Birding Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo

John Whitehead (1860-1899) was a British explorer who annually beginning in 1885 tried to climb Mount Kinabalu and at last succeeded in 1888, the primary particular person to take action. When not climbing, he collected species, and thus a variety of birds are named after him.

Three of them will be discovered on Mount Kinabalu, and native chicken guides communicate admiringly of colleagues who’ve seen all three of them on someday (we solely managed two).

Whitehead’s Broadbill is a chicken I might by no means have been capable of finding with out a information because it cleverly employs a inexperienced plumage to grow to be nearly invisible in a inexperienced darkish forest (I feel it’s considerably shocking that no more birds are inexperienced, as when it comes to camouflage, this actually works relatively properly).

A examine on the breeding biology of Whitehead’s Broadbill was simply printed in Might 2023 however leaves a little bit of a puzzle because the breeding success is described as comparatively excessive, that means there needs to be different causes for the inhabitants decline of the species.

For Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, the Latin species title juliae can also be related to Mr. Whitehead himself – his sponsor on his explorations was the British collector Arthur Hay ninth Marquis of Tweeddale (if Tweeddale appears like I made it up, I swear I didn’t), and this collector’s second spouse was Julia Charlotte Sophia Stewart Mackenzie Marchioness of Tweeddale (at the moment, individuals hardly ever needed to fill out varieties asking for his or her full title, which explains why there was no aversion to prolonged names).

So, like a soccer stadium named after an insurance coverage firm, the broadbill ended up bearing a reputation celebrating a sponsor.

Curiously, the primary description of a nest of Whitehead’s Spiderhunter was solely printed in 2015.

The possible motive for this late discovery (in addition to for the overall problem of seeing this spiderhunter although it’s in all probability not even that uncommon) is that the chicken often spends most of its time very excessive up within the crowns of bushes – the nest was at a top of 19 meters.

Just like the broadbill, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter is a Borneo endemic.

In line with eBird, the Black-and-crimson Oriole is a “strange-looking, darkish oriole”.

On a barely extra scientific degree, a paper explains the plumage shade of the oriole with the presence of keto-carotenoids together with canthaxanthin, adonirubin, astaxanthin, papilioerythrinone, and doradexanthin. In fact, solely chemists have a tough concept what that may imply.

I used to be nearly to touch upon the dearth of a black cap within the Black-capped White-eye once I learn the eBird description of the species: “Notice this species’s broad white eyering, in addition to its smoky-black brow and lores (regardless of title, doesn’t have a lot of a black cap).”

Mediocre minds suppose alike.

When seeing a Black-sided Flowerpecker, after all, the primary thought everybody has is “What an incredible black facet!”

Except, after all, you see a feminine.



Whereas the Bornean Forktail appears fairly much like the White-crowned Forktail, it apparently is a separate species, making it one other Borneo endemic.

The Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush is a Borneo endemic as properly and is described as being quite common (not that I can inform from simply staying at Mount Kinabalu for about someday).

In truth, a 2023 paper within the presumably extremely popular journal “The Malaysian Forester” lists this species as probably the most generally encountered within the area examined.

Whereas it’s laudable to publish a paper concerning the menace to laughingthrushes (together with this) by the chicken commerce, I nonetheless really feel that lame-joke titles resembling “Nothing to snicker about – the continued unlawful commerce in laughingthrushes (Garrulax species) within the chicken markets of Java, Indonesia” needs to be averted. Go away the unhealthy jokes to me, please.

Anyway, such chicken seize is the primary motive for the categorization of the Sunda Laughingthrush as Close to Threatened. That is notably acute in Indonesia (supply).

This laughingthrush appears to have a unique style in shade, choosing a pale blue eyering relatively than the orange-yellow one of many earlier one.

The Borneo-endemic Chestnut-crested Yuhina is a cooperative breeder – the overwhelming majority of breeding pairs (97%) in a examine carried out right here at Mount Kinabalu had helpers.

Curiously, solely about half of the helpers are associated to the breeding pair …

… and solely those not associated to the pair gained some parentage, both by sneaking in some intercourse with the breeding feminine or by including an egg. I assume it will not be okay to do that to your personal family members, however with strangers, it’s in all probability okay.

This can be a very unhealthy picture of a Fruithunter. I’m solely together with it as a result of our information was sort of enthusiastic about it, stating that it’s arduous to seek out because it doesn’t vocalize. Nonetheless, a nasty picture. Will need to have been a digital camera fault.

eBird offers the Indigo Flycatcher a really constructive evaluate, calling it a “lovely little gem of a flycatcher”.



Apparently, Indigo Flycatchers primarily hunt in teams, as described right here.

Considerably superfluously, the paper begins with the relatively pompous assertion “In animal habits, searching is without doubt one of the essential actions that may maintain inhabitants sustainability” – is it actually needed to elucidate that birds must eat?

The Little Cuckoo-Dove certainly appears like a cross between a pigeon and a cuckoo, although it’s the former, proudly (and for my part, mistakenly) elevating its personal chicks regardless of the prices and annoyances of doing so.


The Latin species title of the Penan Bulbul is ruficrissus. The HBW explains that rufus means “purple” whereas crissum means “vent”, after which for no obvious motive (aside from that intercourse sells, possibly?) provides that crissare means “to copulate”.

It appears the species is sort of the mountain or SUV model of the Ochraceous Bulbul.

Whereas the nominate species of the Mountain Leaf Warbler has a really good brilliant yellow shade, birdwatchers at Mount Kinabalu should make do with a much less enticing subspecies, kinabaluensis.

Or to say it in a barely much less judgemental means, as eBird does: “In most areas, birds are yellowish inexperienced above and brighter yellow beneath; birds on Mount Kinabalu are gray-green above and off-white beneath.”

Little analysis appears to have been executed on lots of the birds of Mount Kinabalu. This contains the Sunda Cuckooshrike – the one bit of data I can present is that the Latin species title larvata means masked.

Notice the blackish space across the eyes – apparently, the dimensions of the masks can also be an indicator of the intercourse, with the male having a much bigger masks, however to me, the chicken in my picture appears to fall proper between the 2 illustrations supplied within the HBW.

So relatively than proclaiming a impartial intercourse and being accused of wokeism, I want to not make a press release concerning the intercourse of the chicken within the picture.


In line with Wikipedia, there are 20 chicken species named after Coenraad Jacob Temminck (1778-1858), a Dutch zoologist, although this contains each Latin and English names in addition to just a few subspecies. Manner too many, if you happen to ask me … Anyway, this record contains Temminck’s Sunbird.

Whereas it’s described as a medium-sized sunbird by eBird, one has to remember the fact that sunbirds usually are fairly small and lightweight – the common weight of this species is about 5 grams.

Apparently, in case of maximum drought, these birds (and a number of other different Malaysian species described in an article) cease breeding as a survival tactic.

Which may assist these species take care of local weather change.

My ID for the feminine is principally simply based mostly on the truth that it visited the identical tree because the male, so it would properly be mistaken – eBird admits that the “feminine Temminck’s could be very plain and troublesome to tell apart from different sunbirds”.

Autor Kai Pflug


Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.

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