Birding Shanghai in June 2023 – 10,000 Birds

This 12 months, migration appears to have ended a bit sooner than in most earlier years – not very shocking on condition that this was the most well liked Shanghai Might within the final 100 years, and not less than some birds (comparable to American Robins – word that these are the faux robins of the US, they in all probability additionally declare that their identify was stolen from them by the liberal press) comply with isotherms on their migration (supply).

This leaves Shanghai in June with mainly simply the year-round species and the summer time breeders, perhaps with a couple of added ultra-lazy people of migratory species.

Fortuitously, there are a couple of extra such breeding species than most Shanghainese are conscious of. Such because the Black-winged Cuckooshrike.

eBird calls it “an general sooty-colored cuckooshrike”, considerably – however appropriately – contradicting the official identify.

Whereas the HBW states that it breeds at 300 – 2450 meters, in Shanghai – the place such elevations should not out there exterior of the higher flooring of some highrises – it makes to with an altitude of about 0 meters as properly.

Within the handbook “The Herons”, the Purple Heron is claimed to have “a snaky neck”, which is an efficient description. Right here’s a video.

In case you are the fourth or fifth youngster of your mother and father, you might name your self fortunate to not be a Purple Heron. In a brood, these chicks often don’t survive attributable to sibling rivalry, i.e., they starve (supply).

Their migration is kind of quick in comparison with many different bigger birds – in one research, a number of birds flew 4000 km inside 5–7 days whereas one particular person even flew 5600 km continuous.

That signifies that earlier than beginning the migration, the birds spend 15-18 hours per day feeding and fattening up and even shifting their sleeping areas near the meals supply to avoid wasting time (supply), equal to a Tour de France bicycle owner locking himself right into a McDonald’s restaurant for a couple of days earlier than beginning the race.

Within the barely frighteningly named journal “Science of The Complete Setting”, there may be a paper on organochlorine compounds in Purple Heron eggs nesting in websites situated round a chloralkali plant (Ebro River). Abstract end result: related chemical substances emitted by the plant will be discovered within the eggs.

Two different heron species are a lot simpler to see in Shanghai – the Chinese language Pond Heron

… (a chicken that additionally bioaccumulates sure chemical substances comparable to heavy metals, as described right here) …

… and the Black-crowned Evening Heron.

Additionally as video.

What to do whenever you wish to develop a container terminal on the location of a giant colony of Black-crowed Evening Herons? Simple: You simply transfer the colony (supply).

In case you are a younger (second-year) sexy male or feminine Black-crowned Evening Heron searching for an skilled associate to breed, you’re in all probability out of luck. It appears the older herons favor to mate with one another, a phenomenon that within the non-pornographic language of ornithologists is named Age-assortative Mating (supply).

And what if an evening heron is hungry? One possibility is to raid a colony of Frequent Terns and eat their chicks, as described right here.



Whereas my current experimentation with ChatGPT confirmed that ChatGPT thinks the Gray-headed Lapwing will be present in Shanghai’s Century Park, Chongming is a much better place (video).


That features breeding birds, as indicated by the presence of some fairly cute chicks (video).

The advantage of sure components of Shanghai is that it’s virtually at all times potential to seek out some Reed Parrotbills (though many of the websites I uncover for the species are being destroyed inside a couple of months).

So, I can at all times present some photographs of the species, even when I’ve nothing new to say about them.


Cattle Egrets are totally trendy birds – they had been among the many first species to ditch mailed letters for faxes, then switched to e mail early, and now (not less than in China) largely talk by WeChat. They’re additionally early adopters with regard to their foraging – these days largely following tractors fairly than cattle.

It generally seems to be a bit dangerous although.

Additionally out there as incompetently taken video 1 and video 2.

As administration consultants would phrase it, feminine Pheasant-tailed Jacanas deal with their core competency – laying eggs – and outsource the next steps comparable to incubating and feeding the chicks to the males. Environment friendly, nevertheless it additionally signifies that the feminine chicks lack appropriate function fashions of their adolescence.

The females are greater and – when nests or chicks are attacked – deal with defending towards aerial predators and conspecific females whereas the males deal with different males (supply).

Right here’s one of many standard of my movies displaying a Pheasant-tailed Jacana not doing a lot.

