Due to early cultivation and settlement efforts and frequent human activities, the habitat for wild animals in Yangmingshan National Park has been disrupted over the years, leading to fewer animal species and populations, especially larger mammals and uncommon bird species. Historical data has shown that the Park was once home to animals such as Formosan sika deer and black-naped oriole, but this is no longer the case now. The wildlife that still resides in the park are mostly birds, butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians.
Red-bellied tree squirrel (photo by Chih Wu Han)
Taipei tree frog (photo by Cheng En Li)
The Park has a rich variety and abundance of bird species and is one of the prime locations for bird-watching in Northern Taiwan. The areas around Mt. Datun, Erziping and Xinbeitou are dense with forests and bird populations. The Park Headquarters planned several butterfly and bird-watching trails for visitors to engage in the observation of these animals. The distribution of bird species by different vegetation: in forests, the common bird species include bamboo partridge, Japanese white-eye, black bulbul, red-headed babbler and white-eyes nun babbler; in grassy plains and shrubs, the common species include the white-rumped munia, yellow-bellied prinia and vinous-throated parrotbill; in summer and autumn seasons, migratory birds like the brown thrush and black-faced bunting can be observed. The common aquatic bird species include little egret, white-breasted waterhen, cattle egret, Formosan whistling thrush, grey wagtail and plumbeous water redstart. Other magnificent species in the Park include the brilliantly colored Muller’s barbet and Taiwan blue magpie. To view these birds up-close, it is recommended that visitors bring binoculars or telescopes with them on the trip; in addition, as these birds have distinctive calls, visitors are also encouraged to learn to identify and locate species by listening to their calls.
Taiwan whistling thrush (photo by Shao Liang Wen)
In addition to bird watching, the areas around Yangmingshan are also safe havens for butterflies in northern Taiwan, with most found at Mt. Miantian and Mt. Datun. Butterflies can be observed all year round along the County Highway 101A and the trail section between Erziping and Qingtian Temple. May to August of every year are peak butterfly seasons in Yangmingshan, the common species include Papilionidae family: great mormons, common peacocks, red helens and spangles; the Danaidae family: blue tiger, parantica swinhoei, striped blue crow and blue-banded king crow; the Nymphalidae family: Indian fritillary, common map and neptis. In terms of uniqueness, pink-spotted windmill takes the spot, as it is not only beautiful but also an endemic species of Taiwan. The once abundant common windmills that are found in the park have since declined in population, due to the reduction of the Aristolochia species of plants, the favorite food of the larvae of Common windmills, and changes in the habitat environments.
In times except winter, when you stroll along the forest trails, you will be surprised at how vast and expansive the animal kingdom is. Look for animals that fly in the sky, crawl on the ground and swim in the water; be observant to realize the intricacy and wonders of the environment around you! Taking insects as an example, you can find species like horn beetles, stag beetles, jewel beetles, click-beetles, Dicronocephalus bourgoini that are only found in northern Taiwan, the common praying mantis, katydids, crickets, grasshoppers and stick insects. During summer times, the forest is alive with nature’s music -- the sounds of the chirping insects. First to appear are the Mogannia hebes, thin-winged cicada and Platypleura kaempferi, followed by the Tanna sozanensis, Pomponia linearis, and Cryptotympana holsti that appear in July and August. Each species makes a different sound. In autumn, the chirpings of the katydids and crickets during their mating season bring about some liveliness to the calm silence of the land.
The common reptiles in the Park include snakes such as Sauter’s watersnake, Taiwan kukri snake,checkered keelback and Buff Striped keelback; for venomous snakes, the common species are Chinese green tree viper, Taiwan habu and Chinese cobra. Since there is an abundance of snake species, visitors should take precautions and watch for their own safety. Lizards in the park include yellow-mouthed japalura, the Indian forest skink and five-striped blue-tailed skink which are often seen in the undergrowth. In the summer evenings or during raining days, amphibians like the tree frogs, Ranidaes (true frogs), toads and ornate chorus frogs can be found on trails, water spots, forests and bushes. Some of the more abundant and widely distributed species in the Park are the rice field frogs, long-legged frogs, Taipei tree frogs and central Formosan toads.
The abundant rainfall and excellent water quality in the Park provided important habitats for the endemic fish and crustacean species of northern Taiwan. Most fish belong to the Gobiidae family, followed by Cyprinidae (minnows and carps); all crab species are endemic to Taiwan and consist mainly of freshwater crab Potamidaes. The common freshwater shrimps are the Caridina formosae and Macrobrachium.
The Park is also home to medium and small-sized mammals like Formosan macaque, Formosan wild boar, Formosan hare, red-bellied squirrel, masked palm civet, Chinese ferret-badger, Reeve’s muntjac and Formosan mole. Despite interference from human activities, rare protected species like Formosan pangolins and small Indian civets also call the Park their home. The abundance and diversity of mammals are highest around the areas of Mt. Huangzui and Lujiaokeng.