Yunnan Province

Fire-tailed Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura ©Craig Brelsford Website
Birding Yunnan

Yunnan Province is a huge and colourful province that borders Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Tibet. It also has international borders with Burma, Laos and Vietnam. The provincial capital is Kunming which lies at an elevation of 1,800m and is known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’.From the snowclad 6,000m peaks of Meilixue Shan in the northwest to the jungles of Xishuangbanna in the south, Yunnan boasts every kind of habitat, and the longest provincial birdlist in China with 800+ species.Where do you start in a place this size? The Western Hills, or Xishan, near Kunming, are a popular area for the capital’s daytrippers, and the woods support a number of interesting species, including Rosy Minivet, Godlewski’s Bunting, Black-throated Tit, and Spectacled Fulvetta. Three hours’ bus ride further west, near the city of Chuxiong, the scenic area of Zixi Shan (Purple Stream Mountain) has similar and less-disturbed habitat than the Western Hills with Collared Grosbeak, Chinese Thrush and Yunnan Nuthatch.Cultural tourists head for the ancient city of Dali, which lies at the base of a fifty kilometre line of 4000m high peaks – Cang Shan – the Azure mountains. These slopes support Blood Pheasants near the top, Lady Amherst’s Pheasants in the middle, and Common Pheasants near the bottom. High above Dali the ‘Cloudy Tourist Walk’ at a height of 2,500m provides great views as well as the chance to see Nutcracker, Brown Parrotbill and Chinese Babax, among others. The well-worn tourist circuit leads north to the World Heritage Site of Lijiang, with birding opportunities at Black Dragon Pool Park at the outskirts of town, and Lashi Hai, a wetland 25 kms distant.

Further west, Gaoligong Shan, on the west side of the Salween river, is an area where a spur of the Himalayas reaches toward the wet jungles of southeast asia. Here there are birds in common with the mountains of northeast India, such as Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Red-faced Liochichla, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Ward’s Trogon.Black-necked Crane breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and the eastern population winters in northern Yunnan Province. The cranes may be seen in winter in northwest Yunnan at Napahai near Zhongdian/”Shangri-la”, and in northeast Yunnan near Zhaotong at Dashanbao National Nature Reserve (a brisk and breezy 3,000m elevation) and at Huize, a provincial nature reserve, as well at several other sites.

This page is sponsored by Alpine Birding

Top Sites
  • NR Lashihai-Wenhai Watershed

    InformationSatellite View
    Discover the Lashihai/Wenhai Watershed reserve at an elevation of 2500 meters, Lashi Lake (half an hour from Lijiang) is the largest highland lake in Lijiang County, and an important habitat for over 57 species of migratory birds - including protected species such as the black-necked crane, whooper swan and black stork.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 988

    (As at April 2020)
  • Howver, there is one 'breeding' endemic - i.e. it breeds nowhere else but ranges elsewhere in winter: Chinese Leaf Warbler Abrornis yunnanensis
Useful Reading

  • Birds in Yunnan

    | By Ji Weizhi | China Forestry Publishing House | 2006 | Hardback | 287 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9787503843907 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Baima Snow Mountain

    | By Ge Ma Jiangchu | Huayu Nature Book Trade Co.Ltd | 2014 | Hardback | 364 pages, colour photos | Text Chinese/Tibetan | ISBN: 9787541680489 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Hong Kong and South China

    | By Clive Viney, Karen Phillips & Lam Chiu Ying | Hong Kong Government Information Service | 2005 | Paperback | 255 pages, 91 colour plates, b/w illustrations, 4 maps | ISBN: 9789620204043 Buy this book from
  • Kunming Birdwatching Association

    Kunming Birdwatching Association (KBA) is managed by Kunming Association for Science and Technology (KAST), and is a community-based organization which aims to protect and to conduct research on birds
  • Xishuangbanna Wildbird Society

    Xishuangbanna Wildbird Society (XWS) which depends on the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve is a legally registered society which cares for birds and their habitats in the largest rainforest in mainland China. XWS aims at spreading the idea of wild bird conservation through promoting birdwatching in rainforest. It also promote ecotourism which really stresses on the rainforest, birds and other wildlife. Hope that XWS can cooperate with other birdwatching societies and birdwatchers to conserve the birds in this largest primary rainforest

Abbreviations Key

  • NNR Dashanbao

    InformationSatellite View
    The reserve has been set up to protect a total area of 19,200 hectares of plateau marshland at altitudes between 2,200 and 3,300 meters that provide winter habitat for the Black-necked crane. The reserve has been designated as a Ramsar site since 2004.
  • NNR Gaoligong Mountain

    InformationSatellite View
    There are more than 300 species of birds such as silver pheasants, golden pheasants, peacocks, sunbirds and various Garrulax canorus…
  • NNR Xishuangbanna

    InformationSatellite View
    The Reserve boasts 539 species of terrestrial vertebrate which accounts for 25% of the total in China, 429 species of birds, 36% of the total, 47 species of amphibians, 68 species of reptiles and 100 species of fish…
  • NR Lashihai Wetland

