Migratory Channels
CBT Birding since 1999

Migratory Channels of Chinese Birds


A great variety of migratory types and channels are bound to exit in China thanks to a vast territory. Complex physical geographic conditions and diversiform species of migratory birds. Compared with some advanced countries of the Occident. The study for migration of birds in China is still quite sparse. Only until 1982 The realization and possessing regarding migratory channels of birds are not thorough, especially for inland birds, because the overall arrangements of banding centers are limited, and the species, number of banded birds and the recycled number every year are far insufficient.

Analyzing in accordance with available data, the coastal areas in East China is assuredly the major migratory routeway of birds among Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Australia. Furthermore, the crisscross rivers, mountains and river valleys tending from south towards north in Chinese inland are dispersed posthouses and routeways for birds migrating from East Europe and Middle Asia to Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, up to Africa. In the Taklimakan Desert of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, it has been certified that about 20 species of waterfowls and 50species of passeriformes in spring and fly into the zone 500 km in width in recent years (Ma Ming et al. 2000), which provides new recognition for finding out migratory routeways of birds. At present, Chinese can be classified as three main migratory channels in principle, namely East China, Middle China and West China.


1. Migratory Channels of East China

For those migratory birds breeding in Russia, Japan, the Korean Peninsula, Northeast China and North China, they usually migrate through directions of south and north in the coastal areas in spring and autumn. By means of observing, banding and remote-sensing tracking of some species of raptors, cranes and storks, ducks and geese, gulls, snipes and plovers as well as Passeriformes, it is roughly considered that spring migrants are divided into two branches after reaching Taiwan migrating northward from the Malay Archipelago and Oceania. One branch scatters along Chinese Mainland or keeps on migrating northward along coastal areas of East China, and the other one reaches Japan via Ryukyu or proceeds to travel northward. Some groups such as snipes and plovers in those birds migrating northward along coastal areas of East China are divided into two paths again after reaching the estuary of the Yangtze River, one path gets to Northeast China and Russia via Jiangsu Province and Shandong Province, the other one migrates towards the Korean Peninsula and Japan across sea. The results, which track captured individuals or Black-faced Spoonbill in their wintering sites of Taiwan Province and Hong Kong SAR by installing radio emitters and GPS, show that their route of northward migration is similar with that of known snipes and plovers, it is namely that after migrating along the east bank the mainland to the estuary of the Yangtze River, the majority reach the central areas of western coast in the Korean Peninsula to breed, and the minority proceed to travel northward along the mainland and breed on the small islands of west bank of East Liaoning Peninsula. The migratory route in fall is similar to that in spring. The study of tracking White-napped Crane(Grus vipio) by GDP for recent 10 years shows that the individuals banded and released in Tahur Mountain Nature Reserve of Russia (50°N,115°E) pass through eastern Inner Mongolia and Tianjin Municipality and directly reach the Poyand Lake for overwintering in migrating southward. The individuals banded and released in Xinganling Nature Reserve of Russia(49°N,129°E) travel southward along Amur River and Hanka Lake and then along the southeastern coast and arrive at the vicinity of Chushui City of southern Japan via the Korean Peninsula for overwintering.

The Laotieshan Mountain in southern end of the East Liaoning Peninsula and the Changdao Island in northeastern edge of the Shandong Peninsula are the gathering places of migratory birds, particularly raptors in process of migrating, which birds fly the Bohai Gulf between them. Also, Qinhuangdao of Hebei Province and Huanghekou(the Estuary of the Yellow River) IN Shandong Province are the assembling sites of birds in course of migrating. In addition, Changjiangkou (the Estuary of the Yangtze Uiver), Chongmingdao Island and Hangzhouwan are important posthouses and transfer stops for migratory birds, where birds candisseminate towards 3 directions, namely the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and inland, the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

2. Migratory Channels of Middle China

The migratory birds in eastern and central prairies of Inner Mongolia, western part of North China can travel southwards along the Yellow River valley, the Luliang Mountains and the Taihang Mountains and fly across the Qinling Mountains to enter the Sichuan Basin, or arrive in North and Sorth China for overwinntering through eastern part of the Dabashan Mountains. The Hulun Lake and Wuliangsuhai Lake in Inner Mongolia, the sloping section of Huangheliang in Shanxi Province, the Sanmenxia Gorge of Shaanxi Province, and the Danjiangkou Reservoir of Henan Province etc., which the migratory channels pass through are all important stopovers and gathering sites for migratory waterfowl.

3. Migratory Channels of West China

The migratory birds breeding in western Inner Mongolia, and in drought grasslands, desert grasslands and alpine grasslands of Qinghai Province, can travel southwards along the Animaqi Mountains, Bayan Har Mountains and Qunlai Mountains, and then fly southwards along the Hengduanshan Mountains to the western part of Sichuan Basin and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, and finally arrive in the Middle South Peninsula for overwintering, The details on bird migration in Xinjing Autonomous Region are still unknown, but estimating that it may join in the western migratory channels southeastwards, or leave China southwestwards, and or enter Tibet southwards. Apart from migrating southeastwards along the Tanggula Mountains and Himalayas, evidences have proved that some species of migratory birds in Tiber can fly the Himalayas to reach India, Nepal for overwintering, for an instance, Anser indicus,and the study results for migration of Grus nigricollis attest to this fact, too.


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