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 various birds are named after him.

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

Whitehead’s Broadbill is a hen I’d by no means have been capable of finding and not using a information because it cleverly employs a inexperienced plumage to turn into nearly invisible in a inexperienced darkish forest (I feel it’s considerably stunning that no more birds are inexperienced, as by way of camouflage, this actually works fairly effectively).

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

For Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, the Latin species identify juliae can be related to Mr. Whitehead himself – his sponsor on his explorations was the British collector Arthur Hay ninth Marquis of Tweeddale (if Tweeddale feels 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 kinds asking for his or her full identify, 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.

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

The possible purpose for this late discovery (in addition to for the final issue of seeing this spiderhunter though it’s in all probability not even that uncommon) is that the hen normally spends most of its time very excessive up within the crowns of timber – the nest was at a peak of 19 meters.

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

Based on eBird, the Black-and-crimson Oriole is a “strange-looking, darkish oriole”.

On a barely extra scientific stage, a paper explains the plumage colour of the oriole with the presence of keto-carotenoids together with canthaxanthin, adonirubin, astaxanthin, papilioerythrinone, and doradexanthin. After all, solely chemists have a tough concept what which may imply.

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

Mediocre minds assume alike.

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

Except, in fact, you see a feminine.



Whereas the Bornean Forktail appears to be like 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 effectively and is described as being quite common (not that I can inform from simply staying at Mount Kinabalu for about at some point).

In reality, a 2023 paper within the presumably very talked-about journal “The Malaysian Forester” lists this species as essentially the most generally encountered within the area examined.

Whereas it’s laudable to publish a paper in regards to the risk to laughingthrushes (together with this) by the hen commerce, I nonetheless really feel that lame-joke titles reminiscent of “Nothing to chortle about – the continued unlawful commerce in laughingthrushes (Garrulax species) within the hen markets of Java, Indonesia” must be averted. Depart the dangerous jokes to me, please.

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

This laughingthrush appears to have a special style in colour, choosing a pale blue eyering fairly 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.

Apparently, 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 suppose it will not be okay to do that to your personal family members, however with strangers, it’s in all probability okay.

It is a very dangerous photograph of a Fruithunter. I’m solely together with it as a result of our information was form of enthusiastic about it, stating that it’s arduous to seek out because it doesn’t vocalize. Nonetheless, a foul photograph. Will need to have been a digital camera fault.

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



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

Considerably superfluously, the paper begins with the fairly pompous assertion “In animal conduct, looking is likely one of the essential actions that may maintain inhabitants sustainability” – is it actually obligatory to clarify that birds have to eat?

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


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

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

Whereas the nominate species of the Mountain Leaf Warbler has a really good shiny yellow colour, birdwatchers at Mount Kinabalu should make do with a much less engaging 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 carried out on most of the birds of Mount Kinabalu. This consists of the Sunda Cuckooshrike – the one bit of knowledge I can present is that the Latin species identify larvata means masked.

Observe the blackish space across the eyes – apparently, the scale of the masks can be an indicator of the intercourse, with the male having an even bigger masks, however to me, the hen in my photograph appears to fall proper between the 2 illustrations supplied within the HBW.

So fairly than proclaiming a impartial intercourse and being accused of wokeism, I favor to not make a press release in regards to the intercourse of the hen within the photograph.


Based on Wikipedia, there are 20 hen species named after Coenraad Jacob Temminck (1778-1858), a Dutch zoologist, although this consists of each Latin and English names in addition to a number of subspecies. Means too many, for those who ask me … Anyway, this checklist consists of Temminck’s Sunbird.

Whereas it’s described as a medium-sized sunbird by eBird, one has to take into account that sunbirds typically are fairly small and light-weight – the typical weight of this species is about 5 grams.

Apparently, in case of utmost 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’d effectively be mistaken – eBird admits that the “feminine Temminck’s may be very plain and tough to differentiate from different sunbirds”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *