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Taiwan

Maroon Oriole
Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii ©Craig Brelsford Website

There are more than 9,000 species of birds in the world. Taiwan, with an area of 36,000 sq. km, has records of more than 577 species of birds, forming the second highest bird density anywhere in the world.

Taiwan belongs to the Oriental zoogeographical region, and the entire ecosystem here is very special. The birds found in Taiwan are related to those in mainland China and the Himalayas. Every autumn and winter, thousands of migratory birds fly south to the island, while some of the summer migrants from south China remain there the entire season. Some of our most valued birds are the residents, including at least 15 endemic species, unique, national treasures of Taiwan which have attracted great concern and admiration of many foreign biologists and nature lovers.

Birding is closely related to the seasons. In general in summer we watch the resident birds and summer visitors of Taiwan, and in the other seasons we look for the winter migrants from the north. It easy to find evidence of birds almost everywhere on the island. Therefore, if you are patient and go outdoors to the mountains or seashores, you will be able to see many lovely birds hopping, flying and singing around you.

The ecosystems in Taiwan

Taiwan is an island surrounded by the sea, with 42% of the land area comprised of mountain ranges. Among these mountains, there are more than 100 peaks over 3,000 meters high. Because of this topography, Taiwan incorporates numerous ecological zones, and a wide variety of ecosystems, and a correspondingly wide diversity of flora and fauna.

There is the coastal zone with its marine ecosystem which includes coral reefs, beaches, estuaries, etc. Within various zones there are ecosystems associated with lakes and streams. There are a variety of tropical rainforest canopy, woodland, and forest ecosystems also within a variety of ecological zones ranging from sea level to over 3,000 meters in altitude; in addition, there are a number of ecosystems that have emerged as a result of the spread of the presence of man from rural farmlands to large cities.

Contributor

Wayne Hsu

Regular link contributor

WayneHsu@birdlover.com

Number of Species

National Bird: Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea

Number of bird species: 577

Endemics

Number of endemics: 22

Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis, Swinhoe’s Pheasant Lophura swinhoii, Mikado Pheasant Syrmaticus Mikado, Taiwan Barbet Megalaima nuchalis, Styan’s Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus, Taiwan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus insularis, White-whiskered Laughingthrush Garrulax morrisonianus, Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush Garrulax ruficeps, Hwamei Garrulax taewanus, Collared Bush-Robin Tarsiger johnstoniae, Steere’s Liocichla Liocichla steerii, Taiwan Barwing Actinodura morrisoniana, White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis, Taiwan Yuhina Yuhina brunneiceps, Taiwan Bush-warbler Bradypterus alishanensis, Taiwan Fulvetta Alcippe formosana, Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi, Yellow Tit Parus holsti, Taiwan Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus musicus, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis, Taiwan Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga formosana, Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea

There are 69 endemic races in Taiwan. However, the following five subspecies are varioulsy treated as full endemic species by some authorities: Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus sonorivox, Taiwan Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus niveiceps, White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx Montana goodfellowi, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Cettia fortipes robustipes, Rusty Laughingthrush Garrulax poecilorhynchus poecilorhynchus,

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

100 Common Birds of Taiwan

Wild Bird Society of Taipei 2005

ISBN: 9579875189

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Field Guide to the Birds of China

by John MacKinnon, Karen Phillipps and David Showler | Paperback | Jun 2000 | 586 pages, 128 col plates, col maps | Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198549407

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia

Craig Robson Hardcover - 504 pages | 2000 | New Holland

ISBN: 1843307464

Buy this book from NHBS.com

A Photographic Guide to Birds of Taiwan

Chinese (Taiwanese) Wild Bird Federation 2009

ISBN: 9789868542501

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birdwatching in Taiwan

Wild Bird Society of Taipei 2005

ISBN: 9579875197

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Taian Eco Tours

Tour Operator

We visit a variety of habitats and localities, seeking out a large range of species. Endemics: The focus is on the sites that will produce the greatest number of endemic and endemic subspecies…

