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Birding Malaysia

Malaysia has a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s major birding destinations. Well over 800 species of birds have been recorded in Peninsular and Bornean Malaysia. This richness of birds combined with the wonderful scenery and friendly people makes any visit an unforgettable experience for the birder, whether first timer or veteran. Moreover, the mainland infrastructure is modern so transport across country is trouble free. For the intrepid, there are many endemic species to go after (most in Borneo and just a few in the Peninsular). This entails a visit combining sites in Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. There are separate pages for the Peninsular and for Borneo and one for the Kuala Lumpur area for those who are passing through and only have a day or too to spend there.

A typical itinerary covers two-three weeks and usually takes in the montane forest species of Fraser’s Hill and the lowland forest species of Taman Negara National Park and Gombak before jetting across to Borneo for the mossy forest species in Kinabalu National park and the lowland forest species of Danum Valley or Kinabatangan River. Over 300 species can be seen if taking this option and commonly encountered birds include such gems as Rhinoceros Hornbill, Red-naped Trogon, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Garnet and Banded Pittas and several babbler, bulbul and sunbird species. In Borneo, savour the endemics like Crimson-headed Partridge, Bornean Barbet, White-fronted Falconet, Whitehead’s Broadbill, Bornean Bristlehead, Blue-headed Pitta and Whitehead’s Spiderhunter.

For those with only a couple of days to spare, there are accessible sights near Kuala Lumpur (Gombak); Malaysia’s Capital City, and Singapore (Panti Forest Reserve). And don’t forget the cultural and food attractions!I have found it hard to get a definitive list of Malaysian endemics – numbers ranging from 4 to 60! The confusion arises from Borneo. The Malaysian mainland does have as few as two endemics… although there is no agreement on this and Borneo as a whole as many as 58 but the Malaysian parts of Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) have far fewer.

  • Lim Kim Seng and Lim Seng Chuah


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 823

    (As at February 2019)
  • See Sabah & Sarawak page for Borneo endemics and Peninsular Malaysia for endemics to mainland only

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Handbook of Important Bird Areas in Malaysia

    | By Yeap Chin Aik, Anthony C Sebastian & GWH Davison | Malaysian Nature Society | 2005 | Paperback | 94 pages, Coour photos, tables, maps | ISBN: 9789839681239 Buy this book from
  • A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Malaysia Including Sabah and Sarawak

    | By Geoffrey WH Davidson & Yeap Chin Aik | John Beaufoy Books | 2018 | Edition 3 | Paperback | 176 pages, 300 colour photos, 2 colour maps | ISBN: 9781912081639 Buy this book from
  • Malaysian Nature Society

    For Malaysia’s natural heritage and rich biological diversity to be effectively protected, managed and conserved for the benefit and appreciation of all Malaysians.

Abbreviations Key

  • Malaysias National Parks & Preserves

    WebsiteSatellite View
    It would be difficult to overstate the attraction of Malaysia for anyone who appreciates the natural world. Its primal forests, ranging from shoreline mangrove to mountaintop oak, are of the sort that most of the world now knows only in myth. Although Malaysia`s size is similar to that of Norway, natural trees and forests cover almost three quarters of the land, an area equivalent to almost the entire United Kingdom. One can walk for hundreds of miles in Malaysia under a continuous canopy of green, marveling at an abundance of plant and animal species equaled by no other location in the entire world.
  • Sungai Tekala Recreational Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    Sungai Tekala Recreation Forest is a charming picnic spot located at the southern most end of the Park, near the Semenyih Dam, in Hulu Langat. The site is famous for the lovely river, Sungai Tekala, that flows through the site, and for the magnificent forest that surrounds it.
  • Wetlands

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Malaysia presently has 7 sites designated as a Wetland of International Importance…
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Bird Malaysia

    Tour Operator
    With over 20 years experience, Bird Malaysia offers the best spots and time for birds and the best accommodation for our fellow birders…
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Peninsular Malaysia – with over 700 bird species and home to amazingly rich Dipterocarp forests, among the world's oldest, most fascinating and most diverse. Walk along gently graded forest trails among towering rainforest trees, take boat rides along shaded waterways, and relax in cool montane surroundings.
  • Jungle Walla

