Birdwatching in Malaysia

Story and photos by Nic Falconer |

With almost 30 percent of the world’s bird species having a home in Malaysia, it’s no wonder bird-watchers are flocking here from all over the world. Between September and March bird watchers can witness the mass migration of raptors at Port Dickson’s Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachado.

It is a journey like no other and is considered one of the most spectacular sights of the natural world – scientists describe it as an extraordinary migration, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) call it Raptor Watch. It takes place in the first week of March every year with up to 50,000 raptors, migratory birds of prey including eagles, buzzards, and hawks – returning home to Siberia, Northern China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas and Malaysia after fleeing the cold climatic conditions of the north for a few months.

These B-52’s of the bird world can travel more than 10,000 km’s during a 60 day flight, gliding in formation like bombers – raptors are extremely territorial birds and do not normally flock together, but they put aside their differences to fly and hunt in close proximity with each other during the migration.Tanjung Tuan forest reserve is one of the last bastions of rainforest on the Malaysian west coast, and is a vital navigational signpost for the birds after finding their way across the Malacca strait, something they have been doing for centuries.

Malaysia truly is a paradise for bird lovers who want to see water birds, Woodpeckers, Whiskered treeswifts or a Rhinoceros Hornbill, all in the same day. Places like Kinabalu park in Sabah are home to more than 320 species, including 17 endemic, as well as offering great accommodation and hiking or adventure options.

Editor’s note: This is an abbreviated version of an article first published in 2015. Find the full article here

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