- Zoology Blogs

Birding Nonggang, Guangxi, China – half 2 – 10,000 Birds

That is the second a part of a publish exhibiting some birds seen at Nonggang in December 2022, together with the same old (principally irrelevant) feedback.

In China, wherever there may be one actual vacationer attraction (just like the Nice Wall), the native technique appears to be so as to add some faux points of interest – replicas of palaces or tombs, amusement parks, buying facilities – so as to maximize the earnings from vacationers. However the place to begin must be an actual attraction, not a faux one. At Nonggang, presumably the opposite major attraction except for the Nonggang Babbler is the Blue-rumped Pitta (leaf warblers solely qualify as faux points of interest).

Even the Latin species title soror (“sister”) signifies the similarity to a different pitta species (blue-naped).

In accordance with the HBW, the speedy opening of the tail feathers of fantails corresponding to this White-throated Fantail reveals white tail-spots which can be thought to startle bugs into transferring, revealing themselves and being captured by the birds. 


The eBird description of the Small Niltava begins with the surprisingly uninteresting assertion that “dimension distinguishes this species from different niltavas”. Who would have thought.

The poor fowl’s Latin species title is macgrigoriae, apparently (HBW) named after Jane Grant McGrigor, the daughter of Maj.-Gen. Sir James McGrigor (1771-1858) Director Gen. of Military Medical Division 1815-1851. As you may simply choose from the dullness of this info, it isn’t one thing I made up however reasonably an appalling instance of nepotism within the naming of birds.


In case you have at all times questioned what the minimal anesthetic focus for isoflurane and sevoflurane for the Crested Serpent-eagle is, science has a solution.



Whereas serpent means massive snake, the Crested Serpent-eagle additionally eats frogs, as this video exhibits. Be happy to insert your individual French joke right here (although after all within the US, eating places now serve Freedom Frogs reasonably than French Frogs).

If you’re afraid of snakes and should not have a Crested Serpent-Eagle close by, possibly it’s best to keep near a White-rumped Shama. A feminine shama attacked a number of Cantor’s Kukri snakes approaching its nest (supply). Courageous.



The breeding ecology of the Yellow-bellied Warbler was really studied precisely right here at Nonggang in 2019 by 3 Chinese language researchers. This included recording a complete of 77,760 minutes of video. Glad I didn’t have to look at these.

Apparently, some fowl photographers suppose that any human artifacts proven on a fowl picture instantly spoil the entire picture. After all, listening to about this instantly makes me suppose I’ve to point out the picture of a Yellow-eyed Babbler beneath.

Present how issues are, not how they need to be …

eBird characterizes the Yellow-eyed Babbler as an “odd-looking babbler which seems and behaves like a prinia on steroids” – not a nasty description, I feel.

And naturally, on a reasonably uncommon event for this weblog, an nearly excellent hyperlink to the subsequent fowl (my favourite transition remains to be the Monty Python one: “And now for one thing fully totally different”). That is the Yellow-bellied Prinia, a fowl that additionally will get some certified reward from eBird: “Brightly-colored for a prinia”. Even the HBW sounds optimistic: “A gorgeous, pretty distinctive prinia”.

There doesn’t appear to be a single analysis paper specializing in the White-bellied Erpornis – a pity for such a cute fowl.

Sadly, the species title zantholeuca (that means pale yellow) shouldn’t be very fascinating both. So that you simply have to have a look at the pictures for as soon as.

Some Thai researchers seemed on the breeding ecology of the Buff-breasted Babbler and printed their findings within the considerably unsuitable-sounding journal “Agriculture and Pure Assets”. Then once more, they take care to introduce the presumably reasonably uninformed viewers of this journal to some ornithological primary information corresponding to “A fowl nest is the spot, the place a fowl lays and incubates its eggs and raises its younger” (the unorthodox comma in there may give them an honorable point out in a future version of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, ought to this be forthcoming). In offering this info, they quote extensively from an ornithology ebook that was printed 3 years earlier than I used to be born (and I’m not a younger man).

