Borneo Birding Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should I go birding/birdwatching in Borneo?
With nearly 700 species of resident and migratory birds, 60 of which are endemic to the island alone, Borneo is truly one of the richest habitats when it comes to avian life. You’re bound to encounter some of the most sought-after targets among birders, such as Hornbills, Bornean Bristleheads, Great Argus, White-crowned Shama, Temminck’s Sunbird and Asian Paradise Flycatchers. In addition to being a birdwatcher’s paradise, it’s also one of the most beautifully biodiverse locations in the world, home to great mountain ranges, ancient rainforests, mighty rivers, and stunning sandy beaches.
A trip to Borneo is worth it for the birds and other wildlife alone – but we’re pretty sure you’ll also fall in love with the amazing scenes, delectable food, and friendly locals that make the island a one-of-a-kind destination for nature lovers everywhere.
2. Why should I use Borneo Birding?
With over 20 years of experience, we specialise in expertly guided birding trips to the best localities in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Our guides have an intimate knowledge of the habits and habitats of Bornean birds to ensure the best possible viewing opportunities.
The emphasis of our trips is to see as wide a range of Bornean birds as possible – particularly the sought-after endemics – but we believe in quality observations rather than rushing from site to site. Birding in tropical forests is unpredictable and there are often periods of low bird activity, but patience and determination are usually rewarded. Pheasants, trogons, pittas and wren-babblers do not give themselves up easily, but a combination of stealth, awareness and a bit of good fortune often lead to unforgettable encounters. In some localities, we work closely with other lodge-based guides to access the places where target species are most likely.
Accommodation and meals are of the highest standards available in the best birding localities with friendly lodge staff and efficient transportation at all times. On our package tours we take a maximum of 8 birders to ensure that everyone’s needs and interests can be met, with a birding specialist guide who is both friendly and knowledgeable. You will join like-minded people from all corners of the world – so no matter the trip, you’ll always be in good company!
3. Where in Borneo can I go birding/birdwatching?
Birdlife is widely spread out through Borneo, but some of the more rewarding birdwatching spots can be found in Sabah (the northern part of the island).
Our tours focus primarily on taking you to various places in Sabah including the west coast, where mighty Mount Kinabalu and its surrounding foothills beckon, and the east coast, where great forest reserves and the majestic Kinabatangan River reside. As well as every other major birding spot in between such as the Danum Valley Conservation Area and Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
4. What birds can I expect to see in Borneo?
It depends on the terrain!
If you’re traversing through mountainous areas such as Kinabalu Park or Crocker Range Park, you can expect to find beautiful birds such as the Malaysian Treepie, Laughing Trush, Short-tailed Magpie, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Indigo Flycatcher, and Mountain Serpent Eagle (also known as the Kinabalu Serpent Eagle).
Make your way into the heart of Borneo’s rainforest instead, such as the Danum Valley or Tabin forest reserves, and you’ll be met with some of the most prime bird watching areas in Sabah! These particularly rich habitats are home to many endemic bird species – including Bornean Bristleheads, Scarlet Minivets, Banded Broadbills, Red-bearded Bee-Eater, and Blue-Banded Pittas.
The Kinabatangan River, being one of the most important waterways of Southeast Asia, is also teeming with birdlife. Among its feathery inhabitants are 8 species of hornbills including Rhinoceros Hornbills and Helmeted Hornbills, as well as Bornean Falconets (endemic falconets who are one of the smallest birds of prey in the world), the rare Storm Storks, the predatory Bat Hawks, and Bornean Ground Cuckoos.
Of the 60 species endemic to Borneo, 33 can be found in Sabah alone. That should tell you a lot about how many unique birds you’ll get the chance to see here!
5. Could you describe a typical day as a guest in one of your birding tour packages?
A typical day includes a very early wake-up, with breakfast before 6am, in order to make the most of the prime birding time: 6am to 9am. Most birds become less active as the day warms up, but deep-forest dwellers may still forage in their shady habitat, while nectivores and fruiteaters can be busy throughout the day. Midday is usually a time to rest up and enjoy a delicious lunch. Late afternoon is time to get out onto the trails or boats again, and we often undertake night excursions in search of nocturnal birds such as owls, frogmouths and nightjars.
Your tour will be designed around both quality and comfort, so rest assured that your needs will be well taken care of by our expert staff and the diverse richness of Borneo’s natural treasures.
6. Can I get a customised birdwatching tour to meet my own preferences?
Yes! We pride ourselves as a flexible tour operator – so you can either join one of our exciting tour packages listed in the website, or you could also let us know about your individual needs (and most desired birds) and we will do our utmost best to tailor a unique, customised tour for you.
7. Is it safe to travel to Borneo?
Yes. Borneo in general, is a safe destination with relatively low crime rates. Visitors should exercise the usual precautions – not walking alone at night, not leaving valuables such as cameras and smartphones on display, using registered and licensed taxis and many more. For the latest safety and security information, please see your government’s travel advice, Sabah Tourism Board’s Advisory and our Travel Advisory.
8. When is a good time to visit Borneo?
Borneo is a tropical paradise that attracts visitors all year-round, with two types of seasons: the dry season, which starts from March to September; and the wet season, which lasts from October to February. For mammals and birds, the best time to spot them is during the drier periods, especially from late June to early August.
9. How can I get to Borneo?
Our tour company is based in Sabah, one of the Malaysian states of Borneo Island. Depending on the birding tour package you choose, your trip could start in either the West Coast or the East Coast. If it’s the first one, you can book a flight directly to Kota Kinabalu, the state capital. If your birding trip starts in the east coast, you’ll want to get a flight to Sandakan, instead.
If you’re worried about the particulars of the travelling/logistics from your location to here, or have even more questions about any other topic you’re unsure of, we’re more than happy to help! Simply give our offices a call at +60-88-438300, or fill in an inquiry at our Contact page to get in touch with our dedicated reservation team.