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


Possible Future Full Species

Black-necklaced (Spot-breasted) Scimitar-Babbler


Endemic Sub-Species

Alpine Accentor

Barred Buttonquail


Black Bulbul

Black Drongo

Black-browed Barbet

Black Kite

Black-naped Monarch

Bronzed Drongo

Brown Bullfinch

Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler

Brown-eared Bulbul

Chinese Bamboo-Partridge

Collared Finchbill

Collared Scops-Owl

Collared Owlet

Coal Tit

Crested Goshawk

Crested Myna

Crested Serpent-Eagle

Dusky Fulvetta

Eurasian Jay

Eurasian Nutcracker

Golden Parrotbill

Gray Treepie

Gray-cheeked Fulvetta

 Gray-headed Bullfinch

Green-backed Tit

House Swift


Island Thrush

Kentish (Snowy) Plover

Lanyu’ Scops-Owl

Light-vented Bulbul

Little Ringed Plover

Maroon Oriole

Mountain Scops-Owl

Oriental Skylark

Oriental Turtle-Dove

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

Plain Flowerpecker

Plain Prinia

Plumbeous Redstart

Pygmy Wren-Babbler

Ring-necked Pheasant

Rufous-capped Babbler

 Rusty Laughingthrush

Silver-backed Needletail

Slaty-legged Crake

Snowy-browed Flycatcher

Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler

Streak-throated Fulvetta

Striated Prinia

Varied Tit

Vinaceous Rosefinch

Vivid Niltava

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

Whistling Green-Pigeon

White-backed Woodpecker

White-bellied Green-Pigeon

White-browed Bush-Robin

White-browed Shortwing

White-tailed Robin

White-throated Laughingthrush

Winter Wren

Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler


More Birds in Taiwan

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-faced Spoonbill

Black-naped Oriole

Black-throated Tit

Black-winged Stilt

Brown-headed Thrush

Cattle Egret

Chinese Crested Tern

Chinese Goshawk

Cinnamon Bittern

Common Kingfisher

Common Kestrel

Common Moorhen

Common Snipe

Daurian Redstart

Eastern Marsh Harrier

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Teal

Fairy Pitta

Fork-tailed or Pacific Swift


Gray-chinned Minivet

Gray-faced Buzzard

Gray Heron

Great Cormorant

Great Egret

Greater Painted-Snipe

Ijima’s Leaf-Warbler

Intermediate Egret

Japanese White-eye

Lesser Coucal

Little Egret

Little Forktail

Little Grebe

Malayan Night-heron

Northern Pintail

Northern Shoveler


Pacific Golden-Plover

Pale Thrush

Peregrine Falcon

Red Collared-Dove

Russet Sparrow

Spot-billed Duck

Spotted Dove

Tufted Duck

White-breasted Waterhen

Yellow Bittern



White-backed Woodpecker

Dendrocopos leucotos insularis


Endemic Subspecies


The White-backed Woodpecker is a medium-sized (25 cm) black and white woodpecker.  Males have a bright red cap, a white forehead, a white face and throat outlined by a narrow black malar and neck stripe, and a white breast finely streaked with black.  Females are similar but with a black cap.  The lower belly and undertail are reddish-pink.  The mantle and most of the scapulars are glossy black, while the back and rump are white.  The wings are spotted with white, and the outer tail feathers are white with 3 to 4 narrow black bars.  The slate-gray bill is fairly long and chisel-tipped, the iris is reddish-brown and the legs are gray.  The Taiwan race insularis is smaller than the mainland subspecies, has more white on the back and more extensive pink below.


The White-backed Woodpecker inhabits old-growth deciduous and mixed forests with a high proportion of dead and fallen trees.  It specializes in feeding on large wood-boring insect larvae, and also eats other insects such as adult beetles, ants and their larvae. It also consumes some berries as well as nuts in the summer. Both sexes participate in excavating the nest cavity, a hole up to 20 m. in height in a dead tree.  The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, and both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.


The call of the White-backed Woodpecker is a quiet “kik”, and its drumming is a long, moderately fast series accelerating but fainter at the end.  In Taiwan the White-backed Woodpecker is an uncommon resident year-round in mature forests.


References:  Handbook of Birds of the World Vol. 7; A Field Guide to the Birds of China (Mackinnon and Phillipps); N. J. Collar, “Endemic subspecies of Taiwan birds—first impressions”, in Birding ASIA, Number 2, December 2004; 100 Common Birds of Taiwan (Wild Bird Society of Taipei)