6.4 C
New York
Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Birding Shanghai in February 2023 – 10,000 Birds

February 2023 was a gradual month for birding in Shanghai, a minimum of for me – so gradual that I nearly put the Noticed Dove, probably my least favourite chicken right here, on the quilt. However then, sanity (or possibly respect for you, the reader) prevailed.

Not a canopy species

The Black Kite will not be really black, however after all, deceptive chicken names aren’t precisely uncommon. One of the best eBird can supply when it comes to plumage shade is “darkish”, and even that appears a little bit of an exaggeration.

By the best way, for those who google “Black Kite”, the very first outcome you get even earlier than the Wikipedia entry on the chicken is an organization named Black Kite. By their very own declaration, “Black Kite is disrupting third-party danger administration practices by offering safety consultants with the business’s most correct and complete cyber intelligence, leading to unparalleled visibility into the danger distributors introduce into their environments” – no matter meaning. Additionally, the corporate “pushes the bounds on predictive insights, delivering the very best high quality intelligence to assist organizations make higher danger choices and enhance the well being and security of your complete planet’s cyber ecosystem.”

Again to non-cyber ecosystems akin to those containing the Black Kite (chicken). Possibly these needs to be protected too? Really, the Black Kite is supposedly the most typical of all raptors with a inhabitants of about 6 million, however some populations are declining.

Provided that the Black Kite is politely described as an “opportunistic hunter” – which incorporates the truth that they’re extra more likely to scavenge than most different raptors – the title alternative of the corporate defending the world’s cyber ecosystem is a bit bizarre. Or possibly not – aren’t vultures generally praised for eradicating pathogens and toxins within the atmosphere by consuming carrion?

Wikipedia factors out that the Black-winged Kite has some similarities with owls, particularly, the “owl-like forward-facing eyes with purple irises”. On Chongming Island, a few of them appear to be comparatively unafraid of individuals, a minimum of by the requirements of raptors.

I’m not positive concerning the safety scenario in Iraq lately however a minimum of some individuals do ornithological analysis there – leading to papers akin to one titled “Breeding observations of the Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus (Desfontaines, 1789) in Iraq”. Spectacular.

Whereas the one-chick coverage for Chinese language Hooded Cranes has not too long ago been lifted as the federal government is anxious about an getting older crane inhabitants, most crane {couples} nonetheless prohibit themselves to a single chick. It’s largely a query of economics – elevating only one is troublesome sufficient given the assets required to feed and educate the chick.


Chongming Dongtan, the place these photographs have been taken, is the wintering location of about 100 Hooded Cranes – about 1% of the worldwide inhabitants. No shock then that the species is listed as Weak.


In Thailand, apparently, the variety of Oriental Magpie-Robins has significantly declined in some areas apparently, partly due to poaching for the pet chicken commerce because the birds are good singers (supply).

Thankfully, they’re fairly frequent in Shanghai.

The Latin species title of the Frequent Greenshank, nebularia, sounds a bit like a science fiction novel to me – nevertheless, it means “misty” and apparently is derived from the birds’ misty, marshy habitat (HBW).

The White-rumped Munias of Shanghai don’t look significantly white-rumped – both they should bathe extra ceaselessly, or (extra doubtless) they’re of a special subspecies, swinhoei, than the certainly properly White-rumped Munias proven on the HBW web page of the species. Really, the HBW remarks that “Kind swinhoei seems distinctive; additional analysis, together with vocal and genetic analyses, fascinating”, so possibly this can grow to be a separate species ultimately.

One fascinating bit of data on these munias is that birds that inhabit areas with extra blended flocks sing less complicated songs (supply). The authors assume that this can be as a result of in blended flocks simplification is important to keep away from confusion with different species (to be trustworthy, within the authentic paper the phrasing of the final sentence is the slightly extra scientific-sounding “The tune complexity may be constrained to accentuate distinct conspecific indicators from associated species”).

