Birds Observed in Thailand

A Selection of Birds Observed

Crimson Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird
Storks on the hunt.
Storks on the hunt.
Indian Roller
Indian Roller
Sunbird
Sunbird
Common Mynah bird
Common Mynah bird
Chinese Pond Heron
Chinese Pond Heron
Common Crow
Common Crow
Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal

An Introduction to the Birds of Thailand

 

…………the feathered variety that is!

We’ve lived in a rural part of Thailand for the past three years and have been pleasantly surprised at the number of birds we’ve seen here. I say ‘surprised’ because on our many travels throughout Thailand in the years prior to our settling here, there were many parts where it was difficult to catch a glimpse of one or hear a birdsong. There were always the numerous water birds in the paddy fields, but smaller birds seemed rare.

We arrived in the summer of 2006 and made our home near Sattahip. It’s a small village with a population of probably less than a hundred people. They are mostly subsistence farmers so we are surrounded by farmland. The area has many small (and ever decreasing) forests, lakes and mountains.

The first depressing site within the first few weeks of our arrival was several local people netting small wild birds with a net between two bamboo poles. We could hardly say anything as we were newcomers and foreigners to boot. And would have been considered interfering foreigners at that! We didn’t even show our disapproval - really, we didn’t know if they were going to eat the poor things or sell them in the market as songbirds; or even to the temple bird sellers to sell to on as gifts to Buddha.

We have to live here and for whatever reasons the local people catch birds, it’s as well for outsiders like ourselves to remember, this part of the country is extremely poor. Not for nothing does our little shop keeper gather every recyclable item, clean them up and sell them; nor his daughter and wife beat great heaps of discarded concrete just to get the steel rebars out! When I say ‘poor’ I mean poverty in the extreme! So much as we may wish they could spare the little birds, we can also see why they need to do something to get a little cash. The cash is to survive, and these people are adept at surviving and being happy into the bargain! There’s always a smile for us, always a cheery greeting and always a seat in the shop for us to sit and have a drink. Along with this if always the offer of food! It just makes you feel very warm in your heart to know such people and have the privilege of living with them.

But back to the local bird population. We have two Labrador dogs, Tessa and Pippa, and they take us on their early morning walks each day - to keep us fit we presume! But a by product of all this walking and the early rising is that we’ve now seen many different species of birds common to Thailand. So our feelings of sadness have now turned to feelings of breath-catching hope. We’re glad we didn’t interfere with the bird catchers (and may I add, we’ve never seen them since – maybe our very presence put them off).

Below you will find a list of all the birds that we’ve seen in the past three years, some of them from further afield than local Sattahip. We’re not expert or professional birdwatchers so there may be some discrepancies, but we’ve been as diligent as possible in our research and often it’s difficult to see colours specifically.

I think we tend to forget that the birds we’ve grown up with in our own native countries we are totally familiar with. We know their flight patterns, their body size, their colours, their song, their nesting habits and everything about them. It’s an intrinsic part of our life, almost part of our genetic makeup. The same with our own native trees and animals. We haven’t studied them; we just know which is which. We can identify them at a glance without effort.

But when you move to a new country, especially one so distant from your own birth place, it’s a whole new ball game. The fall of the Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis ) as he tumbles off the electricity wires after a juicy dragonfly; the wild and insane shrieks of the Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus ) as he entices you from their nests with their limping gait; and the strange upside down creeping in the trees of the Racket-tailed Treepie (Crysirina temia ), are all enough to baffle the most passionate of ‘twitchers’. But we cannot even come near the ‘twitcher’ category. We’re just interested country folk. We’d like to know who we’re living with and are making every effort to find out.

We’re happy that we know the common Mynah, the Asian Sparrow and the gentle Zebra Dove; they live in our garden. It’s when you walk a little further that the identification becomes somewhat haphazard and it’s only with constant watching that you can become familiar with one and all.

