Kyoto is one of the most popular places in the world for birdwatching enthusiasts. The diverse ecosystems and the abundance of wildlife make it one of the best bird-watching destinations in Japan.
From mountains to city parks, Kyoto offers a variety of habitats for a diverse range of bird species. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced birder, Kyoto provides some great opportunities to view some amazing bird species.
This article will list some of the most common birds you can spot while exploring the city of Kyoto. So, let's dive in and discover some of the most fascinating avian species that call this ancient city their home.
1. Falcated duck
The Falcated Duck is a beautiful species of dabbling duck native to the east Palearctic region. It has a close relationship with both gadwall and wigeons, leading some researchers to assign it its own genus called Mareca in 2009.
The bird stands at approximately 20-25 inches tall and features an orange bill, dark brown head, speckled white/brown body feathers, long tail feathers that are folded up like fans (this gives them their name), yellow legs and feet as well as black eyes.
This majestic creature can be found inhabiting wetlands such as lakes or ponds around East Siberia through North Japan.
During winter months they migrate further south towards India in search of food sources during colder climates. All these characteristics make the Falcated Duck one of nature's most beautiful works.Scientific classification:
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2. Baikal teal
The Baikal teal is a dabbling duck native to Eastern Russia and East Asia. It was first formally described in 1775 by German naturalist Johann Gottlieb Georgi, who gave it the scientific name Anas formosa.
This species has an average body length of 46 cm (18 inches). Its plumage consists of a brownish-grey head with white patches on either side, as well as predominantly grey underparts and reddish brown wings.
The male's call is a distinctive loud "keew", while females make soft quacking noises when breeding or alarmed.
A molecular phylogenetic study from 2009 showed that this bird belongs to its own genus Sibirionetta instead of Anas due to distinct genetic differences between them and other members of the same family.
These ducks are highly social animals but often migrate alone during wintertime for food sources such as slugs, worms, aquatic insects and small fish found near wetlands around their habitat rangeScientific classification:
|Genus||Sibirionetta Boetticher, 1929|
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3. Brown-eared bulbul
The Brown-eared Bulbul is a medium-sized bird native to eastern Asia. Its range stretches from southern Sakhalin to the northern Philippines, and it can be found in abundance throughout its habitat.
The species was initially classified as part of the Turdus genus before being reclassified into other genera over time - most recently Microscelis.
These birds are characterized by their unique brown ear tufts, which have earned them their common name.
They typically measure around 20 cm long with greyish olive colored feathers covering much of their body except for white underparts and wings marked with black bars on each feather.
Their diet consists mainly of insects but they also feed on fruits such as berries when available in addition to some small invertebrates like beetles or caterpillars.
With an impressive vocal range that includes both calls and songs, these birds make great additions to any garden or aviary.Scientific classification:
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4. Japanese bush warbler
The Japanese bush warbler is a small passerine bird that can often be heard, but rarely seen. It has an olive brown colour with dusky shades below and its distinct pale eyebrows give it an almost smiling look due to the curved shape of its beak.
During springtime, these birds are known for their sweet singing which can be heard throughout Japan.
They typically inhabit areas such as deciduous forests, parks or gardens near human habitations in order to find food and suitable nesting places in trees or shrubs.
The diet consists mainly of insects like grasshoppers, cicadas and beetles as well as some fruits during autumn season when they prepare for migration southwards to warmer climates before winter arrives.Scientific classification:
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5. Greater painted-snipe
The Greater Painted-snipe is a medium-sized, plump wading bird found in marshes throughout Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
It has distinctive features that make it stand out from its peers: a long reddish brown bill slightly curved at the tip with an eye patch of white or pinkish coloration; rounded wings speckled with buff spots; and a short tail.
The breast of this species has extensive white plumage which extends up around the top of its folded wing.
With its unique appearance, this avian beauty stands out among other birds in wetland habitats.Scientific classification:
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6. Swinhoe's snipe
Swinhoe's snipe is a species of wader, medium-sized with long bills. It was first described in 1861 by the British naturalist Robert Swinhoe and has since earned its common name after him.
This bird can be identified through its patterned plumage which consists of black, brown, buff and white colors.
The length varies between 27 -29 cm while wingspan ranges from 38 to 44 cm; it weighs about 120 gm on average.
