Sunday 27 July 2008

Huben Birding Stories - Mr. Chang and the Shamas

Mr.Chang and the Shamas.

I'm walking along one of the many little forest tracks around the temple and as I round a corner I run into Mr.Chang. Mr.Chang is the local birding guide. He was a hunter for most of his life, but when the area became famous for Fairy Pitta and some other birds he was able to reform himself into a Birding Guide. Now, he's the Pitta's most faithful protector. Meeting up with Mr.Chang if he is out checking on the well being of his Fairies is a wonderful stroke of luck, because you get invited to come along.

After about 30 minutes, as we are watching a Malayan Night Heron, I hear a strange call which I don't recognize. Mr.Chang imitates the call and the bird calls back. Off we go in the direction of the call. We stop and Mr.Chang points to a bird in a tree. The light is not that good, but I know that I've never seen this bird before. I see another movement and it appears that there is a second bird partly obscured by foliage perched near by. There are not that many birds in Taiwan with very long tails. I know I'm not looking at a Treepie or a Paradise Flycatcher. I can see a clear white patch on the rump. I get a good look at the bird, and then turn to Mr.Chang. I take out my field guide and Mr.Chang laughs and says it's not in there. I ask what it is and he says he doesn't know, but the pair lives there. I look again and realize that the bird I'm looking at appears to be a White-rumped Shama (which isn't found in Taiwan).

I head back home and have a good look at pictures of White-rumped Shama and conclude that it is indeed the bird in question. I know that the White-rumped Shama is a popular cage bird in China. I guess that this pair must be escapees that have established themselves in the area. Escaped and released cage birds can be a big problem in Taiwan. These birds can displace resident species and in some cases interbreed with them creating hybrids or if they are of the same species, but a different race, they can dilute the genetic purity of the local endemic race. This has been a major factor in the decline of the Taiwan Hwamei.

Also see:

Other Huben Birding Stories
Birding in the Huben-Hushan Area (Fairy Pitta)
Birding in Yunlin County
Huben-Hushan Bird List
Threatened Birds of the Huben-Hushan area
Fairy Pitta and Huben Bird Gallery
Taiwan Bird Books

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