Birding in Taiwan



Scheduled Tours

Nov 5-18, 2007

May 5-18, 2008

2003 Trip Photos

2004 Trip Photos

2005 Trip Photos

2006 Trip Photos

2007 Trip Photos

Trip Reports

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, May (7)8–20, 2007


Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, November (6)7–19, 2006

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, November (6)7–19, 2006

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, May. 1-14, 2006


Trip Report:

BIRDING IN TAIWAN, Jan 29–Feb. 3, 2006

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, FEB.24-26, 2006

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, NOV.28-Dec.2, 2005

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, NOV.28-Dec.2, 2005

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, NOV. 7-16, 2005


Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, MAY. 2-11, 2005


Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, MAY. 21-24, 2005

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, MAY. 21-24, 2005

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, NOV. 8–17, 2004


Taiwan Trip Report, March 21 – 28, 2003

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, March 21 – 28, 2003

Taiwan Trip Report, November 11-19, 2003

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, November 11–19, 2003


BirdingASIA -Birdwatching in Taiwan







Fairy Pitta



May 5–18, 2008

Printable Version

To Portuguese sailors in the 16th century, it was Ilha Formosa, “Beautiful Island,” because of its lush forests and the jagged peaks of its mountainous spine.

            The island we now know as Taiwan, situated approximately 175 km (110 miles) off the coast of China, has diverse habitats; from tidal estuaries, cultivated fields, wetlands, lowland mixed forests, to montane deciduous broadleaf and coniferous forests.

            The island still has beautiful forests and mountains, where 15 endemic species (some authors recognize 8 more) reside:  Taiwan Partridge, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Mikado Pheasant, Styan’s Bulbul, Flamecrest, Formosan Whistling-Thrush, Taiwan Bush-Warbler, Collared Bush-Robin, White-Whiskered Laughingthrush. Steere’s Liocichla, Taiwan Barwing, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit, and Formosan Magpie.

            Although more than 500 species of birds have been recorded, about 300 can be considered to occur regularly, including more than 60 endemic subspecies.  Perhaps 10 of these subspecies are candidates for full endemic species status.  Seeing the pheasants, partridge and quail requires some luck, especially for Taiwan Partridge.  The blue, white and red male Swinhoe’s Pheasant is unforgettable, as is the sleek blue-black male Mikado Pheasant, “King of the Mist.”  The shy and secretive Taiwan Bush-Warbler will be singing in May, and perhaps not so difficult to see.  We will be alert for the fairly common Black-browed (Muller’s) Barbet and uncommon [Taiwan] Hwamei, probably the next Taiwan endemics.

            The main focus of the tour is on the endemic species and subspecies of Taiwan.  Secondary focuses are the Fairy Pitta, a beautiful and uncommon species which is present only in the breeding season, and the specialties of Lanyu Island.

            Taiwan is a safe, welcoming country, with good infrastructure, a strong conservation movement, classic mountain scenery, friendly people, wonderful food and much to offer visitors.


Leaders:  Simon Liao, Honourary Chairman, Wild Bird Federation of Taiwan and Jo Ann MacKenzie, Taiwan International Birding Association (Canada).



  • 1 to 10 participants (no minimum)

  • Major habitats of the west coast, central mountains, Taroko Gorge, the southeast, and Lanyu Island

  • Moderate pace

  • Mostly easy to moderate walking; occasional steep steps and paths in “high mountain” habitat

  • Accommodation with private bathrooms

  • Chilly at high elevations, especially at night; warm to hot and humid at low elevations

  • Transportation by air-conditioned bus

  • Opportunities to sample Taiwanese culture and cuisine


5 May  (Monday), Day 1

Fly EVA Air at 1:50 a.m., from Vancouver to Taipei.  It will be necessary to be at Vancouver International Airport by 11:30 p.m. on the evening of May 4, for flight check-in.  (Some participants may choose to join the group in Taipei instead.)

