A traits database of 454 bird species in Taiwan

Latest version published by Taiwan Forestry Research Institute on 13 November 2023 Taiwan Forestry Research Institute
Publication date:
13 November 2023
CC-BY 4.0

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Together with enthusiastic participation of citizen scientists, researchers in Taiwan have accumulated a substantial amount of foraging observations, eBird occurrence samplings, morphological measurements from banded birds and specimens. This extensive data collection has significantly contributed to enhancing our understanding of birds. Here, we compiled a trait dataset of Taiwan’s birds including 454 bird species in 73 families through accumulated data combined with literature. This trait database includes foraging, morphology, migratory status, territoriality, habitat and elevation distribution, breeding characteristics, and functions of bird species in Taiwan's ecosystem. This resource will serve as important data for the analysis of evolution, functional diversity, and ecosystem services.

Data Records

The data in this checklist resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 454 records.

2 extension data tables also exist. An extension record supplies extra information about a core record. The number of records in each extension data table is illustrated below.

Taxon (core)

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The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.


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The publisher and rights holder of this work is Taiwan Forestry Research Institute. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 License.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: 02f3b527-d309-43ee-b964-9713a9ddcd6a.  Taiwan Forestry Research Institute publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Taiwan Biodiversity Information Facility.




Meng-Chieh Feng
  • Author
National Taiwan University
No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, 10617 Taiwan(R.O.C)
10617 Taipei
Po-Wei Chi
  • Author
National Taiwan University
No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, 10617 Taiwan(R.O.C)
10617 Taipei
Tzung-Su Ding
  • Author
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
National Taiwan University
No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, 10617 Taiwan(R.O.C)
10617 Taipei
Shu-Wei Fu
  • Metadata Provider
  • Author
Assistant Researcher
Taiwan Forestry Research Institute

Geographic Coverage

Taiwan, and its adjacent islands of Xiaoliuqiu, Lanyu, Green Island, the Penghu Archipelago, and Kinmen.

Bounding Coordinates South West [21.617, 116.653], North East [25.503, 123.201]

