Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Near Threatened

Reed Parrotbill (Paradoxornis heudei)


French: Paradoxornis du Yangtsé German: Jangtsepapageimeise Spanish: Picoloro del Yangtsé

Paradoxornis Heudei


, 1872,

Jiangsu, China


Has been suggested that race polivanovi merits species status, but considered by some authors to represent one end of a geographical cline#R; Mongolian birds proposed as separate race, mongolicus, but differences from polivanovi minimal (slightly purer grey mantle lacking dark streaks, slightly darker back, rump and breast sides, slightly smaller size) and may involve minor clinal variation; in both cases, separation was based largely on presumed “huge” gap between N & S forms, but several populations since found in intervening areas and likely that species will prove to have more continuous range. Populations of this species in coastal Tianjin Municipality (N & S Hebei) and coastal Liaoning, in E China, presumed to belong to nominate race. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. h. polivanovi Stepanyan, 1974 – Northern Reed Parrotbill – extreme E Mongolia E to NE China (NE Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, N Jilin) and extreme SE Russia (L Khanka region of Ussuriland).
  • P. h. heudei David, 1872 – Southern Reed Parrotbill – E China, from SE Shandong S along coast to N Zhejiang (Hangzhou) and inland in R Yangtze system to N Jiangxi (Jiujiang area). Perhaps this race in Hebei#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 18–20 cm; in late winter/spring average of ten males 23·48 g and four females 18·25 g, in Mongolia in late summer male 17·7–19·4 g... read more


    Song consists of a long series of “chut”, “chu”, “hiu” or... read more


    Lowland reedbeds; to c. 800 m in Mongolia. Nominate race is found in reedbeds of riverbanks,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on insects, including certain pancake-shaped “scale insects” (Acleridae) which infest reeds; also takes insects’... read more


    May–Aug; sometimes multi-brooded. Nest, built in 6–7 days, a beautiful cup-shaped structure made of strips of dead reed sheaths... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Locally common, but totally dependent on reedbeds. In E China, population in coastal Fengxian County (Shanghai... read more

    Recommended citation

    Robson, C. (2020). Reed Parrotbill (Paradoxornis heudei). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).