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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Birds of Asia-Pacific

Birds of Malaysia Covering Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore

Field / Identification Guide
By: Chong Leong Puan(Author), Geoffrey Davison(Author), Kim Chye Lim(Author)
413 pages, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps
Publisher: Lynx Edicions
Birds of Malaysia
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  • Birds of Malaysia ISBN: 9788416728299 Hardback Jul 2020 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
  • Birds of Malaysia ISBN: 9788416728305 Flexibound Jul 2020 Out of Print #250314
Selected version: £64.99
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About this book

The country of Malaysia comprises two halves separated by the South China Sea, the Peninsula and East Malaysia, the latter made up of Sabah and Sarawak. Most of the many Bornean endemic birds can be found in the two latter states, including a dazzling array of pheasants, frogmouths, trogons, pittas, thrushes, and two of the most recently described birds in the world, Spectacled Flowerpecker and Cream-eyed Bulbul, both named to science only in 2019.

The peninsula boasts some of the best lowland forest reserves in the Sundaic region, as well as a variety of highland endemics at famous hill station birding sites like Fraser's Hill. Three monospecific and particularly striking families, the Pityriasidae (Bornean Bristlehead), Platylophidae (Crested Jay) and Eupetidae (Rail-babbler), are best searched for in Malaysia, making the country an essential destination for 'family collectors'.

Whether you are planning a comprehensive birding tour of the Peninsula or northern Borneo, or only to 'escape' for a few days while in Singapore, this new guide covers it all.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Comprehensive, Updated Taxonomy and QR codes
    By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne 8 Oct 2020 Written for Flexibound
    Malaysia is one of my favourite birding destinations because it has great birds, good food and good infrastructure. The latter means that there is good public transport even for budget birders who want to get to some fabulous birding sites many of which have a wide range of accommodation options for different budgets. There are not many tropical destinations where within an hour of arrival at the airport you can be in a beautiful patch of cloud forest with wonderful birds. On my first trip to Malaysia, I used A.G. Glenister’s The Birds of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Penang published in the 1970s which was only sparsely illustrated. I used this together with A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia: Covering Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Hong Kong by Ben F. King and Edward C. Dickinson. Over the years my trips have involved different books as better illustrated Malaysian field guide became available. Allen Jeyarajasingham’s A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore and A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali by John McKinnon and Karen Phillipps are noteworthy. These titles by Oxford University Press and Collins were later joined by books from Bloomsbury (Helm Field Guides) and John Beaufoy Publishing.

    2020 is proving to be a bumper year for Malaysian birders with the addition of two significant books which now cover all of political Malaysia covering Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, together with Singapore. The first to arrive was Birds of Malaysia and Singapore by John Beaufoy Publishing (JBP) co-published with Princeton University Press and following close on its heels, this title Birds of Malaysia: Covering Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore by Lynx Edicions. An abundance of field guide riches.

    Although I don’t usually like directly comparing books in a review, given that the Lynx book arrived so soon after the JBP, for a meaningful review, a comparison is needed as both books for the first time provide in a single field guide, coverage of the political unit of Malaysia. I should add that despite political boundaries, there are significant biogeographical differences between Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, which is one reason why some of the other very good field guides tend to focus on one part or the other. Not surprisingly there are many features in common between the JBP and Lynx books. Both books in the front or end sections contain a useful listing of key birding sites accompanied by location maps. Both adopt the now universal style of text facing the plates. The Lynx is a slightly bigger shape in the standard format for its series. I checked that both books slip comfortably into the large pockets designed for birders in my Country Innovation waterproof jacket which is a favourite with British Birders. Both books have their strengths. The JBP has a simpler layout and is easier on the eye. It is arguably pitched at a more populist audience and may well do better with in-country people who are getting into birding and progressing from the smaller more populist photographic guides which are starter books. The Lynx has the text appearing to be busier and may appeal to the more geeky birders and those visiting birders who are very keen on the splits and lumps as these impact their world lists. Therefore, it very much boils down to what level of birder you are and what you want. Some may find the discussion of molecular phylogenetics in the species account a tad off-putting. Others may relish it. I am a fan of both books because they both serve different audiences and different levels of progression in birding ability.

