Wild Shanghai EP3: Wildlife in your neighbourhood
Guess how many little creatures are living in your neighborhood? You can find the "Four Bird Kings" of Shanghai, your childhood memories, and the nature story of "hide and seek." Step inside to find a totally different world around your neighborhood.
Chinese Blackbird 乌鸫 (dōng)
The Chinese blackbird is quite common in the city. Their black color makes people think they are ravens or crows, but they have an obvious yellow bill. They are very good singers, can mimic the calls of many different birds and in the city they will also mimic some artificial sounds, like a car alarm or doorbell. It's part of their courting ritual, involving singing complex songs, showing off to any potential girlfriend that they are in good health and warning off their competitors. They are omnivorous; it's raining today so it's a good time for them to find earthworms in the mud.
Light-vented Bulbul 白头鹎(bēi)
The Light-vented Bulbul is very common in southern parts of China, especially in cities. It has a white shock of feather behind the head, like an old man, which is how they got their Chinese name, 白头鹎or白头翁. They are also omnivorous and like fruits, such as picking at loquats. I've tried, they are very sour, but they like them.
Spotted Dove 珠颈斑鸠
The Spotted Dove is also very common in the city. They have this white-dotted patch on the back of the neck, just like wearing a pearl necklace, and that's how they got their name. They are mostly vegetarian, foraging on the ground for seeds. The soft "gugu" sounds you hear in the morning are most likely them. Many people have found them building nests outside their window. They are really not picky about nest building, sometimes a few sticks will do. Some lazy ones just use flowerpots. Nests have been found on mops and in trousers and shoes, so they are very creative. If you find their nest outside your window, just hold back and don't disturb them too often; they will be fine.
Tree Sparrow 麻雀
Tree Sparrows are very common and widespread in Europe and Asia. Most people know them well. They like to live around people, and are curious and bold creatures. But few people know that the population is actually decreasing in recent years.
Vinous-throated Parrotbill 棕头鸦雀
The Vinous-throated Parrotbill is very cute, like a soybean with a long tail, which is how they got their nickname – soybean bird (黄豆鸟). They are now jumping around the oilseed plants foraging. Their beaks can crack open stems and bark for insects and seeds.
Oriental Magpie Robin 鹊鸲 (què qú)
The Oriental Magpie Robin looks like a Magpie but is much smaller. The males are more black-and-white, and the females are a more grayish color. They often appear in pairs in this breeding season; they must have a nest nearby and probably chicks to feed.
I think most children in China know the Pillbug. They are commonly found in damp places, like under fallen leaves and near corners. They will curl into a ball if disturbed to protect their soft underbelly and roll away if possible. They won't bite and are harmless, making them perfect childhood toys, but that's bad for them. You can pick them up but just release them back where you find them so they can continue their lives.
Most people will mistake them for bees as they have a similar color and body shape. But they are actually a Hoverfly. Their larvae feed on aphids and the adult flies visit flowers for pollen. When you look closer, you can see they only have one pair of wings while bees have two pairs. By mimicking the dangerous bee, the fly can avoid disturbance and predation.
Here is a Gekko. It's making itself as flat as possible to blend into the environment. Look at the toes, with thousands of tiny hairs that help them stick onto anything, even the ceiling. And they can also move them to lose their grip and fall. It's probably hiding in the tree to find some insects attracted by the light.