Starting with the family Paridae the beautiful Rusty-breasted Tit (also called Père David’s Tit) exhibits a very familiar pattern – a colourful version of a Marsh Tit or A Black-capped Chickadee. Indeed the genus Poecile all have this basic pattern or variation upon it, although not everybody agrees as to what constitutes a genus within the Paridae, e.g. some place the Poecile species under Parus.
The handsome Grey-crested Tit with its very noticable crest is China’s equivalent of Europe’s Crested Tit. Together these two species are sometimes place in their own genus Lophophanes. Although superficially similar they are not directly grouped with the Baeolophus titmice of North America such as Tufted Titmouse (these have smaller crests).
The colourful Yellow-bellied Tit is pretty much endemic to China and may belong to a subgroup of tits that includes Coal Tit (sometimes placed in the genus Periparus).
The Yellow-browed Tit is a peculiar tit and rather unlike most other members of the family with it unmarked green plumage overall, very subtle crest and hint of yellow behind the eye that gives the common name (if you look hard you can see it in this photo). So unlike other member of the Paridae is this species that they are placed in a monotypic genus Sylviparus.
And if you think Yellow-browed Tit is unusual, get a load of this next tit – Hume’s Groundpecker looks so unlike other tits that for the longest time no-one realised their true affinity (although there are some similarities with other tits for example in social behaviour). IT was a real treat to see these birds hopping around on the high Tibetan grasslands, or interacting and flicking their wings on the walls of a Tibetan monastery as seen here. Their decurved bill serves them well when probing in the ground for food.
Next we have two similar species from the Aegithaidae - the Black-browed Tit and the Black-throated Tit, both illustrated here by juveniles (if you're wondering why their plumage doesn't match their names).
Moving to the nuthatches, here is a close-up of the endemic Yunnan Nuthatch
and here is one in their habitat feeding on cones in the high elevation conifer forests of Yunnan
The White-cheecked Nuthatch also likes the high elevation conifer forests but has a different distribution (this one photographed in western Sichuan).
The treecreepers are a small family of small birds that occur across the Northern Hemisphere but reach their peak diversity in Asia. On the left is the newly discovered endemic Sichuan Treecreeper in the fog and mist of Wawushan (note the short bill) and on the right the Brown-throated Treecreeper at Gaoligongshan in Yunnan.
I thought I should end with a bird that is familiar to so many in a less familiar context. This is of course the Winter Wren, also present in the mountains of China. The first photo shows the dark plumage of this wren in the moist forests of Sichuan. The second photo is for comparative purposes and is of a North American bird (Manitoba, Canada) from a drier climate with paler plumage.