Our Beautiful World

Birdlife in Yunnan, China

The Yunnan Province of China is called 'Paradise for Photographers, Botanists and Ornithologists'

Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush, Garrulax pectoralis
© Photo: Cathy Farrar

There are 848 species of wild birds recorded in Yunnan, which makes up nearly 9% of the birds recorded in the world
and 65.5% of those in China. Due to its typical richness in pheasant and laughing thrush species,
Yunnan won the reputation as the Kingdom of the Pheasant and the Kingdom of the Laughing Thrush.

Left: Ring-necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
Right: Chinese Ringneck-type male (note grey rump) with very pale female
© Photo: Cathy Farrar and ChrisO

The Common Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus, is a bird in the pheasant family (Phasianidae). It is native to Georgia
(Ancient Colchis) and has been widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird.

The word pheasant is derived from the ancient town of Phasis, the predecessor of modern Poti in Western Georgia.

In parts of its range, namely in places where none of its relatives occur such as in Europe (where it is naturalized),
it is simply known as the "pheasant". Ring-necked Pheasant is both the name used for the species as a whole in North America
and also the collective name for a number of subspecies and their intergrades which have white neck rings.

Phasianus colchicus torquatus group – Chinese Ring-necked Pheasants including Taiwan Pheasant (P. c. formosanus)
Throughout China but widespread in the east, extending to northernmost Vietnam and Taiwan in the south and to the
Strait of Tartary region in the north. Usually broad neck ring. Wing coverts tan to light grey (almost white in some),
uppertail coverts grey to powder blue with orange tips. Top of head light grey.

Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis

Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
© Photo: Cathy Farrar

Common Kingfisher in China: Alcedo atthis bengalensis. Breeds in south and east Asia from India to Indonesia, China,
Korea, Japan and eastern Mongolia; winters south to Indonesia and the Philippines. It is smaller and brighter
than the European races.

In India, resident Alcedo atthis taprobana (left) and migrant Alcedo atthis bengalensis (right)
may both be present in winter.

The above picture, showing the colourful indian to the left, and the pale 'chinese' to the right makes me confused,
when I compare to the picture by Cathy Farrar above, which has been taken in Yunnan.
It sure doesn't make it easer when you find this comment on the net:
In south and southeast Asia it can be confused with six other small blue-and-rufous kingfishers, but the rufous
ear patches distinguish it from all but juvenile Blue-eared Kingfisher; details of the head pattern may be
necessary to differentiate the two species where both occur.


Afraid I'll have to study this bird more closely some day.

Here is the first part of that study:

Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes.
They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australia.
The group is treated either as a single family, Alcedinidae, or as a suborder Alcedines containing three families:
Alcedinidae (river kingfishers)
Halcyonidae (tree kingfishers)
Cerylidae (water kingfishers)

There are roughly 90 species of kingfisher. All have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.
Most species have bright plumage with little differences between the sexes. Most species are tropical in distribution,
and a slight majority are found only in forests.

They consume a wide range of prey as well as fish, usually caught by swooping down from a perch.
Like other members of their order they nest in cavities, usually tunnels dug into the natural or artificial banks in the ground.
A few species, principally insular forms, are threatened with extinction.

Yellow-billed Grosbeak
In: Yellow-billed Grosbeak Ca: Durbec becgroc Da: Gulnæbbet Kernebider De: Weißhand-Kernbeißer Es: Picogordo piquigualdo
Fi: kiinannokkavarpunen Fr: Grosbec migrateur It: Frosone codanera Nl: Witvleugeldikbek No: Orientkjernebiter Pt: Bico-grossudo-chinês
Sv: Mindre maskstenknäck US: Yellow-billed Grosbeak

Chinese Grosbeak, Eophona migratoria
also called Blacktailed Hawfinch, Yellow-billed Grosbeak and
Black-and-yellow Grosbeak. In norwegian: Orientkjernebiter
© Photo: Cathy Farrar

The Yellow-billed Grosbeak or Chinese Grosbeak, Eophona migratoria, is a species of finch in the Fringillidae family.
It can be found in the following countries: China, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South Korea, Laos, Myanmar,
Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam. It is found in these habitats: temperate forests.

Bulbuls - Pycnonotus .....

Light-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus sinensis

Norwegian: Kinabylbyl

The Light-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus sinensis, also known as the Chinese Bulbul, is a member of the bulbul family.

The particular characteristic is the large white patch covering the nape and the sides of its black head.
It also sings very brightly and variably with a 'cha-ko-lee...cha-ko-lee...' sound.

The bulbul is common in East Asia, including Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.
The birds of Taiwan are of an endemic subspecies.

Brown-breasted bulbul, Pycnonotus xanthorrhous- Lijian Region Highlands, Yunnan, 04-FEB-2011

So far so good, but again I realize I don't know much about anything.
For example - what in the world is a bulbul?
`Never heard about it before, and so I see that there are at least 37 different kinds of bulbul-birds
in one reference list, like these:

Straw-headed Bulbul, Striated Bulbul, Cream-striped Bulbul , Spot-necked Bulbul, Black-and-white Bulbul,
Gray-headed Bulbul. Black-headed Bulbul and Black-crested Bulbul

Brown-eared Bulbul, Microscelis amaurotis
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arudhio/

Here is more information on the bulbuls:
The word bulbul derives from Persian bolbol, meaning nightingale.[
Bulbuls are a family, Pycnonotidae, of medium-sized passerine songbirds. Many forest species are known as greenbuls.
The family is distributed across most of Africa and into the Middle East, tropical Asia to Indonesia, and north as far as Japan.
A few insular species occur on the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean There are about 130 species in around 24 genera.
While some species are found in most habitats, overall African species are predominately found in rainforest whilst rainforest
species are rare in Asia, instead preferring more open areas.

The only Bulbul which occurs in Europe was spotted in the Cyclades and bears a yellow patch, being otherwise of
a snuffy brown and this is possibly the bird which has got mixed up with the nightingale in Sufi, particularly Persian Sufi, poetry.

Bulbuls are short-necked slender passerines. The tails are long and the wings short and rounded. In almost all species
the bill is slightly elongated and slightly hooked at the end. They vary in length from 13 cm for the Tiny Greenbul to 29 cm
in the Straw-headed Bulbul. Overall the sexes are alike, although the females tend to be slightly smaller.
In a few species the differences are so great that they have been described as functionally different species.
The soft plumage of some species is colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throat or supercilia,
but most are drab, with uniform olive brown to black plumage.


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