China Birding Tours
China is a vast and diverse country that boasts some impressive numbers. With a population of almost 1.5 billion people, it is the world’s most populous country, accounting for almost one-fifth of the world’s population. Its land area of approximately 3.7 million square miles (9.6 million square kilometers) makes it the second-largest country in the world by land area, and the third-largest in the world by total area.
One of China’s most remarkable features is its land border, which is the longest combined land border in the world, measuring 13,743 miles (22,117 kilometers), and borders 14 countries. This border extends across much of East Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar in Southeast Asia; India, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in South Asia; Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia; and Russia, Mongolia, and North Korea in Inner Asia and Northeast Asia. This position has allowed China to play a significant role in international trade and diplomacy in the region.
China’s coastline along the Pacific Ocean is another notable feature, with a length of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) and is bounded by the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. This coastline has given China access to the sea and has facilitated its engagement in maritime trade and commerce with countries like South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. However, China’s maritime claims have also been a source of tension with its neighbors in recent years.
Despite its impressive numbers and vast territory, China still faces many challenges, including pollution, income inequality, and demographic shifts. As the world’s second-largest economy, China has a significant impact on the global economy and is a key player in international affairs. Its unique position at the crossroads of Asia has allowed it to exert considerable influence in the region and beyond.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the sole governing authority in China, with jurisdiction over 22 provinces, including Yunnan, Sichuan, and Qinghai, where our bird watching tours take place. Additionally, it governs five autonomous regions such as Inner Mongolia and Tibet, four direct-controlled municipalities namely Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing, as well as the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. While China regards Taiwan as its 23rd province, Taiwan is actually governed by the Republic of China (ROC), which denies the claim made by the People’s Republic of China.
Due to its immense size, China’s landscape is extensive and varied, encompassing regions like the arid north, which includes the Gobi Desert and Taklamakan Desert, to the wetter south, characterized by subtropical forests. The country is separated from much of South and Central Asia by mountain ranges like the Himalayas, Karakoram, Pamir, and Tian Shan, and it shares the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, with neighboring Nepal, standing at 29,029 feet (8,848 meters). China is also home to the third-longest river in the world, the Yangtze River, and the sixth-longest, the Yellow River, both of which flow from the Tibetan Plateau (known for its sought-after Black-necked Crane) to the densely populated eastern China seaboard.
Furthermore, China connects to the Eurasian Steppe through its border with Kazakhstan, which has been a vital communication artery between the East and West since the Neolithic era, through the Steppe route. This route is considered the predecessor of the terrestrial Silk Road.
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China is a country with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and it is recognized as the third most biodiverse country in the world. It is also among the 17 megadiverse countries that have been identified by Conservation International. China is situated in two major biogeographic realms, namely the Palearctic and the Indo-Malayan, which further adds to its biodiversity.
Birdwatching enthusiasts will find China an exciting destination as it has a vast array of habitats that are home to a huge variety of bird species. According to the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy, China has a bird list of over 1,420 species, including 60 full endemic and 16 breeding endemic birds, making it a must-visit destination for birders from all over the world. Moreover, there are several monotypic families present for family listers.
China is also recognized by BirdLife International as having 14 Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs), and over 100 bird species are considered globally threatened, with some of the most severely threatened species being Baer’s Pochard, Siberian Crane, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Chinese Crested Tern, White-shouldered Ibis, White-bellied Heron, White-rumped Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Blue-crowned Laughingthrush, and Yellow-breasted Bunting. Bird enthusiasts would find these birds interesting and challenging to spot and will undoubtedly have a great time exploring the vast and varied birdlife of China.
China is a country with a rich and diverse wildlife, and this is especially true when it comes to mammals. With over 500 species recorded, China is home to a large number of mammalian species that are not found anywhere else in the world. One of the most famous mammalian species in China is the Giant Panda, which is native to the country’s bamboo forests. However, there are many other incredible species to be found in China.
For instance, there are several species of big cats in China, including the Leopard, Clouded Leopard, and several species of Tigers such as the Bengal, Indochinese, Siberian, and South China. The Snow Leopard is also found in the mountainous regions of China. These big cats are often elusive and difficult to spot, but their presence in the wild is an important indicator of the health of China’s ecosystems.
