The Fifty Best Birds in Asia: Part 3

Siamese Fireback. Susan Myers.

by SusanMyers on November 27, 2010 · 3 comments

in Birding Asia

The list goes on!

The list continues and as I put it together I realize perhaps fifty isn’t enough!  It’s very hard to choose and I probably should apologize for having so many from Borneo, but I’m not going to…

21. Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi

There are a number of families that reach their aesthetic pinnacle in Asia – the pittas, the babblers, the hornbills, and the pheasants. So no list of the best birds in Asia would be complete without the inclusion of at least a couple of these spectacular creatures. The amazing coloration and head ornamentation of the Siamese Fireback makes this species stand out amongst a stellar cast!

Siamese Fireback

Siamese Fireback @ Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam

22. Giant Ibis Pseudibis gigantea

Sorry for another terrible photo. It’s the best I could do this time. Anyway, this species may not be all that attractive but it has that certain appeal that’s hard to define. It could be its rarity, or its amazing size – it really is a giant (a word that’s often overused in bird names) or the adventure of searching for it. Or a combination of all these? Either way it’s a thrilling bird and the Wildlife Conservation Society\’s scheme in the northern plains of Cambodia is one of my personal favorite conservation efforts.

Giant Ibis @ Tmatboey, Cambodia

23. Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmeus

Another crappy photo! But hey, it’s a Spoobilled Sandpiper so who’s complaining. I hardly need to justify this one now, do I?

24. Storm’s Stork Ciconia stormi

Just a crazy bird!

Storm's Stork @ Menanngol River, Borneo

25. Giant Pitta Pitta caerulea

I’ll never forget the first time I saw this bird. A pair circled around me as I played the tape at the research centre in the Danum Valley in Sabah. Just one of my favorite birding experiences of all time! And they really are about the size of a basketball.

Giant Pitta by Kokay Szabolcs (from A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo)

26. Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis

If I had a better photo of a Rhinoceros Hornbill that would probably be here instead but really, they’re both equally fabulous and I love this photo of a female having a bit of a scratch.

Great Hornbill @ Bokor National Park, Cambodia

27. Malaysian Rail-babbler Eupetes macrocerus

Secretive, very difficult to find and beautiful. It’s taxonomic affinities have been uncertain for a long time which just adds to the appeal of this dream bird.

Malaysian Rail-babbler (Chong Boon Leong)

Malaysian Rail-babbler (Con Foley)

These photos is borrowed from the excellent website, ARKive. Well, worth a look for its huge collection of photos of endangered species.

28. Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala

I really should have put this one much higher on the list. It’s appeal is obvious – crazy looks, baffling taxonomic affinities, unusual behavior, weird vocalisations and, best of all, it’s found in one of the most exotic and exciting places in the world! What’s more it’s now placed in it’s own family and, with family listing rapidly becoming the latest fad in birding, everyone loves this old skinhead!

Bornean Bristlehead by Tim Worfolk (from Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo)

29. Blue Nuthatch Sitta azurea

A little gem of a bird! One of the nice things about birding in Sumatra and Java is that this bird is one of the most common constituents of mixed flocks. Most people look for them at Fraser’s Hill in Malaysia where they seem to be less common but it’s sorta nice to have a whole bunch of them just descend upon you, like they do in the mountains in Gunung Gede or Mount Kerinci….

Blue Nuthatch @ Cameron Highlands (Dave Bakewell)

This photo is from Dave Bakewell’s excellent blog Dig Deep. Go look at it for some more photos of this excellent bird.

30. Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea

A totally spiffy bird!

Sultan Tit @ Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gunnar Engblom November 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I love these birds Susan from a region I know little about – but need to get into! They should definitely be included in my “1000 birds to see before you die project”.
I aim to get started after my Ecuador trip which ends on Dec 17 – and after finish a pelagics article for Neotropical birding. Thus likely start around new years. Please, send me your overall top 100 birds from all around the world.


Lily June 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm

What fantastic birds.  The coloring of each is stunning.  The photography is amazing as well.  I can imagine photographing birds must be very difficult.  Great job!


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