6 May  (Tuesday), Day 2

Arrive Taiwan Taoyuan (formerly Chiang Kai-shek) International Airport (situated 40 km west of Taipei, in Taoyuan County), at 5:10 a.m.  We will transfer to our bus, drive south to the Wufeng area, 300 to 400 m (1,000 to 1,300 feet) elevation.  We will visit suitable habitat to look for Collared Finchbill, Formosan Whistling Thrush, Black-browed (Muller`s) Barbet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Formosan Magpie, and with luck, Fairy Pitta. The male pittas should be on territory now, and we have a good chance of seeing this very special bird.  Then we will turn east and climb higher to Huisun Forest Station.  Possibilities include Ashy Wood-Pigeon, Black-browed Barbet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Gray-chinned Minivet, Gray Treepie, Black Bulbul, Rufous-capped Babbler, White-bellied Yuhina, Chinese Bamboo Partridge and Swinhoe’s Pheasant.

Night at Atayal Resort, in Huisun Forest Station, 770 m (2600 ft.) elevation.

7 May  (Wednesday), Day 3

Early morning birding on the trails at Huisun Forest Station.  Leaving Huisun after breakfast, we backtrack somewhat, then continue eastward through Puli, the geographic center of Taiwan, and begin to climb again toward Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area (elev. 1200 m (3900 ft.).  At Aowanda, we will check the stream for Plumbeous Redstart and with luck, the rare Little Forktail, and watch for Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit, Fire-breasted and Plain Flowerpeckers, Black-browed Barbet, minivets and raptors.  Leaving Aowanda, we continue to climb to Chingjing.  Night in Chingjing, elev. 1750 m

Formosan Magpie

8 May  (Thursday), Day 4

We will make an early morning start to the Meifeng area in “high mountain” habitat, to walk part of the Rueiyan River Road trail system, nicknamed “Blue Gate Trails.”  (Trail #1 is about 3 km, end to end.)  Local people call them Shueiguan [Water] Trails, because of the water pipes that lie alongside.  Possibilities include White-tailed Robin, Mikado and Swinhoe’s Pheasants and perhaps with much luck, the very shy Taiwan Partridge.  We will also be alert for White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina, Collared Bush Robin, Taiwan Barwing, Steere’s Liocichla, Pygmy Wren-Babbler, White-browed Shortwing (the wren-babbler and shortwing are both hard-to-see skulkers), Vineous-throated Parrotbill, Eurasian Nuthatch, and others.

            In the afternoon, we will continue to look for mountain species.  Return to Chingjing for the night.

9 May  (Friday), Day 5

Early morning birding at Blue Gate Trail #2.  Then, we will drive higher yet, to the Hehuanshan Forest Recreation Area, elev. 3275 m (10,750 ft.), the highest elevation of the tour, just inside the western edge of Taroko National Park.  (“Shan,” means “mountain “or “hill” in Mandarin; in this case, “mountain.”)  We will look for White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Flamecrest, Alpine Accentor, Vinaceous Rosefinch, Coal Tit, and Yellow Tit.  We will continue eastward through the upper part of the Taroko Gorge, in Taroko National Park, to Tienhsiang looking for Styan’s Bulbul.  Night at Tienhsiang, elev. 485 m (1592 ft.)

10 May  (Saturday), Day 6

Early morning birding in the Tienhsiang area.  Then we will drive eastward, through the spectacular Taroko “Marble Gorge.”  The gorge is one of the scenic wonders of Asia, created by immense tectonic forces combined with erosion by the Liwu River.  We will look for Brown Dipper and Little Forktail, both along the Liwu River, and the Shakadang Trail in the lower part of the Gorge.  We will exit through the park’s East Gate and turn south to Hualien and drive along Taiwan’s scenic east coast, crossing the Tropic of Cancer.

 Near Chihshiang, we will look for the endemic Taiwan subspecies of the familiar, but here native and wild Ring-necked Pheasant. Continue south, to Taitung, and turn southwest to the Chihpen Forest Recreation Area, elev. 700—800 m.  Birding for the rest of the afternoon.   Night in Chihpen Forest Recreation Area.



11 May  (Sunday), Day 7 

Morning birding in mid-elevation habitat.  Birds here include Formosan Whistling-Thrush, Formosan Magpie, White-eared Sibia, White-bellied Pigeon, Oriental Cuckoo, Dusky Fulvetta, Spotted Flycatcher and Emerald Dove.   After lunch, proceed to Taitung airport, arriving in time for our 20-minute flight to Lanyu (Orchid) Island, about 90 km (56 miles) east of the southern tip of Taiwan. 

