A Birder’s Guide to Beijing

“A Birders Guide to Beijing” includes information about the best sites, likely species encountered, tips on how to see the local specialities, travel directions etc.  If you have any helpful tips, hints or sites you’d like to see included here, please let me know.

Below is a list of some of the best birding sites in Beijing.  Detailed site guides include travel directions, likely species encountered in each season and, where possible, a full species list.

1.  Detailed Site Guide

Want to know the best sites in Beijing for birding?  Click on this link to find out how to get there, what you might see and some hints and tips about how to maximise your visit.

site guide image

2.  A Guide To Beijing’s Common Birds

New to birding?  Seen a bird you don’t recognise in the city?  Birding Beijing has produced a downloadable PDF guide – available in English and Chinese – showing some of the species most commonly encountered in central Beijing’s parks and green spaces.

Download The PDF Guide To Beijing’s Common Birds (English)

北京常见鸟类指南 (中文)

brambling square
Brambling, one of the birds most commonly encountered in winter in Beijing’s parks. Look out for flocks of small birds wheeling around overhead or feeding on the ground under trees.

3.  A Guide to Beijing’s Most Sought-after Birds

Want to know where to see Beijing Babbler or Pallas’s Rosefinch?  Download this PDF guide on how to find the 10 most sought-after birds in Beijing.

pallas's rosefinch square
An adult male Pallas’s Rosefinch, one of the most sought-after birds in Beijing. Lingshan is a regular site for this species from late October to late March.

4. The Status of Birds in Beijing

See this page for a basic status of the species recorded in Beijing, including maximum counts where available.  

25 thoughts on “A Birder’s Guide to Beijing”

    1. The Olympic Forest Park (accessible by metro) is always a rewarding place.. especially the southwest section (the wetland area). There is usually a Water Rail in winter plus Water Pipit, Red-flanked Bluetail, Daurian Redstart, Silver-throated Tit etc. Other city options are the Botanical Gardens or Yuanmingyuan Park. There are downloadable PDF guides to the OFP and Bot Gardens on this website under “Site Guide”. Good luck!

  1. In the Beijing guide I am a bit confused by the “sparrow” entry. The ones I have on my balcony (gongti area) are not so colorful and pretty dark colored. Aren’t they rather “house sparrows” or simply “sparrows”? I also have “spotted doves” as frequent visitors. I first thought they were turtle doves. All daily visitors as I feed them (grains, peanuts, water).

    1. Thank you for the comment. The urban Tree Sparrows can look very dark, mainly caused by the grime of the city. But all sparrows in the city of Beijing are Eurasian Tree Sparrows. There are no records of House Sparrow. Another type of sparrow – the Russet Sparrow – is an attractive richly coloured sparrow and is a summer migrant to Beijing, mostly to mountain villages, but it is rarely seen in the city itself. Great to have Spotted Doves, too!

      1. Thanks for the explanation! I know little about birds but enjoy watching them from my desk, looking at my balcony where they come to eat, drink, play – and fight with each other. Magpies don’t land here, guess they are too afraid of humans. Should post my pics at one stage on one of my websites…

  2. “If you enjoy watching birds, you’re a good birder.. and if you REALLY enjoy watching them, you’re a great birder!” One of my favourite birding quotes from Kenn Kaufman. Please do post your photos.. we can’t have too many photos of birds from Beijing!

  3. Hi, I’m a Beijing resident that really enjoys bird watching and want to start some bird photography and audio recording, however I don’t know where to start in terms of the equipments to use, do you have any suggestions? Equipment that aren’t too expensive but works well for beginners would be the best, thanks!

  4. Hello there,

    Rally informative article indeed. I appreciate the effort you took to share it with us. A birder who has a passion to visit many places for birding will get benefited from here. Thanks for a nice explanation. Hope, will get more from you soon.

  5. Hi Terry, I just notice your website this morning. My name is Sun Yue or Pat and I’m a birding lover based in Beijing, only at a junior level. I first followed your tweeter account by a machine recommandation some days ago. This morning I was attracted by your Redwing report and I clicked the link therein which brought me here. When I opened up the page, I blamed myself for finding you so late. I have to say this is an amazing website to birding lovers, because the contents are just what we love to read. The one most impressive to me is the one about Beijing Swift. I have been to Summer Palace many times every summer and seen those swifts also many times. I also know some birds migrate long distance. But I never imagine that the species living so close to me do the same. So I cannot help writing these comments to you. Thank you very much for what you have done not only for birding lovers but also for Chinese natural conservations.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I am pleased you found the website useful. The story of the Beijing Swift is astonishing and every time I see a Swift I marvel at the journey it has made. I appreciate you taking the time to write a comment and I hope to see you birding one day! Terry

  6. Hello Terry, I am in the airport on my way to Beijing and just there for a few days, so you may not be able to help. But I would like to meet someone for a bird hike in or near Beijing. This site is very helpful and I could probably find my way with the wonderful information you provide. I lead hikes at birding events in the US and perform as John James Audubon. I do hope we can connect.

      1. Thank you for your reply. I went to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, both were beautiful but not many birds. I did have a good time.

  7. Hello Mr. Townshed.

    My name is Nicholas (Bruneian).

    Found your blog and guides and first off, let me say thank you so much for developing those guides and this site! Exactly what I was looking for to have an idea of the wonders of Bei Jing birds.

    May I ask if you could recommend me some birdguides or tours in Beijing this December? My family and I are planning a trip there.

    If it’s not too much trouble.

    Thank you Mr. Townshed.
    Kind regards.

  8. Hello mr. Terry Townshend,

    Next year or the year after I hope to go to Bejing and surrounding to birdwatch a few days. I have been to the east coast of Bejing in begin may a few years ago and I loved the birdwatching over there and now I hope to see more. I think the winter months are the best (?), but winter is a long period.
    There are a few birds which have my special interest this trip. These are Red throated Thrush, Siberian Thrush, Daurian Jackdaw and Long tailed Shrike.

    The question I want to ask you is, what the best period is, if I want to see these birdspecies. And, is surrounding bejing a good place? I hope to go for about 10 days.

    I hope to hear from you and hope my question is not impossible to answer.

    Many greetings from Amsterdam,

    1. Hi Rob. Of your four target species, three are possible in winter – Red-throated Thrush (common), Daurian Jackdaw (locally common) and Long-tailed Shrike (scarce but regular). Siberian Thrush is a rare spring and autumn migrant in Beijing. Every season provides good birding in Beijing… spring and autumn are excellent for migrants, winter is great for northern species such as cranes, vultures, high-elevation redstarts, rosefinches etc.. and summer is excellent for the mountain breeding birds such as phylloscopus warblers, flycatchers, thrushes, cuckoos etc. Hope that helps. Terry

  9. Thanks for the fast reply.

    So the Siberian Trush is difficult/impossible in winter (we had a female in spring on the east coast). I forget this one. For the other 3 species, what do you think which month/period is the best time? November? December? Hope you can give a direction …

    Many greetings,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.