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2006 [04 April] - Mark Beaman

Report

No birders visiting Taiwan had ever seen every endemic and potential endemic bird species in a single trip, until we came along! Amongst the impressive birdlist of 214 species we recorded were all 29 endemic species, based on the latest taxonomy, and all the upcoming possible splits as well…

2006 [05 May] - Adam Rowlands

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This was the third Birdwatching Breaks tour to the North Pacific islands of Taiwan, Okinawa and Amami Oshima. Birding proved to be extremely successful with all the endemic birds being recorded…

2006 [05 May] - Jo Ann MacKenzie

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…Wu Ten-Di was waiting for us, having spent some time on previous days “staking out” a Fairy Pitta. We were lucky; after some effort, we saw 2 beautiful, jewel-like pittas. We also saw Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler, Plain Prinia, Brown Shrike, Rufous-capped Babbler, Black-browed Barbet (endemic-to-be), Gray Treepie, Black Bulbul, Vinous-throated Parrotbill and Besra…

2006 [11 November] - Simon Liao & Jo Ann MacKenzie

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Taiwan is a mountainous island in the South China Sea, about 175 km (110 mi.) off the Chinese mainland. The forested beauty of the island led Portuguese sailors in 1590 to call it Ilha Formosa, meaning “Beautiful Island.” The tropic of Cancer passes through the southern part of the island…

2007 [09 September] - Hanno Stamm

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Taiwan had never really figured very highly on our list of places to go birding in, I did not even know it had birds. However, I did come across a trip report by Mike Kilburn from Hong Kong on the BirdForum earlier this year, read up a little, and had lots of information material sent to me by Mark Wilkie, yet another BirdForum member who lives in Taiwan. One thing led to another…

2008 [05 May] - Pete Morris

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…Our second recent tour to Taiwan was once again a great success. We recorded a very respectable 210 species which was very good given that we had shortened our itinerary and made our visit later meaning that many wintering birds had moved on…

2009 [03 March] - Jens Thalund

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While searching for air-fares for domestic flights in the Philippines, I noticed that a return flight to Taipei, Taiwan with Cebu Pacific was relatively inexpensive. I had wanted to visit the island for many years, and with the new field guide to Birds of East Asia just published, I didn't take much convincing, to spend a week birding in Taiwan…

2009 [06 June] - Douglas Futuyma

Report

…A biking-cum-walking track divides mangrove from reed (Phragmites) marsh. We returned via some rice fields where Painted Snipe is sometimes seen (but not by us). Highlights at Wulei: Brown Dipper, Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, and Taiwan Blue Magpie; at Guandu: Vinous-breasted Parrotbill…

2010 [04 April] - Stijn De Win

Report

… all in this first single afternoon; Taiwan Scimitar Babbler, Dusky Fulvetta, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler, White-bellied Pigeon, rare in Taiwan Mountain Hawk Eagle, two Black Eagles, Taiwan Barbet, Scaly Thrush, Rufous-faced Warbler, Little Forktail, Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush and the Eurasian Nutcracker which on Taiwan, would be hard to call with the alternative name ‘Spotted’ Nutcracker…

2011 [03 March] - Andrew Roadhouse

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…We had our first Brown-headed Thrush of the trip feeding with Pale Thrushes and Sibias. Flamecrests were very common here and the views were superb with no low cloud for a change. We had a coffee and pot noodle in the visitor centre café and then started making plans for the rest of the trip….

2011 [05 May] - Gerry Hinchon

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…we found that Great, Little and Cattle Egrets were common and we saw 25 Black-crowned Night Herons. Waders seen were 15 Black-winged Stilts, one Oriental Pratincole, two Pacific Golden Plovers, two Kentish Plovers, many Mongolian Sand-plovers, 40 Bar-tailed Godwits, ten Whimbrel, five Greenshanks, two Wood Sandpipers, ten Terek Sandpipers, ten Ruddy Turnstones, five Red Knot, one Dunlin and two Curlew Sandpipers….

