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 stunning on condition that this was the most well liked Shanghai Might within the final 100 years, and a minimum of some birds (resembling American Robins – word that these are the pretend robins of the US, they in all probability additionally declare that their title was stolen from them by the liberal press) observe isotherms on their migration (supply).

This leaves Shanghai in June with principally simply the year-round species and the summer season breeders, possibly 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 accurately – contradicting the official title.

Whereas the HBW states that it breeds at 300 – 2450 meters, in Shanghai – the place such elevations aren’t accessible exterior of the higher flooring of some highrises – it makes to with an altitude of about 0 meters as nicely.

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

If you’re the fourth or fifth youngster of your mother and father, it’s possible you’ll name your self fortunate to not be a Purple Heron. In a brood, these chicks normally don’t survive on account of 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 transferring their sleeping places near the meals supply to save lots of 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 Whole Surroundings”, there’s a paper on organochlorine compounds in Purple Heron eggs nesting in websites positioned round a chloralkali plant (Ebro River). Abstract outcome: related chemical substances emitted by the plant may be discovered within the eggs.

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

… (a chook that additionally bioaccumulates sure chemical substances resembling 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? Straightforward: You simply transfer the colony (supply).

If you’re a younger (second-year) attractive 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 desire to mate with one another, a phenomenon that within the non-pornographic language of ornithologists is known as Age-assortative Mating (supply).

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



Whereas my current experimentation with ChatGPT confirmed that ChatGPT thinks the Gray-headed Lapwing may 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 relatively cute chicks (video).

The advantage of sure elements of Shanghai is that it’s nearly all the time potential to search out some Reed Parrotbills (despite the fact that a lot of the websites I uncover for the species are being destroyed inside a couple of months).

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


Cattle Egrets are completely trendy birds – they had been among the many first species to ditch mailed letters for faxes, then switched to electronic mail early, and now (a minimum of in China) largely talk by WeChat. They’re additionally early adopters with regard to their foraging – these days largely following tractors relatively than cattle.

It typically seems to be a bit dangerous although.

Additionally accessible as incompetently taken video 1 and video 2.

As administration consultants would phrase it, feminine Pheasant-tailed Jacanas concentrate on their core competency – laying eggs – and outsource the following steps resembling 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 – concentrate on defending towards aerial predators and conspecific females whereas the males concentrate on different males (supply).

Right here’s one of many ordinary of my movies exhibiting 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 – particularly, numbers within the Netherlands have decreased considerably, and the chicks are negatively affected by intensified agriculture (HBW).

A paper inspecting the unfavourable 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 typically 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 typically intentionally pose subsequent to gadgets that match their very own colour.

The Black-naped Oriole is among the most engaging summer season breeders in Shanghai.

With 20 subspecies acknowledged, this species clearly requires a marketing consultant to rationalize the subspecies and cut back them to a extra manageable quantity. I could take over this job as soon as I’m carried out with eliminating a number of the underutilized parts from the periodic desk.

Subspecies of Black-naped Orioles may also be recognized by their completely different vocalizations, as described in an in any other case frustratingly obscure paper with statements resembling “The outcomes present {that a} forensic method to birdsong evaluation, impressed by speech processing, might supply invaluable insights into cryptic species variety in addition to tune identification on the subspecies stage.”

Very seemingly Black Drongos breed in Shanghai as nicely.


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

Bye, bye, Lesser Coucal.


Some researchers did an experiment that amongst people is simply carried out not often and solely by way of errors made in maternity hospitals. They switched eggs between Pink-rumped Swallows and Barn Swallows. Just like the uncommon human experiment, the outcomes had been typically acceptable, although in fact that doesn’t account for any potential psychological harm brought on by the swap in mother and father.

Often, second-hand nests of Pink-rumped Swallows flip up in native actual property markets. Whereas the demand typically is pretty low, some home sparrows typically use this chance to get onto what’s presumably the bottom stage 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 total textual content of a paper titled “Escape Response of Black Mollies (Poecilia sphenops) to Predatory Dives of a Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)” will not be freely accessible 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 food plan of Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)”. In essence, the introduction of the Nile perch decreased 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 talked-about amongst these kingfishers.

Widespread Kingfishers are a superb match with my restricted video expertise, as they incessantly simply sit round ready for one thing to occur (not “Ready round to die“, however it’s all the time good to call a Townes van Zandt tune).

That’s in distinction to Black-winged Stilts, which appear very eager on exhibiting 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 incessantly”. I suppose 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.

Based on wordsense, the “pie” within the treepie (and likewise 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 the numerous substances put into pies are comparable with the truth that magpies will eat nearly 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 Pink-billed Starlings are always harassed by their hungry chicks, serving as a helpful warning to people to make use of contraception.





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