Hopefully, the following table will be as accurate as we can possibly make it in our three years of study.

A Comprehensive List of Observed Birds


Peaceful or Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata ) 22cm. [1] 143

White Crested Laughing Thrush (Garrulax leucolophus ) 30 cm 277

Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis ) 55cm 156

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus ) 15cm. 368

Common Mynah (Acridotheres, tristis ) 25cm 348

Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis ) 12cm 173

House Swift (Apus affinus ) 15cm 172

Blue Eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting ) 16cm 179

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis ) 27cm 182

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis ) 30cm 172

Cattle Egret (Bulbulcus ibis) 50cm 50

Great Egret (Egretta alba ) 90cm 51

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta ) 60cm 52

Little Heron (Butorides striatus ) 45cm 48

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea ) 95cm 47

Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus ) 38cm 55

Black Bittern (Dupetor flavicollis ) 54cm 55

Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica ) 14cm 225

Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica ) 18cm 226

Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius ) 23cm 304

Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus ) 50cm 211

Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger ) 52cm 45

Indian Shag (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis ) 64cm 45

Olive Backed Sunbird (Aethopyga boltoni ) 10cm 355

Brown Throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis ) 14cm 351

Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja ) 11cm 358

Purple Throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperata ) 10cm 353

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum ) 9cm 365

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis ) 11cm 319

Black-Naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea ) 16cm 335

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus ) 29cm 249

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer ) 25cm 251

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus ) 32cm 252

Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos ) 51cm 260

Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotux goiavier ) 20cm 240

Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis ) 23cm 296

Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica ) 18cm 334

White-throated Fantail (Rhipidura albicollis ) 19cm 334

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus ) 33cm 103

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia ) 13cm 325

Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius ) 10cm 314

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus ) 33cm 98

Common Coot (Fulica atra ) 40cm 99

Barred Button Quail (Turnix suscitator ) 17cm 93

Scaly-breasted Partridge (Arborophila charltonii ) 29cm 87

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo ) 55cm 79

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela ) 81cm 76

Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus ) 68cm 74

Hoopoe (Upupa epops ) 30cm 188

  • Striped Tit-babbler (macronus gularis ) 13cm or 275
  • Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler (macronus ptilosus ) 15cm

Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis ) 53cm 158

Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis ) 38cm 159

Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus asiaticus ) 23cm 169

Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis ) 13cm 149

Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata ) 29cm 196

Common pigeon

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis ) 33cm 187

Racket-tailed Treepie (Crypsirina temia ) 33cm 259

Asian Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella ) 25cm 255


[1] Reference Book for all of the above birds observed: Morten Strange. A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Thailand. . Publisher: Eric Oey, Periplus Edition 2000.

ISBN 962-593-962-1

(The end numbers on each listed bird refers to the pages in the above book used to identify the birds)


.........More Avian Photos.

Little Cormorant
Little Cormorant
Little Egret
Little Egret
Magpie Robin - he who attacks his own image in the car mirror or window!
Magpie Robin - he who attacks his own image in the car mirror or window!
Olive Backed Sunbird
Olive Backed Sunbird
Pied Fantail - the one who likes to come indoors, then can't find his way out.
Pied Fantail - the one who likes to come indoors, then can't find his way out.
Tailor bird.
Tailor bird.

Heard But Not Seen

The following list of birds are the night birds, and it is very difficult to identify these splendid avians by anything other than their song. The easiest of all is the ‘Ping Pong ball’ bird, or the Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus asiaticus), for the very reason his song (?) resembles the continual dropping of a ping pong ball on a hard surface. Along with the Red-wattled Lapwing (he of the insane screech!) this is the pair of birds I’d most like to murder! The one follows the other through the daylight and dark hours. But you get used to their strange calls and they become part of the background eventually. As with any such noise, the lack of it would ruin your day! I would suffer from severe ‘Lapwing and Nightjar deprivation’ were they absent; a new disease to the medical world possibly!!

