Endemic Bird Species of Taiwan

The Formasan Yuhina is a small songbird indigenous to Taiwan.
The Formasan Yuhina is a small songbird indigenous to Taiwan.

Taiwan is home to 17 indigenous species of birds. Most of these birds inhabit tropical forests, grasslands, broadleaf forests, coniferous forests, among others. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has the mandate of protecting and conserving these bird species. The population of these birds ranges from 10,000-100,000 worldwide. These birds face extinction due to human activities such as destruction of their natural habitats, wild games, and hybridization. These birds mostly feed on insects, fruits, berries, flowers, and invertebrates.

17. Yellow Tit

Yellow tit commonly known as Formosan yellow tit is an endemic bird to central Taiwan and belongs in the family Paridae. Its scientific name is Parus holsti or Machlolophus holsti. It lives in montane temperate forests. The bird is mostly yellow with a blackish blue-grey crest and back. It measures 13 cm. Its eating habits are poorly known; however, it feeds on larvae and small invertebrates.

16. White-whiskered Laughingthrush

The White-whiskered laughing thrush, commonly known as Formasan laughing thrush, belongs in the family Leiothrichidae. Its scientific name is Garrulax morrisonianus. It is a large bird measuring between 26 to 28 cm and a body weight of 77 grams. It has a thrush-like bill which is yellowish, with black eyes and brownish pink legs. The bird lives at elevations of 1,475 to 3,300 meters above sea level. White-whiskered laughing thrush is a ground omnivore.

15. Taiwan Yuhina

The Taiwan yuhina is commonly referred to as Formasan yuhina. It is a small songbird indigenous to Taiwan island. Its scientific name is Yuhina brunneiceps and belongs to the family Zosteropidae. It measures 12 to 13 cm in length and weighs a mean of 12 g. It has a chocolate brown crest, dark ash brown back, wings and tail, and a lighter lower breast. They occur in hill forests of 1,000 to 2,500 meters. They feed on flowers and fruits.

14. White-eared Sibia

White-eared Sibia belongs to the laughing thrush family. Its scientific name is Heterophasia auricularis. The bird leaves in a range of forest and woodland habitat at 1,200 to 3,000 meters above the sea level. The white-eared sibia measures between 22-24 cm and weighs 40-50g. It has deep blue-black wings and tail with a white wing bar. The bird feeds on insects, nectar, fruits, and seeds.

13. Taiwan Barwing

Taiwan barwing is commonly known as Formasan bargwing and its scientific name is Isactinodura morrisoniana. It belongs in family Leiothrichidae and lives in temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The bird measures 18 to 19 cm and weighs 32 g. Its habitat includes mature broadleaf deciduous and evergreen forests. The bird feeds on arthropods like insects, as well as berries and seeds. During harsh weathers, they move to higher levels.

12. Steere's Liocichla

Steere’s liocichla is found in the mountains of southern Taiwan. It is mostly found in broadleaf evergreen and coniferous forests. It measures 17 to 19 cm in length and weighs 32 g. Its taxonomic name is Liocichla steerii. The bird feeds on various foods such as fruits, berries, seeds, and insects. The birds are yellow.

11. Flamecrest

Flamecrest, which is also known as Taiwan firecrest, belongs to the kinglet family. Its scientific name is Regulus goodfellowi. Flamecrest is a perching bird and measures only 9 cm and weighs 7 g. They usually prefer coniferous forests with an elevation of 2,000 m. These birds are active and restless as they hop and flutter about in the canopy. These birds are insectivores feeding on insects but sometimes feed on berries and weeds. The top part of the bird’s head is yellow and orange hence the name flamecrest.

10. Taiwan Blue Magpie

The Taiwan blue magpie belongs to the crow family. In Taiwan, it is commonly known as the Taiwan Magpie, the long-tailed mountain lady or Formasan blue magpie. The bird's scientific name is Urocissa caerulea. It lives in broadleaf forests which are at elevations of 300 to 1,200 meters. The bird measures between 63 to 68 m and weighs 254 to 260 g. These birds usually fly in line following each other and are usually not afraid of humans. They have black head, neck, and breast, yellow eyes, and the rest of the body is blue.

