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Bird Watching in Malaysia

Malaysia Bird Watching

As Bird Watching in Malaysia is growing, more birders are heading here in recent years to spot some of the beautiful and endemic birds of this tropical country.

Over the years, niche tourism players have also been actively promoting Malaysia as a bird-watching destination, and with good response.

Bird Watching in Malaysia

Malaysia is home to over 795 species of tropical birds which can be found at many different types of terrains. The birds are mainly found in lowland rainforest, montane areas, swamps and also water birds by the sea.

Local bird-watchers have also doubled in numbers in the last five years, due to the ongoing publicity done by various tourism departments and NGOs.

Some states in Malaysia have also taken the initiative to promote birding as one of the activities, namely Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, and Langkawi.

Malaysia, a Bird Watching Paradise 

Tourism Malaysia has also put in the initiative to promote bird watching in Malaysia and in 2015, they conducted a closed-door seminar with industry players at an event called 'Malaysia, a Preferred Birding Destination'.

This seminar was concluded at a hotel in Cyberjaya with tourism boards, tourism players and birding enthusiasts which focused on elevating the niche interest as one of the main niche tourism attractions in Malaysia.

The birding seminar also brought together some 100 participants comprising government officers from;

  • Ministry of Tourism and Culture
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Tourism Malaysia
  • Forestry Department
  • Department of Wildlife and National Parks
  • Tourism promotions boards
  • Researchers and academicians
  • Nature and birding societies
  • Nature guides
  • Travel agents
  • Nature photographers
Malaysia, a Preferred Bird Watching Destination'
Birders in action during a bird race in Sabah recently
YB Dato’ Sri Maznah Mazlan, who launched the Birding in Malaysia seminar said, 
“This seminar is a great start to combine the efforts of all stakeholders and bird experts together to identify the strategies to make Malaysia a preferred birding destination.
I look forward to seeing all parties working together to elevate Malaysia’s birding destinations into a world-class destination.
This is an effort that requires the combined effort of all, such as the private sector, the academicians, associations, volunteers and the community.”
Tourism Malaysia, a Preferred Birding Destination
Encik Jefri Munir having a group discussion with birders
Over the two days of the birding seminar, the mixed group got together to share experiences and best practices, impart knowledge on birding and propose specific ideas on how to develop and market the niche interest in terms of identifying marketable birding areas for tourists.

Also discussed was documenting the inventory of birds in Malaysia, developing the human resource to support birding tourism, proposing an entity and blueprint to push the birding agenda forward, and marketing and promotional strategies.

Malaysia Bird Watching Tourism
Japanese Birders in Malaysia
Why is Malaysia perfect for Bird Watching? 

As the country is located in the tropical zone, Malaysia is blessed with an abundance of amazing biodiversity offering natural assets of virgin jungles, beautiful islands, cool highlands and a pristine rainforest that come together to provide the perfect habitat and ecosystem for birds and also wildlife. 

As for birding in Malaysia. the country lies on the path of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network Site which provides strategic and important resting sites for migratory birds flying between wintering sites in Southeast Asia and Australia and the breeding grounds in China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Siberia.

Bako Buntal Bay in Sarawak also recently became the first site in Malaysia to be officially recognized within the flyway network.  

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) has identified 55 Important Bird Areas in Malaysia, areas that are internationally recognized for biodiversity conservation.

A total of 795 species of birds have been recorded in Malaysia with over 60 species considered as endemic birds, many of them found equally in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia. 

The diverse bird population combined with the wonderful scenery, bustling cities and friendly people make any visit to Malaysia an unforgettable experience especially for first-timer birders and also not forgetting the seasoned veterans.

Some international birders have been known to come back yearly to spot some of the endemic birds too.

Bird Watching Destinations in Malaysia

Overall, there are a number of notable bird-watching destinations found all over Malaysia which includes Malaysia Borneo.

Sabah would be the forerunner in this as the northernmost state of Borneo Malaysia has been actively promoting bird watching for the last 30 years.

  • Danum Valley
  • Kinabatangan River
  • Maliau Basin
  • Kinabalu National Park
  • Crocker Range National Park
  • Kota Kinabalu Wetlands
  • Bako National Park
  • Borneo Highlands
  • Mulu National Park
  • Paya Maga
  • Bakelalan
  • Bario 
  • Fraser's Hill
  • Cameron Highlands
  • Awana, Genting Highlands
  • Taman Negara
  • Cherating
  • Langkawi GeoPark
  • Datai
Negeri Sembilan
  • Tanjung Tuan
  • Matang Forest Reserve
  • Kuala Kubu Baru
  • Kuala Selangor
  • Putrajaya
Other states around Malaysia also provide great places for bird watching, but they are more specialized and require knowledgeable bird guides.

Bird watchers can do this by booking a specialized trip with selective bird tour companies in Malaysia.

One of the newly discovered bird-watching spots in Malaysia is also the Hornbill Valley or Lembah Enggang, located just outside of Taman Negara.

Quite a number of bird species were spotted here, namely a few species of hornbills and other endemic birds.

Bird Festivals in Malaysia

There are numerous bird-watching festivals and events held all over Malaysia, and some of them are held on a yearly basis.

The most popular festivals include the Borneo Bird Festival, Wings of KKB and Fraser's Hill Bird Race.

Other events tend to be more nature-related or bird count events which also take place on a yearly basis.

To find out more, see this list of bird watching events in Malaysia as it provides an almost complete list.

Borneo Bird Race

Malaysia's premier bird race that was organized by the people in Sabah saw 11 countries participating in a bird race that traveled to three regions in Borneo.

The race is also held every few years and is extremely niche as it takes almost two weeks for the entire circuit.

Below are various photos of bird watchers in Malaysia during the Borneo Bird Race, which took participants throughout the stunning island of Borneo.

Participants visited bird watching locations in Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei during this exclusive birding event.

For anyone who is interested, you can get more information from this article on what is the Borneo Bird Race all about.

International birders in Malaysia
A group of international bird watchers in Malaysia
Bird Watching Tourism Malaysia
Bird watchers in action
Indian birders in Malaysia
Birders from India in Malaysia
Malaysia Birding
One of the Malaysian birds photographed
Bird Watching Malaysia
Hong Kong birders check out another bird watcher's photograph
Birdwatching in Malaysia
Birders in action in Malaysia
Japanese Birders in Malaysia
Japanese Bird Watchers in Malaysia
Malaysia bird watching guides
Some of the best bird watching guides in Malaysia
Malaysia Bird watching Equipment
Bird watching equipment in Malaysia
Malaysia Omicron
Omicron is one of the preferred bird watching binoculars in Malaysia
Currently, thousands of birders or bird watchers have been visiting Malaysia, especially over in the state of Sabah Borneo as bird watching in Borneo is growing at a face pace.

Sabah is also the only state in Malaysia that is highly engaged in birding tourism for Malaysia where it has been promoted aggressively.  

In recent years, the number of international bird watchers from East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and China and also birders from India, have been visiting Malaysia Borneo frequently for the bird festival and bird races.


You can also check my list of best bird watching places in Malaysia as I compiled it based on the commercial areas that are tourist-friendly.

The above compilation is recommended for the serious birders and also for the new birders that want to visit Malaysia.

Over the last five years, this outdoor hobby has grown tremendously around the country, and right now, this is the perfect moment to overall promote bird watching in Malaysia to the world. 

1 comment

Travel Bottles said...

Bird Watching in Malaysia is a famous attraction yourself must see! It can be the first time you will able to see different and one of a kind species of birds.