Birding in Taiwan



Birds in Taiwan

Endemic Species

Collared Bush-Robin


Formosan Magpie

Formosan Whistling-Thrush

Mikado Pheasant

Steere's Liocichla

Styan's Bulbul

Swinhoe's Pheasant

Taiwan Barwing

Taiwan Bush-Warbler

Taiwan Partridge

Taiwan Yuhina

White-eared Sibia

White-whiskered Laughingthrush

Yellow Tit


Endemic Sub-Species

Black-browed Barbet

Bronzed Drongo

Collared Finchbill


Oriental Skylark

Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler

Vinaceous Rosefinch


More Birds in Taiwan

Black-faced Spoonbill

Black-naped Oriole

Chinese Crested Tern

Crested Serpent-Eagle

Fairy Pitta

Japanese White-eye

Malayan Night-heron



Garrulax canorus taewanus

Endemic subspecies

The [Taiwan] Hwamei is a medium-sized gray-brown laughingthrush, about 24 cm long. The upperparts are olive grayish-brown; the buff crown and nape are heavily streaked with dark brown; these streaks continue onto the mantle. The flight feathers are dark brown with a chestnut wash. The tail is dark brown with olive bars; the base of the tail is olive. The underparts, from throat to breast, are yellowish-brown, with fine dark brown streaks. The belly is grayish, and unstreaked.
The vocalization of the male is a melodious, varied, lengthy whistled song, “hseyu, hseyu, shou.”
[Taiwan] Hwamei live in pairs in dense brushy lowland. They are active in understory scrub. The males are highly territorial.
Similar Species: Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, 25 cm, with long, decurved bill; white throat, and heavy, conspicuous black streaks restricted to the white breast.
Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, 21 cm, with white eyebrow, black lores, white throat, black streaks on white breast extending to dusky flanks.

Reference: Field Guide: Birds of Taiwan; by Wang, J., C. Wu, G. Huang, X. Yang, Z. Cai, M. Cai and Q. Xiao. 1991)

Hwamei (or Huamei) is sometimes called Melodious Laughingthrush or Chinese Thrush. The Chinese word “Hwamei” translates into English as “paint brow”, for the white eye-ring extending behind the eye. However, [Taiwan] Hwamei, G. c. taewanus, does not have that feature.


Yao Cheng-Te, Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of Agriculture

The elaborate melodious song of male Hwamei has made them the most loved caged bird in the Chinese history. As common residents inhabiting the margins of lowland secondary evergreen woodlands, the Hwamei is widely distributed in the central and southern China, northern Indochina, Hainan and Taiwan (MacKinnon and Phillipps 2000). Taxonomically, three allopatric subspecies have been described: G. c. canorus in Asia mainland, G. c. owstoni in Hainan and G. c. taewanus in Taiwan (Berlioz, 1930, and Deignan 1964). Morphologically, G. c. taewanus is distinctive from the others by lacking the distinct white eye-ring continuing behind the eye as a narrow streak. In addition, plumage on the upperparts of G. c. taewanus is more grayish in tone in contrast to the chestnut-brown of the other subspecies. The crown and nape of G. c. taewanus are more heavily streaked. Compared to G. c. canorus, G. c. owstoni has paler underparts and more olive upperparts.
Large number of G. c. canorus individuals have been collected to meet the high market demand. To relieve this subspecies from the threat of over-collecting, the G. canorus was listed in the Appendix III of CITES to regulate its international trade in 2000. In addition to the over-collecting, potential hybridization (between subspecies) and introgression (between hybrids and their parental subspecies) may be other threats to the survival of some Hwamei populations. Since the 1980s, when the later subspecies was imported into Taiwan in large quantities, potential hybrids between G. c. taewanus and G. c. canorus have frequently been observed in Taiwan (Lucia L. Severinghaus, personal communication). The viability of a population can be endangered by outbreeding depression, breakdown of locally adapted genomic configuration, and loss of genetic uniqueness through hybridization and introgression between evolutionary distinctive lineages (evolutionary significant units, ESUs, Ryder 1986, Moritz 1994) (Barrowclough and Flesness 1996, Rhymer and Simberloff 1996). Consequently, G. c. taewanus was listed in the category of Other Conservation-Deserving Wildlife in the Wildlife Conservation Law of Taiwan since 1989. Due to the potentially severe genetic consequence of hybridization and introgression, it is an increasingly urgent conservation issue to identify the ESUs within the Hwamei and re-evaluate its intraspecific systematic status.