A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Borneo I 2023

February 28-March 17, 2023 with Doug Gochfeld & Megan Edwards Crewe guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Here's our merry group at the scenic overlook on the side of Mount Kinabalu, duly photographed by our cheery local guide Adrian Chin.

Merely mentioning the word “Borneo” evokes images of wild tropical rainforests overflowing with life of all kinds, from hornbills flying over the forest, to Orangutans in the canopy and a panoply of other birds, insects, mammals and more. During our March 2023 tour, these images vividly came to life for us, as Field Guides was finally able to return to this magical island after a few pandemic-laced years away.

We started out in Sepilok, birding both the second growth edge habitats of the town, and the wonderful canopy walkways through the mature forest at the Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC). Here we were treated to our first hornbills (Black, Rhinoceros, Bushy-crested), Diard’s Trogon, White-bellied and Maroon woodpeckers, Bornean Black Magpie, pairs of both Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle and Oriental Honey-buzzard working on and occupying nests, and superb looks at a Black-crowned Pitta that Megan skillfully whistled into view. With this bounty under our belts, we set off for the southeast coast of Sabah, driving to Lahad Datu to switch vehicles for the drive into one of the crown jewels of the Bornean forest: Danum Valley.

We had four nights at the amazing Borneo Rainforest Lodge, which lived up to its great reputation, as well as its name (it rained a lot!). We birded before, after, and yes, even through the regular rains – one day was wet for most of it, one day gave us a lovely dry morning and most of the day, and the rest of our time there was halfway between those two. One good thing about the rain was that it kept the temperature very bearable, and it never got oppressively hot. The wildlife came through in a big way, with eventual great showings from several species of primates and a great variety of good birds. The holy grail of Bornean hornbills, Helmeted Hornbill, put on a tremendous show for us, including a pair gorging themselves on figs across the river from the lodge alongside a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills to boot! The rest of the avian cast included Bornean Bristlehead, Banded Broadbill, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Bornean Spiderhunter, Bornean Crested Fireback, Sabah Partridge, and the dapper Whiskered Treeswift. The non-birds were also absolute stars of the show, perhaps even more so than the birds. We saw a Slow Loris moving slowly through the canopy on our very first night drive, and the bizarre Colugo in the treetops another evening. Sabah Grizzled (Gray) Langur was a nocturnal pickup that was unexpected and rare, and the night was also filled with plenty of other mammals such as Thomas’s Flying Squirrel, Black Flying Squirrel, Malay Civet, Bornean Striped Palm Civet and a Greater Mouse Deer. Meanwhile during the day, Red Leaf Monkeys consumed our attention around the lodge, and we had multiple encounters, including two very satisfying ones, with that “man of the forest” - the Orangutan. A mother and baby alongside the road was our first experience with this species, and then we had a male sitting on the railing on the cabins just as we got ready to leave at the end of our stay there.

We had to pry ourselves away from the lovely Danum Valley, but the sadness of leaving Danum behind was tempered by the excitement of continuing our exploration of the lowlands, along the Kinabatangan River to the north. We were based along the river in Sukau for the next four nights, and our days were filled with boat rides along several of the mighty river’s smaller tributaries, as well as a couple of visits to the entrance road to Gomantong Cave. These days were jam packed with hits, from the troops of Proboscis Monkeys, including impressive floppy-nosed males, to the constant parade of awesome Black-and-red Broadbills defending their nests hanging over the river, and babblers galore. Blue-eared Kingfisher and Oriental Pied-Hornbill were common sights, and we also had phenomenal encounters with such gems as Great Slaty Woodpecker (an especially animated family group), Large Frogmouth, White-crested, Wreathed, and Rhinoceros hornbills, Blue-winged and Hooded pittas, Buffy Fish-Owl, Barred Eagle-Owl, and the globally endangered Storm’s Stork.

We also had a couple of encounters with an Orangutan that was hanging out in the fruiting trees around the lodge, which was a great treat. The mammal highlight along the river however, was somehow not Orangutan (how often do you get to say that?!). We spent a lovely afternoon having an intimate experience with a herd of Bornean Pygmy Elephants; watching them feeding and interacting with one another at close range from the boat was a magical experience that will live with all of us for the rest of our lives.

