Birding Tan Phu Forest, Vietnam (Half 1) – 10,000 Birds

Birding Tan Phu Forest, Vietnam (Half 1) – 10,000 Birds

Tan Phu Forest is about 2 hours North of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, and the placement of some chook blinds arrange by a Vietnamese who was a park ranger at Cat Tien Nationwide Park and possibly discovered in regards to the financial potential of attracting overseas birders. I assume that it’s simpler to arrange blinds right here than within the nationwide park – and lots of the star birds are fairly comparable.

To be honest, this submit is not going to give attention to them – there shall be a separate submit on pittas of Southern Vietnam and one other on kingfishers. My approach of compressing extra weblog posts out of my birding journeys.

Listed here are a number of pictures from the world. Sort of an harmless model of tropical China, however I assume that could be a moderately naive view …



Most birders coming right here presumably don’t have babblers as their predominant targets, although there are fairly a number of species right here, and a few of them are fairly engaging as nicely.

Take the Scaly-crowned Babbler, with its chestnut crown. eBird appears to not have seen this a part of the chook, calling it a “small, boring, brownish babbler”.

The species title of cinereum is just not very convincing both – it means ash-colored and thus additionally ignores the principle characteristic of the chook.


As is usually the case, I marvel on the bizarre German names of species – on this case, “Schuppenstirn-Zweigdrossling“.

Listening to birds in a loud setting might be tough – and the noise typically doesn’t come from people however from nature itself, cicadas being significantly obnoxious. Whereas that is an annoyance for birders, it could have rather more critical penalties for the birds themselves. Think about being a single chook and sending out a lonely-hearts message to potential companions, solely to remain single perpetually as your singing is drowned out by the noise of bugs. How do birds take care of this subject? A paper checked out this subject for a number of birds together with the Scaly-crowned Babbler. One can inform the paper could be very current (March 2024) because it fashionably claims to have utilized machine studying.

Apparently, the birds don’t change their singing relying on the singing of different birds – but when the cicadas fully drown them out, they keep away from co-chorusing with them.

Surprisingly, eBird appears rather more sympathetic to the Buff-breasted Babbler, calling it a “moderately graceful-looking brown babbler” regardless of admitting that its “virtually fully unmarked look distinguishes it from most different babblers in vary”.

Concerning the inventive deserves of the Buff-breasted Babbler, the HBW sides with me moderately than with eBird in describing the species as a “featureless smallish babbler”.

A paper describes the breeding of the babbler – nothing attention-grabbing actually, “Egg clutch dimension was within the vary 3–4”, “nestlings hatched virtually concurrently”, “eggs have been incubated by each the males and the females”, “each dad and mom invested in intensive parental care”. This leads the authors to conclude “This info can be utilized to assist with conservation planning within the space and elsewhere.” And why not.

Abbot’s Babbler is called after William Louis Abbott (1860 – 1936), an American medical physician, explorer, ornithologist, and area naturalist who had the great fortune of receiving a giant inheritance when he was about 26 years previous and who then promptly and understandably stopped practising drugs (supply).

His CV consists of extraordinary entries resembling this one for the yr 1894: “went to Madagascar to enlist within the native ‘Hova’ military towards the second French occupation of the island, till native suspicion of foreigners compelled his resignation”.

Once more, eBird is just not fairly satisfied of the esthetics of this species, calling it a “plain, sandy-brown babbler”.

Regardless of not being overly engaging and thus presumably not having significantly engaging chicks, a considerable variety of pairs of Abbot’s Babbler are double-brooded (supply).

And to keep away from all this effort being wasted, they choose their nesting websites rigorously, selecting places with a better proportion of foliage cowl and a higher cowl and abundance of rattan vegetation in comparison with random places in the identical forest (supply).

The Puff-throated Babbler appears to be like a bit extra distinct and likewise will get a greater eBird evaluation, being described as a “personable” babbler.

One research checked out whether or not the proximity to a highway makes it extra possible {that a} nest will get robbed by the same old suspects (not people, however moderately Northern Pig-tailed Macaque, Inexperienced Cat Snake, Crested Goshawk, and Frequent Inexperienced Magpie). This research included various nests of the Puff-throated Babbler.

