China is not a good place to be a bird

The Economist Xmas edition has a strong article on birdwatching in China, particularly waterbirds, inc search for Chinese crested tern.

Includes:

China is not a good place to be a bird. I learnt this when I moved from Hong Kong, still a British colony, to Beijing. Though my home in Hong Kong was in the heart of the city, dense scrub tumbled down the slopes from the Peak. I was driven out of bed every morning by a raucous dawn chorus.

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In my hutong neighbourhood in Beijing, by contrast, the mornings were strangely silent. In 1958 Mao Zedong had declared war on songbirds, sparrows in particular: he claimed they consumed scarce grain.
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In theory, China has lots of birds. To date, 1,329 species have been counted, out of a world total of 9,000-odd.
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the first Chinese crested terns ever to be ringed, and the only offspring of the species in 2008.
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By Mr Chen’s calculation, that brings the population of what is possibly the world’s rarest bird up to 32, surviving in colonies near some of the densest human populations on earth. The ringing is just the first step in trying to understand a bird about which almost nothing is known.

The loneliness of the Chinese birdwatcher

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I would totally agree. Province like Guangzhou has a great weather of enabling wildlife, mild winter and rainy summer. I was amazed when I first arrived in China, I hardly see any Eurasian Tree Sparrow in town, they are the most common bird species in this part of Asia. Bulbul and starling are extremely rare in city parks, partly due to lack of green at the area surrounding the park. Ecosystem at the park alone is not sufficient to sustain bird polulation.

Besides large scale habitat loss, there is a lack of respect for wildlife. Majority of locals still think that wildlife is still plentiful. Lack of support from the government may also be the reason why common birds are not common anymore.

from China Dialogue, article including:

The Luoxiao mountains in Hunan province rise to over 2,000 meters at their peak. From autumn the strong mountain winds make a thick jacket essential. But the mountain air is clear and on a good night the sky is full of stars. Autumn also brings the spectacle of huge flocks of migrating birds heading south through the mountain passes.

But what should be a path to warmth and food becomes death for countless birds. The passes of China’s second most important route for migratory birds are now slaughtering grounds, filled with illegal hunters and their guns and nets.

Bird-hunting is popular in Guidong and Yanling counties, and everyone knows it goes on. In the past hunters would burn wood or tyres to light up the mountain side in order to attract the birds. Today they use powerful LED lights for better range. Rain and fog are the best weather for the hunters.
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The hunters work in groups, with a clear division of labour: light-operators, shooters, and collectors. There are also outsiders in expensive cars who come to shoot the birds for fun.. One hunter said that on October 3rd, 2012, a single group of hunters had collected over one tonne of bird carcasses.

The slaughter of migratory birds in Hunan