We started birding before dawn, and shortly after we arrived, we had already found one of the big rarities of the region: Everett’s Thrush. After this major coup, we continued up to the top of the park road, where the now well lit, and unspeakably scenic Mt. Kinabalu was revealed above us. We spent the next few days birding the roadside trails of Mt. Kinabalu National Park, with one rainy afternoon excursion to Poring Springs, which gave us a few new birds and two totally incredible Rafflesia flowers on their second day of blooming. The highlights on the mountainside included the “Whitehead’s trio” (Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Whitehead’s Trogon, and, finally, Whitehead’s Broadbill) in one morning, when we also added on the adorable Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel for good measure. We also had good experiences with Eyebrowed Jungle-Flycatchers, Checker-throated Woodpeckers, Crimson-headed Partridge, Bornean Swiftlet, Sunda Owlet, Wreathed Hornbill, Bornean Green-Magpie, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, Bornean Leafbird, and Mountain Black-eye amidst the commonly seen Bornean Treepies and gangs of chattering Chestnut-crested Yuhinas flying hither and yon.

As all good things must come to an end, we eventually had to depart the mountain and make our way back to Kota Kinabalu for our final group dinner, but not before we had accrued a lifetime of memories from this special island. Megan and I both send our sincerest thanks to you all for being such a good and fun group, and we look forward to traveling with you again somewhere else on this bird-filled planet of ours!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata)

Matt spotted a distant one just as we were leaving the Telipok River bridge during our final birding of the tour, and a few folks got on it before we hustled to the vans.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This duo of Orangutans (mom and baby) certainly provided one of the most interesting and intimate experiences of any animal on the trip. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

RED-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila hyperythra) [E*]

We heard this high elevation endemic from the upper part of the road at Kinabalu NP, mostly right around the Timpohon Gate.

BORNEAN CRESTED FIREBACK (Lophura ignita nobilis)

This is nearly a Bornean endemic, and we saw it at both Danum Valley (a male right in front of the vehicle early one morning!), and then along the Menanggol River (a pair on one of the few sections of dry ground along the river).

GREAT ARGUS (Argusianus argus) [*]

We heard this big pheasant in several places (males giving loud advertising calls), but never was it particularly close.

SABAH PARTRIDGE (Tropicoperdix graydoni)

Heard frequently in the lowlands, and seen taking a leisurely stroll across the road at Danum Valley early on in our stay there.

CRIMSON-HEADED PARTRIDGE (Haematortyx sanguiniceps) [E]

Heard frequently at Kinabalu, and seen walking across the path and then scurrying away through the forest along the Silau Silau trail.

RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus) [I]

At least one SUV saw a male on the roadside as we drove out of Danum Valley, though it quickly disappeared into the forest. Introduced here, though it seems to act just like the species does in the surrounding mainland habitats where it is native.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Storm's Stork has a global population of only around 400 individuals, so it was great to see this pair engaging in courtship on a branch overhanging the Menanggol River. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]


SPOTTED DOVE (Spilopelia chinensis)

A common sighting during our drives through settled areas.

LITTLE CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia ruficeps)

Excellent views of this strangely patterned, strangely shaped, dove at both the Crocker Range and at our lunch restaurant at Kinabalu.

ASIAN EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps indica)

A couple of flybys including at Sepilok and Sukau.

ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) [I]

Common and widespread away from primary forest.


The common Treron during the trip, with high numbers especially at Sepilok and a couple of the tributaries of the Kinabatangan.

THICK-BILLED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron curvirostra)

A few of these on our first afternoon walk along the road at Sepilok.


Common and widespread in the lowlands, with repeated perched views in addition to many flyovers.


Heard deeply hooting in the highlands a couple of times, and seen well on one morning near the Kinabalu restaurant, when a pair were perched in a nearby tree doing some light flirting.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw lots of the range-restricted Proboscis Monkeys along the various tributaries and offshoots of the Kinabatangan River, the species' stronghold. We even got to see them in flight a couple of times! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis)

We got very familiar with their deep hooting calls from the scrub, and even saw them teed up high a couple of times as they hooted over their tangly territories.

RAFFLES'S MALKOHA (Rhinortha chlorophaea)

The orange malkoha was a common sight during the first half of the tour, with repeated good views.

RED-BILLED MALKOHA (Zanclostomus javanicus)

This dapper malkoha is often tough to track down, but we had multiple excellent experiences with it, including a couple from the tall tower at Sepilok.

CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris)

We saw these beefy malkohas in several spots, including Sepilok, Danum, and near the river.

VIOLET CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus)

Its distinctive flight calls frequently rained down upon us in several locations as it either transited or made display flights over the forest. We also saw it perched a couple of times.

BANDED BAY CUCKOO (Cacomantis sonneratii)

It is one of the most conspicuous vocalizations of many of Southeast Asia's lowland forests, but it is not visually conspicuous. We only eyeballed it a couple of times.

PLAINTIVE CUCKOO (Cacomantis merulinus)

Another common call of the forest, we had it perched up a couple of times in the early going.


We all got very familiar with its incessant "I'm a Dron-go Cu-ckoo" song throughout the lowlands, and Brianna eventually spotted one teed up in a tree as it sang away along the Gomantong road.

DARK HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx bocki) [*]

Another cuckoo and another long-carrying, conspicuous vocalization coming from a bird that is relatively seldom seen (compared to its vocal conspicuousness). They were always calling up around the Timpohon Gate.

INDIAN CUCKOO (Cuculus micropterus)

Heard several times, and seen perched up in the scope for a long while at the first Orangutan spot at Danum.

SUNDA CUCKOO (Cuculus lepidus)

We heard this a few times up at Timpohon, and one even flew in to the roadside for point blank frame filling scope views on one visit.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha is the football player of the malkohas, much thicker and bulkier than its congeners, and we got some great views at this chonk of charisma. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Podargidae (Frogmouths)

LARGE FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus auritus)

Whoa! A real "what a bird" moment. We saw this gigantic denizen of the night along the Kinabatangan River, and saw it real well at that. Could easily pass as an extra in "Where the Wild Things Are."

Apodidae (Swifts)

SILVER-RUMPED NEEDLETAIL (Rhaphidura leucopygialis)

Fairly common and seen well early on in the tour.

BROWN-BACKED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus giganteus)

A group of these huge swifts swirled, barely flapping, over us one morning along the end of the road at Danum Valley.

BORNEAN SWIFTLET (Collocalia dodgei) [E]

A couple of encounters with this appropriately named endemic pale-bellied swiftlet in its high elevation home along the upper reaches of the road at Kinabalu.

PLUME-TOED SWIFTLET (Collocalia affinis cyanoptila)

Plenty of these blue-sheened swiftlets throughout the lowlands.

MOSSY-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus salangana)

We didn't see any on nests this year, but swiftlets were seen swirling by the hundreds in the evening over the cave colony where they are known to nest side-by-side with two other species.

BLACK-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus maximus)

This is the dominant nesting swiftlet at Gomantong Caves, where we saw several hundred swifts arriving one evening.

WHITE-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus fuciphagus)

Many of the dark swiftlets in the lowlands were obviously pale-rumped like this species and Germain's (from which it is not safely field distinguishable). We had a bunch frequenting one of the swift-nest houses that was known to host this species and from which the vocals of this species were emanating.

HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis)

A couple of times over the tour's last few days, but not as many as usual.

Field Guides Birding Tours
It's not often that you actually get to see why Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler has that name. Thankfully, participant Matt Denoncour was quick on the draw when this one fluffed up, and was able to document the moment. Super cool! Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)

GRAY-RUMPED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne longipennis)

Good views in a couple of places, including right off the bat at the Rainforest Discovery Center on morning #1.

WHISKERED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne comata)

Definitely the best looking treeswift in the world; we had several encounters with this elegant species at Danum.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)

A couple on the mudflats at Telipok.

BLACK-BACKED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio indicus)

Two or three seen nicely in scopes at Telipok.

WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

Common in any disturbed and remotely wet habitat. Quite the cacophony along the tributaries of the Kinabatangan near the palm plantations.


Brief views for some of this reddish rail flying across some marsh near one of the palm plantations around Sukau.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)

One of the more common shorebirds at Telipok.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius)

Along the river at Telipok.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

TEMMINCK'S STINT (Calidris temminckii)

One of these squat, gray-plumaged peeps was foraging along the Telipok towards the end of our stay there.

LONG-TOED STINT (Calidris subminuta)

The common peep at the Telipok bridge. Very nice to have such good views of a couple of dozen of these eastern palearctic-breeding shorebirds.

COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)

A few along the river system, and then again at Telipok.

COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)

A couple at Telipok.

MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis)

Spread out all along the north edge of the Telipok - nice scope views.

WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)

Probably just a bit commoner than the preceding species at Telipok.

COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)

One of these in good comparison with Marsh Sandpiper and Common Greenshank at Telipok, and then a second one much farther away.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Whitehead's Broadbill is a bird apart, with strange proportions and an unpredictable pattern of occurence. It's like a gigantic version of the diminutive Green Broadbill, and its bizarre look was certainly shocking when we finally did see it. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)

Two made a quick flyby at Telipok.

Ciconiidae (Storks)

STORM'S STORK (Ciconia stormi)

This is among the rarest waterbirds in the world, with well fewer than 400 individuals believed to be in existence. We got excellent observations of birds most days around the species' stronghold of the Kinabatangan, including a pair doing some light courtship and bill touching perched on a branch overhanging the river.

LESSER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos javanicus)

Several encounters of these enormous storks circling on thermals of gliding high over the river system.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster)

Seen in a couple of locales, but most common along the river.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

YELLOW BITTERN (Ixobrychus sinensis)

Several were out on the hunt at the edge of phragmites on one of our night boat rides along the Kinabatangan, and then we had one immature perched for scope views at Telipok.

GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)

A couple at Telipok.

GREAT-BILLED HERON (Ardea sumatrana)

One poorly seen as it flew away from us along the Kinabatangan on our first pre-dawn on the river.

PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)

Many around the Kinabatangan, and a couple perched at Telipok.

GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta)

Widespread, but not particularly abundant, except for the lagoon with hundreds of egrets as we drove into KK during rush hour on the final evening.

INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia)

Some good studies of this very intermediate species, including side-by-side with Great Egret.

LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)

Fairly common and widespread.

CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus)

Common around disturbed habitats, including some very nice-looking birds in full pumpkin-headed breeding plumage.

JAVAN POND-HERON (Ardeola speciosa)

The one pond-heron that was in mostly breeding plumage at Telipok was a Javan Pond-Heron, which is the scarcer of the two pond-herons in northern Sabah. It is quite possible that the rest of the winter-plumage birds we saw were Chinese Pond-Herons, but given the presence of one Javan, we couldn't safely make that assumption, and they are not readily field separable in that plumage.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

Several encounters on the rivers, and one at Telipok.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

A few crepuscular encounters around the Kinabatangan.

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Rhinoceros Hornbills color the gaudy casques atop their bills with preen oil, and as the photos here show, the curvature of the tip of the casque can vary widely between individuals. Top photo by guide Doug Gochfeld, bottom photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

One flying around the Telipok on the final day.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus)

Common throughout our lowlands experience, and we saw one bringing nesting material to a nest at RDC.

JERDON'S BAZA (Aviceda jerdoni)

A few of these flapping around on their broad paddle-like wings around the Kinabatangan.

CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela)

Several good encounters in the lowlands.

BAT HAWK (Macheiramphus alcinus)

Several run-ins at or after dusk as they hunted the darkening skies. We even got to see one grab a couple of bats departing the caves at Gomantong.

WALLACE'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nanus)

Common in the early going, and we even got to see a nest at RDC.

BLYTH'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus alboniger)

One was at an atypically low-elevation nest along the Gomantong Caves road, and then we had another one circling over the Crocker Range.

CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (CHANGEABLE) (Nisaetus cirrhatus limnaeetus)

One seen from the lunch patio at Kinabalu one morning.

RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE (Lophotriorchis kienerii)

Brief views of one adult on our way out of Danum, and then very good views of a bird performing a display flight over the Menanggol.

BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis)

Brief views for some of one with some odd white patches around the face at Danum.

CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus)

Seen in several places, including in full fast-fluttering display flights with white undertail coverts flared out to the sides.

BESRA (Accipiter virgatus)

A couple of accipiters we saw around Kinabalu were likely this species.

BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus)

Mostly seen from the boat around the river, but one adult perched on day one at the RDC allowed for some scope views as well.

WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

A couple of these flying over high at the river.

LESSER FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus humilis)

A couple of excellent views along the river at Danum, and another fun encounter sandwiched between its larger cousins on the river.

GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus)

A couple of these larger (but still similar-looking to Lesser) fish-eagles along the river system, both perched and in flight.

