In China, many bird species are generally thought to be threatened mainly, or at least partly, by hunting. However, there have been few studies of bird hunting at a local scale. Bird hunting and trade in Nanmao, a remote mountainous village of Hainan Island, China, was investigated during March–July 2003 and September–October 2005. In total, 86 households were visited, of which 43% reported that they engaged in hunting of birds while 91% of households were seen to have hunted birds or hunting tools. This indicated that hunting by village people was widespread. Most hunters were male, and were between 12 and 68 years old. A total of 78 bird species were hunted, including 2 First Class and 19 Second Class national protected species. This extreme level of hunting has changed from a more moderate subsistence hunting tradition since about 1980, when local urban markets for wild meat started to develop. We outline a strategic plan designed to conserve birds, other wildlife and their forest habitats, whilst improving the livelihoods and preserving the minority tribal traditions of the people of Nanmao forest.