Long-tailed RosefinchCarpodacus sibiricus ranges across much of southern Siberia, Mongolia, and northern, central, and southwest China, with sibiricus breeding northwest Xinjiang and northwest Inner Mongolia and wintering Xinjiang and north-central China; ussuriensis breeding Heilongjiang and Jilin and wintering Liaoning west to southern Gansu; lepidus resident from eastern Tibet to southwest Shanxi; and henrici resident northern Sichuan to southeast Tibet and western Yunnan. HABITAT Mountains to 3400 m (11,160 ft.); also lowlands. In forests with undergrowth, grasslands, and wetlands with reeds and tall vegetation; also agricultural land and city parks with bushes and trees. Locally common; can be tame. ID & COMPARISON Breeding male sibiricus has lower forehead, lores and base of bill deep crimson, continuing as eyeline that joins crimson half-collar at neck sides; cheek and ear coverts to throat pink with white frosting. Crown center and nape grey with faint streaking, partly obscured by pink-white forecrown and supercilium; pale-crowned individuals may appear almost white-headed. Upperparts pinkish-red with black streaks and grey fringing, lower back and rump unstreaked deep pink, and tail black with fine white fringing. Underparts pale pink, grading to white on undertail coverts. Wing mainly black, with white tips to greater and median coverts forming two broad wingbars. Prominent white fringing on otherwise black tertials; white edges to flight feathers forming wing panel. Winter male much duller. Female lacks pink in plumage and is buffish to grey-brown above, with light black streaking on cheeks and crown and bolder streaking on mantle. Underparts mainly buffish-brown with black streaking heaviest on flanks; belly almost white. Wing and tail pattern like male. Juvenile similar to female. Male ussuriensis darker and pinker, lepidus darker still; female henrici more heavily streaked than other races. Shorter tails on lepidus and henrici. Combination of tail length, wing and tail pattern diagnostic. BARE PARTS Stubby grey-horn bill; brown feet. VOICE Rapid, rolling, musical trill, repeated with pauses of about 4 seconds. Sharp, whistling alarm call: pink-pink-pink. — Craig Brelsford
Xuanzhong Temple in Shanxi is the best-known place in the world to view Brown Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum. A recent visit by British birder Mark Havenhand (see comment below) stimulated me to update my report about my trip to Xuanzhong. Have you been to Xuanzhong? Help birders by leaving a comment below. — Craig Brelsford
I went to Xuanzhong Temple in December and January to photograph Brown Eared PheasantCrossoptilon mantchuricum.
The temple in central Shanxi, China sits in a gorge at an elevation of 1000 m (3,280 ft.). The hills are covered with trees that the locals call baishu (cypress). The setting is picturesque.
The air was bitterly cold; as low as -20°C (-4°F). Bright sunshine made the days cheerful. The temple flock of Brown Eared Pheasant appeared every day.
Elaine Du and I caught an 8 a.m. flight from Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi. From Taiyuan Airport, we drove our rental car west about an hour through Jiaocheng to Xuanzhong Temple (37.563877, 112.078460).
We found the Brown Eared Pheasant immediately. They were on a little bridge spanning a frozen stream at the bottom of the gorge. Also around the bridge were north China species Plain LaughingthrushPterorhinus davidi, Long-tailed RosefinchCarpodacus sibiricus ussuriensis, and Red-billed Blue MagpieUrocissa erythroryncha brevivexilla.
In the following days I noted other taxa representative of north-central China: Chinese NuthatchSitta villosa villosa, Eurasian NuthatchS. europaea sinensis, Songar TitPoecile montanus stoetzneri, Coal TitPeriparus ater pekinensis, and Beijing BabblerRhopophilus pekinensis.
Many birders balk at ticking semi-wild birds, but if you want an easy tick of Brown Eared Pheasant, then Xuanzhong Temple is the place to go. Note that both Mark Havenhand and I had wild Brown Eared Pheasant far from the temple on the road between Xuanzhong and Jiaocheng.
MAP AND PHOTOS
BirdLife International 2016. Crossoptilon mantchuricum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679299A92809690. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679299A92809690.en. (Accessed: 30 Aug 2020)