Bird Watching in Malaysia

Hundreds of bird species await you in Malaysia’s tropical climate all-year round. You’ll get a chance to see the birds flying in the open space without boundaries. The moss covered mountain ranges in Peninsular has more than 600 rare bird species while Borneo consists of over 580 species. Hence, a number of foreigners aka bird watchers visit Malaysia yearly solely for the bird watching.

Malaysia perfect for bird-watching

The diversity of habitats available around Malaysia including mountain forests, lowland forests and mangrove forests enable over thousand of bird species breed in the country. Bird watching is not only suitable for nature lovers as the activity is deemed interactive and educational for families. Those who participate in bird watching are required to scan the blue dotted skies and dense forests for birds.

Rare species are available only at certain spots

Of course, you’ll have to spend days to discover the rare species of birds as endemics can be found almost in specific locations only. For example, Malayan Whistling Thrush can only be found in Peninsular while Borneo Blue Flycatcher and Yellow-Rumped Flower Pecker are only available in Sabah.

Unique species

Other unique species such as Mountain peacock-Pheasent and Mountain Blackeye can be found in cool and moist climates especially on high altitude sections. But perhaps, the best site for bird watching is lowland forests as it is dubbed as the most extensive habitat for over 200 birds. Along lowland freshwater swamp, you’ll discover Storm’s Stock and Green Imperial Pigeon. Meanwhile, mangrove forest is an ideal site to spot Common Kingfisher. Therefore, nature lovers are advised to visit several ecological zones to experience variation of birdlife.

Popular Places for bird watching

Among some of the popular bird watching sites in Malaysia are:

  1. Maxwell Hill (more commonly known as Bukit Larut)
  2. Kuala Selangor Nature Park
  3. Taman Negara
  4. Kinabalu Park
  5. Bako National Park
  6. Gunung Mulu National Park
  7. and plenty more.

Tips for amateurs

For the amateur bird-watcher, remember to include three must-visit bird watching sites in your trip itinerary – Fraser’s Hill, Cameron Highlands and Kuala Selangor Nature Park (mentioned earlier). Easily accessible by bus or car, for those who plan to spend the night in these popular sites can choose from wide range of inexpensive and luxury accommodations available. But the best bird watching experience is in Taman Negara.

The best time for bird watching

The best time to visit Peninsular Malaysia for bird watching is from January to August while one is advised to avoid from visiting Sabah and Sarawak during October to February as rain usually falls heaviest within these few months. Reminder for first-time bird watchers, it is prohibited to disturb, hunt, shoot or harass the birds as the birds are subjected to Protection of Wild Life Act 1972 in Peninsula Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak have different set of acts to protect these birds. Perhaps, you shall check with guides or tour agent before venturing into the dense forests for bird watching activities.

Here are some basic practical bird watching tips for avid amateurs – remember to bring along a pair of binoculars to identify the flying birds in blue dotted skies. You may also purchase a field guidebook before organizing your trip to selected national parks in order to help you determine the different species of birds. To ensure you have an educational and rewarding trip, jot down your observations in a notebook.


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