INTERESTING BIRDS IN CHINA: CRANES, IBISES AND PEACOCKS
Exploring the Avian Wonders of China
China, a land of diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity, is home to an astounding array of bird species. With over 1,000 recorded species, the country’s avifauna is a captivating tapestry of colors, calls, and behaviors. Among the many feathered treasures found in China, several rare and enchanting species stand out, offering a glimpse into the country’s avian diversity.
In the breathtaking region of Yangshuo, nestled within the scenic Guilin prefecture, one can witness the grace and majesty of the eagle. This powerful bird of prey soars through the skies, its keen eyesight scanning the earth below. Its presence serves as a reminder of the wild beauty and untamed spirit that can be found in China’s natural wonders.
Beyond the eagle, a cornucopia of avian gems awaits those who venture deeper into China’s bird-rich territories. The golden pheasant, with its resplendent plumage of vibrant red, orange, and yellow, is a true spectacle. Its exotic allure has captivated bird enthusiasts for generations, making it a cherished symbol of China’s natural heritage.
Derby’s parakeet, a rare and elusive species, adds an element of mystique to China’s avian kingdom. With its emerald-green feathers and a vibrant splash of blue across its cheeks, this parakeet is a hidden treasure in the dense forests it calls home. Spotting one is a moment of sheer serendipity.
The white-crowned long-tailed pheasant is another elusive beauty, adorning the woodlands of China with its elegant plumage. Its long tail, gracefully trailing behind as it navigates the underbrush, is a testament to nature’s artistry. Observing this magnificent bird in its natural habitat is a privilege bestowed upon the fortunate few.
In the vibrant world of sunbirds, the yellow-backed sunbird stands out as a dazzling gem. Its iridescent feathers shimmer in the sunlight, reflecting a myriad of hues that seem almost ethereal. These tiny birds flit from flower to flower, their delicate presence adding a touch of enchantment to China’s floral landscapes.
The red-billed leiothrix, a small passerine bird, is known for its vibrant plumage and melodic song. Its melodious trills and calls can be heard echoing through the forests, creating a symphony of nature’s music. Its colorful presence brightens up the verdant habitats it inhabits.
Lastly, we encounter the regal red-crowned crane, a symbol of longevity and good fortune in Chinese culture. With its elegant stature and snowy white feathers contrasting against a crimson crown, this magnificent bird is a true icon. Endangered and rare, the red-crowned crane exemplifies the need for conservation efforts to protect China’s avian heritage.
As we delve into the fascinating world of China’s birdlife, we are reminded of the importance of preserving and appreciating the natural wonders that surround us. These extraordinary creatures serve as ambassadors of the environment, inviting us to marvel at the diversity and fragility of our planet.
So, let us embrace the awe-inspiring beauty of China’s avian inhabitants, cherishing every encounter and working together to ensure their continued existence. By doing so, we can guarantee that future generations will also have the privilege of witnessing the soaring eagle, the resplendent pheasant, and the enchanting chorus of birds that grace China’s skies.
Unraveling the Mysterious Tragedy of the Falling Birds ️
In February 2004, the world witnessed a puzzling and tragic event when thousands of bramblings, members of the finch family, inexplicably plummeted from the sky, leaving a haunting scene reminiscent of rainfall. Approximately 10,000 of these birds met a sudden and untimely demise, leaving scientists and observers bewildered as to the cause of this extraordinary occurrence.
The enigmatic incident, which unfolded like a macabre spectacle, raised numerous questions and spurred extensive investigations by experts seeking answers. What could have led to the simultaneous and mass mortality of these avian creatures? As the lifeless bodies blanketed the ground, theories began to circulate, with one prevailing hypothesis suggesting that the birds had been poisoned.
The speculation of poisoning as the cause of death stemmed from the sheer scale and suddenness of the event. It seemed highly improbable for such a large number of birds to succumb simultaneously due to natural causes alone. Poisoning, whether accidental or intentional, appeared to be a plausible explanation, prompting scientists to delve deeper into the incident.
However, despite rigorous efforts, a definitive answer to the mystery of the falling birds remained elusive. Scientists encountered numerous challenges in their quest to unravel the truth. The absence of visible signs of injury or illness on the birds’ bodies complicated the investigation further, leaving behind a perplexing puzzle that defied easy resolution.
In the absence of concrete evidence, researchers could only speculate on potential causes. Environmental factors, such as severe weather conditions, were considered as possible contributors. It is known that extreme weather events can disorient and confuse birds, leading to fatal collisions or exhaustion. However, the precise circumstances that could have triggered such a catastrophic event remained uncertain.
Other hypotheses revolved around the potential exposure of the birds to toxic substances. Accidental or deliberate contamination of their habitat with chemicals or pesticides could have led to their demise. Yet, without specific evidence or patterns, attributing the deaths to poisoning remained speculative.
The tragedy of the falling birds serves as a poignant reminder of the complex and delicate nature of our ecosystems. It underscores the importance of preserving and protecting the natural environments that sustain diverse forms of life, including our feathered friends. By studying incidents like this, scientists strive to gain a deeper understanding of our environment’s intricacies and safeguard its fragile balance.
While the specific cause of the bramblings’ mass mortality may remain a mystery, their unfortunate fate compels us to reflect on the broader challenges faced by wildlife worldwide. It serves as a call to action, urging us to prioritize conservation efforts, promote responsible land management practices, and raise awareness about the interconnectedness of all living beings.
As we remember the spectacle of the falling birds, let us also celebrate the remarkable resilience of nature and the tireless efforts of scientists who work diligently to shed light on its mysteries. Through ongoing research, collaboration, and environmental stewardship, we can strive to protect the avian world and ensure that such tragic events become increasingly rare, allowing birds to grace our skies for generations to come.
Artificial breeding programs in Russia and China have successfully raised storks, which were subsequently imported to Japan. In the southern province of Jiangxi, an owl constructed a nest inside a farmer’s house, allowing it to join the farmer’s family in watching television every evening.
Preserving China’s Rare Avian Treasures: The Chinese Crested Tern and Saunders’s Gull
China’s avian realm boasts a multitude of extraordinary species, some of which are among the rarest birds on the planet. Among these avian treasures are the Chinese crested tern and Saunders’s gull, captivating creatures that capture the imagination of bird enthusiasts and conservationists alike.
The Chinese crested tern, renowned for its striking appearance and unique features, stands as one of the world’s rarest birds. This remarkable species finds its home in Fujian Province, where it navigates the coastal landscapes with elegance and grace. The sighting of this avian gem is an occasion to cherish, as its population continues to face threats that push it towards the brink of extinction.
Recognizing the urgent need for conservation action, the Saunder’s Gull Protection Association, an NGO founded by Liu Detian, has stepped forward as a champion for these delicate avian wonders. With a bold vision in mind, the association has proposed the establishment of the world’s largest breeding wetland in the expansive Panjin wetland of Liaoning Province. Spanning an impressive 3,149 square kilometers, this wetland would serve as a sanctuary and breeding ground for a myriad of bird species, including the endangered Chinese crested tern.
