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Birding Tours

Where to watch birds in Myanmar

With 1113 species, Myanmar has an exceptionally rich bird fauna, which in Southeast Asia, is second only to Indonesia in diversity. Six species (Burmese tit, White-browed nuthatch, Burmese lark, White-throated babbler, Hooded treepie, and Jerdon’s minivet) are endemics (range restricted to Myanmar) and 45 are globally threatened.

The birds of Myanmar are particularly interesting because zoographically, the country is a meeting point of four sub-regions. Most of Myanmar lies within the Indochinese sub-region (of the Oriental region). However, the Rakhine and Chin Hills in the west form part of the Indian sub-region. The high mountains in the extreme north, with their typically Himalayan species, form part of the Palaearctic region and the forests of the Tanintharyi Division (Tennasserim) in the southeast contain many species with Malesian affinities.

In addition, northern Myanmar is protected by a ring of mountains (to the west, north, and east) and therefore remains relatively warm in winter, as compared, for example, to Vietnam. Myanmar is therefore the perfect winter refuge for nearly 350 migrant bird species.

Many of these migrate to the 55 IBAs (Important Bird Areas), which are found in Myanmar

Bird watching in Yangon and Hlawga

Hlawga Wildlife Park

Hlawga Wildlife Park, which is 22 km from Yangon, was established in 1982. It comprises a wildlife park (818 acres), a mini-zoo (62 acres) and a buffer zone (660 acres). The habitat is primarily semi-evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest, swamp forest and extensive lakes. It was established to protect the forest and vegetative cover of the catchment of Hlawga Lake. It is also an environmental education centre. In addition to wild birds and reptiles, within the fenced park, there is a representative collection of Myanmar’s indigenous wild mammal species. These are kept under as near as possible under natural conditions but in such as a way that they can be readily viewed by visitors.

Birds

A wide variety of wild birds can be seen, depending on season, including Phasianidae: Red junglefowl. Anatidae: Lesser whistling duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Spot-billed duck. Podicipedidae: Little grebe. Ciconiidae: Painted stork, Asian openbill. Ardeidae: Black-crowned night heron, Indian pond-heron, Chinese pond-heron, Eastern cattle egret. Phalacrocoracidae: Great Cormorant, Little cormorant. Anhingidae: Oriental darter. Falconidae: Osprey. Rallidae: White-breasted waterhen, Common moorhen. Vanellidae: Red-wattled lapwing. Charadriidae: Little ringed plover. Jacanidae: Pheasant-tailed jacana, Bronze-winged jacana. Scolopacidae: Spotted redshank. Columbidae: Pale-capped pigeon, Thick-billed green-pigeon, Spotted dove. Cuculidae: Plaintive cuckoo, Green-billed malkoha, Greater Coucal. Apodidae: Asian palm-swift. Alcedinidae: Black-capped kingfisher, White-throated kingfisher, Common kingfisher. Coraciidae: Dollarbird. Meropidae: Little green bee-eater, Blue-tailed bee-eater, Chestnut-headed bee-eater. Ramphastidae: Coppersmith barbet. Campephagidae: Black- winged cuckooshrike, Rosy minivet. Oriolidae: Black-naped oriole, Black-hooded oriole. Aegithinidae: Common iora. Dicruridae: Black drongo, Ashy drongo, Lesser racket-tailed drongo, Greater racket-tailed drongo, Hair-crested drongo. Monarchidae: Black-naped monarch. Corvidae: Racket -tailed treepie. Nectariniidae: Olive-backed sunbird, Purple sunbird , Ruby-cheeked sunbird. Dicaeidae: Thick-billed flowerpecker, Scarlet-backed flowerpecker. Motacillidae: Forest Wagtail. Sturnidae: Common myna. Muscicapidae: Blue-throated flycatcher, Taiga (or Red-throated) flycatcher, White-rumped shama. Pycnonotidae: Red-whiskered bulbul, Red-vented bulbul, Black-headed bulbul, Black-crested bulbul, Stripe-throated bulbul, Streak-eared bulbul. Hirundinidae: Barn swallow. Phylloscopidae: Two-barred warbler, Greenish warbler, Yellow-browed warbler. Timaliidae: Chestnut-capped babbler, Puff-throated babbler, White-crested laughingthrush, and Lesser necklaced laughingthrush. Acrocephalidae: Oriental reed-warbler.

