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Birding Events in Malaysia

Malaysia Bird Watching Events

As birdwatching in Malaysia is growing, several birding events in Malaysia are available throughout the country. These events and festivals occur at different times of the year and do not clash, making it feasible for bird watchers to attend them all.

Malaysia is home to over 1000 species of birds which range in all conditions making it one of the up-and-coming prime destinations for birding. Birders can choose different areas ranging from coastal, montane, rainforest and lowland to spot birds here. Several Important Birding Areas or IBAs are also found all over Malaysia.

Many tour companies also specialize in birding and photography tours throughout Malaysia, making it easy for birdwatchers and bird photographers to move around. 

List of Birding Events in Malaysia
  • Raptor Watch at Port Dickson
  • Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest in Terengganu
  • Wings of KKB at Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor
  • Fraser's Hill International Bird Race
  • Borneo Bird Festival in Sabah
  • Sarawak International Bird Race
  • Taman Negara Bird Count
  • Pesta Sayap Kuala Selangor
  • Taiping Raptor Watch

Raptor Watch Tanjung Tuan
Malaysia Raptor Watch
Raptor Watch at Port Dickson

Held at the Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse in Melaka, the Raptor Watch is a one-day event that will see the migratory raptors on their journey from the northern hemisphere via the East Asian Flyway.

The location is also part of a Tanjung Tuan National Park, which borders two states, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.

This birdwatching event is suitable for anyone who loves spotting raptors as there are easily over 12 types of raptors seen during the Raptor Watch here.

It used to be a two-day event but was cut to one day due to budget cuts. The event has been going on for many years now, but many people have found the event not as exciting anymore, and new concepts or ideas need to be introduced to bring this event to the next level.

Raptor Watch
Date: March
Day: Saturday
Time: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
Info: https://mnsraptorwatch.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/raptor-watch-2017/

Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest 2016
Kenyir Bird Nature Quest
Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest in Terengganu

The Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest focus on the majestic Lake Kenyir, namely the Terengganu state area, and include talks on wildlife in the Kenyir area.

Topics covered include Hornbills, Owls, Using Field Guides, Bird Photography, Camera Traps, Mammals of Kenyir and Elephant Tracking, organized by the Malaysia Nature Society of Terengganu.

For bird watchers, there are over 290 species of birds that can be seen here, and the highlight is that 9 out of the 10 hornbill species in Malaysia are also found here.

Another unusual spotting is the world's fastest eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, which can be seen here, provided you are lucky.

Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest
Date: March
Location: Kenyir Lake Resort and Spa

Selangor Bird Race
Wings of KKB
Wings of KKB at Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor

The Wings of KKB, or Selangor Bird Race event, is organized by Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor (MDHS Council) and supported by Tourism Malaysia with a clear mission to cultivate the appreciation of nature, especially among schoolchildren.

The general area is also part of the Important Bird Area (IBA), and rare birds such as the Marbled Wren-Babbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Large Niltava, Silver-Breasted Broadbills, and three hornbills are, namely Rhinoceros, Great and Bushy Crested can be spotted here.

Participants go through 10 different checkpoints starting from the charming town of Kuala Kubu Baru, past the Kalumpung Hot Springs and ending at the Genting Highlands Awana Resort.

Among the types of birds spotted here are the garden, hot spring, waterfall, and montane.

This is another council and state-level organization that needs to be privatized for this event to grow to an international level. 

Wings of KKB
Date: April
Location: Kuala Kubu Baru, Awana Genting


Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race
Fraser's Hill International Bird Race
Fraser's Hill International Bird Race  

Usually in May and held in the quiet and beautiful colonial town of Fraser's Hill or Bukit Fraser in Pahang. It is a 2-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and uphill too. The weather is cooling with lots of montane birds to spot, and great for beginners or family birders.

The last Fraser's Hill Bird Race in 2015 saw 44 teams, with some international participants from Singapore and Cambodia.

Birders raced around the main IBA of Fraser's Hill, spotting over 260 species of montane birds here.

The event is organized by NGOs and the state tourism board, which still needs great improvements. A protocol is still observed due to the involvement of the state.

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race
Date: February
Time: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm


2015 Borneo Bird Festival
Borneo Bird Festival
Borneo Bird Festival in Sabah

The Borneo Bird Festival is the main birding event held in Sabah Borneo and has been done for the last nine years since 2009. This event showcases the endemic birds found around the various places of Sabah.

The birding event is also known as one of Malaysia's most professional organized bird festivals. It is managed by the Borneo Bird Club and supported by various government agencies and the Sabah Tourism Board.

This 3-day event sees over 3000 people attending the festival and a massive number of birders and bird watchers from all over.

Special talks are conducted by birding authorities, while bird races and bird photography contests are organized. Several birding equipment companies also showcase new birding products like cameras, binoculars, scopes and so on.