The Saunder’s gull, another rare avian inhabitant of China, also benefits from the efforts of the Saunder’s Gull Protection Association. With a dwindling population and a precarious status, this gull species requires immediate attention and concerted conservation measures. By addressing the critical needs of both the Chinese crested tern and the Saunder’s gull, the association seeks to safeguard China’s avian biodiversity and preserve its natural heritage for generations to come.
The establishment of the proposed breeding wetland in the Panjin region holds immense promise. Such a vast and carefully managed habitat would not only provide a safe haven for these rare birds but also serve as a beacon of hope for the broader ecological community. Wetlands play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance, supporting diverse flora and fauna, and providing essential ecosystem services.
The ambitious endeavor undertaken by the Saunder’s Gull Protection Association underscores the significance of collective action in safeguarding our planet’s biodiversity. It serves as an inspiring example of how grassroots initiatives can drive positive change and contribute to the conservation of endangered species.
As we celebrate the magnificence of China’s rare birds, let us rally behind the conservation efforts dedicated to their survival. By supporting organizations like the Saunder’s Gull Protection Association, advocating for responsible land management practices, and raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation, we can make a meaningful difference in securing a brighter future for these remarkable avian creatures.
Together, we have the power to protect and preserve the natural wonders that grace our skies, ensuring that the Chinese crested tern, Saunders’s gull, and countless other species continue to soar in the wild, enriching our world with their presence.
For information on birds in Tibet, please refer to the dedicated article titled “Tibetan Animals and Plants” on factsanddetails.com. Additionally, you can find more articles on animals in China on the same website, factsanddetails.com.
Here are some alternative ways to phrase the text:
- The websites and sources for rare birds in China include rarebirdsofchina.com and birdlist.org/china, which provides a checklist of birds in China.
- For information on birding hotspots in China, you can visit China Birding Hotspots at chinabird.net or explore resources on Fat Birder’s website.
- To learn about cranes, including those found in China, you can visit the International Crane Foundation’s website at savingcranes.org.
- For information on animals considered living national treasures in China, you can visit lntreasures.com/china or explore Animal Info at animalinfo.org.
- To find information about endangered animals in China, you can visit ifce.org/endanger.
- For details on plants in China, including the Flora of China, you can explore the Harvard University Herbaria’s website at flora.huh.harvard.edu.
When searching online, you can also try using the search term “Birdwatching in China” to find additional useful sites and resources.
Birdwatchers and Birdcatchers in China
Bridging the Gap: Understanding Birdwatching in China
Birdwatching, a beloved pastime for nature enthusiasts around the world, brings people closer to the wonders of avian life. However, in China, birdwatchers often find themselves facing misconceptions and unique challenges in their pursuit of feathered marvels. From being mistaken for surveyors to encountering disbelief about the existence of birds, their journey unveils a complex relationship between humans and the avian world.
When birdwatchers venture into new areas and identify themselves as such, they may encounter perplexed reactions. Mistaken for surveyors or researchers, they are often met with skepticism or confusion. Locals, unaware of the hobby of birdwatching, may question the purpose of their presence and fail to understand the sheer joy and fascination derived from observing birds in their natural habitats.
In some instances, when birdwatchers express their interest in finding specific bird species, they are met with raised eyebrows and inquiries about the cost of these sought-after birds. This response highlights the prevailing misconception that birdwatchers are engaged in a commercial pursuit, seeking to acquire valuable birds for trade or keeping them in captivity.
A well-known birder from Shanghai succinctly captured this situation, stating, “Whatever species you can find in the forest, you can go to the local market and see in a cage.” This statement sheds light on the sad reality that many bird species, once abundant in the wild, have become victims of the illegal wildlife trade. Captured and confined, these magnificent creatures are reduced to commodities for display.
Amidst these challenges, birdwatchers in China remain steadfast in their dedication to the hobby and the conservation of avian biodiversity. They strive to educate and raise awareness about the importance of protecting birds and their natural habitats. By sharing their experiences and knowledge, they hope to bridge the gap between the general public and the avian world, fostering appreciation and understanding.
China, with its vast and diverse landscapes, is home to an extraordinary array of bird species. From the lush forests to the wetlands, each habitat holds its own treasures waiting to be discovered. Birdwatching provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature, to witness the beauty of birds in their natural environments, and to contribute to their conservation.
As we explore the world of birdwatching in China, let us appreciate the passion and dedication of those who tirelessly advocate for the protection of birds. Together, we can work towards a future where birds can soar freely in the wild, where they are cherished for their intrinsic value and ecological contributions. Let us embrace the wonders of avian life and foster a harmonious relationship between humans and birds, where both can thrive in harmony.
Birds face multiple threats, including pollution, habitat degradation, and the rampant use of illegal methods such as netting and poisoning for food. Tragically, the capture and trade of wild birds for the purpose of pet keeping or release during festivals persist as prominent issues. Buddhists, driven by the belief that releasing caged birds brings positive karma, commonly engage in this practice.
Reflections on Chinese Bird Markets: A Complex Interplay of Captivity and Conservation ️
Chinese bird markets, bustling hubs of avian activity, offer a glimpse into the intricate dynamics surrounding birds and human interaction. Amidst the vibrant array of sights and sounds, one can observe a mix of disheartening practices and the fervent efforts of conservationists striving to protect these feathered beings.
Within these markets, one may come across recently captured thrushes, skylarks, and grosbeaks, confined to cruelly small cages, their appearance worn and disheveled. It is a somber sight that underscores the challenges faced by wild birds subjected to the confines of captivity. The plight of these creatures stands as a stark reminder of the threats posed by habitat loss, illegal trapping, and the demand for exotic pets.
In contrast, there are instances where children keep sparrows on leashes, gently taming the birds through soft strokes on their heads. This more compassionate interaction reveals a unique bond formed between humans and birds, albeit within the context of captivity. While the practice may elicit mixed emotions, it serves as a testament to the innate connection that can develop between humans and animals.
Birds like budgies and minias, commonly seen in these markets, are often bred in captivity. These domestically raised birds demonstrate the potential for sustainable and responsible practices, highlighting the role of captive breeding programs in supporting avian populations. When executed responsibly, captive breeding can help reduce the pressure on wild populations while providing bird enthusiasts with the joy of avian companionship.
Exotic birds, such as fallvettas, leaf birds, and yhina, are a sight to behold in these markets. Originating from the southern regions, they are captured and transported to the north, traversing great distances. This trade raises concerns about the impact on wild populations and the ethical implications of capturing and selling these beautiful and unique creatures.
It is important to approach the topic of bird markets with a nuanced perspective. While certain practices are disheartening, there are individuals and organizations working tirelessly to promote avian conservation and welfare. Efforts are underway to raise awareness about the impact of illegal trapping and the importance of preserving natural habitats.
Conservationists, bird enthusiasts, and animal welfare advocates continue to collaborate to find solutions that balance the cultural significance of birds in Chinese society with the imperative to protect their wild counterparts. Initiatives are being undertaken to promote responsible pet ownership, support captive breeding programs, and discourage the illegal trade of wild birds.
