Animal Resources

The Highland Red-belly Swallowtail Butterfly

The Highland Red-belly Swallowtail Butterfly (Astrophaneura horishana) is a large swallowtail butterfly endemic to Taiwan that is one of the protected species. It has a wingspan between 9~12cm, and neither gender is tailed. The back of the male butterfly’s wings is usually black while the females’ are lighter in the color. The 2nd to 5th compartments of the hindwings each have two black stripes, while the veins and the center of each compartment in the forewings have the same color as the hindwings. The outer edges of the hindwing's dorsal side are cherry red in color. There are no other species quite like it so it is easy to identify.

The beautiful Highland Red-belly Swallowtail Butterfly prefers to live in the high mountains. It can be seen flitting about flowering bushes at the first light of dawn, leading to its Chinese name, which literally means “Dawn Swallowtail.” The black and red Highland Red-belly Swallowtail Butterfly light up in the golden dawn and to the world looks like fairies dancing on the mountain top. Between July and September, the Highland Red-belly Swallowtail Butterfly can often be found in the Lishan region fluttering about nectar source plants. As the pattern of its wings contain black spots that look like watermelon seeds, it is also nicknamed the “Watermelon Butterfly.” If you want to catch a glimpse of its beauty, come visit the Lishan Scenic Area and search for beautiful traces of it among the flowering Sambucus bushes.

Yuhina brunneiceps

Endemic to Taiwan, it is listed as a protected species under the category of rare and valuable species. The triangular chestnut-colored crest and sideburns makes the Taiwan Yuhina (Yuhina brunneiceps) very unforgettable.

Like the White-eared Sibia, it can be heard voicing its wake-up call first thing in the morning. The Taiwan Yuhina is a very hospitable bird. Its call even sounds like “Nice to meet you!”, “To meet you!”. Nevertheless, it is also an example of the “ear of the beholder”. The Taiwan Yuhina has been blamed for the indigenous people's love for liquor because when they are working in the orchards, the call sounds like “buy rice wine, buy rice wine!” and “Talk about product placement!” Recommended watching locations: They like to feed on cherry blossoms so they can often be seen in winter in front of the Wun Shan Hotel in Guguan or throughout the year along the Lishan Eco-Trail.

Heterophasia auricularis

Endemic to Taiwan, it is listed as a protected species under the category other conservation-deserving wildlife. The most distinctive features of the White-eared Sibia (Heterophasia auricularis) are its long, white eye-line and stylish feather tassels. Its “Huei, Huei, Huei, Huei...” call that ends on a rising pitch is also unforgettable. When alarmed, its call changes to a “De, De, De...” that sounds to the world like a machine gun going off!

Recommended watching location: Can be found all-year round from Guguan to Lishan.

Niltava vivida

Endemic to Taiwan, it is listed as a protected species under the category of other conservation-deserving wildlife. The Vivid Niltava (Niltava vivida) looks like a gentleman wearing a yellow shirt and ruby-blue jacket. The way it perches on the tree branch in plain view of bird-watchers makes it seem as if it used to their adoring gaze. Sometimes, a bird that looks almost the same except for its dowdy olive-brown color can be seen glancing about nervously. Yes, that's a female Vivid Niltava. As she is responsible for the survival of the species, she must try to merge with the background and stay alert to avoid being attacked by predators.

Liocichla steerii

Folk name: Yam Bird

Endemic to Taiwan, it is listed as a protected species under the category of other conservation-deserving wildlife. Steere’s Liocichla (Liocichla steerii) has a bright yellow mole in the corner of its beak. While its rotund body led to its nickname of “Yam Bird,” it is actually quite agile. It skips or flies across treetops, bushes, and forest tracks while greeting its friends with loud calls of “Cheese~ Chewer.” When outsiders approach, this immediately changes to the alarm call of “Gaaa, Gaaa, Gaaa....” This is a non-migratory bird that can be seen throughout the year.

Formosan Landlocked Salmon

An endemic sub-species of Taiwan, it is listed as a protected species under the category of threatened species. It once swam upstream during the breeding season back to the rivers of its birth to mate, spawn then die, like salmon and trout in cold and temperate regions. Newborn salmon then follow the river downstream to the sea. Once they grow to maturity, they return to the rivers of their homeland to breed again, forming the cycle of life. During the Quaternary Glaciation, the island of Taiwan was uplifted by the movement of the tectonic plates and these travelers from the North Pacific were left behind in the Dajia River basin. They are therefore a living testament to how Taiwan, a sub-tropical island, had once been subjected to an ice age and was connected to the main continent. Its miraculous appearance in Taiwan stunned fish experts around the world and led to it being designated a “natural monument” by the Japanese. For centuries, the people of the Atayal tribe used fish spears, bows and arrows, bamboo traps, fish vine and other tools to catch this manna from heaven while humming their hunting songs. An Atayal elder recalled in his youth, “when I stood in the river at Cijiawan there were so many salmon that they came and pecked at my calves.” Over the past few decades, over-development by humans led to great swathes of the forest being cut down and destruction of natural habitats. Only a few hundred small fish released into the wild as part of the captive breeding and rehabilitation program can now be found in less than 5KM of waterway at Cijiawan.

The Formosan Landlocked Salmon prefers pristine, unpolluted waters with a temperature below 10 ~ 16 degrees Celsius. Years of evolution means it has long since lost its migratory ability, but it can still leap out of the water to catch insects near the surface. It is particularly active during the summer and autumn. The best season to view the Formosan Landlocked Salmon is between October and November during the breeding season. At this time, the mouth of the male fish becomes longer and thicker, and bends upwards to become a hooked bill. Beautiful spots that look like cherry blossoms also develop along its body. The female fish uses its tail to slap the sandy bottom of river shallows to form a “spawning nest.” The male fish will then rapidly shake its body from left to right as its courtship dance. Around 40 days after a successful mating, the salmon fry will hatch. Only when all the nutrients in their yolk-sac have been absorbed after 20 days do the fry start swimming about and looking for food.

Dicaeu ignipectus

You can also often hear short, sharp and metallic “De, De, De” calls around the Lishan Visitor Center and the Li Shan Guesthouse Ecology Trail. These are produced by the Fire-breasted Flowerpecker (Dicaeum ignipectus), which measures less than 10cm in length. The throat and chest of the male bird has a blood red heart-shaped patch. Though the rest of its feathers appear black in color, they are actually a gleaming metallic blue under the sun. Female birds have a plain olive-green or pale-yellow color. They play an important role in the spread of Parasitic Loranthus (Taxillus chinensis).