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    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.

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    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.
    Michael Retter

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    • 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.

    • http://bestofthephilippineislands.weebly.com/ Monnette

      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 http://bestofthephilippineislands.weebly.com/el-nido-palawan.html

    • 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.

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