    Tour Operator
    Malaysia Birdwatching & Wildlife Holidays - Northern Malay Peninsula is one of the most diverse bio-geographical regions on earth. Some 640species of resident avifauna, including 120 common migrant, birds to be found in Peninsular Malaysia.
  • Rockjumper Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    Our tour visits some of the world’s most famous birding sites, including Fraser’s Hill, the grand Taman Negara National Park, Danum Valley and the fabled Mt. Kinabalu. A rich mix of typical Southeast Asian birds, peninsular Malaysian specialties and Bornean endemics combine to make this a truly fantastic birding adventure.
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2013 [03 March] - Andy Walker

    …This was my first ‘proper’ birding trip to Malaysia. I’d visited Borneo in about 2007 and Indiain about 2009 so I was familiar with some of the birds but neither of these trips werespecifically for birding but obviously I saw as much as I could. I recorded about 320 species(I probably missed some species due to not knowing all the calls too); the following aresome of my highlights…
  • 2013 [09 September] - Mike Nelson

    …We also spent some time around some hill forest near Taiping at Bukit Larut where we picked up Purple-naped Sunbird, Grey-and-buff Woodpecker, Tiger Shrike, Large Woodshrike, Yellow-bellied Erpornis, Verditer Flycatcher, Changeable Hawk-Eagle and Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker…
  • 2015 [03 March] - Bruce Wedderburn - Peninsular Malaysia & Central Thailand

    Saw many interesting birds including brief views of Crestless Fireback, six Crested Partridge, Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Banded Woodpecker, Maroon Woodpecker, Buff-necked Woodpecker, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Black-and-red Broadbill, Rufous-winged Philentoma, Lesser Green Leafbird, Ochraceous Bulbul, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Rufous-crowned Babbler and Asian Fairy-bluebird.
  • 2015 [07 July] - Rob Gordjin

    PDF Report
    ...Birding along the roads is perfect for flock birding, especially a full day along the old road was good. We found thetrails easy but very quiet, especially Hemnant. We started every morning before dawn to try for the whistling thrush. Two times at the spot mentioned by Collaerts and once at the old gate. No Whistling Trush but these early light moments were good for species like Pygmy Wren-babbler, Rufous-browed Flycatcher and Large Niltava. Spotcollaerts: between Shazan inn & paddock: around the middle picnic area with some small streams on the right-hand side of the road.
  • 2016 [06 June] - Rich Lindie

    PDF Report
    …We then left the wetland and drove directly to the town of Kuala Selangor, where our first stop was Taman Alam. There, among the mangroves and coastal forest, we picked up a Lineated Barbet without much trouble, several Olive-winged Bulbuls, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Brown-throated Sunbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Malaysian Pied Fantail and Common Flameback, among others. We then checked into our hotel before popping to town for a riverside lunch in the company of our first Pacific Swallows.…
  • 2018 [06 June] - Mark S,miles

    PDF Report
    With the end of Ramadan bringing the possibility of an extended weekend in Dubai, where I am based, this was a short solo trip aimed at targeting a few (usually elusive) species at well-known stakeouts as well as an opportunity to enjoy some excellent and easy SE Asian birding and escape the extreme summer heat of the UAE. On the latter score, it really was a case of out of the frying pan and into the steamer...
  • 2018 [07 July] - Ken Behrens - Borneo

    PDF Report
    Borneo lies in one of the biologically richest areas on Earth – the Asian equivalent of Costa Rica or Ecuador. It holds many widespread Asian birds, plus a diverse set of birds that are restricted to the Sunda region (southern Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo), and dozens of its own endemic birds and mammals.
  • 2018 [07 July] - Wilbur Goh - Peninsular Malaysia

    PDF Report
    We started the tour with some birding in Kuala Selangor Nature Park and its surroundings for the common birds of the parks and gardens before making our way up to the hills, firstly in Bukit Tinggi followed by Bukit Fraser for the montane species and finally to the steamy lowlands of Malaysia’s largest national park, Taman Negara where some of the best Sundaic species are found.
  • 2018 [08 August] - Wilbur Goh - Peninsular Malaysia

    PDF Report
    This two-week tour was designed to discover some new bird families and to see as many species as possible at a leisurely pace. We started off down the south of the Peninsular in Panti and its nearby peat-swamp forest where we scored Rail-babbler, Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker and Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon before a drive north to Bukit Tinggi for their now famous feeding site that attracts a Mountain Peacock Pheasant, then to the cool highlands of Bukit Fraser...
  • 2018 [11 November] - Wilbur Goh - Peninsular Malaysia