As we navigate the complexities surrounding Chinese bird markets, let us strive for a future where the well-being and conservation of birds are paramount. By fostering a greater understanding of the challenges faced by avian species and supporting conservation efforts, we can work together to ensure a harmonious coexistence between humans and birds, where their beauty and freedom can be celebrated for generations to come.
Bird enthusiasts in China hold a particular fondness for melodious songbirds, with the tiny Japanese white-eyes and hwamei being highly favored. In the market, recently captured birds can be purchased for as little as $1.50, while those that have undergone a year of training command prices as high as $300. The white-eyes are typically housed in beautiful and refined cages, exuding an air of elegance, while the hwamei are kept in simpler, solid-sided cages, reflecting a more minimalist approach.
Bird Netting in China
Protecting Migratory Birds: A Call for Conservation Efforts in Northeast China
Every fall, an awe-inspiring spectacle takes place in northeast China as a vast number of migratory birds embark on their journey southward. The majestic Liaodong Peninsula serves as a critical stopover site, acting as a natural funnel for these remarkable avian travelers. Sadly, this annual phenomenon has also attracted the attention of local poachers, putting the migratory bird population at great risk.
Driven by profit and the demand for delicacies, these poachers set up thousands of nets across the landscape, including public land areas like the Laotoe Mountain Nature Reserve. These nets, intended to capture and kill the birds, present a severe threat to the very creatures that grace the skies with their extraordinary migrations.
The consequences of this illegal practice are significant and far-reaching. While some of the captured birds are consumed locally, the majority are sent to southern China, where they are considered delicacies. The sheer scale of this operation exacerbates the pressure on migratory bird populations, potentially pushing certain species to the brink of extinction.
Efforts to combat this issue require a multi-faceted approach, involving awareness, enforcement, and conservation initiatives. Education plays a vital role in promoting understanding among local communities about the ecological importance of migratory birds and the need to protect them. Engaging with communities and raising awareness about alternative livelihoods and sustainable practices can help mitigate the demand for capturing and consuming migratory birds.
Furthermore, strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations is crucial in curbing illegal trapping and hunting activities. Collaborative efforts between law enforcement agencies, conservation organizations, and local communities can contribute to effective surveillance, monitoring, and the prosecution of offenders involved in poaching.
To address the underlying factors driving this practice, efforts should be made to enhance livelihood opportunities in affected communities. Supporting sustainable tourism, birdwatching initiatives, and eco-friendly businesses can provide economic alternatives that benefit both local residents and the conservation of migratory birds.
International cooperation is also essential in protecting migratory birds. Collaborating with neighboring countries along the birds’ migration routes, sharing information, and implementing conservation measures collectively can have a significant impact on the survival and well-being of these remarkable avian species.
Preserving the migratory bird populations of northeast China is not only crucial for the birds themselves but also for the overall health and balance of ecosystems. Migratory birds play a vital role in pollination, seed dispersal, and controlling insect populations, contributing to the ecological stability of the regions they visit.
By working together, raising awareness, strengthening enforcement, and supporting sustainable livelihoods, we can safeguard the future of migratory birds and their vital migration routes. Let us embrace the responsibility to protect these magnificent creatures and ensure that their annual journeys continue to grace our skies for generations to come.
Among the birds highly sought after are white-tailed eagles, renowned for the belief that consuming them can enhance eyesight, and Saker falcons, greatly prized by falconers. Tragically, the methods employed by poachers have devastating consequences. While some birds manage to escape the nets unharmed, others suffer fatal injuries or endure compound fractures that cause their bones to protrude from their wings in horrifying angles.
In their illicit activities, poachers often cram their daily haul, comprising both live and deceased birds, into laundry sacks. To prevent bites, hawks and eagles are frequently decapitated, leaving behind a haunting trail of evidence. Sometimes, the unmistakable signs of poaching in a particular area manifest as small piles of bloodied heads strewn upon the ground.
The severity of these practices underscores the urgent need for action to protect vulnerable bird species. Preservation efforts, including strengthened law enforcement, public awareness campaigns, and community engagement, are essential to combat the indiscriminate trapping and killing of birds.
Let us join hands to raise awareness about the significance of wildlife conservation and advocate for the enforcement of laws that safeguard these magnificent creatures. Together, we can strive for a future where birds thrive in their natural habitats, free from the brutal grasp of poaching and exploitation.
Poachers employ various methods to trap birds, including suspending nets between tree canopies. To lure larger birds, small birds in cages are sometimes used as bait. In the case of eagle traps, they are hung from lofty branches and anchored with weighted logs.
In their tireless efforts to protect the wildlife, reserve wardens face numerous challenges. Poachers, upon being pursued, resort to extreme measures such as felling trees to obstruct the path of the wardens’ trucks. Undeterred, the wardens persist in their mission, not only combating poaching but also seeking to educate the public about the intrinsic value of live birds compared to their unfortunate demise. Additionally, they strive to cultivate interest in the development of eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative.
Through their commitment to conservation, wardens aim to emphasize the long-term benefits of preserving bird populations in their natural habitats. By promoting the notion that birds are worth more alive than dead, they work towards fostering a greater understanding of the importance of biodiversity and the ecological balance maintained by these magnificent avian species.
Moreover, the wardens endeavor to generate enthusiasm for eco-tourism initiatives, which can provide economic opportunities while safeguarding the welfare of birds and their habitats. By engaging visitors in immersive experiences and showcasing the beauty of avian life in its natural setting, eco-tourism has the potential to support conservation efforts and create a sustainable future.
Together, let us support the dedicated work of reserve wardens, advocate for the protection of birds, and promote the development of eco-tourism as a means to preserve the invaluable beauty of nature. Through collective action and awareness, we can safeguard the welfare of birds and their habitats for generations to come.
Well-Known Birds in China
The black-necked crane and spotted-necked doves (Streptopelia chinensis) are fascinating avian species found in various regions of China. Spotted-necked doves have a body length of approximately 32 centimeters and weigh between 125 and 180 grams. These non-migratory birds predominantly inhabit plains and open woodlands in mountainous areas.
Spotted-necked doves primarily forage on the ground, using their bills to peck at a variety of food sources, including crop seeds, grasses, and insects. They exhibit a preference for village settings and fields, where they spend a significant amount of time. From May to July, these doves construct simple and flat nests using small twigs, typically in the forks of tree branches. They generally lay two eggs during the nesting period.
Remarkably, the parents have the ability to convert digested food in their breasts into a special nourishment to feed their young. The calls of spotted-necked doves vary, with their regular vocalizations often described by the Chinese as “gu, gu.” It is believed that their songs become more frequent during sunny periods following prolonged rain or preceding rainfall after a long period of sunshine.
These captivating birds contribute to the rich biodiversity of China’s ecosystems. By understanding their behavior and ecological roles, we can better appreciate the intricate balance of nature and work towards their conservation and preservation for future generations to enjoy.