    InformationSatellite View
    At the turn of each autumn and winter, thousands of water fowls migrate afar from the north, among which there are some of national protected birds, such as Black Storks, Black Neck Cranes, Chinese Mergansers, etc. as well as great numbers of ordinary water birds like Ruddy Shelducks and Mandarin Ducks and so on. According to the records, the quantity of bird species in the area of Lashihai wetland each year amounts to 25,000 ~ 30,000, the Anatidae of Anseriformes takes the dominant. 9 from 57 species of birds in wetland are of special, rare and distinctive ones. They are distributed in the shallow lake areas in the south, west and east side of Lashihai.
  • WII & NR Napahai Wetland

    InformationSatellite View
    A seasonal karst marsh composed of meadow, open water, peatlands, and surrounding forests situated at about 3,260m above sea level, with lake outflow through karst caves draining underground into the Jinsha River in the upper reaches of the Yangtze…
  • WII Bitahai Wetland

    InformationSatellite View
    Provincial Nature Reserve. An alpine wetland between 3,000 and 4,260 meters above sea level, with swamps, lake, peatlands, and adjacent forest cover. The site has very high hydrological values such as flood prevention and control in the key catchment zones of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; as part of the Jinsha River watershed in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, it supplies water to the aquifers and stabilizes the flow in the lower reaches of the Yangtze…
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...
  • China Birding Tour

    Tour Operator
    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
  • Summer Wong Bird Tours

    Tour Operator
    Summer Wong Bird Tours specialises in China birding tours of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet & Eastern China...
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [06 June] - Craig Brelsford - Sichuan & Yunnan

    ...Being among the first birders to visit Dulong Gorge, “The Last Green Valley in China,” in the far northwestern corner of Yunnan...
  • 2015 [02 February] - Michael Grunwell - Western Yunnan

    PDF Report
    ...Red-tailed Laughingthrush Trochalopteron milnei Accustomed to being fed at the partridge hide, came straight down to freshly delivered mealworms. At one point, for about two seconds, I counted 17 birds in front of the blind.
  • 2015 [04 April] - Jesper Hornskov - Xishuangbanna

    PDF Report
  • 2015 [05 May] - Remco Hofland

    Report PDF
    Birding the Gaoligongshan mountain range had been a dream of me ever since I first visited China for the first time, in 2005; regular reports from the area by Jesper Hornskov on [OB] email wetted my appetite even further.
  • 2015 [11 November] - Jonathan Martinez - Ruili, Pianma, Dulongjiang Valley

    PDF Report
  • 2016 [01 January] - Max Berlijn

    PDF Report
    Annotated list
  • 2016 [03 March] - Craig Brelsford - Dulong Gorge

    A week in Yunnan is under our belt, and Dulong Gorge is yielding amazing Himalayan specialties. Among the species noted by us so far are Fire-tailed Myzornis, Grandala, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Striated Laughingthrush, and Assam Laughingthrush as well as Gongshan Muntjac. We have noted western Yunnan favorites Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Beautiful Sibia, Rusty-fronted Barwing, and Streak-throated Barwing. We have heard the mournful whistle of Hill Partridge, found a flock of 140 Tibetan Serin, noted Goldcrest in a mixed flock at 2960 m, and discovered 4 Eurasian Teal looking out of place on the Dulong River. Also using the river are Common Merganser, Great Cormorant, Crested Kingfisher, and Brown Dipper. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker was a lifer for us, and Wallcreeper delighted us all. We noted a troop of Stump-tailed Macaque.
  • 2016 [03 March] – Craig Brelsford – Dulong Gorge

    We birded the Gongshan-Dulong Road 87 km to Kongdang. On the Gongshan side, still in the Salween basin, we noted our first of many Ashy-throated Warbler, Yellow-browed Tit, Whiskered Yuhina, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, and Green-tailed Sunbird.
  • 2016 [05 May] - Glen Valentine & David Hoddinott - Sichuan & Yunnan

    PDF Report
    406 species recorded, the following were just some ofthe most memorable and desirable species seen:Tibetan and Snow Partridges; Tibetan Snowcock;Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge; the spectacularTemminck’s Tragopan; Chinese Monal; White Eared,Blue Eared, Blood, Golden and Lady Amherst’sPheasants; dancing Black-necked Cranes; the rarelyseen Solitary Snipe; sky-pointing Eurasian Bittern...
  • 2017 [02 February] - MJ Grunwell - Baihualing

    PDF Report
    The blinds are better referred to as ponds as it is the provided pond which attracts the birds not the blind.There are now over 50 ponds at Baihualing! Jeremy keeps a log of sightings and can give advice.Generally though, most pond-visiting species can be seen at most forest ponds. I can recommend thethree I visited: Pond 16 which is just below the hot spring CP, this is where I had my lucky encounterwith scarlet finch.
  • 2017 [06 June] - Glen Valentine

    PDF Report
    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...
  • 2018 [06 June] - Dave Farrow - Northern Yunnan & Sichuan

    PDF Report
    The Birdquest tour to Sichuan this year was a great success, with a slightly altered itinerary to usual due to the closure of Jiuzhaigou, and we enjoyed a very smooth and enjoyable trip around the spectacular and endemic-rich mountain and plateau landscapes of this striking province. Gamebirds featured strongly with 14 species seen, the highlights of them including a male Temminck’s Tragopan grazing in the gloom, Chinese Monal trotting across high pastures...
  • 2021 [07 July] - Michael W - Dali, Yunnan

    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.

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