Eastern Crowned WarblerPhylloscopus coronatus on migration in Jiangsu, China, May. The species is one of the Big 5 leaf warblers that migrate through east-central China. On migration Eastern Crowned Warbler rarely sings, but once at Shanghai’s Century Park, shanghaibirding.com executive editor Craig Brelsfordsound-recorded its song. Scroll down for sound-recordings of its song on the breeding grounds. (Craig Brelsford)
In China, Eastern Crowned WarblerPhylloscopus coronatus breeds Changbai Mountains in Liaoning and Jilin and Lesser Khingan Mountains in Heilongjiang and in a disjunct range in western Sichuan. Also breeds Russian Far East. Passes through eastern China to winter in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Breeds broadleaf forests and coniferous woodland, to 2000 m (6,560 ft.). On passage and in winter in almost any type of wooded habitat, including urban parks. ID & COMPARISON Pale yellowish median crown-stripe, diffuse or non-existent on forehead, more prominent at rear; long supercilium, narrow and yellowish in front of eye, broader and whiter behind; dark olive crown sides, lores, and eye-stripe; yellowish-white cheeks and ear coverts mottled grey; greenish-olive upperparts and greenish-yellow fringes to wing and tail feathers; and a single yellowish-white wingbar on tips of greater coverts. Some show faint wingbar on median coverts. Underparts yellowish-white or greyish-white, except lemon-yellow vent and undertail coverts. Claudia’s Leaf WarblerP. claudiae smaller and brighter and has two broad wingbars, more distinct crown-stripe, blacker crown sides, and different calls. Arctic WarblerP. borealis duller, lacks median crown-stripe, has narrower and more uniformly yellowish-white supercilium behind eye, and lacks yellow vent and undertail coverts. Juvenile duller and browner, with indistinct crown-stripe. BARE PARTS Bill long, thick; upper mandible black above with orange tip; lower mandible pale orange. Feet orange-brown, sometimes grey-brown. VOICE Harsh, nasal dwee call. Loud, simple, three- to six-note song, delivered from treetops, often involving two pitches and usually ending with typical call note. — Craig Brelsford
In Shanghai, the best birding occurs on the coast, 80 km or 50 mi. from the city center. Getting there can be a chore. Birding Pudong’s Century Park, by contrast, only requires a ride on Metro Line 2. Your day list from Century will only be about a third as long as a list from Cape Nanhui, but good birding can occur there, and at little cost.
It was just a snatch of song, and it occurred but once. I knew immediately that it was Eastern Crowned Warbler. The song was coming from the surprisingly high canopy of the wood.
The four of us strained to find the bird. The sun shone brightly through the canopy and into our eyes. Finally, Hiko saw movement. Through the glare we focused in and got a clear view of Eastern Crowned.
It was a shot of birding as good and satisfying as I get anywhere. And it just goes to show—good birding can occur anywhere, even in a busy city park.