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Buffy Fish-Owls were fairly common during our night floats around the Kinabatangan - this one was clearly focused on a potential prey item as we slid by it one evening. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

ORIENTAL BAY-OWL (Phodilus badius) [*]

We heard a pair of these duetting from close range at Sukau, but they were buried behind some pretty thick vegetation.

Strigidae (Owls)

MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (Otus spilocephalus) [*]

We heard a few of these distinctive-sounding scops-owls during our night excursion at Kinabalu.

SUNDA SCOPS-OWL (Otus lempiji)

We had one on our evening along the Resang River.

BUFFY FISH-OWL (Ketupa ketupu)

Excellent views in several spots: along the main road heading towards Danum, at Danum Valley itself, and then in at least three locations along the river (including a day roosting bird that we happened across).

BARRED EAGLE-OWL (Ketupa sumatranus)

Great spotting by our boatman and Jonathan during one of our nighttime boat excursions, as they spotlighted one while we were moving down the river, and we were able to get closer for drive-away looks.

SUNDA OWLET (Taenioptynx sylvaticus borneensis)

A fantastic experience with a couple of these cute and fluffy, but fierce predators in the forest on our final morning at Kinabalu. It was really fun watching one of them reveal the fake eye spots in the back of the head every time it rotated to look behind it.

BROWN WOOD-OWL (Strix leptogrammica) [*]

We heard this species at both Danum Valley and Sukau Rainforest Lodge, but never laid eyes on it.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

RED-NAPED TROGON (Harpactes kasumba)

A female at RDC, and a male at Danum Valley.

DIARD'S TROGON (Harpactes diardii)

Point-blank views below the broadbill tower at RDC on day one. A fantastic encounter!

WHITEHEAD'S TROGON (Harpactes whiteheadi) [E]

One of the most sought after birds of the tour, and thought by many to be the prettiest trogon on the planet. Julie spotted our first one deep in the woods off the main road of Kinabalu, and we all got nice scope views of that one. Then the next morning, Daniel spotted a pair from the vehicle as we were driving up the mountain, and we stopped, got out, and watched them at length. Super birds!

SCARLET-RUMPED TROGON (Harpactes duvaucelii)

Great views from the walkway at Danum.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Helmeted Hornbill can be a real toughie to see well, but this year we had several encounters, including a great experience with a pair of birds feeding on fruit right across the river from our lodge at Danum. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)

WHITE-CROWNED HORNBILL (Berenicornis comatus)

This one was a bit of a nail-biter, but we finally got a pair of these on one of our last evenings along the river. They flew right over us and perched in a tree over the river's edge adjacent to our boat shortly after sunset, and the white heads and tails really popped in the gloaming!


The most endangered of the hornbills here, Helmeted faces threats not just from habitat loss, but from poaching for its keratin bill sheath, termed "red ivory" in the illegal wildlife trade. This can often be one of the most difficult headliner species to see here, but this year we had several sightings at Danum Valley, including a pair that was foraging in a large fruiting fig tree right across the river from the lodge one morning. At one point they were in the tree at the same time as a pair of the next species - so cool!

RHINOCEROS HORNBILL (Buceros rhinoceros)

This is the most iconic bird of Borneo, and happily it is also widespread and conspicuous in the lowlands. We heard their low-pitched, resonant calls frequently, and also saw them plenty of times. What a fantastic looking bird.

BUSHY-CRESTED HORNBILL (Anorrhinus galeritus)

We had a small troop of three briefly visit trees right above the group as we were at a rest break on our very first morning at RDC. Then they were common at Danum Valley, often occurring in small groups. Our last encounter was a group of 7 right at the lodge at Sukau.

BLACK HORNBILL (Anthracoceros malayanus)

Fairly common at RDC and then again along the river.

ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris)

The most common hornbill in the lowlands, especially along the river, where we saw their familiar faces and flight styles regularly.

WREATHED HORNBILL (Rhyticeros undulatus)

The eighth and final species of hornbill that we connected with during the tour, and it took until the very last morning at Mt. Kinabalu. We had a pair fly over us three different times, their loud whooshing wing noise announcing their approach each time.

WRINKLED HORNBILL (Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus)

Our first views were flying around over the parking lot at Gomantong Caves, and then had several satisfying encounters with these very colorful hornbills over the course of our days on the river.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)


Seen briefly in a couple of lowland places, and then scoped at Telipok.

BLUE-EARED KINGFISHER (Alcedo meninting)

The most frequently encountered kingfisher along the river, both night and day.


