|Taiwan Blue Magpie|
The Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea) is a member of the Corvidae family. It is also known as the Formosan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Magpie or the "long-tailed mountain lady". The Taiwan Blue Magpie is an endemic species that can only be found in the mountains and lowland broadleaf forests of Taiwan. It is the national bird of Taiwan, however, this has never been formally accepted.
The Taiwan Blue Magpie is a fairly large sized bird with a body length of approximately 64 cm or 25 inches, including the span of its long tail which consists of half of its total length. Males and females look alike. The head, neck, and breast are black, while the rest of the feathers are a rich blue, except for white markings on the wings, and black and white segmented markings on the tail. The bill, legs and feet are a bloody red. The eyes are yellow.
These birds are usually seen in groups of three to eight, though, sometimes can appear in flocks scaling up to twenty. Within the family unit, they are very cooperative, and the chicks that have not yet become old enough to breed will help with their younger siblings by feeding and protecting them. Chicks as young as two months have been observed in these "big brother" activities, and because of this help, the adults will have a second chance at nesting during the same year. The mated pair are monogamous, and the female will lay five to eight eggs in a nest made of twigs, of which three to seven of the eggs will hatch. Despite that Formosan Blue Magpies are known to come close to human settlements, they are suspicious and hard to approach. The voice is a high-pitched, cackling chatter; kyak-kyak-kyak-kyak.
Taiwan Blue Magpies are omnivorous, and have a wide diet. They eat other birds, amphibians, small mammals, snakes, and insects, though, mainly consume seeds and fruits, with papayas being their food of choice.
Illegal capture, high power lines, vehicles, and farm chemicals are all dangers to these birds. Habitat loss is also a threat as the last tracts of the broadleaf forests are torn down and developed into human settlements. Since their eggs are easy to find and loot, cats and people have been known to snatch them.