Other wildlife

Eld’s deer (Thamin), Hog deer, Barking deer, Sambar deer, Rhesus monkey, pythons, and pangolin roam freely within the fenced Hlawga Wildlife Park. In the small zoo, there is a range of small mammals, birds, tigers, leopards, bears and estuarine crocodiles.

Bird watching in Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary

Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary

With an area of 103 km2, Moeyungyi wetlands became a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1986 and a Ramsar site in 2004. Situated in Bago Division, about 70 miles north of Yangon, it was originally (1904) constructed as a reservoir, rectangular in shape, to provide water to the Bago-Sittaung canal (linking the Bago and Sittaung rivers) in order to facilitate the transport of timber by boat. It now functions as a source of fresh water for downstream areas where rice cultivation takes place.

Moeyungyi floods in the wet season (May-October). In the winter dry season, October to March, it hosts over 20,000 migratory waterbirds. This is in addition to its rich resident bird fauna. The site is also important for supporting the vulnerable Burmese eyed turtle Morenia ocellata. A number of local communities use Moeyungyi for fishing, grazing, duck-rearing and some rice-growing. There is a small tourist facility, which includes some accommodation for birdwatchers.

Birds

The rich bird fauna (in excess of 125 species) includes Anatidae: Lesser whistling duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Garganey, Gadwall, Northern pintail, Ferruginous pochard. Ciconiidae: Painted stork, Asian openbill, Woolly-necked stork. Threskiornithidae: Black-headed ibis, Glossy ibis. Ardeidae: Yellow bittern, Cinnamon bittern. Ardeidae: Black-crowned night-heron, Grey heron. Gruidae: Sarus Crane. Pelecanidae: Spot-billed pelican. Falconidae: Black kite, Pied harrier, Greater spotted eagle. Rallidae: Watercock, Purple swamphen. Jacanidae: Pheasant-tailed jacana, Bronze-winged jacana. Glareolidae: Oriental pratincole. Scolopacidae: Green sandpiper, Common sandpiper. Sternidae: Little Tern, Cuculidae: Plaintive cuckoo. Alcedinidae: Black-capped kingfisher, Common kingfisher, Blue-eared kingfisher. Ploceidae: Asian golden weaver. Mucsicapidae: Bluethroat. Acrocephalidae: Black-browed reed-warbler, Oriental reed warbler, Thick-billed warbler. Megaluridae: Striated grassbird.

Bird watching in Pyay, Bago Division

Pyay is situated in the north-west of Bago Division, about 290 km north, north-west of Yangon. It is adjacent to the Ayeyarwady River. Bird watching is focused on the dry deciduous forests near to Pyay city.

Birds

Birds in the dry deciduous forest in Pyay include, amongst others, Phasianidae: Chinese francolin. Falconidae: White-eyed buzzard. Picidae: Greater yellownape, Fulvous-breasted woodpecker, Streak-throated woodpecker, Grey-headed woodpecker, Himalayan flameback, Common flameback, Greater flameback. Monarchiae: Asian Paradise flycatcher. Corvidae: Red-billed blue magpie, Rufous treepie, Hooded treepie. Lanidae: Burmese shrike. Alaudidae: Burmese bushlark. Timaliidae: White-throated

Bird watching in Indawgyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary (including Myitkyina and Tanaing)

Indawgyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary

Indawgyi Wetland is situated in Moe Nyin township in Kachin state, some 772 miles north of Yangon. It is one of the biggest inland lakes in Southeast Asia and the largest in Myanmar. The wildlife sanctuary was established in 2004 and covers 815 km2.

Every year migratory birds from as far north as Siberia follow the East Asian-Australasian flyway and flock to Indawgyi Lake to rest and feed during the winter season. They start arriving in November and stay until the end of March. Bird surveys over recent years regularly record more than 20,000 wintering water birds with up to 100 species.

The birds can be observed in a large variety of habitats: the open lake, floating vegetation mats along the lakes edge, seasonally flooded grasslands and the surrounding paddy fields.

Bird watching in Bagan

Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city situated on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River in the central dry zone of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Bagan. Between 1057 and 1287, at the height of the Kingdom’s power, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built in an area that extended for 103 km2. Today, despite earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters, including the sacking of the city by Mongol invaders, over 2,000 pagodas and other monuments remain. It is truly one of the great wonders of the world.

Bagan is also an excellent place to go bird watching. Sheltered from the southwest monsoon by high mountains, this area of central Myanmar receives little rainfall and is a true semi-desert. It is characterised by plants such as euphorbia and acacia and is quite similar to parts of northwest India.