Source: Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn
River kingfishers, scientifically known as Alcedo atthis, are captivating avian creatures that grace the waterways of southern and eastern China. With a body length of around 15 centimeters and weighing between 21 and 30 grams, these birds are admirably adapted to their aquatic habitats.
Preferring streams, lakes, rivers, and fishponds, river kingfishers employ their remarkable hunting skills to secure their meals. Using their sharp bills, they swiftly dive into the water, capturing a variety of prey including fish, shrimps, aquatic insects, and shellfish. Their feeding habits have earned them the nickname “fishermen.”
These non-migratory birds can be found across the southern and eastern regions of China. They typically spend their time in pairs or solitary, perching on trees or rocks in close proximity to bodies of water. With keen eyesight, they patiently observe the water’s surface for small fish. Once their target is spotted, they plunge into the water, seizing their catch, and promptly return to their original perch to consume their meal.
When it comes to nesting, river kingfishers exhibit an intriguing behavior. They dig tunnel-like dens in sand or mud banks, creating a secure and concealed space for their eggs. Inside these nests, they also care for and nourish their young, ensuring their growth and development.
River kingfishers not only showcase incredible hunting prowess but also contribute to the diverse tapestry of China’s natural ecosystems. As we appreciate the unique characteristics and behaviors of these birds, let us strive to protect their habitats and promote the conservation of their populations. By nurturing the delicate balance of nature, we can ensure that future generations will continue to marvel at the extraordinary “fishermen” and their vital role in our natural world.
The Red-whiskered Bulbuls, scientifically known as Pycnonotus jocusus, are captivating avian species measuring approximately 20 centimeters in length and weighing between 30 and 40 grams. These birds exhibit a preference for diverse habitats such as villages, wooded areas, and bushes near farm fields and city parks.
Red-whiskered bulbuls engage in pecking for food on tree branches and skillfully capture flying insects. While in flight, they transport seeds and insects, showcasing their remarkable adaptability. These bulbuls are non-migratory by nature and often gather in groups, enjoying their time together.
From March to August each year, Red-whiskered bulbuls construct their nests in trees. Their unique feature of a prominent crest has earned them the colloquial name of “high crest bird.” These melodious singers are highly regarded as ornamental birds in Guangdong province, where their light and melodious songs enchant the surroundings.
Southern China serves as the habitat for these vibrant Red-whiskered Bulbuls, adding to the rich avian diversity of the region. Let us appreciate the presence of these fascinating birds and strive to protect their habitats, ensuring their continued presence for generations to come.
Melodious laughing thrushes, commonly known as hwamei or Garrulax canorus, are enchanting avian species measuring around 23 centimeters in length and weighing between 50 and 75 grams. These birds thrive in various habitats, including forests in mountainous regions, bushes, and bamboo woods near villages.
Hwamei exhibit adept foraging skills as they gather food from tree branches and bushes using their bills. Their diet consists of insects, berries, and the seeds of select vegetation. Their presence can be observed across central and southern regions of China, where they contribute to the rich biodiversity of these areas.
These birds may choose a solitary lifestyle or live in pairs, adapting to their surroundings accordingly. From April to July each year, hwamei diligently construct bowl-shaped nests using stems and leaves from vegetation. During this nesting period, they lay 3 to 5 eggs at a time, ensuring the continuity of their species.
The name “hwamei” stems from the distinctive white stripes encircling their eyes, extending backwards resembling white brows. Typically, their feathers exhibit shades of brown. However, in humid tropical areas, their plumage may transition to a darker shade, appearing black. Black hwamei possess entirely black feathers, while their brows retain the characteristic white coloration.
The hwamei’s striking appearance and melodious calls contribute to their allure. As we admire these remarkable birds, let us also strive to protect their habitats and ensure the preservation of their populations. By valuing and conserving the natural world, we can ensure that future generations will continue to marvel at the beauty and diversity of species like the melodious laughing thrushes.
Male Hwamei possess exceptional singing abilities, enchanting listeners with their elegant and melodious voices. They are renowned as esteemed and renowned fancy birds, revered for their remarkable vocal talents. Hwamei exhibit strong territorial instincts, vigorously defending their designated areas. Unfortunately, this characteristic has led hunters to strategically place tamed Hwamei in these territories. When wild Hwamei attempt to protect their turf, they become ensnared by nets set by hunters.
Although Hwamei can be domesticated, raising their eggs in captivity presents significant challenges. Consequently, tamed Hwamei are predominantly captured from the wild. This excessive hunting has resulted in a drastic decline in the population of wild Hwamei, as a considerable number of these birds have been captured.
The consequences of such practices highlight the need for conservation efforts and responsible birdkeeping. Preserving the remaining populations of wild Hwamei is crucial to maintain the ecological balance and ensure the survival of these remarkable birds. Let us raise awareness about the importance of protecting these species and work towards sustainable practices that can safeguard their future existence.
Endangered Birds in China
Lord Derby’s Parakeet, scientifically known as Psittacula derbiana, is an endemic species found exclusively in northern regions. These parakeets exhibit a length of 45 centimeters and weigh approximately 260 grams. They thrive in various habitats such as coniferous forests, broad-leaved forests, and mixed forests.
Their diet primarily consists of cracking nuts and extracting seeds using their robust bills. They consume a variety of food, including fruits, pine nuts, corn, sunflowers, and agricultural crops. Lord Derby’s Parakeet can be observed in regions such as Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet, but unfortunately, their population is endangered.
These parakeets typically spend their time in small groups, demonstrating a social nature. During the breeding season, pairs of parakeets construct nests within tree cavities. As the seasons change, these birds migrate from high mountainous areas to the south or lower altitude river valleys for the winter months.
Distinguishing characteristics include the red upper bill and black lower bill in male parakeets, while female birds possess entirely black bills. With proper training, Lord Derby’s Parakeet can even learn to imitate human speech, making them remarkable in their ability to mimic words.
Due to their unique features and captivating behavior, Lord Derby’s Parakeets are often considered fancy birds and can be raised in captivity. However, it is crucial to approach their captive rearing responsibly and ethically to ensure their well-being.
As we recognize the endangered status of Lord Derby’s Parakeet, let us prioritize conservation efforts to safeguard their habitat and protect their populations. By promoting awareness and responsible actions, we can contribute to the preservation of these magnificent birds and the diverse ecosystems they inhabit.
Golden pheasants, scientifically known as Chrysolophus pictus, are magnificent birds renowned for their vibrant plumage. Often referred to as the “fire phoenix” or Chinese pheasant, they inhabit forests, bamboo woods, and shrubbery in low to mid-level mountain regions. The males of this species display an impressive body length of approximately one meter, while females measure around 50 centimeters. Fully-grown adults weigh about 650 grams.
Golden pheasants sustain themselves by pecking at vegetation with their bills and scratching the ground surface to uncover food. Their diet primarily consists of young shoots, leaves, flowers, fruits, and insects. These striking birds are naturally found in limited areas within the central and mid-south regions of China, predominantly in mountainous habitats.
