- Zoology Blogs

Birding Shanghai in February 2023 – 10,000 Birds

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

Not a canopy species

The Black Kite will not be truly black, however in fact, deceptive chicken names will not be precisely uncommon. The most effective eBird can provide 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 chicken is an organization named Black Kite. By their very own declaration, “Black Kite is disrupting third-party threat 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 best high quality intelligence to assist organizations make higher threat selections and enhance the well being and security of your complete planet’s cyber ecosystem.”

Again to non-cyber ecosystems equivalent to those containing the Black Kite (chicken). Perhaps these ought to 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.

On condition 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 perhaps not – aren’t vultures generally praised for eradicating pathogens and toxins within the setting by consuming carrion?

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

I’m not certain in regards to the safety scenario in Iraq lately however at the least 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 lately been lifted as the federal government is nervous about an getting older crane inhabitants, most crane {couples} nonetheless limit 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 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 Weak.


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

Fortuitously, they’re fairly frequent in Shanghai.

The Latin species identify of the Widespread 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 distinct 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 change into a separate species finally.

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

Whereas primarily an Asian chicken, the Pink-flanked Bluetail has lately been seen in elements of Europe (significantly Finland and Scotland) extra ceaselessly, indicating a attainable vary extension (supply).

Unusually, the HBW distribution map of this species signifies that Shanghai ought to be outdoors of the species’ wintering vary – actually, it’s a somewhat frequent species right here in winter.

I assume I hardly ever take photographs of the Mild-vented Bulbul as it’s so frequent right here in Shanghai and elsewhere. It’s also known 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 form of metropolis chicken which can be intently related to human” (in fact, my Chinese language – spoken solely anyway – is much worse than this English).

I ponder if male eBird workers ever name their girlfriends “modestly enticing”? If sure, then mentioned 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” family members. Birds could be so merciless to one another.

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


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

In response to Wikipedia, White-eyes equivalent to Swinhoe’s White-eye are “principally of undistinguished look”. Hm. A bit unfair, I believe.


In response to 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.

Serious about what to put in writing in regards to 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 typically unhealthy, however not that unhealthy).

It’s form of fascinating, truly, 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 beneath the safety of the crown. However when you handed ‘the Pale,” you had been outdoors 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 ‘outdoors the bounds of acceptable conduct 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 massive street salt grains that the birds apparently mistake for potential gizzard stones (supply). Fortuitously, given the local weather, this isn’t very doubtless in Shanghai.

These Eurasian Spoonbills on Chongming Island most probably spend their summer time in Heilongjiang, if a current paper is right: “Monitoring information confirmed no geographical overlap throughout the annual cycle in Eurasian Spoonbills marked within the two fundamental 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 Internal 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 inexpensive cat toy with a dying battery, the HBW (being extra scientifically oriented and in addition 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 additionally keep away from offending delicate teams of individuals equivalent to the good US of us opposing drag exhibits. In that spirit, I cannot provide the English identify of the species beneath however simply its Latin identify, Parus minor.

Some examples of animal names working the opposite means round – with the Latin identify sounding naughty – could 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?

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 only liking every part black, family members of those tits appear to comply with trend – they incorporate wool strings of a particular colour into their nests relying on what different, presumably older birds have accomplished earlier than (unique supply, widespread 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 setting that you just
a. Like this chicken household
b. Like unhealthy jokes
c. Are a bit sexist,
you may need to take into account getting a T-Shirt that mixes all these three messages. I’m pondering of getting one for Bella, my common chicken information from Alpinebirding, however am a bit afraid she’s going to solely discover Little Egrets for me on my subsequent journey …

The Widespread Snipe shares a part of its identify with one of many all-time nice songs of all time, “Widespread Folks” by Pulp. Through which an odd man exhibits a wealthy woman round on the planet frequent 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 mentioned ‘faux you bought no cash’
And he or she simply laughed and mentioned ‘oh, you’re so humorous’
I mentioned ‘yeah…
Effectively, I can’t see anybody else smiling in right here’”

Perhaps a dialog between a Widespread 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 photograph was staged in a photograph studio, the blue plastic bit signifies that this Northern Lapwing photograph 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 big destructive impact on the breeding density of hoopoes (supply).



In response to a duck-focused web site, “On the earth 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 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 accomplished.

An everyday function in my posts is the part “chicken photographs taken in colour that appear to be they had been taken in black and white”. Right now, 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 horny 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 chicken is certainly a reed specialist (supply), listed as Close to Threatened as a result of decline in such habitat.

Word the delicate coiffure of the chicken within the first photograph. 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 as a consequence of predation from snakes. It’s thus not shocking that it’s uncommon to listen to a Reed Parrotbill converse 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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