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The Joys of Taipei Winter Birdwatching

The Joys of Taipei Winter Birdwatching

In Taiwan, the true season for enjoyment of bird life is autumn and winter. From October through March each year birds in wondrous number come down from the north following their ancient rites of migratory passage. Taiwan is an attractive nature-friendly rest stop for them on their demanding journeys, and now we head off through the Taipei region to find the best places during the cool months for bird-appreciation and relaxation stops that do wonders to replenish the soul.

A New Arrivals Party in the Urban Forest – Taipei Botanical Garden

A New Arrivals Party in the Urban Forest – Taipei Botanical Garden 1-2. Taipei Botanical Garden is a great place for bird-watching activities that can be enjoyed by both parents and kids.3. Guandu Nature Park is Taipei City's biggest natural wetlands reserve, and an important gathering spot for migratory birds.4. The Wood Sandpiper is a vanguard bird of passage.5. The Common Teal, a favorite at Huajiang Waterfowl Nature Park.6. The Eurasian Spoonbill, a protected species.7. Huajiang Waterfowl Nature Park is a wide expanse of sandbank wetlands and dense grassy marsh that attracts migrants.

In the countryside surrounding Taipei, wintertime can strike the visitor as a time of cold grey bleakness. But within city limits Taipei Botanical Garden is an oasis staging a big party for new arrivals. Take a walk through the woods here and you'll come across bird lovers, one after another, standing still and staring through cameras lenses or binoculars. Follow their line of sight and you too can enjoy the pretty plumage of many charming guests who have come from lands far away. There! Did you see that lone ranger of the migratory world, the Brown Shrike? Or those travelers from the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, the Daurian Redstart, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Arctic Warbler, and other birds? As you stroll the meandering paths you see a constant stream of chirping visitors landing in the garden to escape the crisp, cold air above, bringing a breath of fresh and warm air. The entire Botanical Garden is like a forest and birds are like splashes of color brightening the winter palette of the Lotus Pond, Taiwan Aquatic Plants Garden, Gramineae, and other attractions in the Botanical Garden—exotic birds, flowers, and plants working together in splendiferous visual concert.

A Wetlands Greeting for Winter Migratory Avian Flyers – Huajiang Waterfowl Nature Park and Guandu Nature Park

In addition to the Taipei Botanical Garden, Shih Jui-te, the director-general of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei, recommends Huajiang Water fowl Nature Park and Guandu Nature Park as two other superb birdwatching sites within city limits, in large part because each year from July to September, the Taipei City Government undertakes extensive dredging and cleanup operations at both wetlands sites to ensure optimal habitat for migrating birdlife.

Located on the border of Taipei City and County on the west side of Huajiang Bridge, Huajiang Waterfowl Nature Park is a wide expanse of sandbank wetlands and dense grassy marsh, making it a thriving habitat for migrating birds. From October through to April each year you can spot birds that have come from thousands of kilometers, including wild geese and ducks such as Common Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and many other types of waterfowl. The protected area outside the low-water revetments is characterized by marsh and mudflats, and offers first-rate observation opportunities. At high tide the birds congregate toward the middle of the river or feed on the water; at ebb tide they come in to the mudflats to rest. On the adjacent dry land an informative series of information boards has been put up, and a 600-meter birdwatching path created. Each Sunday from 09:00~12:00 and from 14:00~17:00 members of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei are on station and stage information activities; for detail, visit their website (www.wbst.org.tw). If you'd like to get up close and personal with the birds and the bees but don't care to climb over hills and mountains to do it, there are few better choices than this.

The Joys of Taipei Winter Birdwatching Black-naped MonarchCommon SandpiperEurasian Tree SparrowJapanese White-eyeTaiwan Barbet

Guandu Nature Park is home to Taipei's biggest natural wetlands reserve. The ecological environment here is mature and highly diverse, and draws migratory fowls in significant number. On an outing here you'll be blessed with encounters with Grey Herons of large size, clever White-breasted Waterhen, Common Moorhen, Common Sandpiper, and Common Greenshank, and Common Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and other shorebirds. They come in great droves, filling land and sky, making the park an international airport for bird use. Whether winter birds, resident birds, or birds of passage, all bring great joy-generated warmth to the cold winter days of Taiwan, peacefully and at ease coming and going, going and coming, spreading pleasure to their flocks of human admirers.

Calling on Taiwan's Four Seasons Fowl –Da'an Park and Neigouli Trail

Enjoying the migratory bird species that grace Taiwan can become addictive, and you can also derive great enjoyment from spotting birds that live here through four seasons, such as Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Lightvented Bulbul, Japanese White-eye, Taiwan Barbet, and Grey Treepie. You need not go far to savor these beauties, for they are all residents in Da'an Park , smack in the city's middle. Not far away on the city's edge, on the Neihu District's Neigouli Trail, you can get to know over 80 species, including that iconic, unique star of the island's birding stage, the Taiwan Blue Magpie (Formosan Blue Magpie). This magnificent specimen is Taipei's official bird. If you're looking for an intensive birdwatching experience, note that volunteers at the Neigou Stream Ecology Exhibition Hall gives guided sessions, helping you make your flight to seasoned birdwatcher-specialist status.

