The scarlet minivet

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Ye Shangqing  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A female scarlet minivet.

Scarlet minivet

Probably the most colorful resident bird in Shenzhen, the scarlet minivet (pericrocotus speciosus) is definitely a work of art with the power to produce awe in every single spectator who has the privilege of observing them. 


Up to 22cm long, the scarlet minivets are characterized by having a strong sexual dimorphism: The males have a jet black cap covering their entire head, while the female’s is grayish but does not cover the face. The wings in males are black with scarlet patches while in females they are gray with black tips and yellow patches. The body is of a striking reddish-orange coloration in males and yellow in females and the latter also has a characteristic gray patch crossing their eyes. These fascinating animals often fly in groups and move in the top of the trees foraging for insects in the intricate branches where they aren’t easy to spot in spite of their delightful distinctive song that exposes their location.


A male scarlet minivet perches on a tree at Wutong Mountain in Shenzhen.

Scarlet minivets stay with only one partner and have their breeding season between the spring and summer months when they can lay up to four eggs that are incubated by the female alone while the male takes charge of bringing the precious food to the newborns for the following three weeks.


Despite the fact that this species is not endangered, minivet numbers are decreasing year after year and it is our responsibility to prevent them from disappearing.