The allure of the golden pheasant lies not only in their remarkable colors but also in their reclusive nature. Their captivating presence adds a touch of beauty to the serene landscapes they inhabit. As we appreciate their splendor, let us also recognize the importance of preserving their habitats and ensuring the conservation of these magnificent creatures. By promoting environmental awareness and responsible stewardship, we can contribute to the protection of the golden pheasants and the rich biodiversity they represent.
Golden pheasants are a species native to China and are known for their striking appearance. They are non-migratory birds and are exclusively found within the boundaries of China. The male golden pheasants, in particular, are considered some of the most captivating and ornamental members of the pheasant family. Notably, Baoji city in Shanxi province derives its name from these magnificent birds.
Around two centuries ago, golden pheasants were introduced to Europe by Westerners. Since then, they have become a popular species to raise in zoos, making them one of the most commonly seen pheasants in such settings. In their natural habitat, golden pheasants typically form small groups and inhabit forested areas. During the breeding season, male golden pheasants stake out territories and emit distinctive vocalizations, such as “ga, ga,” to attract potential mates.
Following successful courtship, female golden pheasants construct nests in concealed locations within the forest. There, they lay their eggs and raise their young in solitude. While males display a vibrant array of colors, females possess a more subdued appearance. Their feathers are predominantly brown, adorned with black spots. Unlike males, females lack the decorative crests and distinctive plumage. These muted colors serve as effective camouflage, enabling them to conceal themselves while protecting their eggs and caring for their offspring.
Golden pheasants represent a stunning example of avian beauty and the wonders of nature. Through their captivating presence, they inspire admiration and remind us of the diverse and captivating wildlife that inhabits our world. Let us cherish and protect these extraordinary creatures and their natural habitats, ensuring their continued existence for generations to come.
Golden pheasants are a sight rarely encountered in their natural habitats. A notable occurrence took place in 2019 when one of these magnificent birds was observed in central China. The South China Morning Post reported on this remarkable event, stating, “A golden pheasant made a rare appearance in the snowy landscape of Henan province, located in central China.” [Source: Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn]
Ducks and Water Birds in China
Common shovellers (Anas clypeata) are medium-sized wild ducks measuring approximately 50 centimeters in length and weighing between 420 and 620 grams. They inhabit various habitats such as ponds, reservoirs, rice fields, marshes, and bays. These ducks employ their bills to dig food from mud or filter food from water, consuming small mollusks, roots, stems, and vegetation’s fruits. They can be found throughout China. Common shovellers are migratory birds, nesting in Northeast China and Xinjiang and spending their winters in the South. During the winter months, they coexist with other wild ducks. Notably, their bills possess a distinctive feature with a broad front section. Common shovellers predominantly obtain their food by filtering mud, setting them apart from other wild ducks in this aspect. [Source: Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn]
Little grebes, with a body length of 27 centimeters and weighing 210 grams, are fascinating aquatic birds. They inhabit a variety of water bodies, including lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes. Using their bill, they skillfully capture prey in the water, feasting on a diet of aquatic insects, fish, shrimp, and various types of aquatic vegetation. These charming birds can be found in numerous locations across China.
Little grebes are non-migratory species and often lead solitary lives, although they can also be observed in groups. While they may appear clumsy in flight, they excel in swimming and diving. Remarkably, they construct floating nests on the water’s surface, allowing them to adapt to fluctuating water levels. In times of danger, they protect their young by concealing them beneath their wings and swiftly diving into the water for safety. During the early morning and at dusk, they frequently vocalize, producing distinct calls.
During the mating season, little grebes undergo a striking transformation. The feathers around their necks change to a deep red hue, creating a captivating spectacle. In winter, their feathers adopt lighter colors, blending harmoniously with their surroundings. These remarkable characteristics make little grebes a captivating species to observe and appreciate in China’s diverse natural landscapes.
China is a significant hub for duck farming, where an enormous number of ducks are bred primarily for their meat. Among the prevalent breeds, the white Peking ducks, originally brought from China to the United States in 1870, hold a significant presence. These ducks are predominantly raised on small-scale farms that feature ponds, providing them with suitable habitats.
Occasionally, domestic ducks interbreed with mallard ducks, resulting in peculiar hybrid offspring with distinctive appearances. These hybrids exhibit unique characteristics, combining traits from both domestic and mallard ducks. The process of crossbreeding adds further diversity to the duck population, showcasing the intriguing outcomes that arise within China’s duck farming industry.
Please refer to separate articles on factsanddetails.com for detailed information on ducks, dairy cows, foie gras, and livestock in China.
Black- Necked Cranes
Throughout most of the year, the mandarin duck, also known as the Chinese wood duck, may appear rather ordinary with a grey head and a mottled brown body. However, during the mating season, it undergoes a captivating metamorphosis. Its head adopts a lustrous green hue, a striking collar of pointed feathers emerges around its neck, and triangular “sails” unfurl from its wings. To impress the females, male mandarin ducks gather in clusters and engage in a captivating display. They gracefully dip their bills into the water, arch their necks, and delicately touch the sails on their wings with their bills.
Mandarin ducks, scientifically known as Aix galericulata, are a species of medium-sized ducks measuring around 40 centimeters in length and weighing approximately 630 grams. These magnificent birds inhabit various aquatic habitats such as streams in mountainous regions, river valleys, lakes, and marshlands. They have a diverse diet, including fruits, crops, vegetation, fish, shrimp, frogs, and other small creatures.
In China, mandarin ducks can be found across different regions, particularly in the northeast, south, and east. While they are not classified as endangered, they are considered a threatened species. This indicates that their population numbers have declined or they face significant threats that require conservation efforts to protect their habitats and ensure their survival in the wild.
Mandarin ducks are renowned for their vibrant and eye-catching appearance. The males are particularly striking, displaying an array of vivid colors and intricate patterns on their feathers. Females, although less flamboyant, still possess an elegant and graceful appearance.
These ducks have captivated the admiration of many due to their beauty and unique characteristics. Efforts are being made to safeguard their habitats and raise awareness about the importance of conserving these remarkable birds. By understanding their ecological needs and taking steps to preserve their natural environments, we can help secure a future for the captivating mandarin ducks in China.
Mandarin ducks exhibit migratory behavior, undertaking seasonal journeys. During the mating season and other periods, they typically spend their time in pairs. However, they can also be observed in small groups. From April to June each year, Mandarin ducks build their nests and incubate their eggs in tree cavities near streams or ponds.
Once hatched, the young Mandarin ducks quickly develop agility in swimming and eagerly join their parents in the water for both amusement and food-seeking purposes. In the summer, these birds choose nesting grounds in the northeast region, while during winter, they migrate to the middle and downstream areas of the Yangtze River.
Although Mandarin ducks are migratory in most regions, there are certain mountainous areas in South China where they reside throughout the year. These locations serve as permanent habitats for Mandarin ducks, earning them the designation of resident birds.
The behavior and movements of Mandarin ducks throughout the different seasons demonstrate their adaptability and reliance on specific environments for breeding and survival. Understanding these patterns can contribute to their conservation and the preservation of their natural habitats.