    PDF Report
    The tour started in the south, visiting Panti Forest and the last few remaining peat-swamp forest in the mainland, followed by a short stay in Kuala Selangor Nature Park on the west coast, then continued to the massive Taman Negara National Park...
  • 2019 [02 February] - Wilbur Goh - Peninsular Malaysia

    PDF Report
    Our first Peninsular Malaysia tour of 2019, this was a similar set up to last year’s itinerary, focusing heavily on the two main sites, birding the cool forested roads of Fraser’s Hill and the hot-and-humid closed-canopy forest trails of Taman Negara, adding a few stops along the route to pick up additional species (and an exciting last minute twitch!)....
  • 2019 [05 May] - Wilbur Goh - Peninsular Malaysia

    PDF Report
    This tour took us to three main sites, firstly to the hills of Bukit Tinggi for its now famous stakeout, secondly to Taman Negara for the lowland gems of the rainforest and finally ending in Fraser’s Hill for the montane species. The weather was generally wetter than usual though it didn’t eat too much into our birding time. Highlights were many and included Mountain Peacock Pheasant, Malayan (Crested) Fireback, Large Green Pigeon, Bock’s Hawk Cuckoo, Large and Gould’s Frogmouths, four species of trogons, White-crowned and Wrinkled Hornbills, Fire-tufted Barbet, Rufous-collared and Blue-banded Kingfishers, all but one of the broadbills that occur here, Malayan Banded and Garnet Pittas, Straw-headed Bulbul, White-necked Babbler, Blue Nuthatch, Malayan Whistling-thrush and Chestnut-naped Forktail, to name a few. In total, we recorded 212 species of birds with 10 species heard only.
  • 2019 [06 June] - Phil Chaon

    PDF Report
    Perhaps the quintessential birding destination in South-east Asia, Peninsular Malaysia has something to offer for everyone. With a good variety of classic South-east Asian avifauna and a good slice of Sundaic and Peninsular endemics, there are new and exciting species for first timers and veterans alike. The itinerary offers a great balance of the mind-boggling diversity of the lowlands and the non-stop mixed flock action of the mountainous regions.
  • 2019 [08 August] - Sam Woods

    PDF Report
    Borneo. This large, Southeast Asian island has a kudos all of its own. It maintains a huge, longstanding appeal for both first time visitors to the region, and experienced birding travelers too, making it one of the most popular choices of Asian birding destinations.
  • 2019 [08 August] - Wilbur Goh - Peninsular Malaysia

    PDF Report
    We first visited a patch of mangroves close to the northern city of Penang where we found Streak-breasted Woodpecker without much difficulty, then proceeded to the forests on the northwestern tip of Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand, with the highlight of seeing 764 Plain-pouched Hornbills flying back to their roosting sites, plus Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Large Wren Babbler, White-necked Babbler, and two tricky owls; White-fronted and Reddish. Scops Owls.
  • 2023 [03 March] - Bill Simpson

    PDF Report
    I always wanted to do a slow, winter South East Asia trip when I retired and this was the ideal time to do one with gas and electricity prices soaring at home. Add to that a potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance of Bulwer’s Pheasant and Bornean Peacock-Pheasant and it was all too good to miss
Other Links
  • Birding in Malaysia

    Image database, reports etc
  • Singing Bird Collection

    Tentang burung kicauan
  • Bird Watching Asia

    Bird Watching Asia is an independent and private website and blog created to share news and information about bird watching around Malaysia and Asia. I am based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I am not a bird watching tour company or bird guide.
  • Dig Deep

    Terrific photos and info… but I wish he would give his location and contact details!
  • Kamal Muda - Malayan Paradise

    Malayan Paradise bird photography blog. I am blessed to see a large variety of birds year round in my country, Malaysia. With its rich bio-diversity, there are more than 741 species of birds in Malaysia…
  • Mike Birder

    Mike is the name Birding is the game (Malaysian birds in photos) - Welcome to my Malaysian Birding Blog. My blog showcases my sightings of Malaysian bird in my lifetime - countdown to 668 species and beyond…
  • Sulaiman Salikan - Birds of Malaysia

    Enjoy the a large variety of colorful birds images from Malaysia all year round…
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - C S Ling

    Many very fine images from all over S E Asia

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