Birding Shanghai in February 2023 – 10,000 Birds

February 2023 was a sluggish month for birding in Shanghai, a minimum of for me – so sluggish that I nearly put the Noticed Dove, presumably my least favourite fowl right here, on the duvet. However then, sanity (or perhaps respect for you, the reader) prevailed.

Not a canopy species

The Black Kite just isn’t truly black, however in fact, deceptive fowl names should not precisely uncommon. One of the best eBird can supply by way of plumage colour 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 consequence you get even earlier than the Wikipedia entry on the fowl 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 trade’s most correct and complete cyber intelligence, leading to unparalleled visibility into the chance distributors introduce into their environments” – no matter meaning. Additionally, the corporate “pushes the boundaries on predictive insights, delivering the best high quality intelligence to assist organizations make higher danger choices and enhance the well being and security of all the planet’s cyber ecosystem.”

Again to non-cyber ecosystems equivalent to those containing the Black Kite (fowl). Perhaps these must be protected too? Truly, the Black Kite is supposedly the commonest 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 prone to scavenge than most different raptors – the title selection of the corporate defending the world’s cyber ecosystem is a bit bizarre. Or perhaps not – aren’t vultures typically praised for eradicating pathogens and toxins within the surroundings by consuming carrion?

Wikipedia factors out that the Black-winged Kite has some similarities with owls, specifically, 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 certain concerning the safety scenario in Iraq lately however a minimum of some individuals do ornithological analysis there – leading to papers equivalent 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 frightened about an getting old crane inhabitants, most crane {couples} nonetheless limit 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 pictures had 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 Susceptible.


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

Thankfully, they’re fairly widespread 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 notably white-rumped – both they should bathe extra steadily, or (extra possible) they’re of a special subspecies, swinhoei, than the certainly properly White-rumped Munias proven on the HBW web page of the species. Truly, the HBW remarks that “Type swinhoei seems distinctive; additional analysis, together with vocal and genetic analyses, fascinating”, so perhaps it will turn into a separate species finally.

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

Whereas primarily an Asian fowl, the Purple-flanked Bluetail has not too long ago been seen in elements of Europe (notably Finland and Scotland) extra steadily, indicating a potential vary extension (supply).

Unusually, the HBW distribution map of this species signifies that Shanghai must be exterior of the species’ wintering vary – in reality, it’s a somewhat widespread species right here in winter.

I suppose I hardly ever take pictures of the Mild-vented Bulbul as it’s so widespread right here in Shanghai and elsewhere. Additionally it is 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 received used to the town life and grow to be a sort of metropolis fowl which might be carefully related to human” (in fact, my Chinese language – spoken solely anyway – is way worse than this English).

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

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

The Tristram’s Buntings at Tianmashan typically make offensive jokes about their “modestly enticing” relations. Birds will be so merciless to one another.

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


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

Based on Wikipedia, White-eyes equivalent to Swinhoe’s White-eye are “largely of undistinguished look”. Hm. A bit unfair, I feel.


Based on Kenn Kaufman, the grosbeak title a part of the Chinese language Grosbeak comes from the French Gros for “thick” and Bec for “beak”. After all, he’s speaking about an American species, the Night Grosbeak, however I assume the etymology is identical.

Eager about what to put in writing concerning the Pale Thrush, it occurred to me that I had no concept 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 dangerous, however not that dangerous).

It’s sort of fascinating, truly, 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 below the safety of the crown. However when you handed ‘the Pale,” you had been exterior the authority and security of English regulation, and topic to all of the savageries of rural Eire. ‘Past the pale’ then grew to become a colloquial phrase which means ‘exterior the boundaries of acceptable habits or judgment.’ “

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

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

These Eurasian Spoonbills on Chongming Island probably spend their summer time in Heilongjiang, if a latest paper is appropriate: “Monitoring information confirmed no geographical overlap throughout the annual cycle in Eurasian Spoonbills marked within the two most important 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 Interior and western Mongolia) overwintered inland within the Yangtze River floodplain of China.”



At Tianmashan, one can nearly all the time hear Gray-capped Greenfinches. Whereas to me they sound like an affordable 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 word with ringing or metallic high quality”.


Writing a weblog submit is all the time 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 equivalent to the good US of us opposing drag reveals. In that spirit, I cannot provide the English title of the species beneath however simply its Latin title, Parus minor.

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

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

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

This can be a male, as recognizable by the black throat, black brow and black crown and (presumably) black ideas.

In distinction to me, whose trend sense is restricted to simply liking every part black, relations of those tits appear to observe trend – they incorporate wool strings of a selected colour into their nests relying on what different, presumably older birds have accomplished earlier than (authentic supply, in style science model). This analysis was truly accomplished 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 surroundings that you simply
a. Like this fowl household
b. Like dangerous jokes
c. Are a bit sexist,
you would possibly need to think about getting a T-Shirt that mixes all these three messages. I’m considering of getting one for Bella, my common fowl 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. Through which an extraordinary man reveals a wealthy lady round on the earth widespread individuals reside 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…
Nicely, I can’t see anybody else smiling in right here’”

Perhaps a dialog between a Frequent Snipe and one of many rarer ones often seen in Shanghai, equivalent to Pin-tailed or Swinhoe’s Snipe, would sound considerably related …

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 outdoor.

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 big unfavorable impact on the breeding density of hoopoes (supply).



Based on a duck-focused web site, “On the 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 accomplished.

A daily function in my posts is the part “fowl pictures taken in colour that appear to be they had been taken in black and white”. At the moment, 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 sexy and cute-looking species that apparently in some unspecified time in the future switched from bamboo (the popular habitat of many different parrotbill species) to reed.

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

Word the subtle coiffure of the fowl within the first picture. They do use high quality coiffure merchandise, these birds.

Other than shrinking habitats, snakes appear to make the lifetime of Reed Parrotbills tough. In one examine, greater than two-thirds of nests failed on account of predation from snakes. It’s thus not stunning that it’s uncommon to listen to a Reed Parrotbill converse 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 finally died there (supply).

And that’s it for this month.

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