BIRDS

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Synopsis

The number of bird species currently identified in Langkawi is slightly above 200 including the various migrant birds according to Dev, the resident naturalist and ornithologist of The Andaman Resort. The birds described in detail are those seen most often. Due to their individually significant features even the unskilled birdwatcher should be able to identify these birds easily.

area for bird watching

An ideal area for bird watching is the region behind Kuah towards the mainland. There is a small area near the Beringin Resort where the various habitats of the island are represented. Other good areas are at Langkawi’s highest mountain, Gunung Raya, the mangrove forest, coastal areas and the rice fields adjoining the rubber plantations.

AMAURORNIS PHOENICURUS

AMAURORNIS PHOENICURUS

Characteristic is the white breast but even more so the very impertinent call ‘keewakwak’ which can keep residents near rice fields at certain times of the year endlessly awake ‘up to 15 minutes at a stretch’ and earned the bird the local name ‘Burung Wakwak’.

PLOCEUS PHILIPPINUS

PLOCEUS PHILIPPINUS

Belonging to the weaver bird family, the baya weaver is distinguished by its golden cap. The birds is usually found in open wood or grasslands and build their interesting nests high up in the trees. Despite the Latin name P. Philippinus, the birds is not a resident of the Philippines. Picture above depicts a typical weaver’s nest found high up in the trees.

PYCNONOTUS FINLAYSONII

PYCNONOTUS FINLAYSONII

The bulbul’s family is extremely rich in species. The pictured bird is found near the rice fields or other streams in secondary vegetation and identified by its yellow streaks on forehead and throat. The Red Eyed Bulbul was found nesting near the authors house in June 2003.

DUCULA AENEA

DUCULA AENEA

A notable feature of this bird is the metallic green colouring of its wing tops. The upper body, head and neck are a soft ashy gray colour. The call of bird is similar to the sound of a cow. The relatively large pigeons grow up to 25 com lomg with a wingspan of about 42 cm. they live mainly near riverbanks and can be seen in small groups in treetops. Its habitat stretches into the mangrove forests.

 STREPTOPELIA CHINENSIS

STREPTOPELIA CHINENSIS

Identified by the spotted half collar right left and back of the neck, the dove is quite common and easily seen when feeding on the ground. An inhabitant of secondary growth gardens and plantations. With a size of 30cm it is bigger than the Peaceful Dove.

GEOPELIA STRIATA

GEOPELIA STRIATA

Grey brown all over with a plumage of thin zebra-like stripes and reaching a size of approx. 20 cm. Spotted in open grassland, gardens and along the road. The bird is used in Malaysia as a popular bird in singing competitions.

 DICAEUM CRUENTATUM

DICAEUM CRUENTATUM

Typical red crown and back, the bird can be spotted in all kinds of wooded habitat and shows a very agitated flying pattern. The pictured bird was ‘reanimated ‘after it hit a glass door at the author’s house- and it made it.

BUTORIDES STRIATUS

BUTORIDES STRIATUS

Herons are found in all kinds of wetland, be it near ponds, rice fields, but are also often spotted perched on stiltroots in the mangroves, where it also nests, waiting for small fish.

HELIOPAIS PERSONATA

HELIOPAIS PERSONATA

One of the rarest birds, the Masked Finfoot can be seen in mangrove forests at certain times of the year. Very shy, at the slightest sign of danger it pulls back into stilt roots. At first impression the birds appears to be a duck. The Masked Finfoot is easily recognized when swimming by the movement of its head, forward-back-forward-back. Its call is a gurgling sound, as if someone is blowing into a pipe filled with water.

STERNA ALBIFRONS

STERNA ALBIFRONS

This birds prefers sandy beaches but may also be seen in the mud areas of the mangrove forests, where it is fishing for small fish. The bird depicted was found exhausted on one of the Eastern beaches, but soon recovered in caring hands.

CENTROPUS SINENSIS

CENTROPUS SINENSIS

The Greater Coucal has been described in one of the English field guide books as ‘similar to archepteryx’ – and truly, it behaves as of prehistoric origin. Being very slow, many of the birds become victim of road traffic. It is seldom seen, but often heard. Its spooky call ‘UHUU-UHUU-UUU’ has given him the reputation as a carrier of bad news, similar to the owls. The birds is clumsy on the ground and in flight although it is more a glider then a flyer.

LONCHURA MALACCA / LONCHURA MAYA

LONCHURA MALACCA / LONCHURA MAYA

The Chestnut Munia has a black head, the White- Headed Munia has a white head. Both species are found in small flocks in grass areas, feeding on seed. Displays a rather hectic character in flight.

DICRURUS PARADISEUS

DICRURUS PARADISEUS

Being one of the many kinds of Paradise Birds, this bird is mainly to be seen in the lower forests and plantations. It is recognizable by its split tail feathers, which are long and curved unlike the Lesser Raquet-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer), whose tail feathers are straight. In Langkawi if spotted it is most likely a Greater Raquet-tailed Drongo, since it lives in the lowland and plantation forests.