According to Chinese mythology, once a pair of Mandarin ducks becomes a couple, their love for each other endures for a lifetime. These birds are often regarded as a symbol of love in Chinese culture. In the first half of the 20th century, particularly during the 1920s, the Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies school gained popularity in Chinese fiction. This genre incorporated the imagery of Mandarin ducks, frequently seen in pairs, and butterflies, inspired by the Butterfly Lovers, as traditional symbols of romantic love.
However, progressive writers criticized Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies stories for being escapist in nature and lacking social responsibility. The genre gradually lost favor, especially following the Japanese invasions in the 1930s. These historical events contributed to its decline.
The association of Mandarin ducks with eternal love and their significance as a cultural symbol remain embedded in Chinese folklore. Despite the changing literary trends, their representation continues to hold meaning in the realm of love and romance.
Cranes, Ibises and Storks in China
The black-necked crane derives its name from the black coloring present on its neck and head. These sizable birds stand between 90 and 130 centimeters tall, boast a wingspan ranging from 180 to 200 centimeters, and weigh approximately 6 to 9 kilograms. They exhibit a distinctive bright red crown and primarily feed on barley. In Tibetan culture, these birds hold a revered status and are considered sacred.
During the breeding season, which spans from April to October, the black-necked crane inhabits high altitude wetlands situated on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. As winter approaches, they migrate to lower elevation agricultural valleys, primarily located in China.
The red-crowned crane holds a prestigious title as the official bird of China. As one of the largest crane species, it impressively stands at nearly five feet tall and weighs approximately 22 pounds. These magnificent birds boast an impressive lifespan, often exceeding 60 years. Interestingly, males and females of the species are remarkably similar in appearance.
Sporting striking red crowns atop their heads, red-crowned cranes showcase distinct white and black patterns on their wings and bodies. They are commonly referred to as the Japanese crane or Manchurian crane, reflecting their presence and significance in these regions.
The red-crowned crane symbolizes grace, beauty, and longevity in Chinese culture. Its distinctive appearance and majestic presence have captured the admiration of people across the world, making it a beloved and iconic bird. With its elegant stature and remarkable features, the red-crowned crane stands as a proud representation of China’s rich natural heritage.
The white-naped crane derives its name from the distinguishing white stripe that gracefully adorns its neck. These majestic birds tower up to 1.5 meters in height and possess a weight ranging from 4.75 to 6.50 kilograms. They are predominantly found in wetlands and adjacent grasslands across various regions, including China, eastern Siberia (near Vladivostock), southern Japan, and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
With a predominantly grey plumage, white-naped cranes exhibit a captivating red spot encircling their eyes. These birds display a monogamous mating behavior, forming lifelong bonds with their partners. During the breeding season, they incubate a clutch of two eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of approximately 30 days.
Regrettably, the white-naped crane population faces significant threats to its survival. Habitat loss and the disruption of migration patterns have placed immense pressure on their existence. Currently, only an estimated 4,900 to 5,300 individuals of these beautiful birds remain.
Efforts are being made to protect and conserve the white-naped crane population. Conservation organizations and environmentalists are working diligently to safeguard their habitats, restore critical wetlands, and raise awareness about the importance of preserving these magnificent creatures. It is our collective responsibility to ensure the survival and thriving of the white-naped crane, as their presence serves as a testament to the remarkable diversity and beauty of our natural world.
Black storks, scientifically known as Ciconia nigra, are magnificent wading birds characterized by their large size, exceeding one meter in length, and weighing between 2.5 to 4.4 kilograms. They thrive in diverse habitats such as open marshes, lakes, river shallows, and flooded fields. With remarkable precision, they employ their bills to swiftly peck at prey in shallow water, consuming a diet primarily consisting of fish, shrimp, frogs, and crabs.
These avian creatures possess a unique migratory pattern, making them rare and captivating. During the summer and autumn months, they establish nesting sites in North China, where they rear their young. However, as winter approaches, they embark on a journey southwards, seeking refuge in warmer regions. While migrating, black storks often gather in groups, yet they tend to be solitary at other times. During the mating season, they form pairs and devote their time to nurturing their offspring.
Black storks exhibit resourcefulness when it comes to constructing their nests, opting for cracks in stones or large trees as their preferred sites. Each breeding cycle yields a clutch of 3 to 5 eggs, with both the male and female assuming parental responsibilities. Although they are unable to vocalize in the form of cries, they communicate through the production of sounds generated by clapping their upper and lower bills.
Tragically, the population of black storks in their natural habitat is dwindling, categorizing them as an endangered species. Their existence is threatened, warranting urgent conservation efforts. Despite their vulnerable status, black storks can still be found in various regions throughout China, serving as a reminder of the rich biodiversity that deserves our unwavering protection and preservation.
In the 1970s, the exceedingly rare crested ibis was presumed to have vanished from existence. However, a glimmer of hope emerged in 1981 when a small population of seven individuals was discovered inhabiting the mountains of Yang Prefecture in Shaanxi province. Recognizing the significance of this finding, the Shaanxi Crested Ibis Rescuing and Breeding Center was established in 1990. Thanks to dedicated efforts in protection and artificial insemination, scientists have successfully increased the crested ibis population through captive breeding, reaching a count of 300 individuals. Subsequently, some of these ibises have been reintroduced into their natural habitats.
The crested ibis is an enchanting bird adorned with pristine white feathers, a vibrant red face, and a distinctively curved black bill that points downwards. Indigenous to Japan, Korea, eastern China, and eastern Russia, this elegant wading bird finds solace in the serene surroundings of rice paddies and marshes. In comparison to egrets and herons, the crested ibis possesses a more robust physique and shorter legs. As the autumn and winter seasons take hold, their plumage undergoes a captivating transformation, adopting a pinkish-peach hue, commonly referred to as the “ibis color.”
The crested ibis displays a diverse diet, primarily subsisting on a variety of aquatic creatures dwelling in the mud, with loaches being a particularly favored prey item. The revival of this species serves as a testament to the resilience of nature and the remarkable achievements that can be attained through concerted conservation efforts. The crested ibis stands as a symbol of hope and serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our natural heritage for future generations to cherish.
Cranes are majestic birds that have captivated people’s imaginations for centuries. Known for their elegance, grace, and symbolic significance in various cultures, these birds hold a special place in the natural world. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of cranes, with a particular focus on the black-necked crane and the red-crowned crane.
Black-necked cranes, scientifically referred to as Ciconia nigra, are large wading birds that command attention with their impressive stature. Measuring over one meter in length and weighing between 2.5 to 4.4 kilograms, these magnificent creatures find solace in open marshes, lakes, shoals of rivers, and flooded fields. Their unique hunting technique involves swiftly pecking at prey in shallow water, which predominantly consists of fish, shrimps, frogs, and crabs. While black-necked cranes are rare migratory birds, nesting their young in North China during summer and autumn, they seek refuge in the South during winter. During migration, they often gather in groups, while remaining solitary at other times. The birds form pairs during the mating season, building nests in cracks of stones or on large trees. Each nesting period yields 3 to 5 eggs, which are diligently nurtured by both the male and female. Although black-necked cranes cannot produce vocal cries, they communicate through distinct sounds generated by clapping their upper and lower bills. Regrettably, the population of these remarkable birds in the wild is dwindling, classifying them as an endangered species. They can be found across various locations in China, underscoring the importance of conservation efforts to safeguard their future.
