Qinghai mountains

Country/Territory China (mainland)
Area 230,000 km2
Altitude 1800 - 3500m
Priority high
Habitat loss unquantified
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA is defined by the distributions of two restricted-range species, which are recorded (in the breeding season) from northern Qinghai and central Gansu provinces, and along the border between Ningxia and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions of China. They are known by scattered records in the Qaidam basin and adjacent mountains, the mountains around Qinghai Lake, the mountains around the upper Huang He (or Yellow River) and its tributaries (in the vicinity of the cities of Xining and Lanzhou), and the Helan Shan. These species are so poorly known that it has only been possible to define an approximate boundary to the EBA, based on the documented records and the little that is known of their altitudinal ranges; much of the area enclosed by this boundary is unlikely to have suitable habitats for these birds.

The south-eastern extreme of the EBA lies close to the Central Sichuan mountains (EBA 137) and the West Sichuan mountains (EBA 138), but it is unclear whether there is any geographical overlap with them. The Northern Qinghai-Tibetan plateau (Secondary Area s078) is immediately to the south-west of this EBA, but it is defined by the range of Tibetan Rosefinch Carpodacus roborowskii, which occurs at very high altitudes, and there is no overlap in range with the birds of the Qinghai mountains.

Restricted-range species

Alectoris magna is locally common on open slopes with low grasses and herbaceous vegetation (Liu Nai-fa et al. 1996), but appears to be patchily distributed. Phoenicurus alaschanicus is migratory, with non-breeding records from several Chinese provinces to the east of the EBA (Cheng Tso-hsin 1987). Its breeding range and habitat requirements remain poorly understood because of the sparse ornithological coverage of much of this region and because it is not clear whether many of the documented records relate to birds which are passage migrants rather than breeders. A pair with recently fledged young were seen on a scrub-covered hillside at c.3,300 m near Qinghai Lake in 1995 (P. Alström in litt. 1996), and the species has also been seen recently during the breeding season in the Helan Shan, in scrub near the treeline (He Fen-qi verbally 1993). Alectoris magna is not recorded from the Helan mountains (Cheng Tso-hsin 1987). Gansu Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus (proregulus) kansuensis, which is treated by Alström et al. (1997) as a full species, is known only from the eastern part of this EBA (P. Alström in litt. 1996).

Species IUCN Category
Przevalski's Partridge (Alectoris magna) LC
Ala Shan Redstart (Phoenicurus alaschanicus) NT

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Western Qilian Shan mountains China (mainland)
CN089 Nei Mongol Helan Shan Nature Reserve China (mainland)
CN154 Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve China (mainland)
CN155 Qaidam Ulan China (mainland)
CN156 Qinghai Hu (Koko Nor) China (mainland)
CN157 Xining China (mainland)
CN158 Area between Qinghai Hu and A'nyêmaqên China (mainland)
CN159 Dunhuang Nature Reserve and Western Qilian Shan mountains China (mainland)
CN161 Eastern Qilian Shan mountains China (mainland)
CN163 Loess Plateau in western Gansu China (mainland)
CN178 Changshagongma Nature Reserve China (mainland)

Threat and conservation

Neither of the restricted-range species is listed as threatened. There are several large protected areas in the vicinity of the EBA (IUCN 1992d, 1993), but there is little information on whether they support populations of these two species. Phoenicurus alaschanicus has been recorded in the Helan Mountains Nature Reserve, and in or near to Yanchiwan Nature Reserve.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Qinghai mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/10/2022.