Mountain Tailorbird Secretive, yellow-colored warbler © Tim Boucher/TNC

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Birds in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has around 550 bird species, accounting for one-third of the bird species found in China. This is because Hong Kong has a wide range of ideal bird habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, forests and coastal areas. And because Hong Kong lies on the East-Asian Australasian Flyway, many migratory birds stopover in Hong Kong in wintertime during their long journeys.

Around the world, TNC works to protect and restore habitats that are critical to birds and other wildlife, including our mudflat and shellfish reef restoration projects in Pak Nai.

Sparrows, spotted doves, Red-whiskered bulbul are commonly seen around Hong Kong, but other local bird species are not so easy to spot. TNC Spatial Scientist and avid birder Tim Boucher has captured amazing photos of some of Hong Kong’s coolest birds—check out this slideshow of his photos and compare it to your own Hong Kong birding bucket list! 

Portrait of a man standing in a forest, holding a monocular.
Timothy Boucher Tim Boucher is "a world-class geographic information systems (GIS) scientist who uses satellite data to monitor the status of healthy and threatened habitats." He is also a bird-crazy map guy who has braved civil war and landslides to find and see birds. © Dave Lauridsen for The Nature Conservancy

About Tim Boucher:

Tim Boucher is a Senior Conservation Geographer at The Nature Conservancy, in addition to being an enthusiastic birder, hiker and photographer. He has used remote sensing and geographic information science to assess the conditions, protections and threats to natural habitats, having conducted field assessments on six continents. 

Black-faced spoonbills

These endangered birds are winter visitors to Hong Kong, a critical stopover point on their migrations across East Asia.

Though their populations are beginning to bounce back, pollution, habitat loss and degradation continue to pose major threats to the species’ survival.

TNC works with partners to protect, clean up and restore Black-faced spoonbill habitats, including places like Deep Bay and Chongming Dongtan in Shanghai. 

A Black-faced spoonbill bird stands in water with its bill under water.
Black-faced Spoonbill Migratory with a black, spoon-shaped bill © Tim Boucher/TNC

Chestnut bulbul

Though only found in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, chestnut bulbul populations appear to be healthy.

Perhaps this is because these songbirds seem quite adaptable and willing to live even in heavily degraded forests.

Since chestnut bulbuls are known for being noisy, you’re likely to hear one before you see it! They are common to see and hear throughout Hong Kong wooded areas.

A hestnut bulbul bird is on profile as it sits in a tree.
Chestnut bulbul These birds are known for being noisy © Tim Boucher/TNC

Stejneger’s stonechat

One of several species of stonechat, Stejneger’s stonechat are native to East Asia and are similar to Siberian stonechat and sometimes regarded as a sub-species of Siberian stonechat.

They are commonly found in Hong Kong in spring, autumn and winter—usually atop things. Their call sounds like “tack tack” – like two stones being slapped against each other. 

This small, brown Stejneger’s stonechat bird sits atop a small, curved branch.
Stejneger’s stonechat Song sounds like two stones being tapped against each other © Tim Boucher/TNC

Eurasian Whimbrel

These migratory birds live in Asia and Europe and winter along the coasts of Africa, Asia and Australia.

Their call sounds like a whistle. They are commonly seen (and heard!) in Hong Kong mudflats during the winter, using their downcurved bills to hunt crabs and other small prey. 

TNC’s projects in Pak Nai to protect and restore mudflats and shellfish reefs helps ensure healthy habitats for wildlife and people alike. 

A Eurasian Whimbrel has a curved bill.
Eurasian Whimbrel Curved bills are used for finding food in mudflats © Tim Boucher/TNC

Black-capped kingfisher

Black-capped kingfishers are easily recognizable because of their bright coloring: they have black heads, red bills, blueish-purplish backs and white collars.

They are commonly seen in Hong Kong mudflats and wetlands in winter, often atop mangroves as they scan for prey. TNC’s work with the Pak Nai community to protect and restore mudflats and shellfish reefs there helps create safe mudflat and wetland habitat.  