Brief flybys several times before we finally caught up to a perched bird along the Menanggol.

STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis)

This beast of a kingfisher and its honking red bill were seen on most boat rides around Sukau (and seen well), and also along the river at Danum.

COLLARED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus chloris)

Common in second growth and human settled areas, so most commonly encountered while driving between regions.


Great looks at a singing bird at Poring Springs during a slight lull in the rain.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We came across a nice roost of a couple of hundred Large Flying-Foxes along the flooded Sukau River, and it was quite a sight to behold. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)

RED-BEARDED BEE-EATER (Nyctyornis amictus)

This most-spectacular of bee-eaters paid us a visit on the canopy walkway at Danum Valley.


Common in the lowlands, and seen on each of the first ten days of the tour.

Coraciidae (Rollers)

DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis)

Dollar dollar bird y'all. We got to see these fun birds flying around in roller fashion, flashing their namesake wing crescents, as well as quite a few perched along the various rivers.

Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)

BROWN BARBET (Caloramphus fuliginosus tertius) [E]

Brief views of this endemic at Danum Valley, but then some better experiences with the species along the river and at Poring Springs.

BLUE-EARED BARBET (BLACK-EARED) (Psilopogon duvaucelii duvaucelii)

Our constant audio companion throughout the lowlands, and we even had a few scope views of them giving their monotonous run-on calls from the upper canopy of the forest.

BORNEAN BARBET (Psilopogon eximius) [E]

Heard and seen reasonably well in the Crocker Range.

RED-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon mystacophanos)

Mostly heard, but also seen a couple of times, at Danum Valley and Poring Springs.

GOLDEN-NAPED BARBET (Psilopogon pulcherrimus) [E]

The common barbet of the high elevations, and we had it at Gunung Alab and every day around Kinabalu.

MOUNTAIN BARBET (Psilopogon monticola) [E]

Seen at Crocker Range and Poring Springs, and heard from the overlook at Kinabalu.

GOLD-WHISKERED BARBET (GOLD-FACED) (Psilopogon chrysopogon chrysopsis)

Our best (most excellent) views were along the upper road at Danum Valley.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This trio of Great Slaty Woodpeckers was very territorial around a couple of nice dead trees along the river, and they kept chasing off an Orange-backed Woodpecker which had a nest right there. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)

GRAY-CAPPED PYGMY WOODPECKER (Yungipicus canicapillus)

Canopy walkway at Danum Valley.

MAROON WOODPECKER (Blythipicus rubiginosus)

Nice views at the RDC, and then heard at Danum and Gomantong.

ORANGE-BACKED WOODPECKER (Reinwardtipicus validus)

A couple of times along the Menanggol River, and then the lower part of Kinabalu NP.

RUFOUS WOODPECKER (Micropternus brachyurus)

We saw this species a couple of days in a row along the river, including at four together along the Menanggol on our last morning ride there.


Our first morning at Danum

BUFF-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tristis)

Seen on at least four days, including pairs traveling together at both Danum and the Kinabatangan

OLIVE-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dinopium rafflesii)

One at Danum

BANDED WOODPECKER (Chrysophlegma miniaceum) [*]

This was heard only at RDC.


We saw two different pairs of these snappy high elevation peckers on one day, and then another couple on the lower slopes on our final morning at Kinabalu.

GREAT SLATY WOODPECKER (Mulleripicus pulverulentus)

A truly spectacular woodpecker, and the largest by length in the world. Twice we ran into the same family group of these along the Menanggol, and they showed off with territorial displays, and lots of cavorting and interacting with each other. They were also defending a tree with some cavities from an Orange-backed Woodpecker.


We had two or three of these fantastic big woodpeckers at the RDC, and then had one fly over on our first morning on the river.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

WHITE-FRONTED FALCONET (Microhierax latifrons) [E]

Brief views of a flyover at Gomantong.

Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)

BLUE-RUMPED PARROT (Psittinus cyanurus)

Seen flying over high during one of our morning drives at Danum.

LONG-TAILED PARAKEET (Psittacula longicauda)

Brief sightings at Sepilok and Sukau, and then a perched bird at Gomantong.