Shifting our focus to the red-crowned crane, also known as the Japanese crane, we encounter a bird that holds significant cultural and ecological value. Designated as the official bird of Japan, the red-crowned crane exudes an air of grandeur. These cranes are characterized by their distinguished red crowns and striking black and white markings on their wings and bodies. They are among the largest crane species, standing nearly five feet tall and weighing approximately 22 pounds. Interestingly, males and females of this species are virtually identical, making it challenging to discern their gender based on physical appearance alone. Endowed with longevity, red-crowned cranes can live for over 60 years, emphasizing their significance in the natural world.
Indigenous to Japan, Korea, eastern China, and eastern Russia, red-crowned cranes find solace in serene habitats such as rice paddies and marshes. These monogamous birds diligently incubate their eggs, which typically hatch after a period of approximately 30 days. With their iconic red facial patches and predominantly gray plumage, these graceful birds command attention. Furthermore, during the autumn and winter seasons, their plumage undergoes a captivating transformation, adopting a mesmerizing pinkish-peach hue, often referred to as the “ibis color.” Red-crowned cranes sustain themselves by feeding on a diverse range of mud-dwelling creatures, with a particular fondness for loaches.
The preservation and protection of cranes, including the black-necked crane and the red-crowned crane, are of utmost importance. These remarkable birds hold not only ecological significance but also cultural and spiritual importance in various regions. By valuing and safeguarding their habitats, we can ensure the continued existence of these majestic creatures, cherishing their presence and the lessons they teach us about the interconnectedness of nature.
Jungle Birds in China
Wild peafowl, also known as peacocks, can be observed in China, predominantly in Yunnan Province. On the other hand, jungle fowl, the ancestors of chickens, can be found in Central and South Yunnan, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan. While both species are considered threatened, they have not reached the status of being endangered. An interesting phenomenon occurs in certain mountainous regions of Yunnan, where red jungle fowls often venture into households and associate with domesticated fowls. These wild fowls tend to drive away the resident roosters and mate with the hens, resulting in the birth of offspring that display a rather fierce nature. As these young chickens mature, they tend to retreat into the nearby forests. The practice of taming red jungle fowls dates back as early as 2000 years ago when our ancestors first began this process.
The Chinese jungle mynah, scientifically known as Acridotheres cristatellus, measures approximately 26 centimeters in body length and weighs between 100 and 150 grams. These birds primarily inhabit fields, grasslands, and villages as their preferred habitats. They obtain their food by pecking at the ground with their bills, consuming insects, earthworms, berries, and the seeds of various vegetation. Chinese jungle mynahs are non-migratory creatures that tend to remain in a particular area. When in flight, they exhibit white stripes on their wings, resembling the shape of the Chinese character “ba,” which has led to their Chinese name “bage.”
These birds typically spend their time in small groups and construct their nests within holes or tree hollows, where they raise their young. Chinese jungle mynahs possess an impressive ability to mimic human language, making them popular companions for humans. They can be found throughout Yunnan, as well as in southern and central China, including the lower Yangtze River region.
Lady Amherst’s pheasants, scientifically known as Chrysolophus amherstiae, inhabit forests and bushes located in low, middle, and high mountain areas. The male birds boast a length of approximately 1.2 meters, while the females measure around 60 centimeters in length. In terms of weight, they typically range from 600 to 800 grams. Their feeding behavior involves pecking with their bills or scratching the ground surface to uncover and consume various food sources such as young buds, leaves, flowers, fruits, mushrooms, termites, and locusts.
These magnificent pheasants can be found in numerous locations throughout Yunnan and the mountainous regions of Southwest China. While they are not classified as endangered, Lady Amherst’s pheasants are regarded as threatened species, emphasizing the importance of their conservation and protection.
With their vibrant and striking appearance, Lady Amherst’s pheasants contribute to the beauty and diversity of the natural ecosystems they inhabit. Their presence serves as a reminder of the rich biodiversity found in the region. Efforts to safeguard their habitats and raise awareness about the significance of their conservation are crucial to ensure the long-term survival of these remarkable birds.
Lady Amherst’s pheasants, also known as Chrysolophus amherstiae, are primarily sedentary birds that exhibit a tendency to inhabit a particular area without engaging in long-distance migration. Typically, they can be observed forming small groups within forested habitats. During the mating season, male pheasants establish their territory and emit distinct vocalizations resembling the sounds “ga, ga” in order to attract potential female mates.
After successful courtship, the female pheasants proceed to construct their nests in concealed locations within the forest. They undertake the responsibility of incubating their eggs and rearing their offspring without any assistance. Lady Amherst’s pheasants possess a diverse repertoire of calls and vocalizations. Their communication encompasses various sounds, including gentle murmurs resembling “hush, hush” during inter-bird interactions, alerting cries such as “Xiya” when sensing potential threats, and distinct calls like “guo, guo” used by mother birds to locate their young, to which the young pheasants respond with “ji, ji”.
Lady Amherst’s pheasants predominantly inhabit mountainous regions in Southwest China, with a limited presence observed in Northeast Myanmar outside of China. It is noteworthy that these pheasants were introduced to London by the British during the early 1800s. Renowned for their captivating beauty, both Golden pheasants and Lady Amherst’s pheasants are highly regarded as exquisite and ornamental varieties of pheasants. Consequently, many zoos across the globe proudly showcase these magnificent avian species.
Please refer to the dedicated article titled “Avian Species in Asia: Jungle Fowl (Chickens), Kingfishers, and Peacocks” on factsanddetails.com.
Cormorants and Cormorant Fishing
Cormorants, known as “sea crows,” are aquatic birds that belong to the pelican family. They possess impressive flying abilities, reaching speeds of up to 50mph. However, their true expertise lies in their remarkable underwater swimming skills, making them highly proficient at capturing fish. While fish constitute their primary diet, they also consume crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles, and insect larvae. [Source: Natural History, October 1998]
There exist 28 distinct species of cormorants, inhabiting primarily tropical and temperate regions, although some have been observed in polar waters. Among them, certain species exclusively inhabit saltwater environments, while others are restricted to freshwater habitats. There are also species that thrive in both saltwater and freshwater ecosystems. Their nesting habits vary, with some building nests in trees, while others prefer rock islands or cliff edges. These birds are known to form remarkably dense colonies in the wild, and their droppings, known as guano, are collected and utilized as a valuable fertilizer.
Cormorant fishing, a practice documented by Marco Polo and made famous in the children’s story Ping, continues to be carried out in certain regions of southern China and Japan, where it originated. The most opportune time to witness cormorant fishing is during moonless nights, as the fish are drawn to the illumination of lights or fires on the fishing boats. The cormorants engage in a choreographed routine of diving into the water, capturing fish, resurfacing, and having the caught fish removed from their beaks by the fishermen. To prevent the birds from swallowing the fish, a string or twine, a metal ring, a grass string, or a collar made of hemp or leather is placed around their necks. Additionally, the wings of the birds are often clipped to prevent them from flying away, and they have looped strings attached to their legs, enabling the fishermen to retrieve them using a pole.