It breeds across much of eastern Asia during summer months before migrating southwards for wintering grounds which are mainly located along coasts in Taiwan and other parts southern China as well as Japan & Korea .Scientific classification:
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7. Northern boobook
The Northern Boobook is a species of raptorial owl that is native to eastern and southern Asia.
It was formerly considered part of the Brown Boobook, but has recently been identified as its own separate species with two distinct subspecies.
Its plumage varies from yellowish-brown or grey on top and lighter underneath.
They have bright orange eyes and white eyebrows which gives them an easily recognizable look in their natural habitat.
The Northern Boobook can be found living among forests near streams, open woodlands, agricultural areas and at times will even venture into inhabited urban landscapes looking for food sources such as mice, frogs or insects.
This bird often makes use of man made structures like tree hollows created by humans when selecting nesting sites however they are currently threatened due to deforestation practices across many parts of their range where suitable habitats are being destroyed at rapid rates without proper environmental stewardship initiatives put in place first.Scientific classification:
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8. Grey-headed lapwing
The Grey-headed Lapwing is a bird native to northeast China and Japan. During the winter season, they migrate to northern Southeast Asia from India all the way down to Cambodia.
The Japanese population has been known to spend some of their time in southern Honshū during this period as well.
It's also classed as a vagrant species in several other countries such Russia, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and Sri Lanka too.
This lovely little lapwing has grey feathers on its head along with white around its face and neck area which makes it easy for people to identify them if spotted out in nature.
They feed mainly off insects but have occasionally been seen eating plants or small seeds now and then too.Scientific classification:
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9. Oriental cuckoo
The Oriental Cuckoo, also known as Horsfields cuckoo, is a species of bird in the family Cuculidae. It was formerly classified as a subspecies of Himalayan cuckoo but its differences in voice and size made it worthy to be treated separately.
This medium-sized songbird has brown upperparts with white spots and rufous underparts with dark barring.
The wings are barred blackish-brown on their outer webs while the tail feathers have broad bars at their tips forming two white bands across them.
Although they breed mainly where conifers grow, these birds can often be seen flitting through deciduous forest edges or woodlands during migration season when they fly south from northern Asia to spend winter in Southeast Asia.
They feed mostly on caterpillars and other insects which makes them important pest controllers for our environment.Scientific classification:
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10. Dusky thrush
The Dusky Thrush is a beautiful bird belonging to the thrush family. It can be found in parts of Central Siberia, Kamchatka, Japan, South China and Myanmar.
Its scientific name comes from Latin Turdus meaning ‘thrush’ and Ancient Greek eunomos which translates to ‘orderly’ - an apt description for its neat appearance.
These birds are closely related to Naumann's thrushes and were once considered the same species.
They have dark grey feathers with white spots on their wings as well as a creamy-white stripe above each eye that contrasts beautifully against their heads' darker plumage colouring.
The dusky thrush has been known to inhabit gardens during winter months where it feeds mainly upon fruits such as berries or other small invertebrates like insects or worms; this makes them popular garden visitors.Scientific classification:
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11. Pacific golden plover
The Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva) is an attractive migratory shorebird known for its breeding habits in Alaska and Siberia.
During the nonbreeding season, these medium-sized birds migrate widely across the Pacific.
It was formally described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1789 as part of his revised edition of Carl Linnaeus's Systema Naturae.
The species has a unique yellowish colouration with dark markings on their wings and back which gives them splendid camouflage against coastal rocks or sand beaches during migration periods.
They are omnivorous feeders who primarily eat insects, small crustaceans, worms and plant material like seeds or berries found along coastlines while migrating through various islands such as Hawaii, New Zealand etc.. A remarkable bird that possesses both beauty and resilience.Scientific classification:
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12. House swift
The House Swift is a unique species of bird that can be found in Japan, Nepal, and Southeast Asia.
They have the impressive ability to fly long distances by shutting off one hemisphere of their brain at a time.
In 2012, a House Swift was spotted in Ladner, British Columbia, making it the first sighting of this species in North America.
Although it was once thought to be a subspecies of the Little Swift, it is now recognized as its own distinct species.
These birds are known for their swift and graceful flight patterns and their ability to nest in crevices and holes.
