Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Paradoxornis webbianis)

(12 cm.) Small; long tail; small parrot-like bill; uniformly brown with light streaks on throat.

The Vinous-throated Parrotbill is an interesting and rather unconventional species of songbird of the former parrotbill family, “Paradoxornithidae”. The Latin name of the family translates to English as “paradox bird.” meaning a bird that cannot be understood. For many years ornithologists had struggled to find the correct classification for the parrotbills. Originally, they had been placed in the family, “Paridae,” the family of tits with which they do share some habits. However, after strict observations of DNA, they were moved to the Paradoxornithidae, and finally, “Sylviidae,” the family of warblers.

The species gets its name from its hooked bill which resembles that of a very small parrot. Several species of parrotbills can be found in China, but most are tropical species only found in the extreme southern parts of the country, This species is found almost throughout the eastern half of the country only missing in western parts of Jilin and Heilongjiang. No other parrotbill can be found at these latitudes.

This species is one of the smallest of the family, and it has a proportionally much longer tail than other parrotbills. Its plumage is uniformly brown, and it derives its name from the faint brown streaks found on its throat. Males and females look alike.

The Vinous-throated Parrotbill is an extremely gregarious species that is usually found in large loose flocks of birds which are at their biggest during the winter. In winter, flocks can exceed 100 individuals. In summer, when breeding is occupying the mated pairs of birds, these flocks are much smaller.

The Vinous-throated Parrotbill is extremely adaptable and hardy. It can survive in a wide range of habitats, including various types of forest, swampland and cultivated places such as farms, orchards and city parks. It is this adaptability that enables the Vinous-throated Parrotbill to live at northern latitudes too harsh for other parrotbills.

The Vinous-throated Parrotbill is always a cooperative species to observe as it allows human visitors to approach rather closely as it gleans the branches of trees and bushes in search of its favorite food, seeds.

Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Photo by Alder Chang)

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