Bird watching here is a fantastic experience. The variety is spectacular, both in the dry country of the Bagan Archaeological Zone (the area of the temples) and amongst the sand-bars of the adjacent Ayeyarwady River.

Birds

Perdicinae: Rain quail, Chinese francolin. Anatidae: Ruddy shelduck, Chinese spot-billed duck, Northern shoveler, Northern pintail, Common teal. Ardeidae: Pond-heron, Eastern cattle egret, Grey heron, Great egret, Little egret. Phalacrocoracidae: Great cormorant, Little cormorant. Falconidae: Common kestrel, Laggar falcon, Peregrine falcon, Himalayan buzzard, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Greater spotted eagle, Black kite, Black-shouldered kite, Shikra, Chinese Sparrowhawk, White-eyed Buzzard, Pied harrier. Gruidae: Common crane. Turnicidae: Barred buttonquail, Yellow-legged buttonquail. Burhinidae: Great thick-knee. Pluvialidae: Pacific golden plover, Grey plover. Vanellidae: River lapwing, Red-wattled lapwing. Charodriidae: Little ringed plover, Kentish plover. Scolopacidae: Common sandpiper, Common redshank, Spotted redshank, Common greenshank, Little stint, Temminck’s stint. Glareolidae: Small pratincole. Sternidae: River tern, Black-bellied tern. Columbidae: Rock pigeon, Eurasian collared-dove, Red collared-dove, Spotted dove. Cuculidae: Plaintive cuckoo, Greater coucal. Tytonidae: Common barn-owl. Strigidae: Spotted owlet, Brown boobook. Caprimulgidae: Indian nightjar. Apodiae: Asian palm-swift, House swift. Coraciidae: Indian roller. Alcedinidae: White-throated Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher. Meropidae: Little green bee-eater, Blue-tailed bee-eater. Upupidae: Common hoopoe. Ramphastidae: Coppersmith barbet. Picidae: Eurasian wryneck, Spot-breasted woodpecker. Campephagidae: Scarlet minivet, Ashy minivet, Jerdon’s minivet. Aegithinidae: Common iora. Dicruridae: Ashy drongo, Black drongo. Monarchidae: Black-naped monarch. Corvidae: House crow, Rufous treepie, Hooded treepie. Laniidae: Brown shrike, Burmese shrike, Long-tailed shrike.Nectariniidae: Purple sunbird, Olive-backed sunbird. Dicaeidae: Scarlet-backed flowerpecker. Ploceidae: Baya weaver, Red avadavat. Estrildidae: Scaly-breasted munia. Passeridae: House sparrow, Plain-backed sparrow, Russet sparrow. Motacillidae: Red-throated pipit, Olive-backed pipit, Richard’s pipit, Paddy-field pipit, Long-billed pipit, White wagtail, Eastern yellow wagtail, Citrine wagtail. Sturnidae: Jungle myna, Common myna, Vinous-breasted myna. Muscicapidae: Siberian ruby-throat, Daurian redstart, Blue rock-thrush, Eastern stonechat, White-tailed stonechat, Pied stonechat. Muscicapidae: Taiga flycatcher, Oriental magpie-robin, White-rumped shama. Alaudidae: Burmese bushlark, Sand lark. Pycnonitidae: Streak-eared bulbul, Red-vented bulbul. Hirundinidae: Grey-throated sand-martin, Barn swallow. Phylloscopidae: Tickell’s leaf-warbler, Yellow-streaked warbler, Dusky warbler. Timaliidae: White-throated babbler, Striated babbler, Yellow-eyed babbler. Cisticolidae: Zitting cisticola, Common tailorbird, Grey-breasted prinia, Plain prinia, Brown prinia

Bird watching in Mount Victoria/Nat Ma Taung National Park, Chin Hills, Chin State

Mount Victoria (Nat Ma Taung in Myanmar language and Khonuamthung in the local Chin language) is situated in the beautiful but little-visited Nat Ma Taung National Park, which has an area of approximately 460 km2. At 3,053 metres, Mount Victoria is the tallest peak in the Chin Hills and third tallest in Myanmar. The Chin Hills themselves are a range of mountains that comprise a south extension of the eastern Himalayas and as such are linked to Manipur in India and beyond.

This formerly remote area was not visited by ornithologists until the early part of the 20th century and remains relatively unexplored today. It is home to a rich variety of rare and beautiful birds, many with eastern Himalayan affinities, including the endemic White-browed nuthatch and Burmese tit. The flora is characterised by pine, oak and evergreen forests, bamboo and grasslands, dependent on altitude. Between November and February, the area is ablaze with the blooms of rhododendrons.

