Nikon Monarch 7

aba events

Your Turn: The 20 Best Birds in Asia

myers_nightjarThe recently released Birder’s Guide to Travel features a fun article by Susan Myers, one of the world’s experts on Asian birds (and author of 2010’s Birds of Borneo).

Susan tells us, based on her vast experience throughout the continent, which birds she thinks are the 20 best in Asia–that is, which birds really get her going. Some (Satanic Nightjar, right) I found surprising. Others, (Blue-headed Pitta, below left) slightly more predictable. The pittas are certainly on my bucket list. And then there’s the Malaysian Rail-babbler. Holy cow!


If you’d like to know what Susan’s other 17 picks are, you’ll have to read the article, which is available online, along with the rest of the issue.

Susan and I invite you to discuss her picks and to share your own Top 20 lists. Perhaps you have some different candidates for the list. Or, as Susan suggests at the end of her article, maybe you’d like to share your “Top 20 Birding Sites in Asia” of “Top 20 Most Soul-destroying Birds in Asia”. I’ve never been to Asia, but I imagine there might be a wren-babbler or two on that second list!

Photos © Susan Myers.

The following two tabs change content below.
Michael Retter
Michael L. P. Retter is the editor of the ABA's newest magazine, Birder's Guide. He also wears his ABA cap while working as a Technical Reviewer for Birding magazine. When not at home, Michael is often leading tours in Middle America (Mexico through Panama). He currently lives with his fiancé, Matt, in Fort Worth, Texas. In his fleeting free time there, he pursues interests in horticulture (especially orchids), music, cooking, and numismatics. Michael also runs GBNA, the continent's informal club and email list for LGBT birders.
  • MBrady

    Cool article, but man….such a subjective list! My only true complaint with it is the Wallcreeper, because it’s not a strictly Asian bird, and for this sort of endeavor, it should be limited to just Asian birds. Just off the top of my head, I think that the birds in the article could have been swapped out for Ivory-breasted Pitta, Temminck’s Tragopan, Crested Argus, Grandala, Hypocolius, Hume’s Ground-Tit, Siberian Crane, Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, Celestial Monarch (for the name alone), Bare-headed Bulbul, White-eyed River-Martin, Bali Myna, Elliot’s Laughingthrush (really any Garrulax would do here), Cutia, Wallace’s Standard-Wing (though I’ll concede that barely counts as Asian), Ibisbill, Javan Trogon (or Ward’s), Chinese Crested Tern, Serendib Scops-Owl, and Great Philippine Eagle easily, and the list would have been just as spectacular. One thing is for sure: Asia kicks ass!

    • Michael Retter

      Thanks for sharing your list, Matt. Gosh, I think the only one I’m “eh” about is the tern. I know it’s hella rare, but I’ve never been big on terns, and this one looks rather like the rest, so it wouldn’t compel me to visit Asia. That said, I’d still be happy to see one if I happened to be there!

    • Susan Myers

      Well, interesting list Matt but you’ve contradicted yourself! Hypocolius isn’t strictly Asian either, and Standardwing, as you say, doesn’t really qualify. Also, the River-Martin has been extinct for many years now. Have you seen Bare-headed Bulbul? Haha! Chinese Crested Tern? Pulease! As for Crested Argus…nice but I only know one person who’s ever seen it. Celestial Monarch would be better called Disappointing Monarch…LOL It’s all a bit of fun 😉

    • Andy Boyce

      Just for fun (with heavy and unapologetic Borneo bias):
      Bornean Banded Pitta
      Himalayan Monal
      Western Tragopan
      Painted Sandgrouse
      Straw-headed Bulbul
      Barred Laughingthrush
      Bornean Bristlehead
      Bengal Florican
      either Wedge-billed Babbler
      any Ground-Cuckoo
      Helmeted Hornbill
      Fulvous Parrotbill
      Hose’s Broadbill
      Giant Ibis
      Bornean Stubtail
      White-browed Tit-Warbler
      Xinjiang Ground-Jay
      Red-and-Black Thrush
      Little Forktail
      Oriental Bay Owl

      Andy Boyce

      • Andy Boyce

        I’ve gotta say, I’ve never understood the Trogon obsession. They are all the same, and they are all over the place. They have crap vocalizations, and they have the nasty habits of smelling terrible and nesting in trees that fall over in the middle of the nesting cycle.

        • Michael Retter

          I don’t think Whitehead’s Trogon looks at all like Resplendent Quetzal. And though I’ve not seen the former, I think they’re both awesome.

          • Andy Boyce

            You’re right of course. I think my distaste comes from the 1.82 million times I’ve been asked by breathless visiting birders “HAVE YOU SEEN A TROGON?!”. A typical reply is, “no not recently, but there is a Bornean Stubtail singing just behind us”. Unfortunately by the time I’ve gotten to the second part of that sentence they have already moved on.

  • AJ Knue

    Susan put together a really fine list. My own list includes several species which aren’t nearly so spectacular- for example, I’d put Sichuan Jay there but it’s no looker! I’m fond of the the Perisoreus Jays and this species is range-restricted, charismatic and found in some lovely forests. Other worthy candidates not yet mentioned are Lidth’s and Lanceolated Jays, Japanese Murrelet, Rufous-headed Robin, Jankowski’s Bunting, Beautiful Nuthatch, any of the Liocichlas, Varied and Yellow Tits, Philippine Trogon, Pygmy Tit, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, any Monal, any Ground-Chough, Andaman Treepie, either Florican, and Scarlet Finch.

  • I’m not exactly familiar with bird names or their habits but I’ve been exposed to birding a bit. That’s why I understand that there are bird tours and places where birdwatching is part of the activity, like those found in

  • Donnie

    In many ways it’s not so special but size alone makes we want to include the Rhinoceros

  • Jim

    What about the Asian paradise flycatcher?

  • Tom Marko

    A pair of Black and Red Broadbill in southern Thailand were quite a treat for me.

American Birding Podcast
Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Recent Comments




ABA's FREE Birder's Guide

If you live nearby, or are travelling in the area, come visit the ABA Headquarters in Delaware City.

Beginning this spring we will be having bird walks, heron watches and evening cruises, right from our front porch! Click here to view the full calender, and register for events >>

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Open Mic: Young Birder Camp at Hog Island: Coastal Maine Bird Studies for Teens September 11, 2017 3:07
    At the mic: Dessi Sieburth, an avid birder, photographer, and conservationist, is a 10th grader at Saint Francis High School in La Canada, California. He is a member of the Pasadena Audubon Young Birder’s Club and Western Field Ornithologists. Dessi enjoys birding in his home county of Los Angeles. Last summer, Dessi attended Camp Colorado, […]
  • Introducing the Whimbrel Birders Club! September 7, 2017 2:33
    Whimbrel Birders Club was established at the first annual Illinois Young Birders Symposium in August 2016. We are a birding club truly meant for everyone, no matter your age, disability, or ethnicity. […]
  • Open Mice: Kestrels–An Iowa Legacy May 16, 2017 6:29
    A few years ago, a short drive down my gravel road would yield at least one, if not two, American Kestrels perched on a power line or hovering mid-air above the grassy ditch. Today, I have begun to count myself lucky to drive past a mere one kestrel per week rather than the daily sightings. […]

Follow ABA on Twitter