            Most of Lanyu’s inhabitants are aboriginal Yami people, whose culture is closer to that of the Philippines than of Taiwan.  After transferring to Hungtou (Red-head) village, we will spend the rest of the day birding this fascinating island.  Lanyu is very different from Taiwan and we will look for the specialties:  Philippine [Brown] Cuckoo Dove, Japanese [Black] Paradise-Flycatcher, Brown-eared Bulbul and Lowland White-eye.  After dark, we will search for “Lanyu” Scops-Owl, Otus elegans botelensis, a subspecies of Ryukyu Scops-Owl endemic to Lanyu Island.  Night in Hungtou.


12  May  (Monday), Day 8

Early morning birding on Lanyu Island.  In the afternoon, we will travel on ferry back to the Taiwan mainland.  The crossing will take about 2 ½ hours during which we will watch for Streaked and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and with much luck perhaps come across Bonin Petrel, Bulwer’s Petrel or Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel. After docking at Pingtung on the Eluanbi Peninsula and boarding our bus, we will drive to Kenting, Taiwan’s tropical “far south.” Night in Kenting.


13 May  (Tuesday), Day 9

Birding in the Kenting area, including Kenting National Park and Long Luan Tan Lake, looking for Ruddy-breasted Crake, White-breasted Waterhen and other wetland species.   Endemic Styan’s Bulbul is easily found in the Kenting area.  Distinctively-shaped Taichien Shan (mountain) is the first height of land that northward-bound migrants see as they approach Taiwan; we will watch for both common and unusual species.  Night in Kuangtselin at a hotel with private hot spring baths.


14 May  (Wednesday), Day 10

Morning birding in the Tsengwen Dam area, elev. 220 m, (859 ft.)  We will have another chance for Maroon Oriole, Collared Finchbill, Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Oriental Cuckoo and other species of mid-elevation woodland below the dam.  The view over the valley provides good opportunity for raptor-watching.  At the Kwantien Wetland, we will look for Pheasant- tailed Jacana.  Night in Tainan.


15 May  (Thursday), Day 11

All day in wetland habitat.  Black-faced Spoonbills winter in the Tainan-Chiku wetlands; there is a chance of finding a few late lingerers, and possibly other unusual waders.  We will also bird the extensive wetlands of Aougu.  Then we will continue north, re-crossing the Tropic of Cancer, to Chiayi.  Night in Chiayi.  There may be an opportunity to browse through the lively Night Market.


16 May  (Friday), Day 12

Morning drive to return to “high mountain” habitat in Alishan Forest Recreation Area.  We will look for species we may have missed in this habitat earlier.  Night in Alishan village, 2200 m (7,200 ft.)


17 May  (Saturday), Day 13

Early morning birding, Alishan.  We will drive higher, to the Tataka Recreation Area, 2600 m (8,536 ft.) in Yushan National Park for more “high mountain” specialties.  Yushan National Park is known as “The ridge of the roof of Taiwan.”  We will be within sight of Yushan Peak, also called Jade Mountain.  At 3952 m (just under 13,000 ft.), Yushan Peak is the highest mountain in East Asia.  Possible species are Taiwan Bush-Warbler (which should be singing, and therefore “findable”), Eurasian Nutcracker, Gray-headed Bullfinch, White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Flamecrest, Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler.  Then it will be time to leave the high mountains and drive to lowlands.  Night in Changhua.


18 May  (Sunday), Day 14

After breakfast, drive north to Taipei county, with a stop for a cultural highlight, the Sanshia Temple, noted for its exquisite stone and wood wildlife carvings, including more than 100 different birds.  Lunch.  The afternoon will be flexible; we will try for Brown Dipper and Malayan Night-Heron if we have not already found them.  Continue to Taipei (elev. 6 m; 20 ft).  Supper, followed by a visit to one of Taipei’s famed Night Markets.

            Drive to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to await our EVA Airways departure at 11:50 p.m., to Vancouver; arriving at 7:20 p.m. the same day.



Maximum of 10 participants with 2 leaders



From Vancouver, BC, Canada:  14 days

$5100 (sharing);  $5600 (single)


From Taipei, Taiwan:  13 days

$4000 (sharing);  $4500 (single)


EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT:  Register at least 60 days before departure; get 5% off tour price.





For further information, please contact:



Simon Liao






Jo Ann MacKenzie

15341 – 21 Avenue

Surrey, BC,  V4A 6A8, 



Phone:  604-538-1676







Good birds, good food, good friends!