Breeding of Black-tailed Godwits appears to be barely negatively affected by street lighting, as a Dutch research discovered – not an issue on Chongming Island, although.

The species is assessed as Close to Threatened – specifically, numbers within the Netherlands have decreased considerably, and the chicks are negatively affected by intensified agriculture (HBW).

A paper inspecting the adverse results of flooding on the breeding success of Black-tailed Godwits is titled “Sink or Swim? Viability of a Black-Tailed Godwit Inhabitants in Relation to Flooding”. It appears the need to create semi-witty titles for scientific papers generally is stronger than advisable.

Anyway, a couple of movies present Black-tailed Godwits undoubtedly not sinking: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Azure-winged Magpies are fairly happy with their look …

… and generally intentionally pose subsequent to gadgets that match their very own coloration.

The Black-naped Oriole is among the most tasty summer time breeders in Shanghai.

With 20 subspecies acknowledged, this species clearly requires a advisor to rationalize the subspecies and scale back them to a extra manageable quantity. I could take over this process as soon as I’m achieved with eliminating among the underutilized parts from the periodic desk.

Subspecies of Black-naped Orioles will also be recognized by their totally different vocalizations, as described in an in any other case frustratingly imprecise paper with statements comparable to “The outcomes present {that a} forensic strategy to birdsong evaluation, impressed by speech processing, might provide invaluable insights into cryptic species variety in addition to track identification on the subspecies degree.”

Very probably Black Drongos breed in Shanghai as properly.


Whereas there appear to be fewer Lesser Coucals at Nanhui this 12 months, they nonetheless have a powerful presence at Fengxian. Sadly, that space can be at present being destroyed.

Bye, bye, Lesser Coucal.


Some researchers did an experiment that amongst people is just achieved not often and solely by way of errors made in maternity hospitals. They switched eggs between Purple-rumped Swallows and Barn Swallows. Much like the uncommon human experiment, the outcomes had been typically acceptable, although in fact that doesn’t account for any potential psychological injury attributable to the change in mother and father.

Sometimes, second-hand nests of Purple-rumped Swallows flip up in native actual property markets. Whereas the demand typically is pretty low, some home sparrows generally use this chance to get onto what’s presumably the bottom degree of the property ladder (supply).

As a toddler, I as soon as had an aquarium with a number of black mollies. Thus, it was a bit disappointing that the complete textual content of a paper titled “Escape Response of Black Mollies (Poecilia sphenops) to Predatory Dives of a Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)” isn’t freely out there on-line.

One other paper additionally seems to be on the interplay between Pied Kingfishers and fish: “Results of Nile perch (Lates niloticus) introduction into Lake Victoria, East Africa, on the weight-reduction plan of Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)”. In essence, the introduction of the Nile perch diminished the fish species ideally eaten by the kingfishers, forcing them to eat extra of a smaller fish species. Extra work, much less enjoyable, all as a result of people launched some silly fish into kingfisher habitat. People are in all probability not very fashionable amongst these kingfishers.

Frequent Kingfishers are a very good match with my restricted video expertise, as they steadily simply sit round ready for one thing to occur (not “Ready round to die“, however it’s at all times good to call a Townes van Zandt track).

That’s in distinction to Black-winged Stilts, which appear very eager on displaying off their (admittedly spectacular) legs.



Whiskered Terns look very very similar to they use lipstick. Unusual.

One research discovered that in Whiskered Terns, “Females make investments a lot much less in parental care than males, offering much less meals [to the chicks] and deserting [the chicks] extra steadily”. I assume the females simply attempt to keep away from typical feminine cliches.

Gray Treepies are comparatively uncommon in Shanghai – distribution maps point out that that is just about the Northern border of their vary, and even barely past that.

In response to wordsense, the “pie” within the treepie (and in addition in magpie) is identical because the one in “having your pie and consuming it too”. The web site claims that pie originates from Center English pie (pye), which in flip in all probability comes from Latin pica (“magpie, jay”) – with the concept that the numerous components put into pies are comparable with the truth that magpies will eat virtually something. Sounds a bit made-up to me, however in fact, it will take me a while to give you a greater made-up clarification, so let’s simply take this one.

And eventually, round this time of the 12 months, grownup Purple-billed Starlings are continually harassed by their hungry chicks, serving as a useful warning to people to make use of contraception.




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