Birds

Birds to see en route to Mount Victoria from Bagan

Falconidae: White-rumped falcon, Collared falconet, White-eyed buzzard. Psittacidae: Alexandrine parakeet, Red-breasted parakeet, Rose-ringed parakeet, Blossom-headed parakeet. Strigidae: Asian barred owlet. Apodidae: Crested treeswift. Trogonidae: Red-headed trogon. Upupidae: Eurasian hoopoe. Ramphastidae: Blue-throated barbet, Lineated barbet. Picidae: Great slaty woodpecker, White-bellied woodpecker, Pale-headed woodpecker, Black-headed woodpecker, Greater yellownape, Lesser yellownape, Common flameback, Himalayan flameback, Greater flameback, Grey-headed woodpecker, Grey-capped woodpecker, Spot-breasted woodpecker, Bamboo woodpecker. Campephagidae: Large cuckooshrike.

Tephrodornithidae: Bar-winged flycatcher-shrike, Common woodshrike, Large woodshrike. Campephagidae: Jerdon’s minivet, Ashy minivet, Swinhoe’s minivet, Small minivet, Scarlet minivet, Rosy minivet. Armatidae: Ashy woodswallow. Rhipiduridae: White-browed fantail. Dicruridae: Bronzed drongo. Monarchidae: Black-naped monarch, Asian-paradise flycatcher. Corvidae: Red-billed magpie, Hooded treepie, Rufous treepie. Nectariniidae: Streaked spiderhunter. Dicaeidae: Scarlet-backed flowerpecker, Yellow-vented flowerpecker. Chloropseidae: Blue-winged leafbird, Golden-fronted leafbird. Motacillidae: Long-billed pipit. Sittidae: Neglected nuthatch (or Burmese nuthatch, recently split from Chestnut-bellied nuthatch), Velvet-fronted nuthatch. Sturnidae: Chestnut-tailed starling. Muscicapidae: Blue rock-thrush, Blue-throated flycatcher, Asian brown flycatcher, Dark-sided flycatcher, Verditer flycatcher, Little pied flycatcher. Cettiidae: Yellow-bellied warbler. Timaliidae: Greater necklaced laughingthrush, Brown-cheeked fulvetta, Grey-throated babbler, Pin-striped tit-babbler.

Birds seen in Nat Ma Taung National Park:

