Birding in Taiwan



Scheduled Tours

Nov 5-18, 2007

May 5-18, 2008

July 18-20, 2008

Nov 3-16, 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 up to 29) 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 12 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; hot and humid at low elevations
  • Transportation by air-conditioned bus
  • Opportunities to sample Taiwanese culture and cuisine





6 May  (Tuesday), Day 1

Pick-up at hotel in Taipei.  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 climb higher to Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area in the Anmashan mountain range, birding along Mt. Tahsueh Road on the way.  Arriving at Dasyueshan, we will walk Trail 210, elev. 2000 m. (6600 feet) looking for Swinhoe’s and Mikado Pheasants, Collared Bush-Robin, Green-backed Tit, Brown Bullfinch, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Varied and Black-throated Tits.   Continue birding in the afternoon.  Night at Snow Mountain Resort, Dasyueshan NFRA; 2275 m (7500 ft.)  


7 May  (Wednesday), Day 2

Early morning birding at higher elevation, Hsiaolaishan (Shiaosyueshan), 2600 m (8,530 ft.), looking for White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Vinaceous Rosefinch, Gray-headed Bullfinch and other species of high elevation.  We will have all day to explore the forest trails. Night at Snow Mountain Resort, Dasyueshan NFRA.


8 May  (Thursday), Day 3

Text Box: Formosan Magpie
In the morning, drive south to Huisun Forest Station, 770 m (2530 ft.) elevation, birding along the way.  Look for Swinhoe’s Pheasant, if not found at Dasyueshan.  Watch for Malayan Night-Heron on the lawn, Formosan Magpie, Ashy Wood-Pigeon, Black-browed Barbet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Gray-chinned Minivet, Gray Treepie, Black Bulbul, Rufous-capped Babbler, Rufous-faced Warbler and White-bellied Yuhina.  After dark, try for Mountain Scops-Owl.  Night at Huisun Forest Station.


9 May  (Friday), Day 4

Early morning birding.  Leaving Huisun after breakfast, we backtrack somewhat, then continue eastward through Puli, the geographic center of Taiwan, and begin to climb again via Wushe toward Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area (elev. 1200 m (3900 ft.).  At Aowanda, we will climb the waterfall trail beside Naoliao Creek, looking for Plumbeous Redstart and with luck, the rare Little Forktail.  We will watch for Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Varied Tit, and after dark, try for Northern Boobook.  Night at Aowanda NFRA.


10 May  (Saturday), Day 5

Early morning birding.  Leaving Aowanda, we will drive to Chingjing, with birding stops along the way, looking for raptors and forest species.  Night in Chingjing, elev. 1750 m (5740 ft.)


11 May  (Sunday), Day 6

Before leaving Chingjing, we will look for Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Vinaceous Parrotbill and other species of brushy habitat.  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, Yellow Tit, Alpine Accentor, Vinaceous Rosefinch, and Coal Tit, Periparus ater ptilosus, the crested Taiwan endemic sub-species.  We will continue eastward through the upper part of the Taroko Gorge, in Taroko National Park, to Tienhsiang looking for Styan’s Bulbul. On the way, we will visit 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 watch for Brown Dipper, Little Forktail, and Fork-tailed Swift among the hundreds of House Swifts.  Night at Tienhsiang, elev. 485 m (1592 ft.)


12 May  (Monday), Day 7 

Early morning birding in the Tienhsiang area.  We will exit through the park’s East Gate, turn south to Hualien and drive along Taiwan’s scenic east coast, crossing the Tropic of Cancer to Taitung city with birding stops along the way.  Near Chihshiang, we will look for the endemic Taiwan subspecies of the familiar, but native and wild, Ring-necked Pheasant.  Night in Taitung.


13 May  (Tuesday), Day 8 

Morning birding in mid-elevation habitat.  Birds here include Formosan Whistling-Thrush, White-eared Sibia, White-bellied Pigeon, Oriental Cuckoo, Dusky Fulvetta, Ferruginous 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.


14  May  (Wednesday), Day 9

Early morning birding on Lanyu Island.  In the afternoon, we will travel by 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.


15 May  (Thursday), Day 10

Birding in the Kenting area, including 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 Taichienshan is the first height of land that northward-bound migrants see as they approach Taiwan; we will watch for both common and unusual species.  Drive northward; night in Tainan.


16 May  (Friday), Day 11

Morning birding in wetland habitat, looking for shorebirds and other inhabitants.  We usually find a few lingering Black-faced Spoonbills, although most of the wintering flock will have departed for their breeding grounds.  Chinese Egret is possible.  Drive once again 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 12

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 13

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.  We will stroll along an artisans’ street.  Continue to Taipei (elev. 6 m; 20 ft).  Shopping opportunity at the extensive, 4-story Chinese Handicrafts Center, where there is a range of quality goods, from inexpensive items to fine art and jewellery.  Supper.  The tour concludes.


TRAVEL NOTE:  Please arrange your incoming flight so that you arrive in Taipei on Monday, May 5 at the latest.  We can book accommodation for you at either the YMCA International House or the Grand Hotel.  On the morning of Tuesday, May 6, you will be picked up at the hotel to begin the tour.

            Please arrange your departing flight for late on the evening of May 18, or the following day, May 19. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is situated about 40 km west of Taipei; driving time is about 1 hour, sometimes more because of traffic.  If you wish to stay on in Taipei for a day or more, we can book accommodation for you.





Maximum of 12 participants with 2 leaders



From Taipei, Taiwan:  13 days

$4000 (sharing);  $4500 (single)


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





Ì  For further information, please contact:


Simon Liao






Jo Ann MacKenzie

15341 – 21 Avenue

Surrey, BC,  V4A 6A8, 



Phone:  604-538-1676







The Taiwan Specialists



Good birds, good food, good friends!