The precise findings usually are not that fascinating – boy babbler meets lady babbler, they fall in love and breed – and the whole lot is over in lower than one month. Bonus factors for fast implementation.

As for the esthetic deserves of the species, eBird offers it the equal of at the least a B+: “Somewhat graceful-looking brown babbler with an extended tail and lengthy legs”. Sadly, the HBW disagrees, going for “featureless smallish babbler” (which then incongruously is adopted by a 155-word description of the options of the featureless babbler).

One would suppose {that a} fowl trying as distinct because the Fujian Niltava can be unmistakable. Alas, one can be incorrect – I instantly combined it up with the reasonably similar-looking Rufous-bellied Niltava (not proven right here). Nevertheless, as I discovered some fascinating info on the latter, I’ll share it right here anyway.

Some poor Rufous-bellied Niltavas are being parasitized by Whistling Hawk-Cuckoos. Apparently, the cuckoo chicks not solely require provisioning by exhibiting their host dad and mom a vividly coloured gape, however additionally they present shiny yellow wing patches to their host dad and mom – leading to host dad and mom attempting to position meals onto the wing patch of the nestlings (supply).

Then again, on the extent of particular person birds at the least, nature sometimes supplies compensation. One other paper describes how a Snowy-browed Flycatcher labored as a helper at a Rufous-bellied Niltava nest in Yunnan for at the least two days. Altruism, fortuitously not of the Sam Bankman-Fried selection, although in all probability not very efficient both.

The Indochinese Inexperienced Magpie is certainly one of 4 species of inexperienced magpie (it was solely three, however one of many subspecies collected sufficient frequent flier miles to get an improve to full species).


As a chemist by training, I’m proud to level out that the colour of the birds is especially decided by the lutein contained of their meals (lutein is a part of the vegetation on which the bugs feed on earlier than in flip being eaten by the magpies). Apparently, if uncovered to daylight, the inexperienced of the magpie plumage could flip blue.


One other member of the magpie household, the White-winged Magpie, makes do with far fewer colours.

The species title whiteheadi clearly shouldn’t be derived from the fowl itself (you may see that the pinnacle is black) however reasonably from one other short-lived British explorer that I’m not making up, John Whitehead (1860-1899). Apparently, he was the primary documented particular person to achieve the height of Mount Kinabalu.

Once I was about 20, you would have performed me one fascinating tune by an unknown band, and I might nonetheless bear in mind the band title 10 years later. As we speak, I’ve difficulties memorizing the reasonably apparent variations between Rufous-faced Warbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Pin-striped Tit-babbler and Chestnut-crowned Warbler. As my late father as soon as suggested me: “Boy, higher don’t get outdated” (although after all, the choice shouldn’t be too interesting both).

Rufous-faced Warbler

Rufous-capped Babbler

Pin-striped Tit-babbler

Chestnut-crowned Warbler

Puff-throated Bulbuls are cooperative breeders, however considerably unusually, the variety of helpers does probably not have an effect on the survival possibilities of the chicks (supply). Then once more, no person would count on children whose dad and mom rent babysitters lots to have a greater life both.

Nonetheless, total, the prospect to outlive the primary 8 weeks is surprisingly excessive at 61% – and nearly all of that danger is within the first week.

The title follows the same old ornithological precept of by no means naming a fowl for an apparent characteristic – eBird considerably sheepishly admits that the “’Puff’ of the white throat is slight and never an apparent characteristic”. The species title of “Alophoixus pallidus”, indicating a pale coloration, makes a bit extra sense however is hardly one thing that solely applies to this species. The genus title “Alophoixus” is especially weird provided that it means “with out a crest”, which each my pictures and the eBird characterization of the fowl as a “massive crested bulbul” appear to disprove. Nicely. Possibly it had simply shaved its crest when it bought its title.

Considerably predictably, the journey ended with me contracting covid and preferring to fly residence a couple of days earlier than my deliberate date (the an infection turned out to not be too dangerous and gave me time to edit my pictures). I suppose it was a becoming finish of a 12 months marked by covid, as indicated by only a few birding journeys exterior of Shanghai and a 78-day lockdown as an alternative.

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