Rare Photos of Crested Goshawk Mating in Shanghai’s Zhongshan Park

by Craig Brelsford
Founder, shanghaibirding.com

Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus has attempted to breed in inner-city Shanghai. The photos below show a pair mating at Zhongshan Park. Birder Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣), the best chronicler of Crested Goshawk in Shanghai, captured the moment.

Lying 5 km (3.1 mi.) west of People’s Square, Zhongshan Park (31.223705, 121.415994) is a spot of green surrounded by miles of cold grey city. The park is more than a hundred years old. Many of the trees there are giants, as in the old-growth forests to which Crested Goshawk is adapted. The environment is far from classic Crested Goshawk habitat, but apparently it is reminiscent enough to allow the species to gain a foothold.

Crested Goshawk Mating
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus indicus mating in Shanghai’s Zhongshan Park, April. (Wāng Jìn Róng [汪进荣])
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)
Crested Goshawk Mating
Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣)

RESOURCES ON CRESTED GOSHAWK

View my earlier posts on Crested Goshawk:

Crested Goshawk Crested Goshawk Invades Shanghai: Accipiter trivirgatus indicus has sunk its talons into Shanghai. Records of Crested Goshawk have come from all four seasons and at various locations throughout the city, among them Zhongshan Park, Century Park, and Gongqing Forest Park. The species is only rarely noted in the less forested coastal areas of the city-province, for example Cape Nanhui.

Crested GoshawkCrested Goshawk at Shanghai’s Century Park: shanghaibirding.com founder Craig Brelsford explains why the Accipter he saw at Shanghai’s Century Park was Crested Goshawk. The short, broad wings, pinched at the base, were a major clue. Much straighter are the wings of Chinese Sparrowhawk A. soloensis and Japanese Sparrowhawk A. gularis. The secondaries of Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus bulge more than Chinese and Japanese but less than Crested Goshawk.

See also:

— The shanghaibirding.com Tag Page on Crested Goshawk, with dramatic photos by Wāng Jìn Róng of a Crested Goshawk devouring a Pallas’s Squirrel at Shanghai’s Zhongshan Park

— The shanghaibirding.com Guide to Birding Urban Shanghai

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In 2012, Varied Tit Irrupted into Shanghai

by Craig Brelsford
Founder, shanghaibirding.com

From September through December 2012, Varied Tit burst into Earth’s Greatest City. For those few months, the status of Sittiparus varius varius in Shanghai went from “unrecorded” to “locally common.” I noted Varied Tit on various occasions on Lesser Yangshan Island and in urban Shanghai at Zhongshan Park, Changfeng Park, and Binjiang Forest Park.

The mass movement saw incursions of Varied Tit up and down the Chinese coast, with reports from as far south as Hong Kong. Unusually high numbers of Varied Tit were reported in South Korea as well as Japan (Loghry & Moores 2012).

The episode captured many birders’ imaginations, not only because of its ornithological interest, but also because Varied Tit is a beautiful bird.

Five years later, the 2012 irruption remains remarkable. Despite the growing number of birders in the Shanghai region, no one here has managed to find Varied Tit, a species not especially prone to irruptions.

Harrap and Quinn describe Varied Tit as resident throughout its range, with “some evidence,” some of which is “contradictory,” of movements south and to lower altitudes in winter. The word “irruption” does not appear in the authors’ otherwise exhaustive account of Varied Tit (1995).

In China, the nominate form of Varied Tit is confined to Northeast China (Liaoning and southern Jilin). It is resident as well on the adjacent Korean Peninsula and the main Japanese islands.

In 2012 as now, I was using my Nikon D3S and 600 mm F/4 lens. Here are some of the photos I produced of Varied Tit.

Varied Tit
Varied Tit Sittiparus varius varius, Lesser Yangshan Island, 19 Nov. 2012. In the fall and winter of 2012, this colorful tit showed unusually high movements throughout its northeast Asian range, eventually spilling into the coastal provinces of China. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Changfeng Park, 17 Nov. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Changfeng Park, 17 Nov. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Lesser Yangshan Island, 30 Sept. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Lesser Yangshan Island, 5 Dec. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Changfeng Park, 17 Nov. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Lesser Yangshan Island, 19 Nov. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Lesser Yangshan Island, 5 Dec. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Varied Tit
Changfeng Park, 17 Nov. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)

REFERENCES

Harrap, Simon & Quinn, David. Chickadees, Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers. Princeton University Press, 1995. Varied Tit, pp. 70-1, 397-401.

Loghry, Jason & Moores, Nial. Varied Tit, Chinese Nuthatch and Yellow-bellied Tit: what else is on the move? birdskoreablog.org. (Accessed 15 September 2019)

Featured image: In autumn and winter 2012, Shanghai experienced an irruption of Varied Tit Sittiparus varius varius. (Craig Brelsford)
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Crested Goshawk Invades Shanghai

by Craig Brelsford
Founder, shanghaibirding.com

Crested Goshawk has sunk its talons into Shanghai. In the past year, records of the species have come from various locations throughout the city, in all four seasons. This past spring, a pair may have bred at Gongqing Forest Park.