2012 [09 September] - Richard Rae

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…Among the numerous highlights were Swinhoe's Pheasant, Taiwan Wren-Babbler, Taiwan Shortwing, Taiwan Tit, Taiwan Partridge, Collared Bush-Robin, Golden Parrotbill, Flamecrest, Taiwan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler and Malayan Night Heron…

2012 [11 November] - John van der Woude

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…Black-faced Spoonbills ('only' 100) at their special reserve in the Tsengwen estuary near Tainan. Also 300 Caspian Terns, Kentish Plovers, Lesser Sand Plovers and a few Saunders Gulls on this mud flats. In the smaller wetlands around this mud flat area we had Grey-throated Martin (a colony), Slaty-breasted Rail, Scaly-breasted Munia, Red-Throated Pipit and (in a drier field) Long-tailed Shrike…

2013 [03 March] - Craig Brelsford

Report

Taiwan lies 130 km across the Taiwan Strait from Fujian. At 35,883 sq. km, Taiwan Island is a bit larger than Belgium and a bit smaller than the combined areas of Maryland and Delaware.

2013 [04 April] - Charley Hesse

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…With fine weather at Dashueshan at the beginning of the tour, we accumulated endemics quickly, leaving us extra time to search for more difficult birds. Highlights were many and aside from the spectacular Mikado & Swinhoe’s Pheasants, we found the threatened Black-faced Spoonbill and Fairy Pitta, and enjoyed great views of attractive endemics like Taiwan Partridge, Flamecrest, Formosan Magpie and Formosan Whistling-Thrush as well as a full house of endemic laughingthrushes and scimitar-babblers…

2013 [04 April] - Nigel Jones & Chiang Kuen-Dar

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…Our birding begins with Chinese Bulbuls, Japanese White-eyes, Javan Myna and Spotted Doves. A pair of colourful Black-naped Monarchs is watched flycatching, while our first endemic is a fine Taiwan Barbet, with its striking red and yellow face, and is watched as it picks and eats the ripe fruits. As we round a corner Chiang spots his main quarry, a Malayan Night-Heron stalking insects on a small lawn…

2013 [06 June] - Peter Jordan

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…Our first proper stop, not far up the Dasyueshan Road, had us on to Taiwan Barbet, Collared Finchbill, Taiwan Hwamei, Grey­capped Woodpecker, Plain Prinia, Yellow­bellied Prinia, Gray Treepie Taiwan Scimitar­babbler, Rufous­capped Babbler, Oriental Turtle Dove, Black Bulbul, and a swift species. Rubbish views of the noisy Bamboo Partridge. Golden­headed Cisticola heard…

2013 [11 November] - Keith Barnes

PDF Report

Photos (Superb)

2014 [11 November] - Niels Bomholt

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Danish

2015 [03 March] - Keith Barnes - Japan, Taiwan and SE China in Winter

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...we managed to nail all of the coolest target birds in a very short period of time, including walk away views of Taiwan Partridge and both endemic pheasants; the remarkable Swinhoe’s and Mikado.

2015 [05 May] - Charley Hesse

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... with Osprey, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Red Collared-Dove, the endemic Taiwan Blue-Magpie, Black Bulbul and Arctic Warbler. Just near the hotel, others saw the recently introduced Asian Glossy Starling.

2015 [05 May] - Henk Hendriks & Wiel Poelmans

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...We only used a local guide at Huben to find the Fairy Pitta and the rest of the trip we birded independently which was fine as there is plenty of available information.

2015 [06 June] - Cathy McFadden

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Because I would be based in Kaohsiung for the trip to Dongsha, we concentrated on birding the central and southern parts of the country. Although several endemics (Taiwan Blue-Magpie, Taiwan Whistling-Thrush) are apparently much easier to find in the north around Taipei, KC knew sites where (with luck, which was with us!) we could find them further south.

