- Bird

Birding Tengchong, Yunnan, China in 2017 – 10,000 Birds

This is sort of a submit from any person with a malfunctioning – or a minimum of frivolously used – time machine. I visited Tengchong in late 2020 and wrote about it – however I additionally went there earlier, in 2017, and this submit reveals some photographs I took throughout that journey, together with the standard feedback that appear to be way more about ridiculing my fellow people (particularly ornithologists and the like) than offering helpful info on birds.

For instance, a researcher and presumed ornithologist set out with two hypotheses associated to the Ashy Drongo (and one other drongo species) and wrote a paper about it. Sadly, the Ashy Drongos didn’t precisely do what he predicted that they might do – mob potential predators extra ceaselessly throughout the breeding season and mob the extra harmful predator (on this case, the Black Eagle) extra intensely. Luckily, in science, there’s typically a method to flip a defeat right into a victory – on this case through the creator simply arising with a brand new speculation, “if black eagles use the frequency or depth of mobbing as a clue to find nests, an absence of seasonal distinction in mobbing conduct by drongos could also be an evolutionary adaptive technique.” Properly phrased, too – who would need to argue with an “evolutionary adaptive technique”? Properly, possibly some hardcore creationists, I assume. For them, God most likely was the one instructing the drongos to mob one species however not the opposite.

“Regardless of the damned drongo does, I’m certain there’s a paper in it” (ornithologist’s motto)

I do know. Why present photographs of species as boring as this Ashy-throated Warbler? To fake I’m an actual skilled birder who really cares for these poor excuses for winged creatures? I’ll go away that to the skilled chook guides. You understand who you might be. Both you might be solely in it for the cash, or you might be actually bizarre.


I can not inform whether or not the Black Bulbuls proven under are male or feminine – which for as soon as isn’t an indication of my restricted abilities as a birder however as a result of each sexes certainly look alike to people. Nevertheless, a life bulbul would possibly have the ability to inform the intercourse (although not from the photographs) – apparently, there are intercourse variations within the UV gentle vary, which birds can see whereas we can not. Helps birds to keep away from flirting with species mates they haven’t any sexual curiosity in.

Oh, and if you wish to impress somebody or speak to an ornithologist about it, make certain to discuss with it as sexual dichromatism. They are going to love you for it, I promise.



The Latin title of the Black-headed Greenfinch is Chloris ambigua. Chloris means inexperienced but in addition has a barely extra attention-grabbing backstory, in accordance with the HBW:

“In Gr. fantasy. Chloris was one of many daughters of Pierus, who, having didn’t greatest the Muses in a singing contest, was reworked right into a finch.” I’m wondering if the principles of the European Music Contest is also tailored, with the worst performers being changed into birds or possibly turtles.

If you don’t like that rationalization, the HBW has one other one:

“khloros inexperienced (cf. Gr. fantasy. Meliboea, a daughter of Niobe and Amphion, who was so traumatized by the slaughter of her siblings by a vengeful Apollo that she turned pale and adjusted her title to Chloris, the pale one)”

I feel it is vitally good of the HBW to offer you some selections on this matter. 

The ambigua half, nonetheless, appears to come back from the truth that the particular person initially describing this chook was undecided whether or not this was really a brand new species or only a barely different-looking Gray-capped Greenfinch (ambigua means uncertain or unsure).


Whereas I might not need to encourage anybody to place birds in cages, it’s attention-grabbing to examine the expertise of any person breeding Black-headed Sibias in captivity.

If you do not need to be put in a cage, it presumably helps to be a bit aggressive. The creator of the paper talked about finally decides to not proceed breeding this chook as he thinks that when breeding it’s too aggressive for group aviaries.

Feminine readers might choose the Black-throated Bushtit to the Silver-throated Bushtit. The male Black-throated Bushtits take part in incubation, the considerably extra macho Silver-throated Bushtits don’t (supply), presumably spending extra time in pubs whereas leaving the slightly boring job of sitting on a bunch of eggs for days on finish to their feminine companions.

Admittedly, it isn’t an excellent analogy, however pop songs typically have an element that is known as the center eighths – an element that’s totally different from the remainder of the music, typically instrumental, and (I think) generally the half permitting the singer or another musician slightly break (although I’m certain actual specialists on this space will dispute this). The equal on this weblog submit is a bit with out phrases that includes the Blue-fronted Redstart

Black-breasted Thrush

Blue-winged Minla

Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher

… and the Small Niltava.




June 2022 was the primary time I ever noticed the Brown-breasted Bulbul in Shanghai – a primary for Shanghai a minimum of on eBird. In fact, right here in Tengchong, it’s a quite common chook.


The Brown-winged Parrotbill seems to be fairly much like the Vinous-throated Parrotbill widespread in Shanghai. Advertising individuals would most likely additionally say that it shares the identical USP, cuteness. For those who have no idea what USP means, you might be undoubtedly not a advertising particular person your self.

I don’t essentially need to come over because the cranky older man I most likely am, however papers such because the one titled “Pleistocene glaciation explains the disjunct distribution of the Chestnut-vented Nuthatch (Aves, Sittidae)” do make me marvel how related some analysis is. Properly, the 6 authors received a grant for his or her work, the paper has been cited 9 occasions already, and the summary ends with the thrilling final sentence, “We suggest that the Wuyi disjunction of the Chestnut-vented Nuthatch was probably attributable to current vary growth from south-western China throughout the glacial interval, adopted by postglacial vary retraction”.