Temporal Coverage

Formation Period 2020-2023

Sampling Methods

The trait database included 32 traits for 454 bird species of Taiwan: 6 migratory traits, 9 morphological traits, 5 foraging traits, 2 distributional traits, 1 territorial trait, 5 breeding traits, and 4 ecosystem service related traits. 1. Migratory status The migratory statuses of bird species were categorized as resident, winter visitor, summer visitor, transient migrant, vagrant, and introduced species. Statuses were derived from 2023 CWBF Checklist of the Birds of Taiwan (Ding et al., 2023), and a given bird species might exhibit multiple statuses within Taiwan. 2. Morphology Morphological traits described body length, bill length, head length, natural wing length, tail length, tarsus length, weight, sexual size dimorphism, and sexual plumage dimorphism. Body length, bill length, head length, natural wing length, tail length, tarsus length, and weight were quantitative traits, sourced primarily from published literature (Shiu et al., 2005; Hsiao & Li, 2015; Tsai et al., 2020), subsequently from measurements, and finally from the AVONET database (Tobias et al., 2022). Morphological traits of bird species were documented as a mean value, sample size (listed in measurement Remarks), and data source. Sexual dimorphism in size and plumage were binary traits, based on whether differences in at least two-thirds of the plumage and body size between genders were distinguished. The measurements of bird species were collected from various sources, including literature (Shiu et al., 2005; Severinghaus et al., 2012), specimen collections (National Taiwan Museum, Academia Sinica, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, National Taiwan University Museum of Zoology), and mist-netted and released field projects (the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program of Taiwan and the Taiwan bird banding network). 3. Foraging Foraging traits described diet, foraging stratum, foraging behavior, activity time, and foraging flock. Diet, foraging behavior, and foraging stratum were quantitative proportional traits, with the sum of each item totaling 100 for each bird species. First of all, we searched for foraging observations of each bird species using their Chinese names from the social media Facebook groups "Avian Diet" and "The Feather and Foraging Behavior". Subsequently, we summarized the information on diet, stratum, and behavior from each observation, and analyzed those of each bird species as proportional data. Results were further refined with literature review. The foraging patterns of diurnal and nocturnal activity were binary traits, determined by whether a bird species feed during daytime and nighttime periods. The definitions of diurnal and nocturnal activity for each species were referenced from literature and online database (Billerman et al., 2022). Foraging groups can be monospecific or multi-specific in the different seasons (Mangini et al., 2022). We classified the foraging flocks into 3 types, including monospecific flock during breeding season, monospecific flock during non-breeding season, and mixed-species flock during the non-breeding season. 3 foraging flocks were binary traits, determined by whether a bird species joins the type of foraging flocks or not. Bird species participated in mixed-species flocks were documented in measurement Remarks. 4. Habitat and elevation distribution Habitat and elevation traits were binary traits, indicating whether the habitat and elevation types were used by each bird species or not. The habitat types were based on the habitat classification scheme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, further adjusted into 23 types. 4 elevation types were classified, including plains (0-100 meters), low elevation (100-500 meters), mid elevation (500-2,500 meters), and high elevation (above 2,500 meters). The distribution of each bird species among habitat and elevation types were based on eBird occurrence samplings and literature. 5. Territoriality Birds defended important resources, including nesting sites, pair bonds, or food sources (Pettingill, 1985), within their territory. Territoriality was most commonly observed during the breeding season when birds strived to secure necessary resources for successful breeding. However, some bird species also exhibited defensive behaviors, such as defending foraging territories and perching branches during non-breeding season (Pettingill, 1985). The territoriality of 202 breeding bird species were categorical traits, based on the way territorial behavior was exhibited. Type A included bird species with all-purpose territories, where they defended their territory for nest sites, mating area, and food resources. Type B comprised species that primarily defended for nesting sites and mates but did not maintain specific foraging areas. Type C consisted of birds that mainly defended for nesting sites and a small surrounding area, such as colonial breeding species. Type D referred to birds defended the territory for mate or food resources but not for nesting sites, such as cuckoos. Additionally, species maintained foraging areas or perched on specific branches during the non-breeding season were considered to have non-breeding season territoriality. The territoriality during non-breeding season were binary traits. 6. Breeding characteristics The breeding traits included brood parasitism, colonial breeding, nest site, nest structure, and mean clutch size of 203 breeding bird species. Brood parasitism, colonial breeding, nest site, and nest structure were binary traits, mean clutch size was quantitative trait. Brood parasitism referred to the behavior in which certain bird species did not build their own nests but instead laid their eggs in the nest of host species. The host parents then incubated the parasitic eggs and raised the offspring (Payne, 1977). Colonial breeding referred to a form of social reproduction where individuals of a species established densely distributed territories that contained no other resources other than nest sites (Danchin & Wagner, 1997; Perrins & Birkhead, 1983). Nest site described the specific locations of nests within the habitat, and nest structures encompassed the materials used and the shape of the nests. Mean clutch size of multiple broods was determined by prioritizing data from theses and online databases (Billerman et al., 2022). Followed by calculating a mean value from the maximum and minimum values in a brood from literature (Severinghaus et al., 2012). 7. Ecosystem services Birds provided many ecosystem services through their ecological functions, such as plant pollination, seed dispersal, and insect control (Whelan et al., 2008). Besides, native predators adapted to feed on exotic prey, potentially limiting or regulating their invasion (Carlsson et al., 2009; Madenjian et al., 2011). We have identified bird species that played a crucial role in providing ecosystem services such as pollination, seed dispersal, and insect control. These services were particularly significant for nectar-eating, fruit-eating, and insect-eating bird species with the proportion exceeds 25%. We also identified bird predators that consumed 15 alien species in Taiwan, including 5 fish species, 3 bird species, 2 amphibian species, 2 gastropod species, 1 crustacean species, 1 insect species, and 1 plant species.

