Taiwan is an island average in size and unique in topography as a result of several mountain building movements. There are more than 200 peaks that exceed 3,000m in height. This unique topography gives rise to various types of climates on the island, including tropical, subtropical, temperate and frigid climates, and also fosters various habitats. Accordingly, there is a high diversity of biota in Taiwan, particularly birds. Taiwan is located in the subtropical zone so it is an ideal place for birds from the north to winter. As Taiwan is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, many transient birds use it as a resting place on their way to the north or the south. There are also many birds along its coastline.
Taiwan's ornithological studies were commenced by Englishman Swinhoe in 1856, followed by other western and Japanese ornithologists. Taiwan presently has around 460 species of birds, accounting for one twentieth of nearly 9,000 bird species worldwide. Among them, 15 species are endemic to Taiwan.
Taiwan's birds can largely be categorized into five groups:
- Resident birds:
They inhabit ecosystems at different altitudes according to their habits. They can be found all year round and are representatives of birds in Taiwan, such as Taiwan Bulbul, Swinhoe's Pheasant and Mikado Pheasant.
- Winter migratory birds:
They migrate from the rigid north in flocks to winter in Taiwan and return to their breeding grounds in the north in spring, such as Black-faced Spoonbill.
- Summer migratory birds:
They live in the south, migrate to Taiwan for breeding in spring and return to the south in autumn, such as Blue-winged Pitta.
- Transient birds:
They neither winter nor breed in Taiwan. They only use Taiwan as a resting place on their way back and forth north and south, such as Gray-faced Buzzard Eagle.
- Lost birds:
They are birds that lose their bearings in a storm or for other reasons during migration and are later found by people, such as Brown Booby.