The official Taichung city bird,
the Taiwan Sibia, is endemic to
Taiwan and is known for its
unique singing voice. They are
commonly seen in Taichung's
Malay Night Herons are very
common in Taichung city and
usually eat earthworms.
The Black-winged Stilt has a
long, thin beak and legs. They
usually look for food in shallow
The male Vinaceous
Rosefinches have a rounded
body shape and lovely colors.
Female birds have a brown
An endemic species, the
Babbler has rust-colored
feathers and a face that looks
like it's wearing a bandit's
The Yellow Tit is another
endemic species that can be
seen in Taichung alpine areas.
Its head has black feathers,
with obvious yellow feathers
on its face and lower belly.
Greater Taichung: A Bird-watching Paradise
Words by Ruby Wu Translated by Angel Pu
Photography provided by Wu Zi-qian, Wu Zhi-dian and Chinese Wild Bird Federation
Information provided by Wild Bird Association of Taiwan
Presently, there are over 9,000 known bird species in the world and, of these, 589 can be found in Taiwan, including 22 endemic species. Proportionally speaking, the bird density in Taiwan is number-two in the world. Thus, it's no surprise that bird-watching has been a favorite outdoor activity in Taiwan since the 1970s. And, with the help of various bird-watching associations, a growing number of people are joining bird-watching tourist groups today.
One of the most important factors for bird-watching is the season. In summer, you can view local Taiwanese birds and summer visitors, while winter sees visitors migrating from the north. Generally, though, spring is considered the best season for bird-watching because it is the mating season.
As any enthusiast will tell you, there are many fun and fascinating elements to bird-watching. For example, you can observe birds' body shapes, peaks, tails, wings, behavior, singing and how they fly. While observing them, you begin to notice how much more focused you become, as you experience the excitement from increasing your knowledge of more species each time you enjoy this pastime.
Left: The bird pictured here is a Japanese White-eye, one of the most common birds in cities, together with sparrows and the Chinese Bulbul.
Right: The Spotted-necked Dove is a common species in cities. Their spotted necks make them look like they are wearing pearl necklaces.
Left: The male Black-naped Blue Monarch pictured here has blue feathers, a pale-gray stomach and black spots on the back of its head.
Right: Muller's Barbet, an endemic species, has a vivid, colorful head feathers and a bright green nape.
Below are some recommended bird-watching spots in Taichung:
1. Taichung Metropolitan Park
Located on the Dadu Mt. Plateau, the 88-hectare Taichung Metropolitan Park is not that far from downtown Taichung, and suitable for bird-watching in every season. Bird species that can be observed here include: Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), Malay Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus), Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), Taiwan Barbet (Megalaima nuchalis), Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus) and Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea). In winter, there is the Commom Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus); in summer, there are the Indian Pratincole (Glareola maldivarum) and Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus), plus migrants such as the Chinese Goshawk (Accipiter soloensis) and Grey-faced Buzzard (Butastur indicus).
2. Dakeng Scenic Area
Located in Beitun district, Dakeng Scenic Area now has 10 hiking trails with easy access. The highest elevation is a rather modest 859 meters. There are over 60 bird species in this area, such as the Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus ruficollis) and Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus). Endemic species found here include the Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena), Besra Sparrowhawk (Accipiter virgatus) and Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea). Among migratory species are the Chinese Goshawk (Accipiter soloensis) in fall and spring, and Taiwan Yuhina (Yuhina brunneiceps) and White-throated Flycatcher Warbler (Abroscopus albogularis) in winter. In addition, Dakeng Scenic Area is one of Taichung city's top locations for watching owls at night.