A black-capped kingfisher stands on a pole surrounded by marsh.
Black-capped kingfisher Black heads with white collars © Tim Boucher/TNC

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush

These beautiful birds with distinctive white stripes around their eyes are Hong Kong  residents, but you have to be lucky to spot one: they are known for being shy and difficult to see in the dense forests where they prefer to shelter. 

A greater necklaced laughingthrush bird is peeking out from behind a branch.
Necklaced Laughingthrush Long tailed with distinguished facial markings © Tim Boucher/TNC

Scarlet Minivet

These Hong Kong residents can be found in the treetops of forests and wooded areas throughout the city. Male scarlet minivets are red with black upper parts, while females are yellow with grey upper parts. 

A red and black scarlet minivet bird is hiding in a tree.
Scarlet Minivet Red in color but can also be yellow, orange or grey © Tim Boucher/TNC

Yellow-Bellied Prinia

Yellow-bellied Prinia are commonly found in Hong Kong in wetlands and reed marshes.

Protecting and restoring coastal areas in places like Deep Bay—such as the work TNC is doing in Pak Nai—helps create healthy habitats for these birds.

They have a pretty little song and long tails. 

A Yellow-Bellied Prinia bird stands on a blade of grass and is calling out.
Yellow-bellied Prinia Long tails, white throats and yellow bellies © Tim Boucher/TNC

Orange-headed Thrush

While these beautiful birds with distinctive orange heads and bellies are not threatened, their population is decreasing. They visit Hong Kong in winter and can be seen in wooded areas by watchful, quiet seekers: orange-headed thrush are shy and quiet, and not easily noticed.

Their beautiful coloring can also be an unfortunate liability: in some places, its numbers are declining as it has become a popular cage-bird.

An Orange-headed Thrush bird sits on a branch.
Orange-headed Trush Shy birds with distinctive orange heads © Tim Boucher/TNC

Mountain Tailorbird

These tiny songbirds with yellow underparts live in forests.

You have to be lucky to see one: according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, they are uncommon residents in Hong Kong.  

A cute yellow Mountain Tailorbird sits on a branch in a tree.
Mountain Tailorbird Secretive, yellow-colored warbler © Tim Boucher/TNC

Red-whiskered bulbul

Also known as crested bulbuls, these birds are commonly seen in forests and even gardens around Hong Kong.

Their erect crown feathers and red cheeks make them easy to identify—and quite adorable!

Two red-whiskered bulbul birds are sitting on a branch.
Red-whiskered bulbul Cute red cheeks and hat-like crown feathers © Tim Boucher/TNC

Collared crow

Easily spotted year-round in Hong Kong wetlands, these crows are also easy to identify thanks to their white collars that stand out against otherwise all-black bodies. These birds are only found in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

Sadly, collared crow populations seem to be quickly declining due to pesticides and hunting according to research published in Forktail. Hong Kong is one of their two most important homes, and protecting their wetland habitat in Deep Bay may be critical to the species’ survival. 

A collared crow bird stands on a post sticking out of a body of water.
Collared crow White collars and black bodies © Tim Boucher/TNC

Spotted Redshank

These winter visitors to Hong Kong have long red legs and a black upper bill and red lower bill. They can be found in mudflats where they usually hunt for food.

A Spotted Redshank bird stands in water.
Spotted Redshank Long red legs with a bi-colored bill © Tim Boucher/TNC

Pied Avocet

These black-and-white waders winter in Hong Kong, where they feed on bugs and crabs in local wetlands and mudflats.

They are easily identified because of their distinctive pattern, as well as their upturned bills and their habit of sweeping their heads from side-to-side when feeding. 

A Pied Avocet bird with a long, curved bill stands in water.
Pied Avocet Distinctive markings with upturned bills © Tim Boucher/TNC

Eastern Marsh Harrier

These birds of prey are typically migratory, and hard to miss if you see one flying above Hong Kong marshlands—they are quite large, with a wingspan over one meter! 

Easter Marsh Harrier bird flying in front of a building.
Eastern Marsh Harrier Large, migratory birds of prey © Tom Boucher/TNC

Habitat loss is the number one threat to the survival of birds and wildlife.

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