The beauty of birds of Malaysia ... ahhh... they are so hauntingly spectacular that they sometimes turn simple humans into "birdnuts" forever.
Birdnuts? Well, I'm actually referring to the bird-watchers and bird-photographers of Malaysia, and yes, generally the birding community of the world.
These birders are, to my mind, really a special and honorable breed of humans who had been spellbound, bewitched and hooked by the beauty, variety and attractiveness of the God-created bird fauna of the world.
They, indeed, will go on to seek and find one "lifer" after another, even going to difficult and far away places to find other avian species they have not sighted or captured in camera.
Oh, enough chatter, I”m digressing...
Being blessed with a tropical climate, the birds of Malaysia can be found in their natural habitats, widely ranging from the lush lowlands and montane rain-forests to islands, mangrove coasts and sea beaches.
With its many designated national and state parks, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational nature parks, Malaysia is therefore an ideal destination for bird-watchers and bird-photographers of the world to enjoy the sight of tropical birds in their natural surroundings.
The Malaysian Nature Society organises the Festival of Wings (Pesta Sayap) at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, and also the annual Raptor Watch at Tanjung Tuan, Negeri Sembilan, to observe thousands of migrating raptors crossing the Straits of Malacca during the migrating season between February and April.
And normally in June every year, since 2001, there is an International Bird Race held at Fraser's Hill in the state of Pahang.
Bird Species in Malaysia
With its rich bio-diversity, there are more than 742 species of the birds of Malaysia, belonging to 85 families. They range from the endemic and resident to migratory and vagrants.
Peninsular Malaysia has a total of 644 species with 4 endemics, while Sabah has 568 species with 4 endemics, and Sarawak with 550 species, with 3 endemics. In fact Malaysia ranks among the 17 diverse countries which contain about 70% of the world's species.
Check this link for the best books and field guides on the birds of Malaysia.
Where to Find Birds in Malaysia
While there are many species of the common birds in the backyards of towns and urban areas, the more interesting species of the birds of Malaysia can be especially found thriving in the rural jungle and designated nature parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and at the coastal areas.
Generally, different species will be found at different elevation and geographical habitats. So usually different birds will be found at hilly and montane forests, compared to lowland forests, or at the coastal and open habitats.
In fact, bird-watchers and photographers in Malaysia can choose from the exotic coastal beaches like Penang, Langkawi, Tioman, Sipadan, Layang-layang and other islands, or the lush lowland rainforest of Taman Negara, Endau-Rompin, Mulu National Park and Danum Valley, or to the cool montane forests of Fraser's Hill, Cameron Highlands and Kinabalu Park.
Of course birds have their own characters too. Some are shy and very elusive, some are not so afraid of people, while there are others that actually like to "pose” for humans.
But sadly, as the humankind has been known to be killers of birds, they will instinctively fly some distance away when humans are around.
A bird paradise nation with so many varieties of attractive avifauna, it is expected that, like other cultures, there are many Malay folk-tales, folk-lores and mythical beliefs on some of the birds.
The Malay folk-tales on these flying creatures, among others, usually depict their innate cleverness, and on why they act or do in a certain way.
For instance, there are folk-tales on the reason why weaver birds build their nests low. Or why the woodpecker flies high and low, or how the woodpecker got its crest.
Interesting, isn't it?
Observing and capturing photos of the birds of Malaysia are really not just for the bird-nuts, but for all nature lovers.
Everyone, young and old, can be entertained and will be delighted not only by the colorful sight, but also by the melodious songs, of these God-created flying creatures.
There seems to be always a certain calmness and peaceful feeling mixed with wonder and excitement when we observe them, whether they are perched on a tree or while they are flying.
Well, birders, especially, will definitely find this country an amazing paradise for bird-watching and bird-photography because of the incredible diversity and enchanting beauty of the avian species here.
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Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (God) Most Gracious: truly it is He that watches all things.