A guide to birding Sichuan 

Sichuan makes for a fantastic birding destination. Within reasonably easy reach of Chengdu, and its international airport, lies an exciting diversity of birding habitat. A Sichuan birding tour can include the farmland and rivers of the Sichuan basin, sub-tropical mountain forest at sites like Wawu and Emei and the spectacular Tibetan Plateau mountain ranges of the west with their rolling grasslands, and the sub-alpine forest. The geographic placement of Sichuan also promotes great birding. Lying in central China - situated in a biological transition zone where the East and Central Asian zones of the Palearctic border with the Indo-Malayan ecozone, – its birds are a rich mix of temperate and sub-tropical species.

 

Sichuan can boast some of the richest levels of biodiversity found in the Palearctic. For birders, the province contains one of China’s richest list of endemics.
China Endemics found in Sichuan
Using current splits we can arrive at the following list of endemics that could be found on the normal Sichuan birding circuit that takes you on a route that could include the following sites – Emei, Longcanggou, Wolong, Balang, Mengbi, Ruoergai, Baxi, Jiuzhaigou, Wanglang, Tangjiahe and Chengd

 

List of China endemics found in Sichuan

Severtzov's Grouse    Bonasa sewerzowi     Endemic – local, Baxi, Mengbi, Jiuzhaigou area, Wanglang
Verreaux's Monal Partridge    Tetraophasis obscurus    Endemic – fairly widespread in Alpine areas – often heard   
Chinese Monal    Lophophorus lhuysii    Endemic – very local – Balang – also known from Moxi, Baxi and Jiuzhaigou areas
White Eared-Pheasant    Crossoptilon crossoptilon - as good as endemic, possibly this species is found in Myanmar – Balang, Menbi and Kangding areas
Blue Eared-Pheasant    Crossoptilon auritum    Endemic - North Sichuan, Baxi, Jiuzhaigou areas, Wanglang
Reeves's Pheasant    Syrmaticus reevesii      Endemic – recorded in N Sichuan
Golden Pheasant    Chrysolophus pictus    Endemic – Wolong, Balang, Pingwu Park

 

Chinese Monal, Verreaux's Monal Partridge, Severtzov's Grouse and Blue-eared Pheasant

Pere David's Owl    Strix davidi    Endemic – uncommon, Alpine areas

 

Per Davids's Owl from 2010

Swinhoe’s Minivet    Pericrocotus cantonensis    breeding endemic – fairly widespread in the Sichuan Basin

 

Swinhoe's Minivet from NE Sichuan

Kessler’s Thrush    Turdus kessleri     Breeding endemic – common of the Plateau

Chinese Thrush    Turdus mupinensis    Breeding endemic – local, most easily seen in the Jiuzhaigou area

Chinese and Kessler's Thrush

Crested Tit-Warbler    Leptopoecile elegans    Endemic – fairly widespread in western alpine forest

 

A female Crested Tit Warbler from Pamolin

Sichuan Bush Warbler  Locustella chengi – Breeding endemic – Longcanggou, Emei, Wolong

Alpine Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus occisinensis  a split from Tickell’s, breeding Endemic  - widespread
Chinese Leaf-Warbler    Phylloscopus yunnanensis    Breeding endemic – widespread
Sichuan Leaf-Warbler    Phylloscopus forresti  Breeding endemic – widespread
Emei Leaf-Warbler    Phylloscopus emeiensis     Breeding endemic – widespread but local
Sulphur-breasted Warbler    Phylloscopus ricketti   Breeding endemic – widespread but local
Claudia's Warbler Phylloscopus claudiae  Breeding endemic – widespread

Alpine Leaf Warbler, Sichuan Leaf Warbler, Sulpher-breasted Warbler and Emei Leaf Warbler

Martens's Warbler Seicercus omeiensis  Breeding endemic – widespread
Alstrom's Warbler Seicercus soror  Breeding endemic – widespread

Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher    Rhinomyias brunneata    Breeding endemic – Uncommon, recorded at Emei

Chinese Blue-throated Flycatcher  Cyornis glaucicomans  Breeding endemic – widespread

Rufous-headed Robin    Luscinia ruficeps    Breeding endemic – rare, JZ only.
Blackthroat    Luscinia obscura    Breeding endemic – historic records – regular vagrant/passage

Firethroat  Luscinia pectardens Breeding Endemic – Local,Wolong, Balang, Erlang

Firethroat, Blackthroat (a Shaanxi bird) and Rufous-headed Robin


Pere David's Laughingthrush    Garrulax davidi    Endemic – Ruoergai area, Baxi, Songpan area
Sukatschev's Laughingthrush    Garrulax sukatschewi    Endemic – Baxi and Jiuzhaigou areas
Barred Laughingthrush    Garrulax lunulatus    Endemic – Wolong, Balang, Jiuzhaigou area, Moxi
Giant Laughingthrush    Garrulax maximus    Endemic – Balang, Mengbi, Baxi, Jiuzhaigou area
Elliot's Laughingthrush    Garrulax elliotii    Endemic - widespread