I have no way of knowing if any or all of these night birds do inhabit our area, but the very presence of so many different sounds at nighttime would suggest that many are represented. The area has all of the requirements for such birds, so it’s a reasonable assumption.

Brown Fish-Owl (Ketupa zeylonensis) 53 cm 162

Buffy Fish-Owl (Ketupa ketupa) 50cm 162

Collared Owlet (Glaucidium brodiei) 16cm 163

Brown Hawk-Owl (Ninox scutulata) 30cm 163

Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) 20cm 164

Spotted Wood-Owl (Strix seloputo) 48cm 164

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) 34cm 159

Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia) 19cm 160

Collared Scops Owl (Otus lempiji) 23cm 160

Savannah Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) 26cm 169

Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) 30cm 168

Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus asiaticus) 23cm 169

.




Birds On My 'Wish List'.

          The following birds are the ones on my ‘Wish List’. They do not inhabit the areas around this area apart from the illusive Pelican, (Pelecanus philippensis). It’s a pretty large bird, some 140 cm in all, so shouldn’t be difficult to spot. So far though it’s evaded my eagle eye. The Hornbills though, I shall only see when and if we venture to some of the wonderful National Parks in the South and South West of Thailand. Sadly they are all becoming rare and many are on the endangered list, mainly due to habitat loss – deforestation for farming etc.

Birds to see:

Hornbills

White Crowned Hornbill (Berenicornis comatus) 90cm 189

Brown Hornbill (Ptilolaemus tickelli) 74cm 189

Bushy-Crested Hornbill (Anorrhinus galeritus) 70cm 190

Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyterceros undulates) 100cm 192

Plain-pouched Hornbill (Rhyticeros subruficollis) 90cm 192

Black Hornbill (Anthracocers malayanus) 75cm 193

Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) 70cm 193

Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) 110cm 194

Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) 122 cm 194

Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) 127cm 195


Pelicans

Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) 140cm 42


In Conclusion............

I am now 65 years old and have been living in Thailand for 3 years. The research book I quote from has some 375 pages with mostly 4 birds to a page. I’ve identified possibly 60 to 65, so how long does that leave me to identify the remainder I wonder?

I leave that for the mathematicians amongst you to work that out. Meantime, I’ll continue to observe and try to identify more of the beautiful creatures and will enjoy every minute of the activity. And in my role as the occasional teacher to our village children, will endeavour to impart to them as much knowledge as I can about conservation, ecology, the environment and the wonderful world of nature that is their heritage.




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Comments 9 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Wonderful hub, MB. It's always a pleasure to visit you. You have quite the extensive knowledge of birds! Your photos are gorgeous to say the least and the quality of work you put in will not go unnoticed. Thanks.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 7 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Many, many thanks dohn121, you're comments always give me so much encouragement and I'm so enjoying the writing and research.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

A great hub. Another promotion for Thai tourism. I have not seen a tenth of the birds you have. You are very lucky. I saw hornbills in Cambodia though (doesn't count there).

The Pelicans you could see in the Safari Park. Wild birds live and breed there.


ram_m profile image

ram_m 4 years ago from India

Excellent hub packed with information. Thank you for your well researched article


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 4 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you Ram_m. I should update this as we've seen so many other birds now. My favourite to date is a young Green billed Malkoha who plays in the trees in the garden and performs some wonderful antics! MB


anusujith profile image

anusujith 4 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

hi good hub.nice photos.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

wow, well-researched hub. very brilliant! im amazed. keep it up, i vote it + and all.


mistitifarang 2 years ago

Yes, a well-researched hub but................ when you use photos from somebody, please mention the photographer! (Common Mynah bird)


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 2 years ago from SE Thailand Author

So sorry about that. I will do so in future, I'm much more clued up on procedures now. Several of the photos were from Flickr and I didn't realise at the time about copyright etc.

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