Birding Shanghai in February 2023 – 10,000 Birds

February 2023 was a sluggish month for birding in Shanghai, no less than for me – so sluggish that I virtually put the Noticed Dove, presumably my least favourite chook right here, on the duvet. However then, sanity (or possibly respect for you, the reader) prevailed.

Not a canopy species

The Black Kite isn’t really black, however in fact, deceptive chook names are usually not precisely uncommon. The perfect eBird can supply when it comes to plumage colour is “darkish”, and even that appears a little bit of an exaggeration.

By the best way, when you google “Black Kite”, the very first end result you get even earlier than the Wikipedia entry on the chook is an organization named Black Kite. By their very own declaration, “Black Kite is disrupting third-party danger administration practices by offering safety specialists with the business’s most correct and complete cyber intelligence, leading to unparalleled visibility into the chance distributors introduce into their environments” – no matter which means. 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 all the planet’s cyber ecosystem.”

Again to non-cyber ecosystems corresponding to those containing the Black Kite (chook). Perhaps these needs to be protected too? Really, 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 more likely to scavenge than most different raptors – the identify selection of the corporate defending the world’s cyber ecosystem is a bit bizarre. Or possibly 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 pink irises”. On Chongming Island, a few of them appear to be comparatively unafraid of individuals, no less than by the requirements of raptors.

I’m not certain in regards to the safety state of affairs in Iraq nowadays however no less than some individuals do ornithological analysis there – leading to papers corresponding 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 lately been lifted as the federal government is nervous about an growing older crane inhabitants, most crane {couples} nonetheless prohibit themselves to a single chick. It’s principally a query of economics – elevating only one is troublesome sufficient given the sources 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 critically declined in some areas apparently, partly due to poaching for the pet chook commerce because the birds are good singers (supply).

Fortuitously, they’re fairly widespread in Shanghai.

The Latin species identify of the Frequent Greenshank, nebularia, sounds a bit like a science fiction novel to me – nonetheless, 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 ceaselessly, or (extra possible) they’re of a distinct subspecies, swinhoei, than the certainly properly White-rumped Munias proven on the HBW web page of the species. Really, the HBW remarks that “Type swinhoei seems distinctive; additional analysis, together with vocal and genetic analyses, fascinating”, so possibly this can 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 easier songs (supply). The authors assume 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 relatively extra scientific-sounding “The tune complexity is likely to be constrained to accentuate distinct conspecific alerts from associated species”).

Whereas primarily an Asian chook, the Crimson-flanked Bluetail has lately been seen in components of Europe (notably Finland and Scotland) extra ceaselessly, indicating a attainable vary extension (supply).

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

I assume I not often take photographs of the Gentle-vented Bulbul as it’s so widespread right here in Shanghai and elsewhere. It is usually 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 obtained used to the town life and change into a sort of metropolis chook which might be carefully related to human” (in fact, my Chinese language – spoken solely anyway – is much worse than this English).

I’m wondering if male eBird staff 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 protecting its calm upon listening to this assertion than the girlfriend involved.

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

Tristram’s Buntings additionally make enjoyable of Yellow-throated Buntings, consistently 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 site visitors.

In accordance with Wikipedia, White-eyes corresponding to Swinhoe’s White-eye are “principally of undistinguished look”. Hm. A bit unfair, I feel.


In accordance with Kenn Kaufman, the grosbeak identify 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 about what to jot down in regards to 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 typically dangerous, however not that dangerous).

It’s sort of fascinating, really, and in regards to 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 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, in fact. Thanks for pointing this out although.

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

These Eurasian Spoonbills on Chongming Island most probably spend their summer season in Heilongjiang, if a current paper is appropriate: “Monitoring knowledge confirmed no geographical overlap through the annual cycle in Eurasian Spoonbills marked within the two principal 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 virtually at all times 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 observe with ringing or metallic high quality”.


Writing a weblog submit is at all times a little bit of a balancing act – you need to be as clear as attainable but in addition keep away from offending delicate teams of individuals corresponding to the good US people opposing drag reveals. In that spirit, I cannot provide the English identify of the species under however simply its Latin identify, Parus minor.

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

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

Its Latin species identify venustulus means “charming, pretty” – 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 trend sense is restricted to simply liking every part black, family of those tits appear to observe trend – they incorporate wool strings of a particular colour into their nests relying on what different, presumably older birds have achieved earlier than (authentic supply, well-liked science model). This analysis was really achieved 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 chook 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 chook 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 identify with one of many all-time nice songs of all time, “Frequent Individuals” by Pulp. Through which an abnormal man reveals a wealthy woman round on this planet widespread 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 ‘fake you bought no cash’
And he or she simply laughed and stated ‘oh, you’re so humorous’
I stated ‘yeah…
Effectively, I can’t see anybody else smiling in right here’”

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

Whereas the inexperienced background makes it appear like 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 major adverse impact on the breeding density of hoopoes (supply).



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

Within the HBW, the part “Priorities for future analysis” alone has 576 phrases, which is longer than the entire 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 achieved.

A daily function in my posts is the part “chook photographs taken in colour that appear like they have been taken in black and white”. At the moment, the species featured are Pied Kingfisher

… and Pied Avocet.

One good side of dwelling and birding in Shanghai is that it’s comparatively straightforward to see Reed Parrotbills, a lovely 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 chook is certainly a reed specialist (supply), listed as Close to Threatened because of the decline in such habitat.

Be aware the subtle coiffure of the chook 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 tough. In one examine, greater than two-thirds of nests failed because of 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 identify 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 principally recognized for purchasing facilities) and finally died there (supply).

And that’s it for this month.

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