Other notable mammals in China include the Asiatic Black Bear, Sun Bear, and four subspecies of Brown Bear. The Tibetan Fox is a unique and striking canid species found in the high-altitude regions of China, while the Red Panda is a charismatic and highly threatened species that is restricted to the forests of the Himalayas. Other large mammals in China include the Gaur, Yak, Takin, and Himalayan Tahr.
With so many unique and interesting mammalian species, China is a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists. Protecting these species and their habitats is essential to maintaining the ecological balance and preserving the natural heritage of this great country.
The recent changes in China’s environmental laws have led to the establishment of several national park projects and protected areas for wildlife and their habitats. China has almost 2,350 nature reserves and 512 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) recognized by BirdLife International. Our birding trips include visits to several of these sites. China has also increased the number of its Ramsar sites, which are wetlands of international importance, to 57. One such example is Poyang Lake (Poyang Hu), which is not only a national nature reserve but also an IBA. Since the early 1980s, Poyang Hu has become renowned as the wintering ground of several globally threatened bird species. For instance, 98% of the world population of Siberian Crane, which totals only about 3,000 individuals, winters at Poyang. Other rare and endangered species, such as the Oriental Stork, Swan Goose, and White-naped Crane, occur in significant numbers in this area.
Our birdwatching tours in China are scheduled to coincide with the peak bird activity in the selected provinces, and we are accompanied by experienced international tour leaders and local bird guides who possess extensive knowledge. We cater to small groups of individuals interested in exploring Yunnan, Sichuan, and Qinghai provinces on our Chinese tours, and we also provide customized or private tours for those interested in birdwatching, mammal watching, or photography in any province of their choosing.
Below is a brief overview of the breathtaking destinations and magnificent bird species that you can experience on our China birdwatching tours. Please note that we also have dedicated pages for birdwatching tours in Taiwan. Additionally, our tours run consecutively, allowing you to combine multiple tours if you desire.
Birding Tour China: Yunnan
The province of Yunnan is China’s most diverse region and is home to more than half of the country’s bird species, despite accounting for only four percent of the land area. The landscapes in Yunnan range from snow-capped mountains to tropical rainforests, making it a stunning location for birdwatching. Some of the top bird species to see on our tour of Yunnan include the White-eared Night Heron, Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch, Yunnan Nuthatch, White-speckled Laughingthrush, Spotted Elachura (which belongs to a monotypic family), Golden Bush Robin, Chinese Babax, Himalayan Cutia, and Yellow-throated Bunting. If you have previously enjoyed one of our Thailand birding tours, a tour of Yunnan in China would be a great next step in your Asian birdwatching journey.
Birding Tour China: Sichuan
China is a country with an incredible diversity of bird species. From mountains to forests and wide-open steppes, the landscape offers unique habitats for many endemic and specialty bird species. In particular, the Longcanggou Forest Park, Labahe Nature Reserve, Wolong National Nature Reserve, Balang Shan, Mengbi Shan, and Baxi Forest are known for their stunning landscapes and remarkable birding experiences.
Some of the bird species that can be spotted in these locations include Chinese Monal, Blood Pheasant, White Eared Pheasant, Blue Eared Pheasant, Golden Pheasant, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Tibetan Snowcock, Temminck’s Tragopan, Snow Partridge, Black-necked Crane, Firethroat, Chinese Rubythroat, Giant Laughingthrush, Emei Shan Liocichla, Grandala, Ground Tit, Sichuan Tit, Crested Tit-warbler, and the monotypic family Przevalski’s Finch. In addition, many other gamebirds, parrotbills, laughingthrushes, warblers, thrushes, and rosefinches can be seen on this tour.
Moreover, visitors to these locations have the chance to see both the Giant Panda and Red Panda. The stunning landscape and variety of bird species make this tour an unforgettable experience. So, if you’re looking for a unique birding experience, make sure to add these locations to your itinerary.
Birding Tour China: Qinghai
We explore the magnificent Tibetan Plateau, known as the “Roof of the World,” to spot a variety of high-elevation species such as White Eared Pheasant, Tibetan Partridge, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Himalayan Snowcock, Tibetan Snowcock, Ibisbill, Snow Pigeon, Crested Tit-warbler, Mongolian Lark, Tibetan Lark, Tibetan Snowfinch, Tibetan Rosefinch, Tibetan Bunting, Tibetan Babax, Tibetan Serin, Grandala, and Henderson’s Ground Jay. This journey across Asia is truly awe-inspiring.