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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Birds of Asia-Pacific

A Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore

Field / Identification Guide
By: Lim Kim Seng(Author), Yong Ding Li(Author), Lim Kim Chuah(Author), Dana Gardner(Illustrator)
396 pages, ~180 plates with colour illustrations; 18 colour photos, 2 colour & 1 b/w illustrations, 7 colour maps
A comprehensive field guide to 815 bird species of Malaysia and Singapore that includes distribution maps and background biological information.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore
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  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore ISBN: 9781912081738 Paperback Aug 2020 In stock
Price: £24.99
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A Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & SingaporeA Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & SingaporeA Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & SingaporeA Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & SingaporeA Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & SingaporeA Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & SingaporeA Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore

About this book

Read our interview with the authors here

A fully comprehensive field guide to the 815 bird species of Malaysia and Singapore. The species are clearly illustrated in over 150 plates, with many variants. The main identifying features of each species are described and key facts cover size, voice, range and status, habitat, specifc country and breeding. Distribution maps provide an at-a-glance view of where the birds can be found. Field Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore also includes information on taxonomy and nomenclature, observing birds, climate, habitats, the breeding cycle, migration, conservation and key birdwatching sites.

Customer Reviews (2)

  • Covering Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo
    By Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne 16 Sep 2020 Written for Paperback
    In terms of infrastructure, Malaysia is one of the best tropical countries in the world to go birding in. Within an hour of arriving at the capital Kuala Lumpur, one can take a taxi and travel in comfort on good roads to reach the cloud forests of Fraser’s Hill or to visit the Taman Botani near the capital which still has remnant dipterocarp forest. On some of my visits to Malaysia, I have also visited the Malaysian state of Sabah which is on the island of Borneo. Therefore, I have needed a field guide for Peninsula Malaysia and another for Borneo. A key advantage of this book is that as it covers political Malaysia, all 829 species recorded in Peninsula Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo together with Singapore are now in one book.

    The field guides I have used before are A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (by Allen Jeyarajasingham and Alan Pearson) and A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali (by John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps). Both of them are excellent with good introductory material and I will hold onto them as no single field guide can be everything a birder needs. However, there is no doubt that the new book by John Beaufoy Publishing has the huge advantage of convenience by making available a single field guide for both Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Another aspect I like about the book is the inclusion of good geographical maps of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Borneo on the inside cover pages, with the key reserves marked. This is supplemented with maps and text on the key birding sites for each of Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore. The accompanying site guide text although brief provides a good thumbnail summary on logistics, the birds and types of habitat. This section is one of the strengths of the book as it helps as a trip planner whether it is on a first visit or a return trip.

    The front sections also carry useful introductory material on the types of forests which are useful as for some visiting birders it may be the first time they are encountering forest types such as Peat-swamp forests and Heath forests. The bulk of the book (pages 38 – 370) is taken up by the species accounts which are in the now-standard format of a plate of illustrations with facing text. The text includes brief family accounts which means even a casual bird watcher will notice that the Bornean Bristlehead is the only species in a family that is endemic to Borneo.

    The three authors are some of the best known ornithological personalities from the region with many years of field experience and many publications to their credit. The plates are by Dana Gardner, a prolific illustrator of books. The illustrations are somewhat stylised and may not be to everyone’s taste. It is possible that beginners may like the simpler style which tends to accentuate the identification attributes compared to the photo-realistic school of illustration which has come to dominate field guide illustration. In the latter school, the illustrated birds are lifelike and difficult species can be off-putting to beginners. Even if the stylised format is accepted, there are some illustrations in this book which I feel could be improved in future editions because the jizz is not right or more accuracy is needed for some of the difficult species. However, for almost all of the species which are confined largely to Asia, the plates are satisfactory. Furthermore, there are plenty of monographs and identification papers for help with difficult species such as pipits and leaf warblers.

    Where they differ, the males and females are illustrated. With species such as waders, gulls and terns, summer and winter plumages are shown. Juvenile plumage is also illustrated. There are useful additions such as the tail patterns to distinguish Pintail, Swinhoe’s and Common Snipe and another example is the illustration of juvenile, male and female of the Great and Lesser Frigatebirds. Raptors, gull and terns are shown in flight as well, which is very useful as very often only flight views are obtained. With a few birds, subspecies are also illustrated. Despite a few reservations noted before, it is clear that much thought and effort has been put into making the plates ID oriented and useful.

