Black-winged Cuckooshrike

I am still wading (no pun intended) through my sightings and images from a shorebirding trip to Donggang, Dandong, last weekend with Paul Holt and local birder, Bai Qingquan.  The highlights were many.  One of the surprises was the amount of passerine migrants that we saw along the newly planted trees that lined the sea wall.. every day we saw buntings, pipits, flycatchers, thrushes and robins which made the walk to the wader high tide roost a real treat.  And it was here that we found the bird of the trip – a Kamchatka Warbler (see previous post).  Another, more mature, hedgerow to the north of the wader high tide roost produced another very special bird and the second highlight of the trip – a Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike.  This is the first record of this species in Liaoning Province and possibly the most northerly record in mainland China.

We had just seen a Brown-eared Bulbul making its way south, noisily, along the sea wall and just a few minutes later a similar-sized bird flew north along the landward side of the hedge.  Bai Qingquan picked it up and both he and I saw it briefly as it flashed by.. what was it?  Paul was on the other side of the hedge and missed it.  Both Bai and I had never seen this bird before..  sort of cuckoo-shaped but we had seen some white on the wing.  Luckily it perched up in a tree a 100 metres or so to the north.  Although it was mostly obscured, we could just see its tail which looked cuckoo-like and we speculated that it could be some sort of cuckoo or hawk cuckoo..  but the white in the wing didn’t tally..  We crept forward and then it flew, luckily just a few metres, and this time sat up in full view.  Paul very quickly identified it as a Black-winged Cuckooshrike.  We were able to secure some pretty good views for about 30 minutes as it fed along the hedgerow.  Bai “high-fived” us..  a new Liaoning bird!

Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Donggang, Dandong, 11 May 2012. The first record in Liaoning Province and, possibly, the most northerly record of this species in China.
Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Donggang, Dandong, 11 May 2012. The white panels in the wings were not always as obvious as shown here.

The cuckooshrike clearly liked the area as we saw it again the following day and again on our last morning..  Isn’t migration brilliant!

4 thoughts on “Black-winged Cuckooshrike”

  1. I think you and me saw the bird at the same time,and i also saw the white panels in the wings,at the time,i felt a little bit strange cause i never saw a bird wing like that,different to a dollar bird.i asked paul what species it is,but paul said:it is a cuckoo cuckoo at first……i wonder which species cuckoo with white wing bars like that? paul kept on seeing the bird,later,he told us it is a cuckooshrike.i never saw a cuckooshrike before.
    Brown eared bulbul is very familiar to me. i never thought it could be a Brown eared bulbul.

    1. Hi BAI,
      Thank you. I have amended the post based on your comments.. It was a strange few seconds because we had both seen a bird that we had never seen before and the species we thought of – cuckoo or hawk cuckoo – just didn’t fit as we had seen the white in the wings.. Luckily Paul was very familiar with BWCuckooshrike. I hope you see more good birds this spring!!

  2. Hey, B. Birder,

    Nice to have the cuckooshrike feather(s) in your cap ( although that cap is surely reaching capacity, what with your various other findings ! )

    Actually I’m writing more in reference to the (dare I say) Arctic warbler and its present status as a trinity. Living in my self-contained life here I had had no idea ( the last to know ? ) and was very interested to play the recordings of the three in question and hear the differences. Very informative and I will toe the line with future designation of our bird here in Honshu. That said, I do sort of chaff a bit at splits and renamings ( In the States we have something that used to be a Myrtle Warbler when I was in my first youth, and after many years in Japan I went birding back home in Virginia and mentioned having seen a Myrtle Warbler, and was told ( rather archly, I thought ) that “we” don’t say that anymore, Now “we” say Yellow-rumped Warbler. ) but I just sort of mind my own business and tell myself being a member of the (usually) quiet minority doesn’t matter too much.
    But pulling back from that tangent, I want – as have some others of your readers – to express appreciation and admiration for your painstaking and very readable introductions to identification of birds difficult for lots of us. I often feel, too, that a great deal more is given than is acknowledged or commented on. So thanks, thanks, thanks, etc ….. :-))

    Best from here,


  3. Norm,
    Good to hear from you. You are too kind. I think many birders, especially those beyond their ‘first youth’ empathise with your comment about ‘splits’ and the renaming of species. I still can’t get used to Zitting Cisticola (used to be “Fan-tailed Warbler”)!

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