“Postglacial vary retraction – is that one thing like postpartum melancholy?”


From Memphis, Tennessee on to Tengchong, Yunnan: The Crested Finchbill. However totally different from Elvis a minimum of in his later, extra paranoid and reclusive part, the chook is described as “daring and approachable” by eBird.


The Crimson-breasted Woodpecker (if certainly that is one) is considered one of many chook species about which not that a lot is understood. It is a male – the females don’t like pink on their crown and have it dyed black, they suppose it makes them look youthful.

In Indonesia, Gray-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers might be ordered on-line – gives are posted in closed Fb teams. In 2015, the value for this chook was 35 USD (supply). So, there are some optimistic points of Fb being blocked in China.

The pink bit on the crown signifies that this can be a male. Undecided whether or not these are roughly costly than females.



The Blue Whistling Thrush can also be out there on-line in Indonesia (see supply above), however no worth is indicated – the paper remarks that “Not all posts included a worth as a result of some sellers choose to public sale birds”.

Whereas we birders most likely principally decide birds by their very own deserves (no matter these could also be), different individuals produce other standards. In a paper, totally different chook species have been evaluated for spreading the seed of an endangered Chinese language yew. It appears the Mountain Bulbul is doing this higher than the Mild-vented Bulbul. In fact, if the yew is positioned in locations with few Mountain Bulbuls (on this case, a botanical backyard), that is dangerous information for the yew.


As I’ve most likely talked about earlier than, Ms. Gould’s Sunbird is called after Elizabeth Gould, who was the spouse of John Gould however (most likely extra importantly as a justification to call a chook after her) the principal artist offering the drawings within the books of the Gould husband and spouse workforce.

There really is a fictional autobiography of her written by Melissa Ashley – most likely a bit too esoteric for me to learn, however possibly you have an interest. Donna, one thing so that you can assessment, possibly?

Elements of her real-life biography present an reason earlier than round 1880, the life expectancy of male people was not decrease than for females and should even have been greater. Elizabeth died 4 days after the start of her eighth baby, when she was 37.

(I do know I’m veering a bit off the monitor right here, however this can be a quote from a paper on mortality tendencies of men and women over the ages – printed within the delightfully titled “Transactions of Society of Actuaries” (that is most likely about calculating premiums for all times insurances, not about lengthening life spans): “Traditionally, the male tended to outlive longer than the feminine, a state of affairs that seems to have continued from the origins of our species till nicely into the fashionable period. The nice dangers related to childbirth since antiquity started to be overcome on account of medical advances on a broad entrance, enhancements in midwifery, and rising social standing of ladies on the whole”)

Nevertheless, I nonetheless discover it a bit counterintuitive to have a chook title begin with “Ms.” when in that species, the male is a lot extra enticing than the feminine.




For those who like understated magnificence, possibly the Gray Bushchat is your chook of selection.



If as an alternative, you favor one thing flashier, higher go together with the Orange-bellied Leafbird.



Plumbeous Water Redstarts in Indian Himalayan rivers have been one of many topic species of a paper how they spend their time. For this species, it’s 33% roosting and 41% foraging. I assume for the fashionable workplace employee, roosting is roughly equal to browsing the web and non-work-related issues – even the chances appear to be sort of much like the time price range of the redstart.

Apparently, one other 16% are spent on what the paper describes as”aggression”.

What is that this aggression? The paper solutions that query as nicely.

“We noticed that the plumbeous water-redstart spent a portion of its time defending its territory or microhabitat, particularly driving out White-capped Water Redstarts“.

As a consequence, the White-capped Water Redstarts have a unique time price range: 30% roosting, 52% foraging, and 10% “escape” – presumably principally from these bullying Plumbeous Water Redstarts, disgrace on them. Luckily, most likely most workplace staff spend a decrease share of their work time than that to keep away from bullying coworkers.

The Himalayan Bluetail seems to be like a deluxe model of the Purple-flanked Bluetail we have now in Shanghai in winter. Or as eBird places it, the excellence is within the “Himalayan’s brighter blue eyebrow and brighter, deeper blue upperparts within the male”.

The Latin species title of the Verditer Flycatcher, thalassinos, sounds just like the title of a Greek restaurant (and certainly it’s, see right here – it’s ranked #646 of two,470 Eating places in Athens) but in addition means sea-coloured, or sea-green, suggesting that the one that got here up with that title had not spent a lot time at an precise ocean.



The Whiskered Yuhina has a pleasant Latin title – Yuhina flavicollis, or golden-necked Yuhina. That appears to make extra sense than the “whiskered” of the English title.

Being a Yellow-bellied Fantail appears exhausting, judging from on-line movies – the chook appears to be very energetic, at all times transferring or a minimum of glancing round.

Higher simply to observe the chook. One other line from my favourite music about birding:

“Carpe-ing each Diem’s no achievement, it’s exhausting
For those who want me I’ll be sitting over right here, birdwatching”

(The Burning Hell, “Birdwatching”)

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