In the last three years, at the crack of dawn or at dusk in June and July, an urgent squawk-like call has often been heard in trees in several places in the Forestry Bureau’s Shuangliu National Forest Recreation Area. If you stop and try to judge direction from the bird call, move lightly like a dragonfly skimming across water and you might be lucky and see the beautiful sight of the Formosan Blue Magpie.
At dusk in summer, the squawking call of the magpies could be heard emanating from the broad forest in front of Shuangliu National Forest Recreation Area’s large car park. Five to six blue birds of different sizes could be seen if you stop to look, sometimes jumping around in trees such as Subcostate Crape Myrtle, Autumn Maple Tree, Indian Almond and Formosan Ash, sometimes darting across the river to land on a tree branch. They really treat the trees on the two river banks like their own private playground! Clearly, this has become a paradise for Formosan Blue Magpie.
In The Avifauna of Taiwan, the Formosan Blue Magpie has several alternative names, such as Long-Tailed Mountain Maid, Taiwan Dark-Blue Magpie or Red-Beaked Mountain Magpie. It is a widely distributed resident bird and is also endemic to Taiwan. It likes to spend time in groups of 3 to 12 birds, mostly family members. They are aggressive and highly territorial, will attack anything that encroaches on their territory and will work together to defend against an enemy. A group will probably stay in the same area for many years. Their preferred habitat is low-medium elevation broadleaf forests, secondary growth forests, parks and other places with a lot of trees. They are omnivorous and eat mainly fruits, plant roots and stems, insects, lizards, chicks or eggs in nests, and rodents, snakes and other small animals, and will even consume human kitchen waste and carrion. Breeding season is March-July. In Taiwan, the Formosan Blue Magpie is listed as Grade 3 wildlife that should be protected (in accordance with the revised list of protected species announced in July 2014.)
In the last three years, Formosan Blue Magpie nests have been observed in Subcostate Crape Myrtle, Autumn Maple tree and other trees in the same area, and a magpie family has been seen flying around happily. These signs, plus the Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Crested Serpent Eagle, Muller’s Barbet, Grey Treepie and Little Egret etc. in the air, and the Pangolin, Crab-Eating Mongoose, Formosa gem-faced civet, Pheasant, and various snake species, fish and shrimp, butterflies, dragonflies, insects, lizards etc. on the ground and in water, show that Shuangliu is one of the most ecologically rich areas on the Hengchun Peninsula. Everyone is invited to come here to watch birds and search for the treasures of nature. However, the maintenance of the beautiful environment here depends on the effort of the general public and visitors. Only with a joint effort can we leave sustainable and rich natural ecological resources to be enjoyed by future generations.
Pingtung Forest District Office calls on visitors to the forest recreation area, as well as enjoying the mountain forest tranquility and breathing in invigorating Pythoncidere, to help keep the things that belong in the forest there and make sure the things that don’t belong there are taken away, working together to keep the environment beautiful and leaving a bright future for the next generation.