9. Styan's Bulbul

The Styan’s Bulbul is found in eastern and southern Taiwan and is locally known as Formosan bulbul and Taiwan bulbul. Its scientific name is Pycnonotus taivanus. It has a completely black brown crown, white feathers around the eye and a black moustachial stripe below the beak. The bird measures 18-19 cm in length and lives in farms and developed areas in coastal lowlands. They feed on fruits, flowers, and insects.

8. Taiwan Bush Warbler

The Taiwan bush warbler is only found in Taiwan and inhabits grassland and undergrowth. Its scientific name is Bradypterus alishanensis. It measures 14 cm and weighs 10 g. The bird is mostly dull rust-brown. It lives in deciduous and coniferous woodlands, and breeds in the mountains 1,200 to 3,000 meters. it is also a songbird, and mostly sings in the morning and evening. They feed on insects.

7. Taiwan Whistling Thrush

Taiwan whistling thrush, also known as the Formasan whistling brush, is endemic to Taiwan. Its taxonomic name is Myophonus insularis. The bird lives in dark, forested areas in the mountains and lives on elevations of up to 2,700 meters. It measures 28-30 cm. The bird is mostly blackish-blue, but some feathers are navy or metallic blue. The bird is most active at dawn and dusk and feeds on shrimps, fish, reptiles, and insects.

6. Taiwan Hwamei

Taiwan hwamei with scientific name as Garrulax taewanus is about 24 cm long. The bird is mainly grey-brown and streaks on the underparts. Its habitats are located in woodland and lower mountains at 1,200 meters. They move alone, in pairs or small groups in search of seeds and insects.

5. Collared Bush Robin

Collared bush robin, commonly known as Johnstone’s Robin, live in montane and subalpine forests. Its scientific name is Tarsiger johnstoniae. It measures 12 cm in length. The birds inhabit forests at elevations of 2,000 to 2,800 meters. These birds are often seen in pairs and are songbirds. They usually feed on insects and invertebrates.

4. Taiwan Hill Partridge

The Taiwan hill partridge is scientifically known as Arborophila crudigularis. The bird is mostly found in the mountains of Taiwan. The natural habitat of the Taiwan hill partridge is the broadleaf forests. The bird feeds on invertebrates like insects and earthworms, leaves, berries, seeds and seedlings. The Taiwan partridge is about 11 inches long. The male species weighs about 310 grams while their female counterparts have an average weight of 210 grams. Their head has black sides with a grey crown. Their eyebrow and throat are white. They have a short rounded tail. Their black eye has a narrow red ring around it. The feet of the Taiwan hill partridge are orange red while their beak is blue-grey.

3. Mikado Pheasant

Mikado pheasant, whose scientific name is Syrmaticus mikado, is sometimes considered an unofficial national bird of Taiwan. It leaves in areas at elevations of 2,000 to 3,000 meters with dense shrubs, bamboos, and grassy terrains. The male grows up to 70 cm while the female measures up to 47 cm. The male is dark while the female is brown. They feed on fruits, leaves, seeds, and invertebrates.

2. Swinhoe's Pheasant

Swinhoe’s pheasant is commonly known as the Taiwan blue pheasant and belongs in the fowl family. Swinhoe’s pheasant is sometimes said to be an unofficial national symbol for Taiwan. This is because it has the colors of Taiwan’s national flag which are red, white and blue. Its scientific name is Lophura swinhoii. This bird is mostly found broadleaf forests of elevation of up to 2,300 meters. The bird feeds on insects, seeds, and fruits.

1. Taiwan Barbet

Taiwan barbet, whose scientific name is Megalaima nuchalis, measures 20 cm long. The bird has five colors; the forehead and the throat are yellow, a black beak, a blue and red band, yellowish-green belly, and greyish feet. The birds are found in the forest at elevations of up to 2,800 meters. The birds mostly feed on fruits and insects.


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