Birding Around Penang

Penang is a popular tourist destination that is famous for its glorious array of local food and fine cuisines and as well as a tropical island paradise for shopping and other leisure activities. But there is another fascinating world found here that is relatively unknown which is the alluring and amazing bird life around the state of Penang.

From lush tropical rain forests to the coastal mudflats, there is a rich variety of both resident and migratory species that seek shelter here. In Penang Island the mangroves of Sungai Burung on the southern tip of the island is where you will be able to see raptors, kingfishers, cuckoos and as well as migratory passerines. Forest birds are struggling to cope with the pace of development on the island but the central hilly region like Penang Hill and Bukit Penara is still home to such amazing species like the White-bellied Woodpecker and Green Broadbill.

But to truly experience the bird life here, one has to go across the narrow straits to the mainland side of Penang. Air Hitam Dalam Educational Forest is a small patch of freshwater swamp forest at the northern end of the state and it provides sanctuary to such feathered jewels as the Mangrove Pitta, Ruddy Kingfisher and Black-And-Red Broadbill. A number of migrants also pass through the locality and some will also remain here for the winter. It is also for the best places to see nocturnal species like owls and nightjars. Not too far from here lies the coastline of Teluk Air Tawar – Kuala Muda which has been gazetted as an Important Bird Area. Each year, thousands of waders and other shore birds will find refuge here during the winter months up north and this is certainly one of the best wader sites in Malaysia.

The vast area of paddy fields of Permatang Pauh in the central region is a great place to see wintering raptors and water birds. The mighty Eastern Imperial Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagles call this place home during the wintering months. It is also one of the best places to see scarce migratory water birds like the ibises, storks and waders. The Pulau Burung landfill at the southern tip is another place where both resident and migratory water birds frequent. As the name implies, the marshlands and mangroves are rich in bird life and notable birds like ducks, rails, raptors and cuckoos can be found here.

The neighbouring state of Kedah offers some of the best birding sites for forest birds. At the Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest, birding is done along the fairly easy walking trails within the reserve. The Sungai Sedim Tree Top Walk is the longest canopy walk in the world and it gives you the opportunity to observe birds from their point of view. Hornbills, trogons and babblers are some of the highlights of this birding locality. Other than Sungai Sedim, there are a few more forest reserves that are pristine and untouched by human development like the Bukit Wang Forest Reserve. Here, you have a good chance to observe rare species such as the Malaysian Honeyguide, Wallace’s Hawk-eagle and Dusky Eagle-owl.

Birding spots around Penang


Please do not just take my word for it. Here are some articles that highlight birding in this region:
1. Birding and Bird Photography in Penang - myPenang
2. Is it a plane? Is it Superman? No, it's a bird! - Penang Monthly

1 comment:

Robin Leow said...

I had been planning to study bird life in Penang for sometime. This is a very good site for planing the trip. Thank you for sharing.