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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Rediscovery of an enigmatic Chinese passerine, the Blackthroat Calliope obscura: plumage, vocalizations, distribution, habitat choice, nesting and conservation

Song, Gang; Alström, Per; Zhang, Yongwen; Gao, Xuebin; Gong, Huisheng; Holt, Paul I; Quan, Qing; Yin, Zuohua; Lei, Fumin


The Blackthroat (or Blackthroated Blue Robin) Calliope obscura (previously Luscinia obscura) is one of the world's rarest "robins". It is extremely poorly known, with only a handful of records since it was firstly described in the 1890s. In 2011-2012, a series of field investigations were carried out in nature reserves in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, China. During these surveys, a total of 14 males were found in 2011 and 24 males and 2 females in 2012 in the national nature reserves of Foping and Changqing. Based on these observations, we here describe the Blackthroat's vocalizations and habitat choice and review its distribution and conservation status. We also provide some notes on the plumage, especially of the female, and the nesting behaviour of this species. The present report confirms that the Blackthroat breeds on the southern slope of the Qinling Mountains in large, dense expanses of dwarf bamboo with scattered coniferous and broadleaved trees above 2,100 m. Our observations suggest that it is more numerous than previously believed, although it appears to be highly localized. The locally dense populations found in 2011 and 2012 and the vast expanses of suitable habitat suggest that the breeding population might be healthy.


Blackthroat; Breeding habitat; Conservation; Qinling Mountains

Published in

Journal of Ornithology
2014, Volume: 155, number: 2, pages: 347-356
Publisher: SPRINGER

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