Within the birding community, Taiwan is pretty well-known for its endemic birds. Many small islands have fascinating endemic birds that have gone down a different path on the evolutionary map and are found nowhere else in the world, e.g. the kiwi, tui, and kea of New Zealand, the i’iwi and nene of Hawai’i, the birds of paradise of Papua New Guinea, the famed finches of the Galapagos, and so much more.
Before I came to Taiwan, I was really excited about birding here, but basically the only endemic bird I knew about was the Formosan blue magpie. Thankfully, there are many resources to help out birders here determine whether they’re looking at an endemic bird or one with a wider range (e.g. Wikipedia
). While I love all the birds that I see here, even invasive species like the Indian Myna, it’s just so much more rewarding to be able to see (and photograph!) an endemic species.
Therefore, you can imagine how exhilarated I was when a pair of white-whiskered laughingthrushes (金翼白眉) started investigating around our lunch picnic area. At first, they stayed hidden in the branches, and I only knew they were there because I kept seeing flurries of movement out of the corner of my eye. After a while, they became bolder and came out on the lawn. In the end, the pair of laughingthrushes came as close as ten feet away from me, checking out the biodegradable food trash we had left behind. Of course, I was the only one who noticed or cared, but it was such an amazing experience and such a privilege to be able to see these beautiful birds up close.
Alishan, Chiayi, Taiwan