The one field guide that covers our area is the Oxford University Press, A Field Guide to the Birds of China by John MacKinnon and Karen Phillips. Although a paperback It’s big, heavy, expensive and outdated (many of the species have now been split) – some of the illustrations are of questionable (obviously painted from specimens rather than field experience – and a few new splits have no plate). But it’s still a masterwork for the area, since it fills a total void!!!!! This book is essential – and with its distribution maps, even if they are a bit dodgy, makes for good pre-trip study

Heres’s a link to the Wildsounds listing for this book

For those who want just the plates from this book there’s a much cheaper Chinese version that has an identical plate section – where the names are in English and Chinese. The rest of the book is in mandarin – so the idea with getting one of these versions is that you can cut it in half and just take the plates out birding (when you feel the weight of the complete book you’ll realize the sense in this suggestion). Since the price is around a fifth of the western version – this is not an expensive project -  but I’m afraid you’ll have to use us or another Chinese contact to get your hands on a copy!!!!!.


The second book that could be worth lugging out in the suitcase is the Helm Field Guide, Birds of East Asia by Mark Brazil.

This book covers a lot of birds found in Sichuan – and has good plates that can give Sichuan birders some useful help. For example the plates on Phylo and Seicercus Warblers are larger and clearer than Mackinnon – and even though these also can contain mistakes – they nudge you in the correct direction. But the problem of missing species can be a pain – since those Warbler plates lack birds like Emei Leaf, Plain-tailed and Grey-crowned.

The other big minus for Sichuan use is the distribution section doesn’t handle on Central china or Sichuan distribution. The only real way to use this book is in tandem, as a back-up, to MacKinnon

Here’s a link to the Wildsound’s listing for this book


Another very useful reference guide are internet images at OB images (Oriental Birding Club). Although this resource isn’t always a practical tool when out on a trip, it makes for a useful reference when, back home, particularly if you’ve taken bird photos.

Here’s the link to OB images


There are two website that have brilliant collections of calls and songs – Xeno-canto and AVoCet Avian Vocalizations Center.

Xeno-canto is the biggest site – and you’ll find most of your Sichuan calls in here.

Xeno-canto Link

At AVoCet the recordings are often of great quality – another brilliant site

AVoCet link


Another audio reference – but this time it costs quite a bit of money is - Birds of Tropical Asia, Sounds and Sights v3.0 by Jelle Scharringa

This is a DVD with sounds and images – the calls are found in .wav format, so can be downloaded onto an MP3. The list of birds contains quite a few Sichuan species – Wildsounds gives a list of birds found on the disk - here

For mammals the one major illustrated reference work is – Princedown Press, A Guide to the Mammals of China by Smith and Yan Xie. Another big expensive book – it looks very nice – but omits illustrations of some important species (only 1 Goral out 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!) – but again it’s the only book out there and a good one

The Wildsounds listing for this book