a Phasianidae: Hill Partridge, Mountain bamboo-partridge, Blyth’s tragopan, Kalij pheasant, Mrs Hume’s pheasant. Falconidae: Besra, Eurasian sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Oriental hobby, Crested goshawk, Black baza, Oriental honey-buzzard, Common buzzard, Long-legged buzzard, Changeable hawk, Mountain hawk-eagle, Crested serpent-eagle, Black eagle, Columbidae: Ashy woodpigeon, Mountain imperial pigeon, Wedge-tailed green-pigeon, Yellow-footed green-pigeon, Oriental turtle dove, Barred cuckoo-dove. Cuculidae: Large hawk-cuckoo, Eurasian cuckoo, Hodgson’s hawk cuckoo. Strigidae: Collared owlet. Podargidae: Hodgson’s frogmouth. Camprimulgidae: Grey nightjar. Apodidae: Himalayan swiftlet. Ramphastidae: Golden-throated barbet, Great barbet, Lineated barbet, Blue-throated barbet. Picidae: Rufous-bellied woodpecker, Stripe-breasted woodpecker, Crimson-breasted woodpecker, Darjeeling woodpecker, Bay woodpecker, Lesser yellownape. Vireonidae: Black-eared babbler, Black-headed shrike-babbler, Green shrike-babbler, White-browed shrike babbler, Blyth’s shrike-babbler. Campephagidae: Black-winged cuckooshrike Grey-chinned minivet, Long-tailed minivet, Short-billed minivet, Rosy minivet, Small minivet. Oriolidae: Slender-billed oriole, Maroon oriole. Rhipiduridae: White-throated fantail, Yellow-bellied fantail. Corvidae: Eastern jungle crow, Eurasian jay, Yellow-billed blue magpie, Red-billed magpie, Grey treepie. Nectariniidae: Crimson sunbird, Fire-tailed sunbird, Mrs Gould’s sunbird, Green-tailed sunbird. Dicaeidae: Fire-breasted flowerpecker, Yellow-bellied flowerpecker. Passeridae: Russet sparrow. Fringillidae: Common rosefinch, Spot-winged grosbeak, Yellow-breasted greenfinch, Brown bullfinch, Little bunting, Chestnut bunting. Certhiidae: Bar-tailed treecreeper, Hume’s (Manipur) treecreeper (recently split from Brown-throated treecreeper). Sittidae: White-browed nuthatch, White-tailed nuthatch, Chestnut-vented nuthatch. Turdidae: Chestnut thrush, Grey-sided thrush, Eyebrowed thrush, Long-tailed thrush, Black-breasted thrush, Scaly thrush. Muscicapidae: Indian blue robin, Himalayan blue tail (split from Red-flanked bluetail/Orange-flanked bush-robin), Grey bushchat, Black redstart, Blue-fronted redstart, White-bellied redstart, Spotted forktail, White-browed shortwing, Chestnut-bellied rock thrush, Blue-whistling thrush, Slaty-backed flycatcher, Slaty-blue flycatcher, Snowy-browed flycatcher, Pygmy blue flycatcher, Little pied flycatcher, Rufous-gorgeted flycatcher, Vivid niltava, Rufous-bellied niltava. Paridae: Green-backed tit, Yellow-cheeked tit, Black-bibbed tit, Yellow-browed tit, Black-bibbed tit, Grey-crested tit. Remizidae: Fire-capped tit. Stenostiridae: Grey-headed (canary-) flycatcher. Pycnonotidae: Crested finchbill, Striated bulbul, Himalayan black bulbul, Flavescent bulbul. Hirundinidae: Asian house-martin. Aegithalidae: Burmese tit/bushtit (split from Black-browed tit). Cettiidae: Black-faced warbler, Broad-billed warbler, Aberrant bush-warbler, Brownish-flanked bush warbler, Chestnut-headed tesia. Phylloscopidae: Whistler’s warbler, Chestnut-crowned warbler, Ashy-throated warbler, Hume’s warbler, Tickell’s leaf-warbler, Blyth’s leaf-warbler, Radde’s warbler, Buff-barred warbler, Buff-throated warbler. Timaliidae: Spot-breasted parrotbill, Buff-breasted parrotbill (split from Black-throated parrotbill), White-browed fulvetta, Nepal fulvetta, Rusty-capped fulvetta, Striped laughingthrush, Brown-capped laughingthrush, Blue-winged laughingthrush, Assam laughingthrush (recently split from Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush), Slender-billed (Sickle-billed) scimitar-babbler, Streak-breasted scimitar-babbler, Spot-breasted scimitar-babbler, Spot-throated babbler, Golden babbler, Grey-throated babbler, Scaly-breasted wren-babbler, Pygmy wren-babbler, Chin Hills wren-babbler (recently split from Long-tailed wren-babbler), Mount Victoria babax (recently split from Chinese babax), Crimson-(Red-) faced liocichla, Stripe-throated yuhina, Whiskered yuhina, Silver-eared mesia, Himalayan cutia, Grey sibia, Streak-throated barwing, Rusty-fronted barwing, Blue-winged minla (siva), Red-tailed minla, Chestnut-tailed minla. Elachuridae: Spotted elachura (formerly known as Spotted wren-babbler). Megaluridae: Brown bush-warbler, Russet bush-warbler, Grey-crowned warbler, Grey-hooded warbler. Cisticolidae: Black-throated prinia (recently split from Hill prinia), Striated prinia.

Birding in Mount Popa

Mount Popa is a forested mountain which rises spectacularly from the surrounding dry, wooded plain. Its central part is a caldera, which is 1518 metres high, 610 metres wide and 914 metres deep. This is the extinct volcano. It is called Taung Ma-gyi (mother hill).

wide It provides a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, with views of the Ayeyarwady River and Rakhine Yoma hills to the west and the Shan Plateau to the east.

national park has an area of 129 km2 and comprises a variety of habitats 

Birds

Red Junglefowl, Blue-throated Barbet, Green-billed Malkoha, Thick-billed Green, Yellow-footed Green, Wedge-tailed Green and Green Imperial Pigeons, Emerald Dove, Blue-winged Pitta, Red-billed Blue and Black-billed Magpies, Black-hooded Oriole, Grey and Rufous Treepies, White-throated Fantail, Verditer Flycatcher, Daurian Redstart, White-browed Shortwing, Chestnut-flanked and Oriental White-eyes, Lesser Necklaced and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Puff-throated and Chestnut-capped Babbler, Common Rosefinch, Chestnut Bunting and many other bird species

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