Borneo Bird Festival
Date: October
Venue: Crocker Range National Park, Kota Kinabalu, Mount Kinabalu or Sandakan in Sabah

Sarawak International Bird Race
Sarawak Bird Race
Sarawak International Bird Race

A new addition to the list of Birding events in Malaysia, Sarawak has learned much from neighbour Sabah and started their own Sarawak Birding Event called the Sarawak International Bird Race.

The first Sarawak bird race occurred in 2015, when around 10 teams participated. The second race in 2016 saw three international teams participating with the local teams and exploring three main birding areas in Sarawak.

There are no details for the next race as of writing this, but many are excited to see where the Sarawak Bird Race 2017 will take its participants.

Hopefully, to the north of Sarawak in the areas of Mulu, Lawas or even Paya Maga Highlands? Well, we look forward to the news on this.

Sarawak International Bird Race
Date: August
Venue: Around Sarawak

Bird Race Borneo
Borneo Bird Race
Borneo Bird Race at Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei

The most prestigious bird race in Malaysia is the Borneo Bird Race, which takes international participants across three states and two countries on the island of Borneo.

Birders will race over 1000 kilometres across Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei in search of over 400 species of birds in various types of locations.

The Borneo Bird Race has also brought birding to the next level here in Borneo as the cross participation among the three states gives birders a chance to also explore the culture and heritage of these places apart from bird watching. This is now the premier birding event in Borneo too.

*Update September 2018 - The Borneo Bird Race is observing a break from 2015 and 2018, pending official sponsors and participation from other countries.

Borneo Bird Race 
Date: Unconfirmed
Locations: Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei

Taman Negara Bird Race 2015
Taman Negara Bird Count
Taman Negara Bird Count

The Taman Negara Bird Count is usually held at the Kuala Tahan National Park, which is also one of the tourist destinations for bird enthusiasts from around the world.

In total, 250 species of birds have been identified within the National Park area. The vision is to make the Kuala Tahan National Park an 'Important Bird Area' (IBA) in time to come, complementing Fraser's Hill, Sabah, and Genting Highlands.

Previously, this event was known as the Taman Negara Bird Race but was re-branded as a bird count event. It was held at the end of the year, but the event saw many problems and delays due to the monsoon and floods during this time.

For 2017, they have decided to bring it earlier in the year. The event still needs professional organization for it to grow to an international level.

Taman Negara Bird Race
Date: March
Locations: Kuala Tahan National Park, Pahang

Pesta Sayap 2015
Pesta Sayap Kuala Selangor
Pesta Sayap Kuala Selangor (Festival of Wings)

Known as the Festival of Wings, this birding event is organized by the Malaysia Nature Society or MNS with the support of the Kuala Selangor District Council (MDKS) and the Selangor State Government.

Pesta Sayap also sees dozens of species flying from their wintering homes, crossing seas and continents to warmer climates. Besides birds, visitors also see fireflies and many species of butterflies at Kuala Selangor.

The Pesta Sayap's objective is to promote the importance of birds as a biological indicator for earth health and awareness of the environment, as well as promote the nature park as an eco-tourism destination here at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park.

In most cases, the actual information on the date will only come out last minute. Don't ask me why, but it has been like that for many events in Malaysia.

Pesta Sayap
Date: October
Time: 7.00 am to 5.00 pm
Venue: Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP)

Festival Helang Taiping
Taiping Raptor Watch Festival
Taiping Raptor Watch

The Taiping Raptor Watch or Festival takes place in the town of Taiping in Perak. At the event, you will find a mini-exhibition and audio-video presentation on raptors, birds, and nature.

Nature-related merchandise will also be on sale while unique mangroves and firefly tours are available. The raptor watching takes place at Scott's Hill in Taiping, Perak.

However, anyone interested should double check the dates for this birding event. Suitable for beginners, families, and anyone who loves raptors. 

Taiping Raptor Watch Festival
Date: October
Time: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Location: Taiping Town and Scott's Hill

Malaysia Omicron Binoculars
My birdwatching binoculars

Bird Watching Malaysia
Birders in action

The above are just the main birding events and festivals held in Malaysia, and many smaller events take place locally.

I also have a more specific birdwatching website called Bird Watching Asia, which is only about birding in Malaysia. I will eventually expand this to Southeast Asia and Greater Asia.

Most of them are organized by the birding clubs in Malaysia, and a number of them are over in Sabah Borneo due to the rise of bird watching in Borneo by the various clubs.

Conclusion

Overall, Bird Watching in Malaysia is growing quickly due to more awareness of this niche hobby. NGOs, camera makers, and bird clubs are one of the main contributors as well.

If any other birding events are missed, please let me know by contacting me here, and I will update the list.

Otherwise, see you at some birdwatching events in Malaysia, as I make it a point to attend most of them. 

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