Study Extent Taiwan, and its adjacent islands of Xiaoliuqiu, Lanyu, Green Island, the Penghu Archipelago, and Kinmen.
Quality Control Cleaning scientific names: The scientific names of all birds in the dataset were matched based on the taxonomic data from the GBIF backbone taxonomy by using the Name Parser service offered by Taiwan Biodiversity Information Facility ( We adopted the canonical Name Complete for each input name.

Method step description:

  1. Trait data collection started with an extensive web source, and the data were further refined with literature review.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Billerman, S. M., Keeney, B. K., Rodewald, P. G., & Schulenberg, T. S. (2022). Birds of the World Carlsson, N. O. L., Sarnelle, O., & Strayer, D. L. (2009). Native predators and exotic prey –an acquired taste? Front. Ecol. Environ., 7(10), 525-532. Danchin, E., & Wagner, R. H. (1997). The evolution of coloniality: the emergence of new perspectives. Trends Ecol. Evol., 12(9), 342-347. Ding, T. S., Juan, C. S., Lin, R. S., Tsai, Y. J., Wu, J. L., Wu, J., & Yang, Y. H. (2023). The 2023 CWBF Checklist of the Birds of Taiwan. In The 2023 CWBF Checklist of the Birds of Taiwan. Chinese Wild Bird Federation. Hsiao, M. C., & Li, C. (2015). A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan. In A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan (2nd ed.). Forest Bureau, Council of Agriculture, Wild Bird Society Of Taipei. Madenjian, C. P., Stapanian, M. A., Witzel, L. D., Einhouse, D. W., Pothoven, S. A., & Whitford, H. L. (2011). Evidence for predatory control of the invasive round goby. Biol. Invasions, 13, 987-1002. Mangini, G. G., Gandoy, F. A., Areta, J. I., & Blendinger, P. G. (2022). Benefits of foraging in mixed-species flocks depend on species role and foraging strategy. Ibis, 165, 629-646. Payne, R. B. (1977). The ecology of brood parasitism in birds. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst., 8, 1-28. Perrins, C. M., & Birkhead, T. R. (1983). In Avian ecology. Blackie. Pettingill, O. S. (1985). Territory. In Ornithology in Laboratory and Field (Fifth ed., pp. 259-265). Academic Press. Severinghaus, L. L., Ding, T. S., Fang, W. H., Lin, W. H., Tsai, M. C., & Yen, C. W. (2012). The Avifauna of Taiwan. In The Avifauna of Taiwan (2nd ed.). Forest Bureau, Council of Agriculture. Shiu, H. J., Ding, T. S., Sheu, J. E., Lin, R. S., Koh, C. N., & Lee, P. F. (2005). Morphological Characters of Bird Species in Taiwan. taiwania, 50(2), 80-92. Tobias, J. A., Sheard, C., Pigot, A. L., Devenish, A. J. M., Yang, J., Sayol, F., Neate-Clegg, M. H. C., Alioravainen, N., Weeks, T. L., Barber, R. A., Walkden, P. A., MacGregor, H. E. A., Jones, S. E. I., Vincent, C., Phillips, A. G., Marples, N. M., Montano-Centellas, F. A., Leandro-Silva, V., Claramunt, S., . . . Schleuning, M. (2022). AVONET: morphological, ecological and geographical data for all birds. Ecol. Lett., 25(3), 581-597. Tsai, P. Y., Ko, C. J., Hsieh, C., Su, Y. T., Lu, Y. J., Lin, R. S., & Tuanmu, M. N. (2020). A trait dataset for Taiwan's breeding birds. Biodivers. Data J., 8, e49735. Whelan, C. J., Wenny, D. G., & Marquis, R. J. (2008). Ecosystem services provided by birds. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 1134(1), 25-60.

Additional Metadata

Alternative Identifiers 02f3b527-d309-43ee-b964-9713a9ddcd6a