Whereas primarily an Asian chicken, the Crimson-flanked Bluetail has not too long ago been seen in components of Europe (significantly Finland and Scotland) extra ceaselessly, indicating a potential vary extension (supply).

Unusually, the HBW distribution map of this species signifies that Shanghai needs to be exterior of the species’ wintering vary – in truth, it’s a slightly frequent species right here in winter.

I suppose I hardly ever take photographs of the Mild-vented Bulbul as it’s so frequent right here in Shanghai and elsewhere. It’s also referred to as Chinese language Bulbul.

In considerably doubtful English, the summary of 1 paper on this species by Chinese language authors states that “Pycnonotus sinens has acquired used to the town life and develop into a sort of metropolis chicken which might be intently related to human” (after all, my Chinese language – spoken solely anyway – is way worse than this English).

I ponder if male eBird workers ever name their girlfriends “modestly engaging”? If sure, then stated girlfriends can simply think about how the Yellow-browed Bunting feels by being described as a “small, modestly engaging bunting”.

Presumably, the bunting is a bit higher in retaining its calm upon listening to this assertion than the girlfriend involved.

The Tristram’s Buntings at Tianmashan usually make offensive jokes about their “modestly engaging” kin. Birds might be so merciless to one another.

Tristram’s Buntings additionally make enjoyable of Yellow-throated Buntings, always reminding them that they’re not referred to as Elegant Buntings.


On account of this degradation, a few of these poor birds now earn cash directing site visitors.

In keeping with Wikipedia, White-eyes akin to Swinhoe’s White-eye are “largely of undistinguished look”. Hm. A bit unfair, I believe.


In keeping with Kenn Kaufman, the grosbeak title a part of the Chinese language Grosbeak comes from the French Gros for “thick” and Bec for “beak”. In fact, he’s speaking about an American species, the Night Grosbeak, however I assume the etymology is similar.

Fascinated with what to jot down concerning the Pale Thrush, it occurred to me that I had no thought how the expression “past the pale” originated (and no worries, I cannot later write that this thrush is “past the pale” – my jokes are usually unhealthy, however not that unhealthy).

It’s sort of fascinating, really, and concerning the Norman invasion of Eire. As this supply explains, “Throughout the Pale ditch [a ten-foot-deep ditch surrounded by eight-foot banks on each side and ringed by a thorny hedge, fortifying the boundaries of English settlements], settlers lived underneath the safety of the crown. However when you handed ‘the Pale,” you have been exterior the authority and security of English legislation, and topic to all of the savageries of rural Eire. ‘Past the pale’ then grew to become a colloquial phrase which means ‘exterior the bounds of acceptable habits or judgment.’ “

This has completely nothing to do with the Pale Thrush, after all. Thanks for pointing this out although.

Eurasian Siskins can die from ingesting massive street salt grains that the birds apparently mistake for potential gizzard stones (supply). Thankfully, given the local weather, this isn’t very doubtless in Shanghai.

These Eurasian Spoonbills on Chongming Island more than likely spend their summer time in Heilongjiang, if a latest paper is appropriate: “Monitoring information confirmed no geographical overlap in the course of the annual cycle in Eurasian Spoonbills marked within the two major summering areas. Birds marked within the Naoli River Basin in Heilongjiang Province, China, wintered alongside the Jiangsu shoreline in China, whereas Eurasian Spoonbills from two discrete summering areas (in Inside and western Mongolia) overwintered inland within the Yangtze River floodplain of China.”



At Tianmashan, one can nearly at all times hear Gray-capped Greenfinches. Whereas to me they sound like an inexpensive cat toy with a dying battery, the HBW (being extra scientifically oriented and likewise presumably much less feline-oriented) talks of “a particular twittering ‘dzi-dzi-i-dzi-i’ flight observe with ringing or metallic high quality”.