Flybys on each of the first ten days, and seen perched a couple of times along the river.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Here's a great illustration of why broadbills are called broadbills. Black-and-Red Broadbill was abundant along the rivers, but remained a favorite no matter how frequently we came across them. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Calyptomenidae (African and Green Broadbills)

GREEN BROADBILL (Calyptomena viridis)

One perched in a tree along the road Danum gave pretty good views as it sat camouflaged in a sea of green.

WHITEHEAD'S BROADBILL (Calyptomena whiteheadi) [E]

It took a couple of days but we finally caught up to this mind-addling bird on the lower slopes of Kinabalu.

Eurylaimidae (Asian and Grauer's Broadbills)

LONG-TAILED BROADBILL (Psarisomus dalhousiae)

Spectacular! At the Crocker Range, we got phenomenal views of this bird for which no set of adjectives can do justice.

DUSKY BROADBILL (Corydon sumatranus)

A couple of these teed up on a tall dead snag along the Gomantong Road.

BLACK-AND-RED BROADBILL (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos)

A pair at Sepilok were nice, but they were eclipsed as soon as we reached the rivers, where this species was abundant and confiding, and we saw several of their occupied nests overhanging the water. What amazing birds!

BANDED BROADBILL (BANDED) (Eurylaimus javanicus brookei)

Real nice looks and listens along the road at Danum.

BLACK-AND-YELLOW BROADBILL (Eurylaimus ochromalus)

A charming and charismatic little broadbill, we saw these fantastic critters at both RDC and Danum.

Pittidae (Pittas)

BLACK-CROWNED PITTA (Erythropitta ussheri) [E]

We heard them calling several times on tour, and saw two: one that Megan whistled in at the RDC, and another roosting along the side of the road seen as a red ball in our headlights as we first convoyed into Danum.

BORNEAN BANDED-PITTA (Hydrornis schwaneri) [E*]

We heard one of these calling very close to the road at Danum, but just as we were maneuvering to try and see it, an Orangutan mom and baby were spotted a couple of hundred yards down the road, and we quickly hustled on down there, and we didn't cross paths with the pitta again.

BLUE-WINGED PITTA (Pitta moluccensis)

A great surprise along the Menanggol River, where we found one foraging in the forest along the high water's edge. This is a migrant, and so we were very fortunate to cross paths with it. To put its occurrence into perspective, it was even a lifer for Megan despite her many prior trips to Borneo!

HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida)

An eye-popping but brief flyby on our first afternoon at Sepilok, and then great views of one sitting still on a perch along the Sukau River a week later.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The wild and legendary Danum Valley. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)

GOLDEN-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone sulphurea) [*]

Heard only at Danum.

Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)

FIERY MINIVET (Pericrocotus igneus)

Four together on one of our afternoon river trips

GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris)

This was the minivet species which we saw every day in the highlands

SCARLET MINIVET (Pericrocotus speciosus)

A male at Gomantong


One flying around a couple of times during our first float down the Menanggol.

SUNDA CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina larvata)

Three days in a row in the highlands.

LESSER CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage fimbriata schierbrandi)

Nice views of one towards the end of the entrance road at Danum.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-BROWED SHRIKE-BABBLER (BLYTH'S) (Pteruthius aeralatus robinsoni)

Nice views at the Crocker Range, and then a couple also seen and/or heard at Kinabalu.

WHITE-BELLIED ERPORNIS (Erpornis zantholeuca)

Nice views on our last couple of days in the lower reaches on Kinabalu NP.

Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)

BORNEAN WHISTLER (Pachycephala hypoxantha) [E]

These chunky, slow-moving, yellow songbirds were seen on several occasions across four days in the highlands.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)

DARK-THROATED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthonotus)

RDC and Danum, all females or immature birds.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Colugo is a bizarre mammal, and we got to see one crawling around the canopy right in front of the lodge one evening. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.


This snappy looking oriole put on a very good. show in the Crocker Range, and some also saw one along the Silau Silau trail.

Artamidae (Woodswallows, Bellmagpies, and Allies)


Scattered in open landscapes, especially on drives, but also scoped in Sepilok.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We spent a lot of time exploring the rivers via boat while we were based at Sukau. Here the group relaxes between super-exciting sightings. Photo by guide Megan Crewe.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)

LARGE WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis virgatus)

A couple of good views in the canopy at RDC and Danum


Outside the restaurant building at Kinabalu


RDC and Poring Springs

RUFOUS-WINGED PHILENTOMA (Philentoma pyrhoptera)

A couple of good views at Danum


Several encounters at Danum

Pityriasidae (Bristlehead)

BORNEAN BRISTLEHEAD (Pityriasis gymnocephala) [E]

Julie relieved the pressure on the group early on during our first morning at Danum, when she spotted one of these amazing birds perched up silently in a tree. We watched it for a minute or so before it quietly moved on, and it would turn out to be the only one we encountered!