    Focussing on the Lynx book, this title continues with the use of QR codes which have been introduced in the Lynx Edicions and Bird Life International Field Guide series. If you want to hear Reddish Scops Owl or view some photographic images, just hold your smartphone camera over it and it will take you to a website with additional audiovisual resources. It is convenient and saves a little time typing in an internet search. Admittedly, in most rainforest birding situations, good internet or any internet may not be available at all. But in the trip planning stages and when doing some armchair research, it is useful. I also like the availability of distribution maps for each species and them being located on the plate beside the bird. This may compromise the aesthetics of an otherwise beautiful plate of birds, but is effective. The bulk of the book is taken by the species accounts (pages 28-378) with three pages of key references. The front and back inside covers have a map of the region, with the one in the back numbered with 50 key birding sites which are described with a reasonable amount of detail in the introductory front section (pages 13-20). Three pages are devoted to explaining how to use the field guide and the concept of a ‘subspecies group’ is introduced; a feature described as being novel to a field guide. The subspecies group is introduced as an informal taxonomic unit that sits somewhere between a species and a subspecies.

    The species accounts are, as with the other titles in the series, a distillation of information from the monumental Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) series with information distilled on identification (including vocalisations) together with information on distribution and taxonomic status. In addition to serving as a local field guide, it serves as a bite-sized introduction to the wealth of taxonomic information that was brought together in the HBW. It therefore helps to raise technical standards in a more local and affordable single book. The plates in this book derived from HBW are from 29 of the world’s best bird illustrators and as can be expected, are to a very high standard. On the whole, this is another superb title in the series which is a strong addition to the field guide literature for this region.
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Chong Leong Puan first learned about birdwatching about 20 years ago, and has 13 years of experience in handling mist-netted birds. After completing his PhD in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Queensland, Australia, Puan continues his research on Malaysian birds with respect to community ecology, behaviour, vocalisations, habitat requirements, and population genetics. He has also been trained in raptor handling and migration monitoring in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, USA. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Forestry and Environment, Universiti Putra Malaysia, and is the Malaysian representative for the Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network.

Geoffrey Davison obtained his PhD from the University of Malaya. He subsequently lectured at the National University of Malaysia, with research on tropical birds, mammals and the effects of large infrastructure projects. With WWF-Malaysia he then contributed to national strategies on conservation of natural resources and on ecotourism development, followed by six years with WWF-Malaysia in Sabah. More recently he has been a staff member of the National Parks Board, Singapore.

Kim Chye Lim took early retirement to pursue further his interest in birds, moving on from birding to being involved in bird-related work. After a stint in Australia, where he volunteered in shorebird projects and qualified as a bird-bander, he returned to Malaysia and served with the Malaysian Nature Society as its Ornithological Officer, focusing on hornbill conservation and raptor migration projects. He later left the Society and, with the benefit of 30 years of association with the birds of Malaysia, carried out avifaunal surveys as well as biodiversity assessments for environmental consultants and NGOs. Kim Chye has collaborated in two other publications, Birds of Perak: Peninsular Malaysia and Where to See Them and Field Guide to Raptors of Asia, Volume 1: Migratory Raptors of Oriental Asia.

Field / Identification Guide
By: Chong Leong Puan(Author), Geoffrey Davison(Author), Kim Chye Lim(Author)
413 pages, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps
Publisher: Lynx Edicions
Media reviews

"[...] Writing this review in the midst of a pandemic seems a little surreal, but it is worth pointing out that, to date, Malaysia and Singapore have done a remarkable job in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 within their countries, and are likely to be welcoming tourists back well before many other popular birding destinations become safe to visit again. Hence, if you are making plans for some post-pandemic birding, Malaysia is certainly a destination to consider, and for anyone visiting this alluring country, Birds of Malaysia: Covering Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore is certainly now the best birding guide to take with you, combining practicality with an up-to-date text and a user-friendly interface. It should be added that not only does Malaysia have a very high standard of tourist infrastructure, but it boasts some of the best and most-easily accessible protected areas in the Sundaic region, including Taman Negara National Park, Fraser’s Hill, Danum Valley, the Kinabatangan River, and Mount Kinabalu National Park, as well as some of the best forest birding on the planet, placing both Peninsular Malaysia and the Bornean state of Sabah among the most desirable destinations to visit within the Oriental Region."
– Frank Lambert (06-10-2020), read the full review at The Birder's Library

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