The grey-hooded parrotbill belongs to the Timaliidae family, also know as the babblers; a group of gregarious, heavy-bodied birds with stout bills (3). With a crest of bushy, grey plumage on top of the head and a distinct white ring around each brown eye, the grey-hooded parrotbill has an unmistakable appearance. The throat and breast are also pale grey, while the body is warm brown blending into a pinkish brown belly (2)(4). The grey-hooded parrotbill calls with harsh ‘trr'ik’ and ‘trrrh’ notes, and sings a high-pitched ‘ss-si-su-si’ song (4).
This mountain-dwelling species lives in small flocks (2), and feeds on insects, such as beetles, and seeds (5). On one mountain it was reported that after the bamboo flowered and then died, the grey-hooded parrotbill moved down the mountain slopes, indicating not only the possible importance of bamboo seeds in the diet, but also that this bird undertakes some altitudinal movements depending on the season and bamboo availability (5).
The grey-hooded parrotbill occurs in open conifer forest on exposed mountain ridges and peaks, where it inhabits scrub, bamboo, and Rhododendron. It is usually found between elevations of 2,350 and 3,450 metres (4)(5).
Restricted to the forests of a mountainous region, the primary threat to this species is habitat loss and fragmentation. Forest in the Sichuan province of China has declined significantly since the late 1960s, a result of timber harvesting and clearance for cultivation and pasture. On Mount Emei, where the grey-hooded parrotbill is apparently common, the open forest and scrub habitat was partially cleared in 1998 for the construction of a tourist railway. The increased number of visitors this will bring could further impact the parrotbill’s habitat (4)(5).
The grey-hooded parrotbill has been recorded in a number of protected areas, including Mabian Dafengding Nature Reserve and Meigu Dafengding Nature Reserve in Sichuan, and Mount Emei is protected as a sacred mountain (4). However, the protection of these areas needs strengthening, and linking protected areas would also be beneficial to this species. Conservation recommendations to help the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) which inhabits the same region, such as controlling logging and restoring damaged habitat, would also benefit the threatened grey-hooded parrotbill (4).
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