Sunday, 25 February 2024

Bird Watching Sites in Thailand


By Thawat Wattana

Thailand lies in the Indo-Chinese Peninsula covering a land area of 513,115 It extends some 1,500 km. from north to south striding over parts of the tropical and sub-tropical zones. With its plentiful rainfall and fertile soil, Thailand, like all its neighbours, used to have a very high forest cover. Although, as is well known, much of this is gone, Thailand in the past decades has made ceaseless efforts in forest conservation and has succeeded in expanding enormously its network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

As a result, the country is able to attract and retain a large number of bird species and provide dozens of important bird-watching sites in all regions for the benefit of nature lovers. In an effort to promote eco-tourism, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has published a booklet in Thai, providing information about bird-watching in Thailand, including a list of recommended bird-watching localities. The following is adopted from the booklet.


The North

Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai Province

The mountain group’s heights range from about 300 to 2,565 metres and it is covered by various types of forest. A total of 384 species of birds have so far been recorded to exist on the mountains. The park is suitable for bird-watching throughout the year. Species you can expect to find here include Long-tailed Minivet, Purple Cochoa, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Black-headed Sibia, Green-tailed Sunbird, Chestnut-tailed Minia and Yellow-bellied Fantail.

Doi Luang Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai Province

The mountains are covered by mixed forests, including pine forests, hardwood forests and dense primary forests. You can watch birds here all year round. The interesting species include the Giant Nuthatch, Hume’s Pheasant and Sapphire Flycatcher. As for Deignan’s Babbler, which had never been found elsewhere in the world, has not been seen here for years either.

Doi Angkhang, Chiang Mai Province

Along the high and steep mountain valleys, there are interesting species like Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Spot-breasted Laughingthrush, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Mountain Bamboo Partridge, and Crested Finchbill. Apart from these, no less than 250 other species can also be seen here.

Doi Pha Hom Pok, Chiang Mai Province

Not very far from Doi Angkhang, this mountain is 2,285 metres high, second only to Doi Inthanon. It is only here that several important bird species have been spotted in Thailand, such as Black-throated Tit, Beautiful Nuthatch, Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Whiskered Yuhina, and Speckled Wood Pigeon.

Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, Tak Province

You can observe various species by walking along a section of the Maesot-Umphang Highway from Km-stone 106 to Km-stone 130. Among the interesting species you can see are Burmese Yuhina, White-throated Bulbul, Olive Bulbul, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon, and White-browed Piculet.

Huai Khakhaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Uthai Thani Province

The sanctuary is covered with mixed forests where you can find more than 370 varieties of birds, including Black-headed Woodpecker, White-rumped Falconet, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Peacock, Sultan Tit, Kalij Pheasant, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, and Grey Peacock-Pheasant.


Bangkok & Its Environs

Bangpu Recreation Center, Samut Prakan Province

Birds found here are mostly seabirds and mangrove birds. Other species occasionally seen include Brown-headed Gull, Asian Dowitcher, Little Heron, Golden-bellied Gerygone, and many species of Terns. During the bird migration period, you may see Black-faced Spoonbill, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, and Ruddy Shelduck.

Ban Kalong Coast, Samut Sakhon Province

Almost all kinds of mangrove birds will begin to move to this coast area in mid-September. You can expect to find here Black-winged Stilt, Lesser Sand Plover, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, and Little Tern. The best way to watch mangrove birds is to wait until the sea has receded from the shore. Then tens of thousands of them will come down in large flocks.

Wat Phai Lom, Pathum Thani Province

This is the place to view Asian Openbills which migrate to this area during November and June. Other species of birds found in the area include Black-capped Kingfisher, Forest Wagtail, Spotted Owlet, Spot-billed Pelican and Black-headed Ibis.


The Central and the East

Boraphet Swamp, Nakhon Sawan Province

In the period from October to March, various species of wild ducks migrate from the north to central Thailand, especially the expansive swamp in Nakhon Sawan. Species still found are Lesser Whistling Duck, Garganey, Baer Pochard, Northern Pintail, Lesser Coucal, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Purple Swamphen, Little Grebe, Great Egret, Little Cormorant and other kinds of ducks.

Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phetchaburi Province

This is the largest national park of Thailand, covering an area of 2,914 with thick forests and a vast reservoir. No wonder the number of bird species found here is higher than anywhere else in the country, totaling over 400. Species likely to be found include Common Flameback, Green-eared Barbet, Red-throated Barbet, White-crowned Hornbill, Dusky Broadbill, Red-bearded Bee-eater, White-fronted Scops Owl, and Eared Pitta.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province

A total of 296 species of birds have been found to dwell and find food in the park area, especially in the wetlands. They include Painted Storks, Purple Herons, Northern Pintails, Greater Spotted Eagles, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Sparrowhawk, and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Chanthaburi Province

No less than 276 species of birds have been seen in this sanctuary. The important species that could be found only in the forests of Chanthaburi Province are the Chanthabun Silver Pheasant and Chanthabun Chestnut-headed Partridge. Other noticeable species are the Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Blue-rumped Pitta, Eared Pitta, Siamese Fireback, Oriental Bay Owl, and Spot-billed Eagle Owl.


The Northeast

Khao Yai National Park, Nakhon Ratchasima Province

The park is covered with dry dipterocarp forest, mixed deciduous forest, hill evergreen forest, hardwood forest and some areas of grassland. More than 350 species of birds inhabit the region, including the following attractive ones: Red-headed Trogon, Blue Pitta, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Banded Kingfisher, Blue-throated Barbet, Great Hornbill, Scarlet Minivet, Siamese Fireback, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo and Oriental Darter.

Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum Province

The number of bird species found here is no less than 360, including the Oriental Darter, White-winged Duck, Slender-billed Oriole, Silver Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Black Baza, and many species of woodpeckers.


The South

Krabi Mangrove Forest and Seashore, Krabi Province

Going by boat, you will see in this forest Brown-winged Kingfisher, Mangrove Pitta, Mangrove Whistler, Ruddy Kingfisher, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Copper-throated Sunbird and Finfoot. In May when it is approaching the full-moon day or the new-moon day, you can see many waterbird species which come to feed along the coast.

Sirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest, Narathiwat Province

This area has unique bird species not found in any other part of the country. They are Rufous-tailed Shama, Reddish Scops-owl, Red-naped Trogons, Black-winged Flycatcher-shrikes, Black-crowned Babbler, Large Green Pigeons, and Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers. There is a 1,200-metre wooden path to facilitate the visitors’ study.

If you are interested in visiting any of the bird-watching sites mentioned above, you may obtain further information from your travel agency or the Tourism Authority of Thailand on

Remarks: Photo of birds on the cover and most photos in the story are copyrighted by Mr. Wang Thammachat-udom.