Birding in Taiwan: 12. Taiwan Blue Magpie

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“The Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea) are striking birds with their very long graduated tails, the strong contrast between the black head/neck, cobalt blue body/tail, the yellow iris and the red-orange beak/feet. They move around in gregarious small flocks; we saw 6-8 at a time.

“Endemic to Taiwan, they are found in the lower foothills up to 1000 meters ASL and some descend lower in winter.

“The Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive states that they are “generally considered uncommon and elusive”. But the locals, like Richard Foster and the 2014 CWBF Checklist of the Birds of Taiwan, show that the bird is common and relativity easy to see in the right locations.

“Watching a flock in flight, one following another is quite sight.

“One of my favourite images (captured first in my heart) of the time in Taiwan is shown above.

“I saw this coming as a flock of Taiwan Blue Magpies were flying away from me and planned to try and capture the moment. These birds of course were unaware of their perch, just another building.

“But it is an elaborate Phoenix, the mythical bird of China and Taiwan, made up from a composite of pheasants, peacocks, etc. An appropriate symbol for Taiwan as it too is a nation that has arisen from the ashes, a simple common bird into a Phoenix.

“The Phoenix symbolises many good virtues and harm nothing, very much like how the Taiwan people have now begun to preserve their land and nature.

“Wikipedia states that ‘In the 2007 National Bird Voting Campaign held by the Taiwan International Birding Association … the Taiwan Blue Magpie defeated the Mikado Pheasant and was chosen as Taiwan’s national bird, though it has yet to be formally accepted.’

“Having seen both birds well, a tough choice.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
21st December 2014

Location: Shihmen Reservoir, Longtan Town, Taoyuan County, Taiwan
Habitat: Secondary growth with some housing around the Shihmen Reservoir


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