Chinese Birds Summary
CBT Birding since 1999


China is located in the eastern part of Asia, which is a nation with a vast territory, suitable situation, quite complex topographies and climates, diverse natural environment as well as rich biodiversities.

China is quite abundant in biological resources, and it is estimated that China ranks the third biodiversity richness in the world, excelling all of other countries in Asia and Temperate Zone. Also China stands a world-leading position in biodiversity of birds. Taking species number as an example, China ranks the fourth in the world only inferior to Brazil(2,000), Peru(1,678) and Columbia(1,567) in South America.

Statistics from Monroe and Sibley(1993) show that the species number of birds around the world amounts to 9,702, and the number has been approaching 9,800 by the year 2000 according to Clements’s figure. The number increase is primarily because that many Subspecies used to be considered are upgraded as Species with the extensive application of new technologies, such as molecular biology, acoustic etc. and in-depth study of ornithological taxonomy, apart from some new findings and nomenclature. Similar tendencies are also reflected in ornithological study of China. For example, De Schauensee(1984) recorded 1,1195 species of Chinese birds, Cheng Tso Hsin(1994) recorded 1,244, later Cheng Tso Hsin reported 1,253, moreover, 1,329 bird species were recorded by Mackinon in 2000.

Not only the species of Chinese birds is numerous, but also the species composition is complex. Temperate birds, subfrigid birds, frigid bird, and tropical birds, seabirds as well as drought birds, desert birds all occur in China. Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the typical high-and-cold spectacle of China, where a plenty of characteristic birds inhabit. China possesses some enviable bird groups in the aspect of taxonomic group, especially those represented by Cranes, Pheasants and Babblers are most prominent among them. There are 9 crane species occurring in China amongst 15 available species of the world, which Black Necked Crane is endemic to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. 27 Pheasant species of totaling 51 of the world are distributed in China, of which Lophophorus spp., Croccoptilon spp., Syrmaticus spp. And Chrysolophus spp. are all indigenous genera to China or chiefly distributed in China. 131 Babbler species among 284 in all around the world are found in China. The majority of species of Pheasants and Babblers are “Permanent Residents” without migratory habits. Therefore, China is always awarded titles for “Pheasants Kingdom” and “Babblers Paradise”.

The reason for abundance of Chinese birds mainly lies in preferable conditions of physical geography, China has a vast territory, suitable geography situation, diverse landscape ecology, and owns broadest areas of Sub-tropical Zone in the world. In the term of fauna geography, the Himalayas along southern Tibet divides Chinese mainland into south and north, two fauna geographic realms with different characteristics through the route of Hengduanshan Mountains-Qinling Mountains-Huaihe River, namely Oriental Realm and Palaearctic Realm. A country owns two fauna geographic realms with different features, which can only be found in China and Mexico around the world, however, China has a vaster territory compared with Mexico. Furthermore, China also possesses around 25 million hectares of wetlands, comprising 11 million hectares of lakes and 2 million hectares of mudflats and salt marshes, all of which are important habitats for waterfowls in course of breeding, migrating and wintering. A lot of birds breeding in frigid zone and sub-frigid zone pass by China during migration, and most of them travel to the southern part of Yangtze River basin to winter. Therefore, not only a plenty of residents birds occur in China, but also a number of travelers pass by China in spring and autumn every year, some of which in China becoming winter visitors, which make regionalism and biodiversity of Chinese birds further complex and abundant.


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