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I've seen this humorous sign warning drivers to keep an eye out for birds many times, but today I finally realized what it's talking about!

This is a large bird and I've seen it all around Taipei in gardens and green areas. It's not shy of people unless you get too close.

I'd guess it's about 30 cm tall when standing upright, but it often is bend down looking for things to eat. It takes one step at a time, sometimes very slowly, and it's head moves out-of-synch with its body as it hunts for food. I am not sure if it can fly, I've only seen it on the ground, and I've never heard it make a sound.

It's various shades of brown and tan, and just like the cartoon on the sign it has long feathers projecting backwards from its head. That can be seen in the center top of the photo montage.

Any idea what kind of bird this is?

These are cell-phone photos from the closest I could get without it getting nervous.

enter image description here

enter image description here

"Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life" Oscar Wilde

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  • $\begingroup$ Does anyone know what the sign says? $\endgroup$ – CDspace Jun 14 '18 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ @CDspace I don't have an official translation, but I'm told it doesn't match the humor of the drawing, and says something like "animal crossing; slow speed, pass slowly". $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 14 '18 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, I see it now. The bird is in the foreground, and not Godzilla size picking up the car $\endgroup$ – CDspace Jun 14 '18 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @CDspace actually I believe it's meant to look huge. That's the style of warning signs here, often a little humorous and cartoonish to catch your eyes and not to appear too authoritative. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 14 '18 at 16:05
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I am fairly certain that this is a Malayan Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus).

Taiwan is listed as one of the countries where the Malayan night heron can be found. Its diet consists of small reptiles, snails, chilopods, arachnids, crabs and insects. This would explain why you have observed it bend down a lot to look for food.

Needless to say you can find more information in the corresponding Wikipedia article.

Here a photo with better resolution: Photo by: Pete Morris/Birdquest

Photo by: Pete Morris/Birdquest

In addition, here is a link to a video taken in Taiwan. Does this remind you of the bird that you saw?

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a great photo, yes this certainly looks just like it, thanks! Okay I'll give the article and video a look. Tis one and the one in the video are a little darker than the ones here but that could just be regional variations. Southern Taiwan has some differences in flora and fauna. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 14 '18 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ You are welcome. I agree, it could well be that there are regional variations or that males looks slightly different to females (sexual dimorphism). $\endgroup$ – Johnny Jun 14 '18 at 14:44

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