Writing a weblog put up is at all times a little bit of a balancing act – you need to be as clear as potential but additionally keep away from offending delicate teams of individuals akin to the great US of us opposing drag reveals. In that spirit, I cannot provide the English title of the species under however simply its Latin title, Parus minor.

Some examples of animal names working the opposite approach round – with the Latin title sounding naughty – might be discovered right here.

A relative of this species is the Yellow-bellied Tit.

Its Latin species title venustulus means “charming, beautiful” – and who might oppose that?

It is a male, as recognizable by the black throat, black brow and black crown and (presumably) black ideas.

In distinction to me, whose style sense is restricted to simply liking every part black, kin of those tits appear to observe style – they incorporate wool strings of a particular shade into their nests relying on what different, presumably older birds have carried out earlier than (authentic supply, in style science model). This analysis was really carried out solely about 10 km away from a spot I as soon as lived for a few years, in Radolfszell, Germany.

If you wish to sign to your atmosphere that you just
a. Like this chicken household
b. Like unhealthy jokes
c. Are a bit sexist,
you would possibly need to contemplate getting a T-Shirt that mixes all these three messages. I’m considering of getting one for Bella, my common chicken information from Alpinebirding, however am a bit afraid she is going to solely discover Little Egrets for me on my subsequent journey …

The Frequent Snipe shares a part of its title with one of many all-time nice songs of all time, “Frequent Folks” by Pulp. By which an extraordinary man reveals a wealthy lady round on this planet frequent individuals dwell in:

“I took her to a grocery store
I don’t know why however I needed to begin it someplace
So it began there
I stated ‘faux you bought no cash’
And she or he simply laughed and stated ‘oh, you’re so humorous’
I stated ‘yeah…
Properly, I can’t see anybody else smiling in right here’”

Possibly a dialog between a Frequent Snipe and one of many rarer ones sometimes seen in Shanghai, akin to Pin-tailed or Swinhoe’s Snipe, would sound considerably comparable …

Whereas the inexperienced background makes it appear to be this picture was staged in a photograph studio, the blue plastic bit signifies that this Northern Lapwing picture was taken in China’s open air.

On Halloween, some Eurasian Hoopoes costume up as Ring-necked Parakeets to shock their mates. Their response is justified – in Israel, the place Ring-necked Parakeets are an invasive species, they’ve a major adverse impact on the breeding density of hoopoes (supply).



In keeping with a duck-focused web site, “On this planet of geese, the Northern Pintail takes the prize for class”.

Within the HBW, the part “Priorities for future analysis” alone has 576 phrases, which is longer than the whole entry for some species not occurring in North America (for instance, the entry for the Brown Parrotbill has a complete of 530 phrases) – which appears to show my suspicion that the necessity for additional analysis will increase with the quantity of analysis already carried out.

An everyday function in my posts is the part “chicken photographs taken in shade that appear to be they have been taken in black and white”. As we speak, the species featured are Pied Kingfisher

… and Pied Avocet.

One good side of residing and birding in Shanghai is that it’s comparatively straightforward to see Reed Parrotbills, a pretty and cute-looking species that apparently sooner or later switched from bamboo (the popular habitat of many different parrotbill species) to reed.

The chicken is certainly a reed specialist (supply), listed as Close to Threatened as a result of decline in such habitat.

Be aware the subtle coiffure of the chicken within the first picture. They do use high quality coiffure merchandise, these birds.

Aside from shrinking habitats, snakes appear to make the lifetime of Reed Parrotbills troublesome. In one research, greater than two-thirds of nests failed attributable to predation from snakes. It’s thus not stunning that it’s uncommon to listen to a Reed Parrotbill communicate neutrally about snakes.

The Latin species title heudei is in honor of Pierre Marie Heude, a French missionary and naturalist who helped open up a pure historical past museum in Xujiahui (an space in Shanghai these days largely recognized for procuring facilities) and ultimately died there (supply).

And that’s it for this month.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles