Birdwatching contests, in which teams of enthusiasts compete to sight the greatest number of species, are nothing new in Taiwan, but the Second Yushan National Park Bird Race and Bird-watching Activity, held November 12-13 in and around Tataka, Nantou County, was a step forward in raising international awareness of the country’s exceptionally diverse wild bird population.
Including migrants, around 470 avian species have been recorded in Taiwan. Among the species which draw bird-watchers to the country are the black-faced spoonbill, an elegant water bird that spends the winter on the southwest coast, and the Chinese crested tern, an extremely rare seabird thought to be extinct until sighted in the Matsu Islands in 2000.
According to Charles C. Cheng, president of the Taipei-based Chinese Wild Bird Federation, Taiwan’s main bird conservation organization, this year’s Tataka event, “successfully integrated bird touring, conservation advocacy, and raising public awareness.”
“We have been conducting similar bird races around Taiwan for more than 20 years, and we’ve done them in three different styles,” Cheng said after the event. He explained that some bird races, like the event at Tataka, are limited in terms of both territory and time, noting that “Taiwan’s national parks and national forest recreation areas are very good sites for this kind of event..."
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