Beijing Municipality

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia ©Alister Benn Website
Birding Beijing

Strictly speaking Beijing is not a province but a municipality but it has the same political status as a province.

Beijing is a metropolis in northern China and the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is one of the four municipalities of the PRC, which are equivalent to provinces in China’s administrative structure. The municipality of Beijing borders Hebei Province to the north, west, south, and for a small section in the east, and Tianjin Municipality to the southeast. Beijing is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.Beijing is China’s second largest city, after Shanghai. Beijing is a major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and motorways passing through the city. It is also the focal point of many international flights to China. Beijing is recognised as the political, educational, and cultural center of the People’s Republic of China, while Shanghai and Hong Kong predominate in economic fields. The city hosted the 2008 Olympic Games. Few cities in the world besides Beijing have served as the political and cultural centre of an area as immense as China for so long. The Encyclopædia Britannica describes it as, ‘One of the world’s great cities,’ and declares that the city has been an integral part of China’s history for centuries, and there is scarcely a major building of any age in Beijing that doesn’t have at least some national historical significance. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have long made the city a centre of culture and art in China.

Beijing is situated at the northern tip of the roughly triangular North China Plain, which opens to the south and east of the city. Mountains to the north, northwest and west shield the city and northern China’s agricultural heartland from the encroaching desert steppes. The northwestern part of the municipality, especially Yanqing County and Huairou District, are dominated by the Jundu Mountains, while the western part of the municipality is framed by the Xishan Mountains. The Great Wall of China, which stretches across the northern part of Beijing Municipality, made use of this rugged topography to defend against nomadic incursions from the steppes. Mount Dongling in the Xishan ranges and on the border with Hebei is the municipality’s highest point, with an altitude of 2303 m. Major rivers flowing through the municipality include the Yongding River and the Chaobai River, part of the Hai River system, and flow in a southerly direction. Beijing is also the northern terminus of the Grand Canal of China which was built across the North China Plain to Hangzhou. Miyun Reservoir, built on the upper reaches of the Chaobai River, is Beijing’s largest reservoir, and crucial to its water supply.The urban area of Beijing is situated in the south-central part of the municipality and occupies a small but expanding part of the municipality’s area. It spreads out in bands of concentric ring roads, of which the fifth and outermost, the Sixth Ring Road (the numbering starts at 2), passes through several satellite towns. Tian’anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) and Tian’anmen Square are at the centre of Beijing, and are directly to the south of the Forbidden City, former residence of the emperors of China. To the west of Tian’anmen is Zhongnanhai, residence of the paramount leaders of the People’s Republic of China. Running through central Beijing from east to west is Chang’an Avenue, one of Beijing’s main thoroughfares.

The city’s climate is a monsoon-influenced humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dwa), characterised by hot, humid summers due to the East Asian monsoon, and generally cold, windy, dry winters that reflect the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone. Average temperatures in January are at around 1 °C (33°F), while average temperatures in July are around 30°C (87 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded was 42 °C and the lowest recorded was -27 °C. In 2005, the total precipitation was 410.77 mm; the majority of it occurred in the summer

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Useful Reading

  • Atlas of Common Wild Birds: Beijing Area

    By Li Qiang | China Machnie Press | 2014 | Paperback | 372 pages, 700 colour illustrations | Chinese Text | ISBN: 9787111438168 Buy this book from
  • Beijing Bird Watching Society

    Beijing Bird Watching Society (BBWS) (in preparation) was founded by active and keen birdwatchers in Beijing. It is committed to forming bird watching groups in Beijing and promoting local bird watching activities. A number of members of BBWS have a professional background on ornithology, ecology, environmental conservation or education….
  • Beijing Birdwatching Society

    Welcome to Birding Beijing, a website dedicated to celebrating the birds of China’s capital city. It is often a surprise, even to Beijingers, that more than 450 species of bird have been recorded in the Municipality, making Beijing one of the best birding capital cities in the world.

Abbreviations Key

  • NR Songshan

    InformationSatellite View
    Covering an area of 4,660 hectares, the Reserve mainly protects natural Chinese pine trees…
Guides & Tour Operators
  • 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 in the best
Trip Reports
  • 2012 [09 September] - Jesper Hornskov

    PDF Report
    Based on my own field notes, this brief write-up covers the birds noted at Beidaihe & Beijing by M Neale & myself during an add-on to a work visit to China’s capital – the add-on was planned to make the most of the time available, drawing on general experience garnered over the years & inspired in particular by three highly enjoyable visits in autumns 2011 & 2012
  • 2013 [04 April] - Jesper Hornskov

    PDF Report
    Annotated List…
  • 2013 [08 August] - Jesper Hornskov

    PDF Report
    Annotated list…
  • 2018 [01 January] - Oscar Campbell

    PDF Report
    This short trip report outlines a winter visit to the greater Beijing area, with three full days in the city(mainly sight-seeing) and almost three days visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu. In addition, a day trip wasmade to Lingshan mountain. Despite the limited birding time, cold conditions and rather limited bird list (58species seen in all), quality was excellent and this report will hopefully help others visiting Beijing as atourist or on business for a few days.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Mark Smiles - Beijing, Shaanxi & Sichuan

    PDF Report
    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.
  • Birding Beijing

    I am a British birder living and working in Beijing from August 2010. Through this blog I hope to be able to convey a sense of the birding in and around China’s vibrant capital city. Although most of the time I will be based in Beijing, I plan to travel around as much as I can, especially in autumn and spring. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it…

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