Cormorants and Cormorant Fishing
Cormorants, known as “crows of the sea,” are fascinating waterbirds that have captured the attention of people around the world. From their remarkable diving and swimming abilities to their unique fishing techniques, cormorants have left a lasting impression on both nature enthusiasts and cultural traditions. In this article, we will explore the intriguing world of cormorants and the ancient practice of cormorant fishing.
There are approximately 28 different species of cormorants, which primarily inhabit tropical and temperate regions but have also been found in polar waters. These birds display a diverse range of behaviors and habitats. Some species are exclusively saltwater birds, some are exclusively freshwater birds, and others can thrive in both environments. They exhibit various nesting preferences, with some building nests in trees while others choose rock islands or cliff edges. In the wild, cormorants form densely packed colonies, making them one of the most densely populated bird species known. Interestingly, their guano, or excrement, is collected and utilized as a valuable natural fertilizer.
One captivating aspect of cormorants is their association with the ancient practice of cormorant fishing, which dates back centuries. This fishing technique was initially developed in southern China and Japan and has been documented by renowned explorer Marco Polo. To witness cormorant fishing in its full glory, it is recommended to observe the spectacle on a moonless night when the fish are attracted to the lights or fires on the fishing boats.
During cormorant fishing, the birds go through a carefully orchestrated routine. They dive into the water, utilizing their exceptional swimming skills to navigate underwater and chase after fish. Once they catch a fish, they resurface and present their catch to the fishermen. To prevent the cormorants from swallowing the fish, a collar made of string, twine, metal, grass, hemp, or leather is placed around their necks.
In some cases, the wings of the cormorants are clipped to prevent them from flying away during the fishing expeditions. Additionally, looped strings are attached to their legs, allowing the fishermen to retrieve the birds using poles. This unique fishing method showcases the harmonious partnership between humans and birds, as the cormorants assist the fishermen in their pursuit of a bountiful catch.
Cormorant fishing is not only a practical fishing technique but also a cultural tradition that has been passed down through generations. It continues to captivate audiences with its mesmerizing beauty and showcases the incredible intelligence and cooperation between humans and birds.
To delve deeper into the world of cormorants and explore the rich history and techniques of cormorant fishing, check out our separate article on Cormorants and Cormorant Fishing. Discover the secrets behind this ancient practice and gain a greater appreciation for these remarkable birds and their role in human traditions.
Decline of Sparrows and Swifts in China
The sparrow population in China has experienced a significant decrease due to pollution and hunting. Sadly, a considerable number of sparrows have been captured, fried, and sold as street snacks in Beijing and other urban areas. Additionally, the use of pesticides has resulted in their poisoning. Surprisingly, the decline of sparrows has not been met with much sorrow among the Chinese population. In the late 1950s, Mao included sparrows in the category of “four pests,” which also included rats, mosquitoes, and flies, aiming for their extermination.
As per a report from Danwei.org, the once familiar sound of swifts filling the skies during Beijing summers has significantly diminished in recent years. The decline is attributed to the destruction of traditional buildings and worsening pollution levels. Swifts, known as “rain swallows” or “pagoda swallows” in Chinese, have been closely associated with Beijing since 1417, earning the city the alternative name of “swift capital” or Yan Jing. The traditional courtyard buildings, temples, and city gates provided ideal nesting sites for these agile birds, but the replacement of such structures with concrete and steel monstrosities has had disastrous consequences for the swift population.
Professor Zheng Guangmei from Beijing Normal University and chairman of the China Ornithological Society recalls a time in June 1965 when he cycled near the moat surrounding the Forbidden City and witnessed nearly 400 of these dark, swallow-like birds. However, in July 2000, another expert, Gao Wu, a retired zoology professor from Capital Normal University, conducted a swift count at the same location and observed only 80 birds.
This decline in swifts serves as a poignant reminder of the ecological impact caused by urban development and pollution. Efforts to preserve and restore suitable habitats for swifts in Beijing are essential to safeguard their population and maintain the cherished tradition of their presence during the city’s summers.
The decline of swifts can be traced back to the early 1950s, when the demolition of city gates began. The first gates to be demolished were Chang’an Left and Right Gates in 1952, and as more gates fell, such as Dongzhimen in 1969, it became evident that the situation for swifts was dire. Simultaneously, temples and pagodas were also torn down for various reasons, leading to the gradual disappearance of suitable habitats for the birds. This loss of habitat stands as the primary cause behind the dwindling swift population.
However, the plight of the swifts worsened in the 1980s when some of the few remaining old buildings, which had survived the destruction of the Mao era, underwent renovation. Netting was installed around the eaves to deter birds, inadvertently sealing the fate of swifts in those areas. To compound the issue, vast forests of concrete and glass high-rises emerged, creating an even more hostile environment for the birds. As a result, swift numbers continued to decline.
The combination of habitat loss, demolition of historic structures, and the construction of inhospitable urban landscapes has played a significant role in the diminishing population of swifts. Understanding these factors is crucial for implementing conservation measures and creating environments that can support the recovery of this iconic species.
The Bird’s Nest stadium and the five statues inspired by swifts were meant to be symbolic representations of the Beijing Olympics, offering hope for the well-being of birds. However, the reality was quite the opposite. The Bird’s Nest stadium, despite its avian inspiration, proved to be a hostile environment for swifts. Its surroundings consisted of concrete-covered squares that provided no suitable habitat for these birds. While a few flyovers, such as those near the Temple of Heavenly Peace and Jianguomen, managed to attract nesting swifts, the overall outlook remained bleak.
According to Gao, attempts to “green” Beijing through the introduction of numerous non-native evergreen trees and the excessive grooming of parks and green spaces have had disastrous consequences for swifts and other native species. These well-meaning efforts have failed to consider the specific needs of indigenous wildlife. Furthermore, many officials responsible for preserving ancient buildings show little sympathy for the requirements of birds. When Gao raised concerns about the impact of netting around eaves, preventing swifts from nesting, one official callously dismissed their importance by labeling them as pests unworthy of protection.
These circumstances highlight the challenges faced by swifts and other native species in an urbanized environment. As urban development progresses, it is crucial to strike a balance between preserving historical structures, creating suitable habitats, and protecting the biodiversity of the area. By raising awareness about the importance of native species and advocating for their conservation, we can strive towards creating a more harmonious and sustainable urban landscape that respects the needs of both humans and wildlife.
Sources for the images used in this post:
- China Tibet Information
- Birdquest, Mark Beamon
- Jane Yeo Tours
7, 8) The Wanderer Years
- Nolls China website http://www.paulnoll.com/China/index.html
The information in this post is sourced from a variety of reputable publications and sources, including but not limited to the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia, and various books and other publications.
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