The House Swift is an interesting bird to observe and study, and its unique adaptations make it a fascinating member of the Apodidae family.Scientific classification:
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13. Brown dipper
The Brown dipper bird is a songbird commonly found in the mountains of the east Palearctic. With its chocolate-brown plumage, it resembles a thrush and has a slightly lighter coloured back and breast.
This species is also known as Pallas's dipper, Asian dipper, or Asiatic dipper. It has a cocked tail and is considered the largest of the dippers, measuring around 22 cm and weighing 87 g. Despite its size, this bird is an adept swimmer and is well equipped for aquatic life.
The Brown dipper's natural habitat includes mountain streams and fast-flowing rivers. It is an aviary marvel to behold when navigating and diving along the water's surface.Scientific classification:
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14. Bull-headed shrike
The Bull-headed shrike is a bird that can be found in eastern Asia. It belongs to the shrike family, Laniidae. It is about 19-20 cm long and the male has a brown crown, a white eyebrow, and a black mask.
The back of the Bull-headed shrike is grey-brown, while the wings are dark with a white patch.
Its flanks have a rufous color, and the rest of the underparts are whitish with fine barring. Female Bull-headed shrikes look similar to the males.Scientific classification:
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15. Russet sparrow
The russet sparrow, also known as the cinnamon or cinnamon tree sparrow, is a small bird belonging to the sparrow family. It has a thick bill and typically feeds on seeds.
This bird measures around 14 to 15 cm long with a warm rufous plumage above and grayish plumage below.
This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with both males and females having similar plumage patterns.
The russet sparrow is found in various parts of Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea. This bird is often observed in agricultural areas, gardens, and parks.
Overall, the russet sparrow is a cute and chubby bird that can be identified by its unique coloration and thick beak.Scientific classification:
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16. Latham's snipe
Latham's snipe, also called the Japanese snipe, is a migratory bird found in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. This medium-sized bird has a long bill that distinguishes it from other species.
The snipe's plumage is a combination of black, brown, buff, and white, giving it a cryptic pattern. The bird is about 29-33 cm long, with a wingspan of 50-54 cm, and weighs between 150-230 g.
Despite being identifiable as a Gallinago snipe, it is challenging to distinguish it from Swinhoe's snipe.
As a migratory species, the Latham's snipe travels to different regions to breed and feed.
The breeding area is located in East Asia, while the non-breeding place is found in Southeast Asia and Australia. This bird species relies mainly on wetland habitats to thrive and survive.Scientific classification:
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17. Japanese grosbeak
The Japanese grosbeak, also known as Ikaru, is a large finch species native to the East Palearctic region. It has a reported weight of up to 80 grams and measures 18 to 23 cm in length.
Due to its superficial similarities to the Eurasian hawfinch, it is also referred to as the Japanese or masked hawfinch.
Although not much is known about their behavior, Japanese grosbeaks are known to have a varied diet and vocalize with a series of whistles and trills.
With its distinctive appearance and little-known habits, the Japanese grosbeak is a fascinating bird species to observe and study.Scientific classification:
18. Japanese leaf warbler
The Japanese leaf warbler is a bird belonging to the family Phylloscopidae. It was first described in 1863 by Robert Swinhoe.
Previously considered part of the "Old World warbler" group, this species is closely related to the Arctic and Kamchatka leaf warblers.
It is endemic to Japan, except for Hokkaido. As the name suggests, it typically inhabits forested areas and feeds on insects among the foliage.
This bird is known for its distinctive vocalizations, often heard in the spring during breeding season.
Despite being relatively common in Japan, populations are declining due to habitat loss and degradation.
Conservation efforts are underway to help protect this important species.Scientific classification:
19. Grey bunting
The Grey bunting is a small bird that can be found breeding in parts of Russia and Japan, and migrates to southern Japan and the Nansei archipelago. This species prefers living in boreal and temperate forests.
The males and females have different appearances, with the males having a greyish-blue head and back, while the females have a brownish head and back. Their eggs are small and spotted.
This bird belongs to the family Emberizidae and is known for its song that is often described as a musical trill.
Overall, the Grey bunting is a charming and unique species of bird that can be found in eastern Asia.Scientific classification: