinese Barbet Psilopogon faber

    40 Passerines
    Sichuan Jay Perisoreus internigrans, Xinjiang Ground-Jay Podoces biddulphi, Yellow-bellied Tit Periparus venustulus, White-browed Tit Poecile superciliosus, Pere David’s Tit Poecile davidi, Gansu Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus kansuensis, Emei Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus emeiensis, Hartert’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus goodsoni, Hainan Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus hainanus, Crested Tit-Warbler Leptopoecile elegans, Silver-throated Tit Aegithalos glaucogularis, Sooty Tit Aegithalos fuliginosus, Rufous-tailed Babbler Chrysomma poecilotis, Chinese Fulvetta Alcippe striaticollis, Tarim Babbler Rhopophilus albosuperciliaris, Three-toed Parrotbill Paradoxornis paradoxus, Spectacled Parrotbill Paradoxornis conspicillatus, Grey-hooded Parrotbill Paradoxornis zappeyi, Rusty-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis przewalskii, Grey-sided Scimitar-babbler Megapornatorhinus swinhoei, Gold-fronted Fulvetta Alcippe variegaticeps, Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush Garrulax sukatschewi, Barred Laughingthrush Garrulax lunulatus, Biet’s Laughingthrush Garrulax bieti, Giant Laughingthrush Garrulax maximus, Blue-crowned Laughingthrush Ianthrocincla courtoisi, Pere David’s Laughingthrush Ianthrocincla davide, Tibetan Babax Ianthrocincla koslowi, Elliot’s Laughingthrush Trochalopteron elliotii, Grey-faced Liocichla Liocichla omeiensis, Przevalski’s Nuthatch Sitta przewalskii, Yunnan Nuthatch Sitta yunnanensis, Sichuan Treecreeper Certhia tianquanensis, Chinese Shortwing Brachypteryx sinensis, Ala Shan Redstart Phoenicurus alaschanicus, Przevalski’s Pinktail Urocynchramus pylzowi, Tibetan Rosefinch Carpodacus roborowskii, Sillem’s Rosefinch Leucosticte sillemi, Tibetan Bunting Emberiza koslowi, Slaty Bunting Latoucheornis siemsseni

  • 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

    | By John MacKinnon, Karen Phillipps & Dave Showler | Oxford University Press | 2000 | Paperback | 586 pages, 128 colour plates, colour maps | ISBN: 9780198549406 Buy this book from
  • 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
  • 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
  • Birds in China

    | By Zhang Guangmei, Zhu Xiang & Pang Bingzhang | China Forestry Publishing House | 2002 | Hardback | 274 pages, 500+ colour photos | ISBN: 9787503830877 Buy this book from
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • China Ornithological Society

    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

    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

    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)

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

Abbreviations Key

  • List of protected areas of China

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    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

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    List with hot links.
  • Wetlands

    WebpageSatellite View
    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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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) Bulbuland 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 [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 andReeve's Pheasant will be edged upon our memories forever! The quality of the sightings was verygood for almost all of our targets. It was also great to finally tick birds that we'd either seen as dodgyvagrants (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 birdingareas of Wuyuan (to look for Scaly-sided Merganser, Short-tailed Parrotbill and Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler)PoyangHu (to look for four species of Crane, Oriental Stork, Swan Goose and other overwintering birds), Wuning (to look forElliot’s Pheasant) and Dongzhai Nature reserve (to look for Reeves’s Pheasant)....
  • 2017 [04 April] - Summer Wong - East China

    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 [05 May] - Hannu Jännes - Eastern China

    PDF Report
    Birdquest’s Eastern China tour, an epic 25 day journey across much of eastern China, focusses on an array of rare Chinese endemics and migrants, and this year’s tour once again proved a great success.
  • 2017 [12 December] - Oscar Campbell & Mark Smiles

    PDF Report
    This trip report details abirding and tourismvisit(in that order!) to Eastern China,travelling from Shanghai to Nanchang (Po Yang Lakearea) by car over the course of 14days and then flying back to Shanghai. Birdingsites visited were the Wuyuanarea(2 days), Emei Fengmountain (3 days)and Po YangLake(3 days); we also spent a few days being tourists at Huangzhoucityand Huangshan(Yellow Mountain) and fitted in a little bitof Shanghaibirding(1 ½ days)at either end.As relatively few trip reports are available from Eastern China by birders not on afullyorganized tour,we thoughtit might be useful to outline our trip, althoughit 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 includingviewsnever to be matched of Cabot’s Tragopan(see above;four other gamebirdsseen well), Scaly-sided Mergansers, many great Asian buntings, thrushesand 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

    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.
  • 2019 [11 November] - Colin Bradshaw

    PDF Report
    The spectacle of huge numbers of shorebirds was spiced by 15 Spoon-billed Sandpipers, 5 Blackfaced Spoonbills and 10 Nordmann’s Greenshank.
  • 2021 [07 July] - Michael W

    PDF Report
    This is a summary of a trip to Dali, Yunnan during which I took daily trips to different birding sites and found 76 species of birds. I hope that this kind of trip report can fill a gap for those who aren’t able (because of cost or time) to join a professional birding tour, but who want to explore accessible birding areas on their own.
  • 2021 [10 October] - Michael W

    PDF Report
    Having recently made a trip to Beihai city in Guangxi, I wanted to post some basic information about the hawk watch and birding in the city to expand some of the information available in English for those wanting to bird in this area.
Other Links
  • Birding Southeast China

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

    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

    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

    Birding news from Earth's largest city... with much information on China's special birds.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Alister Benn

    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

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