China is the third most biodiverse country in the world and is considered one of 17 megadiverse countries identified by Conservation International. It sits in two of the world’s major biogeographic realms: the Palearctic and the Indo-Malayan. In terms of birds, China has a huge bird list, again not surprising given its large size and huge array of diverse habitats. According to International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy the national list is just over 1,420 species of birds, this includes 60 full endemic and 16 breeding endemic birds, making a China tour (or two) a top priority for world birders, there are also several monotypic families present for family listers. BirdLife International recognizes 14 Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) in China and over 100 species are considered globally threatened with some of the most severe (e.g. Critically Endangered) including Baer’s Pochard, Siberian Crane (as well as five other species of crane also being globally threatened), Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Chinese Crested Tern, White-shouldered Ibis, White-bellied Heron, White-rumped Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Blue-crowned Laughingthrush, and Yellow-breasted Bunting.
China is incredibly important for mammals, with a staggering 500 plus species recorded. Giant Panda is probably the most famous of the mammalian species though there are so many other incredible species too, such as Leopard (Indian and Amur), Clouded Leopard, Tiger (Bengal, Indochinese, Siberian, and South China), Snow Leopard, Asiatic Black Bear, Sun Bear, Brown Bear (four subspecies), Tibetan Fox, Red Panda, Gaur, Yak, Takin, and Himalayan Tahr to whet the appetite a little.
Following recent environmental law changes, China has an increasing number of national park projects and areas for wildlife and habitat protection (e.g. nearly 2,350 nature reserves) and BirdLife International recognizes 512 Important Bird Areas (IBAs); on our birding trips we visit a number of these sites. China has also increased the number of its Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance) to 57, one such example is Poyang Lake (Poyang Hu), which is also a national nature reserve and an IBA. Since the early 1980s, Poyang Hu has become famous as the wintering ground of a number of globally threatened bird species; in particular 98 % of the world population, totaling only about 3,000 individuals, of the Siberian Crane winters at Poyang; other rare and endangered species occurring in significant numbers include the Oriental Stork, Swan Goose, and White-naped Crane.
Our China birding tours are timed to be in each of the selected provinces at the prime time for bird activity with our expert international tour leaders and knowledgeable local bird guides. We take small groups Chinese tours including Yunnan, Sichuan, and Qinghai, and also offer customized or private tours for birdwatching, mammal watching, or photography in these and any other province you wish to travel to.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the spectacular locations we visit and stunning birds we regularly encounter on our China birdwatching tours (note also our Taiwan bird tour pages for specific Taiwanese birding tours). Note also that these tours run back-to-back allowing you to combine one or more tours together should you wish to do so:
Birding Tour China: Yunnan
China’s most diverse province containing over half of the country’s bird species (in only four percent of the land area) in stunning landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to tropical rainforests. Some of the top picks on this tour include White-eared Night Heron, Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch, Yunnan Nuthatch, White-speckled Laughingthrush, Spotted Elachura (monotypic family), Golden Bush Robin, Chinese Babax, Himalayan Cutia, and Yellow-throated Bunting. This is a great next step in Asian birding if you have enjoyed one of our Thailand birding tours.
Birding Tour China: Sichuan
Numerous endemic and specialty bird species. Stunning wide-open steppe landscapes and equally impressive mountains, and exquisite forest make for an unforgettable birding experience as we visit Longcanggou Forest Park, Labahe Nature Reserve, Wolong National Nature Reserve, Balang Shan, Mengbi Shan, and Baxi Forest. Highlights include Chinese Monal, Blood Pheasant, White Eared Pheasant, Blue Eared Pheasant, Golden Pheasant, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Tibetan Snowcock, Temminck’s Tragopan, Snow Partridge, Black-necked Crane, Firethroat, Chinese Rubythroat, Giant Laughingthrush, Emei Shan Liocichla, Grandala, Ground Tit, Sichuan Tit, Crested Tit-warbler, and the monotypic family Przevalski’s Finch (previously called Pink-tailed Bunting and Przevalski’s Rosefinch when it was thought to be a member of either the bunting or rosefinch families). We also see numerous other gamebirds, parrotbills, laughingthrushes, warblers, thrushes, and rosefinches on this tour. Both Giant Panda and Red Panda are also possible here.
Birding Tour China: Qinghai
Known as the “Roof of the World”, we traverse the gorgeous Tibetan Plateau for a range of high-elevation species such as Tibetan Sandgrouse, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Tibetan Snowcock, Himalayan Snowcock, Tibetan Partridge, White Eared Pheasant, Ibisbill (stunning monotypic family), Snow Pigeon, Crested Tit-warbler, Mongolian Lark, Tibetan Lark, Tibetan Snowfinch, Tibetan Rosefinch, Tibetan Bunting, Tibetan Babax, Tibetan Serin, Grandala, and Henderson’s Ground Jay. A thoroughly breathtaking journey across Asia.