More Birds in Taiwan
More Birds in Taiwan
Brachypteryx montana goodfellowi
This small bird is only 13 cm (5 inches) long. The upperparts of the male are dark olive-brown. The underparts are paler; the throat, breast and flanks are rusty-brown; the center of the belly is gray. The wings and tail are dark olive-brown; bill black, legs brown. The bird’s most striking feature is the short, white, concealable supercilium, which extends from just above the lores, to just behind the eye. Females and immatures are not quite as dark as males; dull brown with pale brown breast, whitish center of belly and rufous wings and tail, and weaker supercilium.
The loud call is a single note followed by a brief, explosive jumble of descending notes, similar to: “sheeee, shegli-shegli-gli-gli-gli”. It is a fairly common mountain species, found at mid-elevation from 1,000 to 3,000 m in broadleaf and mixed forest, but more likely to be heard than seen.
White-browed Shortwing is a shy skulker, preferring to be on or near the ground, in the depths of dark vegetation, where it feeds on small insects, larvae, berries, seeds, sprouts and new buds of plants. The nest consists of moss and grass stems, placed in a dense shrub.
At present, there are 14 subspecies.1 The Taiwan subspecies, B. m. goodfellowi, is a potential split from the others based on bill structure (much longer than other races), vocalization and plumage differences. In Taiwan, the White-browed Shortwing has been variously called Blue Shortwing, Taiwan Shortwing, Taiwan Blue Shortwing and Formosan Blue Shortwing. However, there is no blue in the plumage of goodfellowi.
Notes on the accompanying photographs: #1 appears to be a 1st-year bird; #2–#6 are probably males; the sex and age of the bird in the un-numbered photograph is unknown. (Yao Cheng-te, pers. comm.2)
Similar species: White-browed Bush-Robin Tarsiger indicus has a longer and thinner supercilium which extends rearward from the base of the bill, through the lores.
References: 1 Birds of the World: A Checklist, James Clements, with updates to July 2005.
Field Guide: Birds of Taiwan; by Wang, J., C. Wu, G. Huang, X. Yang, Z. Cai,
M. Cai and Q. Xiao. (1991.)
Field Guide to the Birds of China, John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps.
Handbook of Birds of the World, Vol. 10. Josep Del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott and Jordi Sargatal, Editors.
Paul Holt, Sunbird/Wings, personal communication, October 2005.
White-browed Shortwing, “Endemic subspecies of Taiwan birds—first impressions”, N. J. Collar, in Birding ASIA, Number 2, December 2004.
2 Yao Cheng-te, Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, personal communication, March 2006.