Besides its beautiful mountain landscapes, Hehuanshan is also a haven for birdlife including the Alpine accentor, Taiwan Rosefinch and White-whiskered Laughingthrush. They are known by birdwatchers as “the three treasures of Hehuanshan.”
Over 600 bird species can be seen in Taiwan, 29 of which are endemic to Taiwan. Taiwan Rosefinch and White-whiskered Laughingthrush are the most common endemic species. They live in the high-altitude mountains over 2,000 m above sea level. Another endemic sub-species of bird found in Taiwan is the Alpine Accentor, which emphasizes the bird’s feature of living in high mountain habitats. The Alpine Accentor is the resident bird living at the highest elevations in Taiwan.
The high mountains in Taiwan feature rugged terrain, fast-changing weather, and rarefied air, an extreme environment for any kind of life. However, these birds can survive in the high mountains; they have a vigorous existence proving the strength of life. Especially in Hehuanshan, they are seen in groups searching for food; their sounds are the most cheering greeting melody in the high mountain areas, which is why they are given the name of the three treasures of Hehuanshan by birdwatchers.
This is a very special bird species found in the mountains of Taiwan due to its unique features, including inhabiting the high-mountain areas over 3,000 m above sea level, and being frequently seen on bare rock surfaces and spacious plains in the high mountains, rather than hiding in the dense forest. Besides this, they usually build their nests among rocks or on the branches of bushes, and eat insects, grass seeds, and tender sprouts.
The birds have feathers with a mix of red, white, gray, and black that help them camouflage themselves on the rocky ground. They rest on rocks or hop around on the ground. Maybe because they don’t have natural enemies in the high mountain areas, they are not afraid of people. You can find them and observe them at close range in front of the Hehuanshan Song Syue Lodge or the Wuling parking lot.
This bird species is endemic to Taiwan and is found in mountain areas over 2,200 m above sea level. They prefer the habitats of the needle-leaved forest, at the edge or in the bare lands around Yushan Cane. Sometimes, they are seen hopping on the ground. The male birds’ feathers have a very special feature; besides the black-brown feathers covering their wings and tails and the two light-colored eyebrows on the head, they have glorious and burning red feathers on their body, making them the most visible birds. However, the female birds have low-profile yellow-brown feathers that protect them well and help keep their chicks safe, so the species has been able to survive for generations.
Taiwan Rosefinch, whose genus name is “Carpodacus,” means “fruit biter.” Their short, thick, and powerful beak can open hard seeds with ease. During the blossom season when the weather gets warmer, they can be found in the bushes searching for food. As they are not afraid of people, they usually peck around for grass seeds, especially the seeds of the plants in the family Poaceae.
This bird species, also known as Garrulax morrisonianus, is endemic to Taiwan, and is found in mountain areas over 2,000 m above sea level. They prefer the habitats in the forest understory or shrub layer in the middle and high-altitude mountains. On their face, they have two obvious white eyebrows and a white jawline. Primarily, they eat insects, seeds, and fruit .
White-whiskered Laughingthrush are lively song-birds; every year from June to August, they sing loudly in chorus for more than 10 minutes at a time. Their most amazing feature is that they rarely fly; they usually move by hopping around in the Yushan Cane or bushes. Although their body is rather plump, they can move quickly and easily because of their short rounded wings and their long strong claws. Sometimes, if you see one on the branches, you might mistake it for a squirrel!
There are rare animal and plant species on the planet hidden in the high mountains of Taiwan – they are the most valuable forest treasure of Taiwan. These affectionate three treasures of Hehuanshan, the Alpine accentor, Taiwan Rosefinch, and the White-whiskered Laughingthrush, are the elves of the beautiful high mountain landscape.