3. Gaomei Wetlands
The 1,500-hectare Gaomei Wetlands is located in the south of the Dajia River estuary in Qingshui district. Its abundant natural resources make it one of the few breeding places in Taiwan for geese and ducks. There are over 140 bird species here, making it one of Taiwan's most important low-altitude habitats for wild birds, with easy access for bird-watchers. Birds that can be seen year-round include the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Malay Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus), and Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica). Other species visiting in the fall, winter and spring include Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) and Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus). Additional rare bird species that can stop in to winter here include Saunder's Gull (Larus saundersi) and Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor). These wetlands are very hot in the summer so bird-watching is not recommended during this season.
1. Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area
As one of the 10 internationally-renowned bird-watching spots in Taiwan, Heping district's Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area boasts the island's greatest abundance of bird species and is its most important medium-high-elevation wild bird habitat. Every year this area attracts a high number of local and international bird-watchers and, although they visit all year round, spring is the peak bird-watching season.
Birds that can be found here include the very rare Mikado Pheasant (Syrmaticus mikado), Taiwan Blue Pheasant (Lophura swinhoii), Taiwan Hill Partridge (Arborophila crudigularis), Yellow Tit (Parus holsti), Vinaceous Rosefinch (Carpodacus vinaceus), and Taiwan's smallest owl--the Collared Owlet (Glaucidium brodiei), which is no longer than 16 centimeters.
Left: The image of the endemic Mikado Pheasant can be seen on the back of the NT$1,000 note. This endangered species can be found at the 47-km mark of the Daxueshan Forest Trail. The male birds have shiny sapphire-blue feathers and black tails that look almost dark-blue-ish under the sun.
Right: The endangered endemic Taiwan Blue Pheasant can be found at the 23-km mark of Daxueshan Forest Trail. The male birds have long tails and a white nape and head feathers, plus sapphire body feathers.
2. Basianshan National Forest Recreation Area
Also located in Heping district, Basianshan National Forest Recreation Area is surrounded by mountains and has lush forests and fresh air, making yet another top place for bird-watching and relaxation. Birds that can be seen year-round here include the Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus ruficollis), Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus), and Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea). In winter and spring, most of the birds found here are mountain varieties such as the Yellow Tit (Parus holsti) and Taiwan Yuhina (Yuhina brunneiceps). Again, spring sees the greatest number of bird species here.
3. Wuling National Forest Recreation Area
Wuling National Forest Recreation Area is so large that its area stretches from Taichung's Heping district to Datong village in Yilan county. The elevation here ranges between 1,800 and 3,884 meters and the area offers a diversity of landscapes in different seasons, from spring flowers to winter snow. This natural treasure chest includes Taiwan's most famous indigenous fish--the Formosan Landlocked Salmon--found here in Qijiawan River. The most popular bird-watching route runs from Wuling Bridge to the Taoshan Waterfall, and the most common bird species include the White-eared Sibia (Heterophasia auricularis) and Vinaceous Rosefinch (Carpodacus vinaceus).
The most common bird-watching equipment include binoculars, illustrated books on wild birds, and notebooks. The most suitable binoculars are standard types with 7x35 or 8x30 lenses. If you're on a tight budget, you can also try a binoculars with smaller lenses. Ask experienced bird-watchers for further opinions about brands. To go bird-watching, you should also wear plain cotton clothing and a hat, and bring a light raincoat, warmer extra clothing, sunblock, insect repellant, medication for minor wounds, and some spare plastic bags.
Left: Birdwatchers from Xiamen head to Daxueshan for a glimpse of the Mikado Pheasant.
Right: The International Bird Race, held last year in Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area attracted many international contestants.
What should I do if I see a wounded wild bird?
If the wounded bird can still freely move its body, just leave it alone, as birds will usually recover from minor wounds on their own. However, if it appears to have difficulty moving, you can take it to the following places:
Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital of National Chung Hsing University
250-1, GuoGuang Rd., South District
Tel: (04) 2284-0405, 2287-0180
Wild Bird Association of Taiwan
218, JianGuo S. Rd., Sec. 2, South District
Tel: (04) 2260-0518
Hours: 9 am-6 pm Mon.-Fri.