Another shrike!

This trip seems to be the year of the shrike. In addition to the common species found on Taiwan during this time of year, the Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) and the Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach), we found another member of the Lanius clan. The Bull-headed Shrike (Lanius bucephalus, see photo left) is a rare vagrant to the island of Taiwan. They are more commonly found wintering in mainland China after their breeding season in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and Japan. This was a lucky find. We ran across this lone male Bull-headed Shrike while surveying birds on the east side of the Taiwan Central Mountain Range on a tea plantation at about 4,900 feet elevation. These birding surveys are important as they document the movements and distribution of birds during different times of the year. Knowing about bird distributions and movements are critical in understanding different ecological and evolutionary processes in avian species and long term data can potentially tell us about the ecological effects of global climate change. Maybe Bull-headed Shrikes will be a more common sight in the future? Maybe not? We'll need lots of keen eyed birders to keep watch for these and other rare vagrants.