With the arrival of spring in March, the Taiwan Blue Magpies are nesting and breeding, flitting through the valleys and forests one after another, with their sharp, raucous calls heard across the horizon.
With dark orange beaks, black heads, deep blue bodies, and intermingled black and white tail feathers, these birds are extremely beautiful. But if one becomes too enamored with them and draws near their nests, these highly alert birds will come rushing out drive off what they see as a threat. One of Taiwan’s 15 endemic bird species, the Taiwan Blue Magpie’s primary habitat is in medium and low elevation broadleaf forests. When in flight, their beautiful tail feathers stick straight out behind the body, earning the bird the Chinese nickname “mountain longtail.”
Birds in flight are like a history of the sky, covered with beautiful plumage, their chirps and calls singing out the joy of life. The complex topography of Taiwan, with immense variation in elevation in mountainous regions, creates a diverse geographic environment with tropical, warm, temperate, and polar climate zones. And Taiwan’s low latitude, in conjunction with the effects of factors such as the monsoon and ocean currents, result in a warm and rainy climate. These climatic factors have given Taiwan an abundance of diverse plant and animal life, including considerable numbers of birds and bird species.
There are over 9000 species of birds in the world, belonging to 27 orders and 15 families, with over 450 bird species documented in Taiwan at present. The development of industrialization in recent years poses a serious threat to bird habitats, with the survival of Taiwan’s birds now facing a major crisis. Severe damage to their habitat, excessive hunting and trapping of wild animals, irreversible pollution of the natural environment, the introduction of non-native species, and the frequent interference of human activity are jeopardizing birds’ survival, making the issue of bird conservation an important goal for environmental conservation efforts.
In order to preserve, study, and document the ecology of Taiwan’s birds, the Digital Museum of Zoology at National Taiwan University established the Bird Database, with records of 624 species of Taiwanese birds in 13 orders and 75 families. Users can find basic information such as the classification, appearance, way of life and reproductive habits of each species, and multimedia information such as specimens, photographs, film clips, bird call recordings, original references, and geographic distribution maps is also available. Through the database completed by the project, using spatial coordinates as the basis for links, any item of data can be queried and obtained through spatial coordinates. Browsing the page not only provides detailed information about each bird, but also allows users to submit searches for data by species, conservation status or endemic species names lists. Multimedia data presently includes 312 specimens of 104 different species; 863 photos of 265 different species in the wild; film clips of 152 species in the wild; recordings of the calls of 88 species; original references for 385 species; and 471 distribution maps.
In addition to being able to easily see the appearance of each bird, the database also impresses with its recordings of a number of bird calls; in recent years, in order to help people better recognize the birds of Taiwan, 18 species of birds have been specially selected to have their calls, information, and film clips integrated into an interactive game, “Bird Orchestra in Taiwan,” remixing the notes and frequency of the bird calls with background music, composing their own unique tunes. Putting digital archive files to use in ways like this allows us to use the internet to get acquainted with the birdsong that echoes through the mountain forests.
Digital Museum of Zoology, National Taiwan University-Bird Database
Publisher：Fan-Sen Wang, Vice President of Academia Sinica Editor-in-Chief：Zong-Kun Li Publishing Department：Taiwan e-Learning and Digital Archives Program, TELDAP Executive Editor：Sub-project: Digital Information - the New and Creative Way of Communicating Mailing Address：The Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica
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Issue：TELDAP e-Newsletter (October, 2012) Publish Date：10/15 /2012 First Issue：02/15 /2007（Published on 15th every 2 months）
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