Birding Shanghai in June 2023 – 10,000 Birds

This yr, 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 (corresponding to American Robins – be aware that these are the faux 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 (source).

This leaves Shanghai in June with mainly simply the year-round species and the summer season breeders, possibly with just a few added ultra-lazy people of migratory species.

Thankfully, there are just a few 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 appropriately – contradicting the official title.

Whereas the HBW states that it breeds at 300 – 2450 meters, in Shanghai – the place such elevations usually are not obtainable outdoors 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 baby of your dad and mom, you could name your self fortunate to not be a Purple Heron. In a brood, these chicks normally don’t survive resulting from sibling rivalry, i.e., they starve (source).

Their migration is sort of quick in comparison with many different bigger birds – in one study, 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 shifting their sleeping areas near the meals supply to save lots of time (source), equal to a Tour de France bike owner locking himself right into a McDonald’s restaurant for just a few days earlier than beginning the race.

Within the barely frighteningly named journal “Science of The Whole Atmosphere”, there may be a paper on organochlorine compounds in Purple Heron eggs nesting in websites positioned round a chloralkali plant (Ebro River). Abstract consequence: 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 hen that additionally bioaccumulates sure chemical substances corresponding to heavy metals, as described 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? Simple: You simply transfer the colony (source).

If you’re a younger (second-year) attractive male or feminine Black-crowned Evening Heron searching for an skilled accomplice to breed, you might be in all probability out of luck. It appears the older herons want to mate with one another, a phenomenon that within the non-pornographic language of ornithologists known as Age-assortative Mating (source).

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



Whereas my recent 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 components of Shanghai is that it’s virtually all the time potential to seek out some Reed Parrotbills (though a lot of the websites I uncover for the species are being destroyed inside just a few months).

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


Cattle Egrets are completely trendy birds – they have been among the many first species to ditch mailed letters for faxes, then switched to e 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 obtainable as incompetently taken video 1 and video 2.

As administration consultants would phrase it, feminine Pheasant-tailed Jacanas deal with their core competency – laying eggs – and outsource the following steps corresponding to incubating and feeding the chicks to the males. Environment friendly, but it surely additionally signifies that the feminine chicks lack appropriate position fashions of their adolescence.

The females are larger and – when nests or chicks are attacked – deal with defending in opposition to aerial predators and conspecific females whereas the males deal with different males (source).

Here’s one of many common of my movies displaying a Pheasant-tailed Jacana not doing a lot.

Breeding of Black-tailed Godwits appears to be barely negatively affected by highway lighting, as a Dutch study 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 unfavorable 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 will to create semi-witty titles for scientific papers typically is stronger than advisable.

Anyway, just a few movies present Black-tailed Godwits positively not sinking: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Azure-winged Magpies are fairly happy with their look …

… and typically intentionally pose subsequent to objects that match their very own coloration.

The Black-naped Oriole is without doubt one of the most tasty summer season breeders in Shanghai.

With 20 subspecies acknowledged, this species clearly requires a advisor to rationalize the subspecies and scale back them to a extra manageable quantity. I’ll take over this activity as soon as I’m finished with eliminating among the underutilized parts from the periodic desk.

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

Very possible Black Drongos breed in Shanghai as nicely.


Whereas there appear to be fewer Lesser Coucals at Nanhui this yr, they nonetheless have a powerful presence at Fengxian. Sadly, that space can be presently being destroyed.

Bye, bye, Lesser Coucal.


Some researchers did an experiment that amongst people is barely finished not often and solely by way of errors made in maternity hospitals. They switched eggs between Crimson-rumped Swallows and Barn Swallows. Just like the uncommon human experiment, the outcomes have been typically acceptable, although in fact that doesn’t account for any potential psychological harm attributable to the swap in dad and mom.

Often, second-hand nests of Crimson-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 (source).

As a toddler, I as soon as had an aquarium with a number of black mollies. Thus, it was a bit disappointing that the complete textual content of a paper titled “Escape Response of Black Mollies (Poecilia sphenops) to Predatory Dives of a Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)” is just not freely obtainable 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 eating regimen of Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)”. In essence, the introduction of the Nile perch diminished 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 fashionable amongst these kingfishers.

Frequent Kingfishers are a superb match with my restricted video abilities, as they often simply sit round ready for one thing to occur (not “Waiting around to die“, however it’s all the time good to call a Townes van Zandt track).

That’s in distinction to Black-winged Stilts, which appear very eager on showing off their (admittedly spectacular) legs.



Whiskered Terns look very very like they use lipstick. Unusual.

One study 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 often”. I assume 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.

In line with wordsense, the “pie” within the treepie (and in addition 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 elements put into pies are comparable with the truth that magpies will eat virtually something. Sounds a bit made-up to me, however in fact, it might take me a while to provide you with a greater made-up rationalization, so let’s simply take this one.

And eventually, round this time of the yr, grownup Crimson-billed Starlings are consistently harassed by their hungry chicks, serving as a helpful warning to people to make use of contraception.




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