Country/Territory Taiwan, China
Area 36,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 3900m
Priority high
Habitat loss major
Knowledge good

General characteristics

Taiwan (formerly known as Formosa) is situated between temperate Japan to the north, subtropical southern China to the west and the tropical Philippines to the south. A ridge with many peaks higher than 3,000 m runs north to south along the central axis of the island and includes Mt Yushan which, at 3,952 m, is the highest mountain in north-east Asia. The mountains fall steeply to the coast in the east and more gently to a wide, densely populated and highly developed agricultural plain in the west. The island's great range of altitudes produces a broad diversity of ecosystems (tropical, subtropical, temperate and alpine habitats) and a wildlife which is correspondingly rich.

The native vegetation includes tropical evergreen rain forest in the lowlands (largely destroyed), subtropical broadleaf evergreen forest at medium altitudes (c.700-1,800 m), and temperate mixed and coniferous forest between c.1,800 and 3,600 m. Wetlands include tidal mudflats, mangrove swamps and saltmarshes, primarily along the west coast.

In addition to its importance for endemic birds, Taiwan lies on the main flyway for birds migrating between Japan and the Philippines, and is therefore of considerable importance for migrants from Japan, mainland China and areas further to the north, including many threatened wetland species (see 'Threats and conservation', below).

Restricted-range species

The majority of the EBA's restricted-range species are forest birds and are (now) restricted to uplands, with four species being largely found in the coniferous and mixed forests of higher altitudes, namely Syrmaticus mikado, Tarsiger johnstoniae, Garrulax morrisonianus and Regulus goodfellowi. Most species are found widely on the island within their preferred altitudinal range, but Pycnonotus taivanus has a rather local distribution (as well as being restricted to coastal lowlands), perhaps owing to competition with the widespread Light-vented Bulbul P. sinensis (Wang et al. 1991).

Other restricted-range species also occur as non-breeding visitors in Taiwan: Japanese Night-heron Gorsachius goisagi (breeds in Central Honshu, Secondary Area s089; has been reported as breeding in Taiwan, but see Sykes 1996), Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer (Sakhalin, Secondary Area s088), Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus (Chukotski peninsula, Secondary Area s087) and Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata (Central Honshu, Secondary Area s090).

Species IUCN Category
Taiwan Partridge (Arborophila crudigularis) LC
Mikado Pheasant (Syrmaticus mikado) NT
Swinhoe's Pheasant (Lophura swinhoii) NT
(Treron formosae) NR
Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea) LC
Yellow Tit (Machlolophus holsti) NT
Styan's Bulbul (Pycnonotus taivanus) VU
Taiwan Yuhina (Yuhina brunneiceps) LC
White-whiskered Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron morrisonianum) LC
White-eared Sibia (Heterophasia auricularis) LC
Taiwan Liocichla (Liocichla steerii) LC
Taiwan Barwing (Sibia morrisoniana) LC
Collared Bush-robin (Tarsiger johnstoniae) LC
Taiwan Whistling-thrush (Myophonus insularis) LC
Flamecrest (Regulus goodfellowi) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
TW005 Hapen and Fushan Taiwan, China
TW007 Shihmen Reservoir Taiwan, China
TW008 North Section of the Hsueshan Mt. Range Taiwan, China
TW010 Shei-pa National Park Taiwan, China
TW012 Tahsuehshan, Hsuehshankeng and Wushihkeng Taiwan, China
TW018 Upstream Section of Peikang River Taiwan, China
TW019 Ruiyan Taiwan, China
TW020 Nengdan Taiwan, China
TW032 Sanping Taiwan, China
TW033 Chuyanshan Nature Reserve Taiwan, China
TW034 Yushan National Park Taiwan, China
TW036 Tawushan Nature Reserve and Hsuangkuei Lake Taiwan, China
TW038 Kenting National Park Taiwan, China
TW041 Middle Section of Coastal Mountain Range Taiwan, China
TW042 Yuli Wildlife Refuge Taiwan, China
TW044 Taroko National Park Taiwan, China

Threat and conservation

Today almost all level land (especially in the northern and western plains) and an increasing area on the lower slopes (up to 1,000 m, but especially between 100 and 500 m) is intensively cultivated (Patel and Lin 1989). Forest still covers c.50% of the total land area, but large tracts are exotic monocultures, which have replaced native species, and are therefore of little wildlife value.

Several of Taiwan's endemic bird species have been identified as being Near Threatened, largely because of the threat that they face from continuing forest destruction-which is also a threat to two of the restricted-range non-breeding visitors, Gorsachius goisagi and Emberiza sulphurata (see 'Restricted-range species', above), both of which are classified as Vulnerable. Heavy hunting pressure has been a particular problem for the endemic pheasants in the past, but it is not a serious threat today (L. L. Severinghaus in litt. 1996). Tringa guttifer (classified as Endangered) and Eurynorhynchus pygmeus (Vulnerable; see above) are threatened by wetland destruction.

Many widespread threatened species occur in Taiwan, including Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha (Vulnerable; uncommon in forest), and, as non-breeding visitors only (to wetlands), Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes (Endangered), Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana (Endangered), Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor (Critical; c.200 birds in winter, more than two-thirds of the known world population), Swan Goose Anser cygnoides (Vulnerable), Baikal Teal Anas formosa (Vulnerable), Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri (Vulnerable) and Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi (Endangered).

Some 11% of the island is protected. This area includes six national parks, 18 nature reserves and eight wildlife sanctuaries (P. K. D. Perng in litt. 1996).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Taiwan. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/02/2021.