It is remarkable that Crested Goshawk, a species of tropical and subtropical Asia, is even as far north as the Yangtze River. Most field guides show Accipiter trivirgatus indicus, the mainland form, occurring no farther north than Hangzhou. However, members of Shanghai Birding, the WeChat companion to this Web site, have reported Crested Goshawk in Nanjing and Nantong (Jiangsu). Other authorities record Crested Goshawk in Anhui, Henan, and even Beijing.

If the forest-loving goshawk has invaded the coastal, little-wooded, highly urbanized world of Shanghai, then it is not surprising that it would be using urban parks. Some of the parks of Shanghai, such as 102-year-old Zhongshan Park, where I found a pair of Crested Goshawk on 8 Sept., have massive trees and resemble old-growth forests.

Like the avifauna of islands, the birds of urban Shanghai’s green islands live in isolation. Except for stray cats and an occasional Siberian Weasel, urban residents Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Light-vented Bulbul, and Chinese Blackbird have few predators and are abundant.

With the imbalance comes an opportunity for raptors that can tolerate the noise and bustle of Earth’s Largest City. For Crested Goshawk, the pluses of urban living are apparently outweighing the minuses. It has come to feed on the rich store of passerines as well as mammals such as Pallas’s Squirrel.

On 16 May 2017 at Pudong’s Century Park, Shanghai Birding member Xueping Popp captured a Crested Goshawk exploiting the imbalance.

Crested Goshawk
Crested Goshawk devouring Chinese Blackbird, Century Park, May. About this incident, photographer Xueping Popp wrote: ‘I went to Century Park early in the morning to look for Black Bittern. Nothing happened, so I decided to walk a little in the park. Suddenly I heard the cries of Chinese Blackbird. I looked up and saw a Crested Goshawk standing in the nest and eating a chick piece by piece. The scene was brutal, but Crested Goshawk was doing what raptors are supposed to do. I observed the whole process silently until the goshawk finished its meal.’ (Stephan Popp & Xueping Popp)

Shanghai Birding member Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣) was one of the first birders to record Crested Goshawk in Shanghai. Jìn Róng has seen the species at Zhongshan Park and Gongqing Forest Park as well as on the grounds of the Shanghai Zoo. Jìn Róng took the photo at the top of this post as well as the photos immediately below. All were taken at Zhongshan Park—the photo above this past May, the photos below last December.

Crested Goshawk
Crested Goshawk, Zhongshan Park, December. Note the dark mesial stripe on white throat, heavy brownish to rufous streaking on the breast, and heavy rufous barring on the belly. The small nuchal crest is not seen here, being most obvious when the goshawk is in profile. Wāng Jìn Róng (汪进荣).

The Crested Goshawk below, photographed by Shanghai Birding member Kai Pflug at Cape Nanhui, may have been in transit. Cape Nanhui has little tree cover beyond its famous microforests (where Kai got this photo), and Crested Goshawk is rarely recorded there.

Crested Goshawk
Crested Goshawk, Cape Nanhui, April 2017. Note large size but slim build and wings whose tips barely exceed the base of the tail. The short, rounded wings and long tail are adaptions to maneuvering through thick forest. (Kai Pflug)

Have you seen Crested Goshawk or other raptors in your city? Tell us your story in the comments below.

RESOURCES ON CRESTED GOSHAWK

Most field guides to Shanghai birds show outdated range maps for Accipiter trivirgatus indicus. Among them are Birds of East Asia (Brazil), A Field Guide to the Birds of China (MacKinnon & Phillipps), Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol. 2, and Raptors of the World (Ferguson-Lees & Christie).

The media below offer a clearer picture of the current status in China of Crested Goshawk.

Shanghai Birding
Join Shanghai Birding for the very latest bird sightings in Shanghai.

Brelsford, Craig, moderator. Shanghai Birding, a WeChat group. The subject of Crested Goshawk generated discussions with various birders, among them Jiangsu birders Scoter and maidong, who had information about Crested Goshawk in Nanjing and Nantong. Hangzhou birder Cheng Qian reported on the distribution of Crested Goshawk in Zhejiang. Beijing-based member Paul Holt alerted us to scholarship on the changing distribution of Crested Goshawk and shared records of the species from Anhui and Beijing. Guangdong-based member Jonathan Martinez wrote about breeding Crested Goshawk in Hunan.

eBird. 2019. eBird Range Map—Crested Goshawk. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [Web application]. eBird, Ithaca, New York. (Accessed: 2 November 2019).

The eBird Range Map shows points on the Earth where checklists with Crested Goshawk have been submitted. The map shows Crested Goshawk in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Henan as well as Shanghai.

Fei, Y.-L., Lei, M., Zhang, Y. and Lu, C.-H. Geographic Distribution Change of Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus). Chinese Journal of Zoology 45 (2010): 174–175.
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