If owning many names is an indication of a subject’s degree of interest, then the Przevalski’s Finch resides firmly in fascination. One of the ultimate quest birds, seeing this utterly unique songbird is a milestone for anyone seeking a member of each of the world’s bird families. But for anyone, it is an exceptional beast, and one among many seen on Rockjumper adventures to China.
Known at various points in time as Przevalski’s Finch, Przewalski’s Rosefinch, Pink-tailed Bunting or more commonly now as Przevalski’s Pinktail, this curiosity’s familial affinities have long been a subject for debate. Often considered a bunting, others believed it a finch, but today we know it is neither. Instead, it is something yet more distinct, the lone species and genus within the family Urocynchramidae. Confined to alpine scrub up above 10,000 feet in elevation on the Tibetan Plateau, this is one of the world’s near 40 monotypic bird families.
With a funky bill structure, it offers observers a rather disapproving frown. Combine its expression with the bird’s graduated tail shape and its elongated outermost primary, and even before the genetics were assessed, scientists had reason to suspect this bird was a little different. Both females and males sport fine brown streaks above, but the males offer vibrant rich rosy pink in the face, throat, chest and even in the outer tail. Named for Nikolay Przhevalsky, a Russian geographer (rumored in some circles as the biological father to Joseph Stalin), its taxonomic distinctiveness has made it all the more a bird to treasure.
But many are the avian riches of China, and Rockjumper has been pulling back the layers here for years. (Click here to see a huge variety of China trip reports). If you like exotic and peculiar highland birds, the subject of this month’s featured image is just a start. Consider the spectacular Grandala. A starling-like thrush, so vibrantly purple and blue that it burns the retina. A veteran of many China tours, Glen Valentine once witnessed a storm that drove dozens of these exquisite birds downslope, such that he and his group were shocked to find themselves surrounded by them. The Spotted Elachura is another monotypic bird family, making it a target like the pinktail for family listers, and the elachura is possible on our China Highlights and China – Southeast in Spring tours. An impressive 12 species of parrotbills are possible on our most popular China trip, Sichuan Birding. This tour is also regarded as THE pheasant tour, and for anyone with an interest in this spectacular group of birds, Sichuan is a must-do trip as we regularly find up to 14 different species, including Temminck’s Tragopan, Chinese Monal and Golden Pheasant! Sichuan is also where we’ve seen Red Panda, among other spectacular birds, wildlife and scenery too.
Enormous, rich in history and culture, and marvelously biodiverse, China has so very much to offer. From tropical rainforests on the Yunnan Extension to the high Tibetan Plateau, migrant Asian birds and endemics abound. Spaces remain on certain China options in 2020 and there is still plenty of space on all of our 2021 trips too. Be sure to get a gander at your Rockjumper Customer Loyalty Programs to see how you might save some holiday cash! Join us in China and enjoy a fresh adventure.
China – Highlights
Apr 14 – 28, 2020 (15 days)
China – Southeast in Spring
Apr 25 – May 11, 2020 (17 days)
China – Sichuan Birding II
May 19 – Jun 06, 2020 (19 days)