Per David's, Barred, Sukatschev's, Elliot's and Giant Laughingthrush

Emei Shan Liocichla    Liocichla omeiensis     Endemic – Emei, Wawu,  Erlang area

 

A Liocichla from Wawu

Rufous-tailed Moupinia  Moupinia poecilotis  Endemic – Erlang, Moxi, Kanding Area

 

Rufous-tailed Moupinia from Pamolin

Gold-fronted Fulvetta    Alcippe variegaticeps    Endemic – Erlang, Longcanggou, Loujunshan

Chinese Fulvetta    Fulvetta striaticollis   Endemic – Balang, Mengbi, Baxi, Juizhaigou, Moxi

 

Chinese and Gold-fronted Fulvettas - the Gold-fronted pic from Longcanggou

Three-toed Parrotbill   Cholornis paradoxus   Endemic – Longcanggou, Emei, Wolong, Moxi
Spectacled Parrotbill    Sinosuthora conspicillat   Endemic  - Baxi, Jiuzhaigou, Tangjiahe
Gray-hooded Parrotbill    Sinosuthora zappeyi    Endemic -  Longcanggou, Erlang
Przevalski's Parrotbill    Sinosuthora przewalskii      Endemic – very rare and difficult to find. Formerly at JZ but then disappeared after bamboo die-off – now only recorded at Tangjiahe in N Sichuan

 

Spectacled, Three-toed, Grey-hooded Parrotbill and one of the Tangjiahe Przevalski's

Chinese Wren-babbler  Pnoepyga mutica Endemic – new split – Loncanggou, Moxi, Emei, Wolong

White-browed Tit    Poecile superciliosa     Endemic – Ruoergai Grasslands
Sichuan Tit    Poecile weigoldicus  Endemic - fairly widespread alpine areas around treeline
Pere David's Tit    Poecile davidi    Endemic – Longcanggou, Moxi, Jiuzhaigou
Yellow-bellied Tit    Slyviparus venustulus  Endemic – Widespread at lower altitudes

Sooty Tit    Aegithalos fuliginosus    Endemic – Wolong, Jiuzhaigou, Pingwu, Tangjiahe, Wanglang

 

Per David's, Yellow-bellied, White-browed and Sooty Tit

Przewalski's Nuthatch  Sitta przewalskii  Endemic – Rilong, Mengbi, Baxi, Jiuzhaigou area, Erlang (west side)

Yunnan Nuthatch    Sitta yunnanensis    Endemic – had this bird in the alpine forest around Yajiang, otherwise just on the Sichuan side of the SW border with Yunnan

 

Przevalski's Nuthatch and a Yunnan Nuthatch from the Xichang area

Sichuan Treecreeper    Certhia tianquanensis    Endemic – Longcanggou (uncommon), Moxi, Wolong, Wanglang

 

Sichuan Treecreeper from Wolong - showing well the buff belly and white chin

Sichuan Jay    Perisoreus internigrans    Endemic – Mengbi, Baxi, Jiuzhaiggou area

 

Sichuan Jay from the Baxi area

Red-billed Starling    Sturnus sericeus    Breeding endemic – fairly widespread

Slaty Bunting    Latoucheornis siemsseni     Endemic – Wolong, Jiuzhaiggou, Tangjiahe, Pingwu

 

Slaty Bunting - a male bird from NE Sichuan

Pink-rumped (Stresemann's) Rosefinch     Carpodacus eos    Endemic
Three-banded Rosefinch    Carpodacus trifasciatus    Breeding endemic
Sharpe's Rosefinch  Carpodacus verreauxii Endemic – proposed as a split from Spot-winged Rosefinch we see this bird at Wolong, Erlang and Moxi – High alpine forest

Przevalski’s Finch  Urocynchramus pylzowi  Endemic – Ruoergai Grasslands, very local

 

Three-banded Rosefinch, Sharpe's Rosefinch and Przevalski's Finch

Zappey’s Flycatcher  Cyanoptila cumatilis  Breeding endemic – Tangjiahe, Pingwu Park

 

I’ve excluded two splits that have been suggested as China endemics – Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch – since both birds occur in reports from Mongolia.


For those who are willing to travel off the normal Sichuan birding route, there are more endemics to be found -

Sichuan Partridge    Arborophila rufipectus    Endemic – Laojunshan in the far south of Sichuan, but also slightly west of this area in Daliang Shan region, Dafengdin Nature Reserve

Biet's Laughingthrush    Garrulax bieti    Endemic – South West Sichuan close to Yunnan border

Silver Oriole    Oriolus mellianus    Endemic – another goody that’s been found in South Sichuan in the Daliang Shan region.

Tibetan Babax     Babax koslowi    Endemic – recorded in NW Sichuan – must be around the Sichuan/Qinghai border,