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Bird news from Vietnam, from Vietnam's resident and visiting birders.

9 April 2016

Two big birds in a small patch

Yesterday in Cau Giay district, in downtown Hanoi, near the 3rd Ring Road, I checked a 3ha wasteland partially wooded found on Google Earth. I discovered a very promising patch, but surrounded by barriers and 'no trespassing' signs.  I found a kind of entry but the bao vê (guards) told me that public access was not permitted. I then explained to them that “my parrot escaped from its cage and took refuge here”. A little miracle occured, they allowed me to enter! (gesture of solidarity between bird-keepers?) Three minutes later, I flushed 2 Crested Serpent-eagles, quickly mobbed by 4 Red-billed Blue Magpies. They didn’t go far and perched at the other side of the patch.

Amazing to spot such beasts in this bustling city (even the group of Magpies was unexpected). The light was very poor and there was a constant drizzle. I suspect the poor weather was the reason these raptors dropped in this urban green space, a highly unlikely place but very quite and (apparently) safe – i.e. without f*****g poachers around.

This area will soon be urbanized, but I think I will again "search my parrot" there over the next few weeks! 

Migrants can be everywhere now, even in a lone tree in your backyard or in a crowded urban park.The best strategy for the month of April is bird often, bird everywhere! Well, do the best you can!

One of the 2 Crested Serpent-eagles spotted in downtown Hanoi on April 8th, obviously an immature bird.
Last record of this species in the city (Red River Island): mid-October 2011 (2 individuals also)

A 2ndcy male Mugimaki Flycatcher found in the same area.


  1. Those magpies could be the same group of 4-5 I regularly see at the north of the Red River Island. One individual is tail-less. Perhaps they make a circuit of all the fragments of habitat remaining in the area.

  2. Hi Dominic
    Between the 2 patches, there are 9 km, and the entire city to cross from north to south... And none individual was tailless, they all look very smart without obvious signs of captivity. We generally assumed that any Red-billed Blue Magpies seen in Hanoi represent escaped birds. But when I see groups like this, I wonder if they can breed somewhere.
    Last year, a breeding population was found in the suburbs, only 15km from the city center, in a 10ha wood surrounded by agricultural fields.