Birdwatchers tend to like the rare, the exotic – yet many common birds are exciting as well. This is something most easily realized when traveling – what is common for the locals may be the trip`s highlight for a foreign visitor.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce what might be the 20 most common birds of Shanghai. The first 10 will be shown in this post, and the remaining 10 in a post two weeks later. Today`s species are just the first 10 by alphabetical order. After all, this is not a hit parade.

The Azure-winged Magpie is an East Asian endemic. It spends most of its time in urban parks, generally looking much more stylish than the average Shanghainese park visitor.


Barn Swallows are pretty much anywhere in the world (I just saw them back in Germany). So why shouldn’t they be in Shanghai, at least in summer?


If the Black-crowned Night Heron wasn`t fairly common in Shanghai, I think local bird watchers would plan weekend trips around it. But the way it is, familiarity breeds (relative) contempt. I have seen this bird right at the Bund waterfront, possibly the most famous tourist spot in all of Shanghai.


The Cattle Egret (or Eastern Cattle Egret, to be exact, but that would mess with my alphabetic order) can be seen in farmland around Shanghai. Instead of cattle, it nowadays often follows tractors ploughing the fields and thus stirring up small animals. A thoroughly modern bird.


The Chinese Blackbird was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Common Blackbird, and does not really look or behave much different.


The Chinese Pond Heron is another attractive bird, particularly in its breeding plumage. It is still reasonably common in those (shrinking) parts of Shanghai where there is water and farmland.


During my last trip to Germany, several people pointed out locations of Common Kingfisher. I was not really that interested though – the species is not difficult to see in Shanghai. It resides in some urban parks,  where it is a favorite target of some local bird photographers. So, no, I did not spend time searching for it in Germany.


The Common Moorhen seems to do well in the remaining rice paddies of Shanghai, but sometimes small dirty pools are enough for it to breed here.


A friend of mine once described the Shanghai late afternoon light on a particular day as so good that he would even take photos of Common Sandpiper. That is a bit unfair to this species.


The Crested Myna no longer has a foothold in Vancouver but fortunately is very common in Shanghai. The crest gives it the look of a bird with an attitude.


(to be continued)

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Written by Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug is a German who has been living in Shanghai for the last 15 years, and who only became interested in birds in China – so he is much more familiar with birds in China than with those in Germany. While only an average birder, he aims to be a good bird photographer and has created a website with bird photos as proof. He hopes not too many clients of his consulting company read this blog, as they will doubt his dedication to providing consulting services related to China`s chemical industry. Whenever he wants to shock other birders, he tells them his (indoor) cats can distinguish several warblers by taste.