Surprisingly, the possibility of a nest being robbed is bigger within the forest inside than near the highway, as three of the 4 predator species listed above (all besides the magpie) desire looking there. Sadly for the author of this submit, for the Puff-throated Babbler, the possibility of a nest being robbed is comparable near the highway and within the forest inside, so citing this paper in reference to this species is a bit pointless.

The Pin-striped Tit-babbler apparently sometimes makes use of beetles as a part of its preening, a conduct described in an extended article on anting in Malaysian birds that’s a part of a huge on-line report with some very good pictures.

The Pin-striped Tit-babbler can also be talked about in a report on the incidence and function of blue facial pores and skin in South-East Asian birds – it’s an exception from the opposite species listed in that it exhibits pinkish moderately than blue neck pores and skin when calling.


If the Indochinese Inexperienced Magpie desires to show colour, it will possibly presumably do that utilizing any a part of its physique.


Just like PVC backyard benches steadily altering their colour open air, the feathers’ inexperienced, yellow, and crimson colours bleach to boring gentle blue, whitish, and brown if uncovered to extended shiny daylight (HBW).


Regardless of these colour variations, the species title hypoleuca (whitish) doesn’t appear to make any sense in any respect.

The Frequent Emerald Dove appears to make use of higher colorants – so far as I do know, its colour doesn’t change if it spends a variety of time on a seashore or within the solar.


That is good as staying in cities (the place there may be extra shade) is just not actually an choice for it – in cities, its cooing is inaudible above the visitors noise. That is in distinction to different dove species, significantly the Noticed Dove, which manages to regulate its cooing to scale back the masking results of visitors noise (supply).

The Racket-tailed Treepie is a moderately magical-looking chook, although I’m afraid my pictures don’t absolutely do it justice.

Whereas that presumably makes them fashionable with birders, they’re much much less favored by small birds. A paper describes them preying on small birds (warning: graphic pictures of a younger White-headed Munia being eaten) and robbing nests.

There’s probably not a lot scientific details about the Laced Woodpecker, and the scientific species title vittatus (“banded, ribboned”) doesn’t give me a lot to speak about both.

As with many woodpeckers, the sexes are color-coded, with the crimson brow indicating the male.

One ringed particular person – no crimson on the brow, thus a feminine – was later seen once more in a location at the very least 1.5 km away over open water, indicating that the species both is an effective swimmer or doesn’t thoughts flying over water over such distances. The similar commentary additionally proved a attainable life span of this species of at the very least 14 years.


eBird calls the Black-and-Buff Woodpecker an “adorably tiny and stout woodpecker”, a a lot nicer and friendlier description than the one within the HBW (“small, short-tailed woodpecker”).

Sadly, this woodpecker appears to be even much less researched than the earlier one. The HBW entry is principally a listing of issues not identified in regards to the chook:

“Poorly identified. Analysis required to find out its feeding ecology and breeding biology.”

“Habits not well-known.”

“Breeding Mar–Jun. No different info.”

The White-crested Laughingthrush appears to be like a bit too posh to me – I might most likely really feel a bit uncomfortable having it round me on a regular basis. It will most likely insist on ingesting wine as an alternative of beer and frown at any time when I order a pizza.

The species is a cooperative breeder – birds apart from the dad and mom assist feed the chicks.

Nevertheless, generally birds arrive at or close to the nest with meals after which proceed to eat it themselves moderately than feed the chicks. One scientist named this conduct ‘misleading serving to’ and thought it was a type of commercial that people used to boost their standing throughout the group (supply) – a moderately cute principle, I believe. Sadly, it’s most likely not an accurate principle as birds additionally confirmed this conduct when no different birds have been watching.

Just a few pictures of a feminine White-throated Rock Thrush – it migrates by means of Shanghai, so something I can say about it I’ve most likely mentioned already.


I used to be conscious that sunbirds and spiderhunters are associated (I figured it out from them being shut to one another on the pages of chook guides) however I used to be probably not too positive in regards to the particulars. So, I did what everybody would have accomplished in need of studying a guide (god forbid!) – I requested ChatGPT. Right here is the reply:

Sunbirds and spiderhunters are each a part of the Nectariniidae household, however they’ve distinct variations by way of their morphology, conduct, and habitat preferences. Listed here are the important thing variations:


  1. Measurement and Form:

    • Sunbirds: Usually small to medium-sized birds with a slender, curved invoice tailored for feeding on nectar.

