Birds of Malaysia Field Guide

Birds of MalaysiaBirds of Malaysia Field Guide

Malaysia has long been visited by birders wishing to enjoy the many incredible species inhabiting this fantastic country. However, field guides covering the whole country have either been absent or poor quality until now. Instead of dealing with different guides for Peninsula Malaysia and Borneo birders can now find all of the birds of Malaysia in one publication. The lightweight, soft cover version of this book is easy for us to recommend as the field guide for the itineraries we offer to this bird-rich country.

Birds of Malaysia is the field guide that we will use on our birding tour itineraries in Malaysia/Borneo:

These birding tours, full of top quality birds are best enjoyed if using this birds of Malaysia field guide. Using older regional field guides is likely to be confusing and due to the older taxonomy used in these publications.

Range Maps

While range maps are always a feature we like to see in a high quality field guide, given that Malaysia is split between the peninsula and the island of Borneo, with each part having birds that are restricted to those locations, the maps are even more important than usual. Maps updated before publication are more accurate than any that proceeded these and are very helpful, particularly with subdivisions for all known subspecies. This is particularly helpful given the rapid pace of taxonomic research and the potential for further endemic splits. Range maps are printed alongside the species illustrated which makes for nice, quick reference.


In keeping with other field guides in the Lynx series, the illustrations are of a good and consistent quality. In many cases these are taken from the parent publications of “Handbook of the Birds of the World”.  However, given that there are numerous unique local subspecies, particularly in Borneo, it is good to see that new illustrations to include many of these feature too.  In most cases the plates are reproduced brightly and uncluttered although there are a very few exceptions. Some of the plates for raptors are a little overcrowded and the illustrations for the tailorbirds are not the best representations we have seen. However, the vast majority of plates are excellent.

Species Accounts

The species accounts contain a lot of relevant information, squeezed into a compact space. Information on whether a bird is common or not is included alongside whether it is found in Peninsula or Bornean Malaysia. All known subspecies are listed in the appropriate species accounts, something that has been overlooked in many field guides until now. Call descriptions are only given where they are helpful, so that long reams of meaningless text is cut out, leaving more room for information that is useful to birders. A short section that highlights confusion species is also very useful indeed.

For those not already familiar with Lynx Edicions field guides the way that ever-chaning taxonomy is dealt with in the species accounts is excellent. Subspecies/potential splits are listed separately under the main heading of the parent species, with potential names should they reach species level or according to other taxonomies. In this way the field guide can remain relevant to birders using different taxonomies for their lists as well as into the future as further progress is made in avian classification.

The species accounts also contain a QR code that takes birders, when they are online, to the species page on eBird. These species pages contain photos, calls and other information.

Other Features

The addition of species names in Malay is nice as it allows birders to interact with locals if a common language is not shared. The index is presented in English with a separate index in Malay and both are logically compiled in alphabetic order depending on the bird’s family name e.g. Woodpecker, Banded, something that some field guides manage to make more confusing than is necessary.

There is only a very short introductory section that deals with Malaysia’s birding habitats. While birders buy field guides for assistance in identification, it would be nicer if the introduction contained slightly more extensive information.

As with other field guides in this series a card containing a link to a free download of a checklist of the birds of Malaysia, strictly based on HBW taxonomy.


We highly recommend that all participants on our trips to Malaysia/Borneo obtain a copy of this field guide. Birders booking a Peninsula Malaysia or Borneo birding tour with us will receive a 10% discount code for use when purchasing this book directly from the publisher. Our guides will be using this field guide when leading our Peninsula Malaysia & Borneo birding tours.