2016 [04 April] - Charley Hesse - Formosan Endemics

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Taiwan is the hidden jewel of Asian birding and one of the most under-rated birding destinations in the world. There are currently in impressive 25 endemics (and growing by the year), including some of the most beautiful birds in Asia, like Swinhoe’s & Mikado Pheasants and Taiwan Blue-Magpie. Again we had a clean sweep of Taiwan endemics seeing all species well, and we also found the vast majority of endemic subspecies. Some of these are surely set for species status, giving visiting birders potential ‘arm chair ticks’ for many years to come. We also saw other major targets, like Fairy Pitta, Black-faced Spoonbill and Himalayan Owl...

2016 [04 April] - Subhojit Chakladar

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...we had success in form of a small flock of Taiwan Barwings (endemic number 23). Within minutes, standing at the same spot, we encountered a small flock of Silverbacked Needletails and an Ashy Woodpigeon in flight. Buoyed by the success, we doubled our efforts in search of the 2 remaining laughingthurshes. Luckily at one stop with lots of fallen mossy logs, we came across a Taiwan Wren Babbler...

2016 [05 May] - James Eaton

PDF Report

...Our first bird of Taiwan was a rather unexpected gift, as for the past 18 months a Siberian Crane has taken up residence near the northernmost point of the island, and today it was stood, all on its lonesome once again. It spent most the hour we watched it trying to either scratch its radio-collar, or use it’s bill to try and snap off the shiny new ring it was sporting, while calling occasionally – you couldn’t help feel sorry for the fellow. In the wetlands we also found Plain and ‘Chinese’ Yellow-bellied Prinias, migrant Black-faced Bunting and some ridiculously tame Chinese Spot-billed Ducks...

2016 [06 June] - Glen Valentine

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This year's spring tour of Taiwan was not only a very successful one from a birding perspective - seeing a complete haul of the island's endemics, and almost fifty of its endemic subspecies - it was also a thoroughly fun-filled one to boot.

Organisations

Birding in Taiwan

Website

International Taiwan Birding Association - Taiwan is a safe country, with good infrastructure, a strong conservation movement, classic mountain scenery, friendly people, wonderful food, and much to offer visitors…

Kauhsiung Wild Bird Society

Website

In Chinese - E-mail: kwbs.bird@msa.hinet.net

Taiwan International Birding Association

Website

...Taiwan has 15 generally accepted endemic bird species (some authorities say 17 to 19, or more) and more than 60 endemic subspecies. There are at least 384 species of butterflies, of which about 12.5% are endemic. Plant life is abundant and diverse, including low elevation flora closely related to that found in southern China, mountain flora similar to that of western China, and high alpine flora resembling that of the Himalayan region. Native plant species account for about 40% of Taiwan's total vegetation...

Wild Bird Society of Chang Hua

E-mail: chwbs@ms18.hinet.net

Wild Bird Society of Chiayi County

In Chinese - E-mail: 21bird@pchome.com.tw

Wild Bird Society of Hsinchu

Website

In Chinese - E-mail: bird.hsinchu@msa.hinet.net

Wild Bird Society of Hua-lien

E-mail: bird.h1@msa.hinet.net

Wild Bird Society of Keelung

In Chinese - E-mail: keelung.bird@msa.hinet.net

Wild Bird Society of Kinmen

In Chinese - E-mail: hoopoeee@mail.km.edu.tw

Wild Bird Society of Nantou

In Chinese - E-mail: garrulax@ms24.hinet.net

Wild Bird Society of Peng-hu

Website

In Chinese - E-mail: penghu@bird.org.tw

Wild Bird Society of Tainan

In Chinese - E-mail: tnbird@ksmail.seed.net.tw

Wild Bird Society of Taipei

Website

The Wild Bird Society of Taipei (WBST) is a non-government organization of people who share common interests in the protection of wild birds and their habitats. The society was founded in 1973 with the name Taipei Wild Bird Watcher…