    On the whole, the text and plates together result in a book that is a useful addition to the identification literature to the region. Together with the fact that it covers all of the birds found in the political unit of Malaysia and Singapore in one book and with useful maps and details on where to go birding; this book will be a popular choice of a field guide for visiting birders and locals.
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  • Good for Singapore, less good in Borneo
    By Keith 28 Oct 2021 Written for Paperback
    In some ways, Malaysia has a confusing geography, with its west side as part of the continent of Asia (Peninsula Malaysia) while the majority of the country lies to the east on Borneo, which is the third-largest island in the world, but not a country itself. This field guide covers 829 bird species found in either part of Malaysia and adds in Singapore, which is an island twice the size of the Isle of Wight. It is an exciting area for the birder with some great endemic bird species and many spectacular national parks.

    Lim Kim Seng and Lim Kim Chuah are two of the best-known birders of Singapore, and here they partner with Yong Ding Li of BirdLife Asia, with American artist Dana Gardner providing the illustrations. His 166 colour plates are laid out to face text with around 5-6 species per spread. The layout is easy to follow and is not too crowded. Most birds are painted facing right in a perched position and without vegetation invading the space. Adults and juveniles are displayed in some cases, and for some species, different races are shown where they are markedly different on Borneo. Larger birds such as raptors and waders are shown in flight too. The text provides a concise description of the plumage and voice plus the range, typical habitat, breeding season and status.

    All of this is good, but the notable missing element here is the lack of maps. Modern birders rely on maps, and with a wealth of data available these days there really is no excuse for not having even basic distribution maps. Even a simple colour code to indicate whether each species is in Peninsula Malaysia, Singapore or Borneo would be useful. There is a section with photographs explaining the habitats that exist across the area and a further ten pages are devoted to describing key birding areas that are popular with birders.

    The species order used follows that adopted by IOC, but decisions by IOC to split out several species have not been incorporated fully but just mentioned. Examples of this include Pale-faced and Cream-eyed Bulbuls and Dayak Jungle Flycatcher – all of which are recent splits in Borneo.

    The publication of this book coincided with the arrival of the new Lynx Edicions field guide to Malaysia. That book includes the new species mentioned above and also has 775 distribution maps. However, it is almost twice the price at £45 (softback version). My view is that the Beaufoy book is certainly sufficient for any visitor to Singapore – and some of Peninsula Malaysia too, but with its maps and more up-to-date taxonomy the Lynx book has to be the choice for Borneo without a doubt.
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Lim Kim Seng has more than 40 years experience of birdwatching across Southeast Asia. He is a professional bird guide and has authored more than 10 books on birds.

Yong Ding Li is vice-chair of the Southeast Asian Biodiversity Society and has published many research papers on birds, conservation and ecology. He also advises the IUCN SSC on Southeast Asian birds.

Lim Kim Chuah is a committee member of the Nature Society (Singapore)’s bird group and one of the most experienced birdwatchers in Singapore.

Dana Gardner has illustrated over 24 books on birds and natural history. He has spent 10 years living and working in Southeast Asia, and Central and South America.

Field / Identification Guide
By: Lim Kim Seng(Author), Yong Ding Li(Author), Lim Kim Chuah(Author), Dana Gardner(Illustrator)
396 pages, ~180 plates with colour illustrations; 18 colour photos, 2 colour & 1 b/w illustrations, 7 colour maps
A comprehensive field guide to 815 bird species of Malaysia and Singapore that includes distribution maps and background biological information.
Media reviews

"[...] While this handy book lacks the panache of other Beaufoy publications, the authors and artist deserve congratulations for achieving a first compilation of an all-Malaysia bird list. As a database, it is a reliable source for regional comparative ornithology or biogeography. Above all, it fulfils its purpose as a dependable guide for the visiting or resident birder in any part of Malaysia and Singapore."
– Cranbrook, Ibis 163(2), April 2021

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