Readers’ wildlife photos

September 2, 2014 • 5:36 am

Reader Bruce Lyon, whose photos from China appeared not long ago, has sent us some more:

Here are few more bird photos from my June trip to China. I visited Kuankuoshui (KKS) Nature Reserve, where two Chinese colleagues study interspecific brood parasitism in cuckoos. The cuckoos are obligate brood parasites that never have their own nests but instead lay eggs in the nests of individuals other species, who then raise the eggs and chicks. KKS is remarkable site because a whopping 11 species of parasitic cuckoos c0-occur there (a few of the species are rare). I saw 5 cuckoo species during my visit, including watching a parasitic egg-laying visit by a female Himalayan Cuckoo parasitizing a warbler nest. The cuckoos are tough to see, let alone photograph, and I was only able to get photos of two species: the Asian Emerald Cuckoo and the Common Cuckoo.

Below: A male Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus). KKS is a famous reserve in China for the likelihood of seeing an Emerald Cuckoo. During my visit there was a steady stream of Chinese birders and photographers seeking this species.

Chrysococcyx maculatus IMG_3234

Below: Another photo of the same male:

Chrysococcyx maculatus IMG_3175

Below: Emerald Cuckoos parasitize only a couple of warbler species at KKS, including this Green-crowned Warbler (Seicercus burkii). The warblers nest along cutbanks along roads and my colleagues have observed female cuckoos carefully searching the same cutbanks to find warbler nests to parasitize.

Seicercus burkii _4669

Below: Another Emerald Cuckoo host, the Buff-throated Warbler (Phylloscopus subaffinis) with a grub to feed a fledgling. This species nests in a completely different habitat, bushes in open areas. This would require different search methods and perhaps search images by the female Emerald Cuckoos.

Phylloscopus subaffinis IMG_3298

Below: A female Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) perched high in a tree. The fog was so dense that it was difficult to focus on the bird let alone photograph it. Cuckoos often perch high in trees where they scope out their surroundings and find host nests, presumably by watching birds building their nests or making trips to and from their nests. At the species level the Common Cuckoo is a host generalist that uses lots of different host species, but individual females may specialize on a few or even a single host species.

Cuculus canorus

Below: Three species of redstarts at KKS are known to be hosts of the Common Cuckoo, including this Daurian Redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) which associates closely with people and nests in buildings. This bird is a male.

Phoenicurus auroreus IMG_3692

Below: Plumbeous Water Redstarts (Rhyacornis fuliginosus) have also been documented as hosts of Common Cuckoos. This is a water-loving species and I found its lovely habitat along gorgeous streams or lake edges.  This is a male. Like many birds that associate closely with running water, these birds wag their tails constantly, as can be seen by the blurred tail in the photo.

Rhyacornis fuliginosus IMG_4953

Here’s a video of one I found on YouTube; the notes say, “This small bird was found to be jumping / hovering / and fishing at the base of Ban Jhakri Water Falls near Peeling in West Sikkim. Its act of occasionally widening of its red tail is worth watching.”

 Below: Plumbeous Water Redstart habitat—a lovely stream through the forest.


For pictures of some lovely herps from this reserve, go here.

5 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. Reminded me of a Quetzal, which really looks like it ought to live in China too.
      (The actual east-Asian relatives of the Quetzal, species of Harpactes, have a different if nearly as lurid colour scheme)

  1. Stunning photos of beautiful birds I’d never heard of! Thanks for posting them for us to see.

    The Daurian Redstart has a color pattern very similar to the Latin American Blue-hooded Euphonia, and the Emerald Cuckoo has a pattern and eye ring rather like some Latin American trogons. I wonder to what extent bird colors follow laws, perhaps based on developmental constraints and preferred habitat….

  2. “Stunning photos of beautiful birds I’d never heard of! Thanks for posting them for us to see.”

    My sentiments exactly!

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