Wild Bird Society of Yilan

E-mail: wbsi@ms45.hinet.net

Wild Bird Society of Yunlin

Information

E-mail: wbsyl.drongo@msa.hinet.net

Festivals

Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area International Bird Race

According to the 2011 Taiwan bird checklist, to the present, 589 species of birds have been recorded since the Republic of China has had jurisdiction over the territory (1949), which includes the main island of Taiwan; neighboring smaller islets of the Penghu Archipelago (the Pescadores), Orchid Island (Lanyu), Green Island (Ludao), Jinmen, Matsu; three islets off the northeastern coast of Taiwan of Huapingyu, Pengjiayu, and Mianhuayu; and the Pratas Islands and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea…

Reserves

National Park Ecological Protection Areas

Website

Info on all the national parks and a map…

Taiwan's Parks

Website

There are six National Parks (N.P.) in Taiwan. All have different features as a National Park. Kenting NP, the first designated National Park in Taiwan, was established in 1984 and features its marine ecosystem and uplifted coral reefs. Yushan National Park was named after Taiwan's highest peak, and is famous for its mountainous terrain. Yangmingshan National Park is located in the northern part of the Capital city, Taipei. It is easily accessible and features a unique volcanic landscape and hot springs. Taroko National Park had been the most attractive tourist area in Taiwan even before it became a National Park. Its marble gorges and sheer cliffs are the most famous features which attract millions of tourists each year. Shei-Pa National Park was named after two high peaks, the Sheishan and Tapachienshan, or Mount Snow and Mount Great Bold Tip. Besides its high mountains, Shei-Pa N. P. has beautiful mountain streams. The sixth National Park, Jinman, was just announced in 1995. It was designated for its battlefields, beautiful countryside, and as important stopover sites for many migratory bird species. It is actually a military base of Taiwan off the southeastern coast of mainland China…

Wetlands and Water Birds in Taiwan

Website

The majority of birds found in these areas belong to the wader family and include herons, egrets, sandpipers, and plovers, to name a few. Most of these birds stop in Taiwan when migrating from northern areas such as Siberia, Manchuria, Japan, and Korea on the way to Indonesia or the Philippines - their southern wintering areas.

Wildlife Refuges in Taiwan

Website

Map & write-ups on a number of sanctuary areas…

Other Links

Birds of Taiwan

Website

What's so great about a list of bird names? After all, the names that men give are just a pale reflection of the birds themselves. Well, bird-lovers may rejoice in biodiversity, but in matters linguistic they tend to use common or garden English as a lowest common denominator. So, in the interest of 'lingua-diversity', here it is: a list of bird species of Taiwan, with names in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese…

Central Taiwan Birder

Website

The Huben-Hushan area has been internationally identified as an IBA or Important Bird Area and is listed as one of Asia’s key sites for conservation…

Checklist of the Birds of Taiwan

Website

A checklist of the birds of Taiwan

Endemic Birds of Taiwan

Website

There are 14 endemic species of birds on the island, accounting for about 9% of all resident birds. There are another 69 endemic subspecies, accounting for another 45% of the local resident population…

F B Magpie Homepage

Website

Welcome! You have reached the realm of birder Wayne Hsu! I am a 1999 graduate of Taipei American School and am now studying biology at Cornell University, picking up U.S. life birds here and there. Last year I published a 1999 desktop calendar featuring a special selection from over 1000 butterfly photos that I've taken in Taiwan. Over winter break I was 5 species closer to my goal of 300 birds on my Taiwan life list. Unfortunately I haven't completed the section Birding in Taiwan yet; however, I've added many new additions so check it out!

Photographers & Artists

Charles Lam

Gallery

Some great pics from his birding travells…