NECTARINIA JUGULARIS

NECTARINIA JUGULARIS

Total number 104, South-East Asia 24 species. This bird is considered the smallest sunbird at all with approximately 8 cm body length. It lives in all habitats from forests to secondary growth. The female is olive above and rather yellow below, while the tips of the tail fathers display a dull white.

C. MALABARICUS

C. MALABARICUS

A very popular cage bird due to its melodious song. From head to tail the males are glossy black with rufous belly. Female are more greyish and generally duller. Mostly found in forested habitats – but seldom spotted due to its explicit shyness.

COPSYCHUS SAULARIS

COPSYCHUS SAULARIS

A rather common garden bird, its plumage displays a glossy black and white. Found in all open vegetation and can be identified by its hopping on the ground with the tail raised.

 PASSER MONTANUS

PASSER MONTANUS

Identified by its brown cap and streaked back, always associated human beings and therefore and consequently found near human settlements – village and cities, hotel etc. – feeding on food scraps or insects.

EURYSTOMUS ORIENTALIS

EURYSTOMUS ORIENTALIS

The power lines leading up to Gunung Raya seem to be home to this bird. It can easily be recognized by its orange-colored bill and two silver spots, the size of a silver dollar, on the underside of it wings. The plumage shines in the sunlight in a dark green. It represents one of the two species of rollers in Southeast Asia.

GRACULA RELIGIOSA

GRACULA RELIGIOSA

This bird has silky black plumage, with a dark-blue shine and feeds mainly on fruit. Its Malaysian name ‘Tiong’ comes from its unique call. Their nest are often built in three holes. The birds are easily identified by the by the yellow spots behind their eyes. Famous for their ability to learn words or imitate perfectly noises such as telephone ringing or door bells.

ACCRIDOTHERES TRISTIS

ACCRIDOTHERES TRISTIS

This bird is the most talkative, cheekiest and the loudest of them all. It belongs to the same family as the ‘Hill Myna’. The buffets of the hotels, the parks or the balconies of holiday makers-this naughty bird will not miss. At may fight with others of its kind, be friendly or simply talk and talk which it toes with passion. Watching these birds provides hours of entertainment and one may learn about animal or even human behaviour.

MEROPS LESCHENAULTI

MEROPS LESCHENAULTI

The slim body of this bird makes it an excellent flyer. It feeds mainly on insects. The birds live in groups of up to ten. Unlike other Bee-eaters this bird has no elongated tail feathers. They are partially migratory. In Langkawi one of their favourite spots are the power lines along the road up to Gunung Raya.

KINGFISHER

KINGFISHER

The Kingfisher is the only one of the most beautiful birds because of its colourful plumage. The following legend of the Kingfisher may illustrate how this bird obtained its precious colouring.

The legend said, noah on the arc sent out a pigeon in the hope of finding land. The pigeon did not return so he sent an unsightly bird with a large beak and grey feathers to look for the pigeon. This bird got into a storm and was struck by lightning, which gave him the blue part of his plumage. Flying on he came too near the sun and burnt the underside of his little body, giving them a brown colour. There ends the story of the creation of the Kingfisher.

HALIASTUR INDUS

HALIASTUR INDUS

The Brahminy Kite is usually found near water where it catches its food, which consists of fish, crabs and frogs. This bird is surrounded by myths. It was this bird, which gave the Langkawi Archipelago its name. The Iban and the Dayaks in Borneo see the Brahminy Kite as an ambassador of God because of its flight and behaviour. Plumage is a shiny brown; the underside and head are white.
The nests are made from little sticks and the edges are molded from mud. Grass and cloth are sometimes added to make it more comfortable. Normally two eggs are laid. The female takes care of the hatching and the male feeds her. The young hatch with a beige-gray underside of their wings before changing to deep brown. Both parents feed them.
At the entrance to the Langkawi harbour in Kuah, there is a statue of a Brahminy Kite, which greets visitors. It stands more than 20m high. The Brahminy Kite is a popular emblem of airlines, hotels and other companies, especially on Langkawi.

BUCEROTIDAE

BUCEROTIDAE

Langkawi is home to three different species of the family of Hornbills. On of these is the Great Hornbill, which has a wingspan of up to 1.70 m and a 30 cm long bill. On a jungle track, with the view limited by the thighly covering treetops, one can often hear rather then see these bizarre birds. You may hear the ‘Whoosh-Whoosh-Whoosh’ of their wings beating the air or their husky barking. The lucky ones may hear the clapping of their bills in a marriage ceremony. Spotted more often are the Oriental Pied Hornbills, easily recognised by their fast flapping wings in flight. Wreathed Hornbills are a rather rare species to be spotted in Langkawi.

HALIAETUS LEUCOGASTER

HALIAETUS LEUCOGASTER

This majestic bird has a white underside, white tail and black on the top of its wings. The Sea Eagle can often be spotted hunting. It observes its potential prey from a branch high above the water. Their diet consists mainly of fish and the occasional snake or a baby heron added to its plate. The call of the bird is loud and is reminiscent of geese or ducks.