Sensational bird finding in China

Dec 19, 2011
This is an adult male Blackthroat Luscinia obscura, Foping National Nature Reserve, Shaanxi, China, June 2011. Credit: © Per Alström

In June 2011, a team of Chinese and Swedish researchers rediscovered the breeding area for the poorly known Blackthroat Luscinia obscura, in the Qinling mountains, Shaanxi province, north central China.

Seven singing males were observed in Foping and seven more in Changqing National Nature Reserves – which almost equals the total number of individuals observed of this species since its discovery in the late 19th century. Nearly all of the were on mountain slopes at 2400 meters above sea level in large, dense expanses of bamboo in open coniferous and mixed coniferous-broadleaved forest.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, about 10 Blackthroats were collected at two localities in the Gansu and Shaanxi provinces during the breeding season (May–August). Since then, there have been only a handful of mostly unconfirmed records from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, , from presumed breeding areas or on migration, including a few individuals found in bird markets [1]. The most recent record is of a bird that was photographed on migration in the campus of the Sichuan University on 2 May 2011 [2]. In addition, one individual has been caught in Thailand in winter.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This is the song of male Blackthroat Luscinia obscura, Changqing National Nature Reserve, Shaanxi, China, June 15 2011. Credit: Per Alström

The Blackthroat resembles a European Robin Erithacus rubecula in size and general appearance, but with a jet black throat and breast in the male. The female is considered to have a pale brownish throat and breast, although no females definitely attributable to this species have been observed.

The song is distinctive, and consists of rather short, quick, varied strophes that include both whistles and harsh notes. The strophes are delivered at a fairly slow, even pace. Several individuals were sound recorded in 2011, and two of these recordings are now made freely available. This will facilitate future surveys of this enigmatic bird species.

Explore further: Keep dogs and cats safe during winter

More information: References:

1. BirdLife International. 2011. Species factsheet: Black-throated Blue robin Luscinia obscura. www.birdlife.org/datazone/spec… actsheet.php?id=6598.

2. Qian, W. & Yi, H. 2011. First images in the wild of Blackthroat Luscinia obscura, Asia's most enigmatic robin. BirdingAsia 15: 17. Available at www.orientalbirdclub.org/publi… Qian-Blackthroat.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World's least known bird rediscovered

Jan 25, 2010

A species of bird, which has only been observed alive on three previous occasions since it was first discovered in 1867, has been rediscovered in a remote land corridor in north-eastern Afghanistan. The discovery ...

The burly bird catches the girl

Aug 17, 2011

While the early bird might catch the worm, it's the quick bird that lands the ladies, according to new research into the running performance of an Arctic cousin of the grouse.

Kingfisher sets European migration record

Oct 26, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A Kingfisher caught and released by members of the Landguard Bird Observatory at the British National Trust's Orford Ness reserve, appears to have migrated all the way from Gdansk, Poland, ...

Recommended for you

Keep dogs and cats safe during winter

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Winter can be tough on dogs and cats, but there are a number of safe and effective ways you can help them get through the cold season, an expert says.

Scientists target mess from Christmas tree needles

Dec 26, 2014

The presents are unwrapped. The children's shrieks of delight are just a memory. Now it's time for another Yuletide tradition: cleaning up the needles that are falling off your Christmas tree.

The ants that conquered the world

Dec 24, 2014

About one tenth of the world's ants are close relatives; they all belong to just one genus out of 323, called Pheidole. "If you go into any tropical forest and take a stroll, you will step on one of these ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.