From muddy mangroves to misty mountain ranges, Malaysia’s diverse tropical landscape teems with hundreds of resident bird species. The country’s location on the Australasian cross-migratory paths also makes it host to 120 or so migratory birds. With over 600 species to be seen in the Peninsular and about 580 species in the Malaysian Borneo, all at easily accessible parks and reserves, it is no wonder that Malaysia has emerged as a bird watching haven.

Half of Malaysia's land mass is covered in rainforests or plantations. With this diversity of habitats, there are many places for the abundant birdlife to choose from in this country. Malaysian rainforests are generally divided into three distinctive habitat types: coastal mangroves, lowland rainforests and mountain forests.

Swampy mangrove forest eco-systems, where saltwater meets freshwater on the coastline fringe, are home to birds such as the Common Kingfisher. Lowland rainforests, including freshwater swamps, peat and hill dipterocarp forests, remain the most extensive habitat for over 200 birds, among them the Storm’s Stork and Green Imperial Pigeon.

Mountain forests generally occur above an elevation of 900m, where species such as the Mountain Peacock-Pheasant and Mountain Blackeye thrive in the cool, damp climates and stunted trees of these high altitude regions.

While each habitat provides an excellent concentrated birding experience, it is not difficult to visit several sites in different ecological zones to enjoy the variation of birdlife.

Be amazed by the sheer diversity of beautiful and exotic birds, take pictures and learn about these enviable creatures. Check out further information on birding in Malaysia or bird watching in in Genting Highlands.

Key Tips

  • Before you go, read or find out as much as you can about the site and bird species likely to be found.

  • A pair of binoculars helps to locate and identify distant and high-flying birds.

  • Most birds are active in the morning and late afternoon when the temperature is cooler. Many birds also have regular feeding habits and patterns. Consult your guidebook as to the best times to spot a particular species.

  • A good place to watch for shorebirds is at mudflats during low tide.

  • It is advisable to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Spraying yourself with insect repellent is also highly recommended.

  • Hydrate yourself! Bring sufficient water for your outing as the high humidity levels may leave you thirsty and dehydrated.

  • Entry permits from the Forestry Department of the various states may be needed at some bird sanctuaries.