Birdwatching Tips
  • For proper birdwatching you need a good pair of binoculars, with a power of magnification of 7 to 10 to have best view.
  • Illustrated bird guide: It is recommended that you write down the time and place that you first spotted each new bird in the guide, which will make a tremendous memento.
  • Bird-spotting logbook or record chart: Record such detail as date of spotting, location, local environment, weather, description of bird spotted and number sighted, and other pertinent information, all invaluable background for later analysis.
  • Wear light and comfortable clothing appropriate for time spent in the field, in appropriate colors, with greens, greys, and tans your best choice for blending into your surroundings. Clothing with big-mouth pockets is best, allowing storage of your guide and leaving hands free to handle your binoculars.
  • Big round hat of dark color: Your best choice for protection from the sun and for effective camouflage.
  • Happy frame of mind: Indispensable for being popular with both fellow nature-lovers and birds.

The best time for bird-appreciation spotting is 7 to 10 in the morning, for the early bird catches the worm and the early bird-watchers catch birds in sights. For the best experience, be sure to bring a good telescope or pair of binoculars and a quality illustrated guide, then sit back and wait for your early-morning visual and musical entertainment to begin!

The Joys of Taipei Winter Birdwatching 8. Taiwan's best birdwatching season is March and April, with many good spots in Taipei, always busy with bird-lovers.9. The Little Egret, seen at Taipei Botanical Garden.10. The Taiwan Blue Magpie is an iconic Taiwan bird species.11. The male Baikal Teal(second from left) is a winter migrant rarely seen in Taiwan.

(Photos courtesy of: Wild Bird Society of Taipei—Zeng Yun-long, Xiao Mu-ji, Huang Wen-xin, Lin Zhang-xin, Zhong Wen-sheng, Zhang Rui-lin; the Botanical Garden's Xu Jia-jin; Department of Economic Development, Taipei City Government)

Birdwatching Locations:
Taipei Botanical Garden
  • Add: 53, Nanhai Rd.
  • Tel: (02) 2303-9978 ext. 2521
  • Hours: 04:00-22:00
  • Website: tpbg.tfri.gov.tw (Chinese)


  • Take bus No. 1, 204, 242, or 259 to Botanical Garden stop. Or take the No. 12 bus of Kuo-Kuang Motor Transportation Company and get off at the Botanical Garden stop.
Da'an Park
  • Location: East side of Xinsheng S. Rd., south side of Sec. 3, Xinyi Rd.
  • Tel: (02) 2303-2451, (02) 2700-3830


  • To Da'an Park stop (Xinyi Rd.): No. 0 East, 20, 22, 38, 204, 226, 294
  • To Da'an Park stop (Heping E. Rd.): No. 3, 5, 18, 72, 74, 211, 235, 237, 278, 295, 626
  • To stops along Xinsheng S. Rd. at mouth of Heping E. Rd. or Jinhua St.: 0 South Right, 253, 280, 290, 311, 505, 642
  • To Jianguo S. Rd. stop: 298
Huajiang Waterfowl Nature Park
  • Location: West side of Huajiang Bridge


  • Take bus No. 25, 49, 265, or 601 and get off on Guilin Rd. or Guiyang St., then walk toward the riverside dike or take bus No. 0 West, 1, 18, 24, 38, 231, 233, 234, 245, 263,
    or 310 and get off on Guilin Rd. and the China Times stop , then walk a short distance to the riverside dike
Guandu Nature Park
  • Add: 55, Guandu Rd.
  • Tel: (02) 2858-7417
  • Hours: Cold months (Oct.-March)
    Weekdays 09:00-17:00 (ticket office closes at 16:30)
    Weekends/Holidays 09:00-17:30 (ticket office closes at 17:00)
    Closed Mon, Lunar New Year's Eve, first and second day of Lunar New Year holidays
  • Website: www.gd-park.org.tw (Chinese)


  • MRT: take Danshui Line to Guandu Station, exit on Dadu Rd., transfer to Bus Red 35, Small 23, for short ride to Guandu Nature Park stop; or walk from MRT station
    approx. 10 minutes.
  • Bus: take the 302 to Guandu Junior High School stop, then walk along sidewalk beside the school's enclosure wall, arriving in approx. 3 minutes.
Neigou Stream Ecology Exhibition Hall
  • Add: 236-3, Kangle St.
  • Tel: (02) 2634-7851
  • Hours: 08:00~12:00, 13:30~17:00 (closed Mon)
  • Website: www.ed.taipei.gov.tw/ngc/ (Chinese)


  • For MRT, take Bannan Line to Kunyang Station, then take Small 1 bus direct to venue; or take bus No. 203, 281, 284, 287, 630, or 903 to terminus, then transfer to Small 1
    bus direct to venue.

Wild Bird Society of Taipei

  • Add: 1F, 3, Lane 160, Sec. 2, Fuxing S. Rd.
  • Tel: (02) 2325-9190
  • Website: www.wbst.org.tw (Chinese)