    • Spiderhunters: Usually bigger than sunbirds with an extended, extra sturdy, and strongly curved invoice, which is tailored for extracting spiders and bugs from foliage.

  2. Plumage:

    • Sunbirds: Typically brightly coloured with iridescent feathers, particularly in males. Females are usually extra subdued in colour.

    • Spiderhunters: Normally have extra muted plumage in comparison with sunbirds, with many species being predominantly inexperienced, brown, or yellowish, which helps them mix into their forest habitats.


  1. Feeding Habits:

    • Sunbirds: Primarily nectar feeders but additionally devour bugs and spiders, particularly when feeding younger.

    • Spiderhunters: As their title suggests, they specialise in looking spiders and different small invertebrates, though additionally they devour nectar.

  2. Foraging Model:

    • Sunbirds: Typically seen hovering like hummingbirds to feed on flowers, however they will additionally perch whereas feeding.

    • Spiderhunters: Extra more likely to glean bugs and spiders from foliage, bark, and flowers. They hardly ever hover whereas feeding.


  1. Vary and Distribution:

    • Sunbirds: Discovered throughout Africa, the Center East, and elements of Southeast Asia, inhabiting quite a lot of environments together with forests, savannas, gardens, and shrublands.

    • Spiderhunters: Primarily present in Southeast Asia, from the Indian subcontinent to the Philippines, with a choice for forested areas, together with lowland and montane forests.


  • Sunbirds: Usually have high-pitched, speedy, and sometimes melodious songs and calls.

  • Spiderhunters: Their calls are sometimes harsher and fewer melodious in comparison with sunbirds.


  • Each sunbirds and spiderhunters construct pendant nests, however the specifics can range between species. Sunbird nests are sometimes extra elaborately constructed with finer supplies, whereas spiderhunter nests could be less complicated.

Not being as educated as ChatGPT, my very own modest contribution to this matter is simply to indicate a number of examples of sunbirds and spiderhunters as seen at Tan Phu:

Crimson Sunbird


… (the species title siparaja apparently is Malay for  military basic) …

Purple-naped Spiderhunter

… (which eBird calls “darkish and principally drab sunbirdlike”, confirming ChatGPT within the first half and complicated everybody within the second half – one contributor on a chook discussion board even states that it relies on the listing you employ: “Of worldwide lists, IOC retains it as a sunbird whereas Clements has it as a spiderhunter”) …

… and Little Spiderhunter

… (a chook that sadly is getting uncommon in Bangladesh, almost definitely as a result of overuse of pesticides, as described right here).

Lastly, the Orange-necked Partridge. It was solely found in 1927, and till 1991, it was unclear whether or not it nonetheless existed (supply).

Its vary as indicated within the HBW is extraordinarily small – just some spots in Southern Vietnam and a bit of little bit of Cambodia – and it’s listed as Close to Threatened.

Whereas these days looking and deforestation are the principle threats, up to now, the usage of herbicides like Agent Orange and Agent White through the Vietnam Struggle could have diminished its quantity (supply).

Historical past Sidebar: The slogan “Solely we are able to stop forests” was utilized by the U.S. Military’s Chemical Corps through the Vietnam Struggle, a reference to their use of defoliants like Agent Orange to take away forest cowl and crops utilized by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.

Local weather change is a specific risk to the Orange-necked Partridge attributable to its restricted vary and reliance on lowland areas, slicing off the escape path to barely extra elevated areas with corresponding decrease temperatures. Or to place it scientifically (from a paper analyzing the impact of local weather change on 55 completely different species of pheasants and kin): species such because the Orange-necked Partridge “with a restricted vary will lose appropriate habitat for dispersal following habitat shifts attributable to climatic change”.

There are fairly a number of candidates for the title “David” which is commemorated within the species title (davidi). Nevertheless, the HBW states that the precise one is Louis Henri André David-Beaulieu (1896-1969), a French colonial administrator in Indochina and naturalist. Sadly, I couldn’t discover any grime on him, although I might be stunned if there may be none given his place as a colonial administrator.

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