Aegithinidae (Ioras)

COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia)

Around Sukau (mostly heard only), but also at Poring

GREEN IORA (Aegithina viridissima)

RDC, Danum

Field Guides Birding Tours
This male Crested Fireback strolled across the road in front of us one morning at Danum, and Matt was again quick enough to capture it well! Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)

MALAYSIAN PIED-FANTAIL (Rhipidura javanica)

Common in the lowlands and also seen at Poring

WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis)

Every day in the highlands

Dicruridae (Drongos)

ASHY DRONGO (BORNEAN) (Dicrurus leucophaeus stigmatops)

Common in the highlands

HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (BORNEAN) (Dicrurus hottentottus borneensis)

Kinabalu, where one morning they were feasting on moths attracted to a light

GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus brachyphorus)

RDC and Sukau

Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)

BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea)

Danum, Gomantong, Sukau, the latter of which included a bird on a nest on the lodge grounds


A couple of encounters at Danum

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach)

Seen mostly during various drives, and also at Telipok

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLACK MAGPIE (BORNEAN) (Platysmurus leucopterus aterrimus) [E]

We lucked into a small troop of this Bornean endemic taxon at the RDC. Unlike the mainland Black Magpies, these don't have big white wing patches.

BORNEAN GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa jefferyi) [E]

A couple of great encounters with this spectacular endemic at Kinabalu

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Whitehead's Spiderhunters are often difficult, but at least three individuals were regularly coming into a flowering tree near one of the park buildings during our visit this year, so it was actually the easiest of the "Whitehead's Trio" this time around. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BORNEAN TREEPIE (Dendrocitta cinerascens) [E]

Very showy birds around Kinabalu


Common and conspicuous in the lowlands

Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)

GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis)


Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)

DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus atrogularis humphreysi)

Excellent views of this spiffy tailorbird at Danum

ASHY TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus ruficeps)

Common in the lowlands

RUFOUS-TAILED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sericeus)

Common in second growth

YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (Prinia flaviventris)

Danum, Sukau, Telipok

Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)

STRIATED GRASSBIRD (Cincloramphus palustris)

Seen on wires in a few locations as we drove between sites, and also briefly at the Telipok Bridge

Field Guides Birding Tours
We found Whitehead's Trogon, considered by some in the know to be the prettiest trogon in the world, a couple of times, with our roadside encounter higher up on the slopes the best and most prolonged. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

These migrants (they also winter in the lowlands) were seen in several places, including a prodigious roost in a town between Kinabalu and Poring Springs.

PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica)

An every day bird!

Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)

BLACK-HEADED BULBUL (Brachypodius melanocephalos)

A couple of times around Sukau, and then on both of our Poring Springs visits

SPECTACLED BULBUL (Rubigula erythropthalmos)

Common at Danum

SCALY-BREASTED BULBUL (Rubigula squamata)

Brianna spotted this spiffiest of Bornean bulbuls at a distance at Poring Springs, and then we all ended up getting some nice scope views in the drizzle.

BORNEAN BULBUL (Rubigula montis) [E]

Real nice views of a small group at the Crocker Range

YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus goiavier)

Several sightings in human disturbed or edge habitat

OLIVE-WINGED BULBUL (Pycnonotus plumosus)

Some folks saw this relatively nondescript bulbul along the river

CREAM-VENTED BULBUL (RED-EYED) (Pycnonotus simplex perplexus)

Common in the lowlands

RED-EYED BULBUL (Pycnonotus brunneus)

RDC, Danum, Sukau

YELLOW-BELLIED BULBUL (Alophoixus phaeocephalus)

Some brief views on the overcast afternoon outing at Danum, and then Julie had one a few days later as well.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Long-tailed Broadbill is an insanely attractive bird. It looks like it was invented in a cartoon lab. This year we got really good views in the Crocker Range. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.

GRAY-CHEEKED BULBUL (Alophoixus tephrogenys gutturalis)

Danum and Gomantong

PENAN BULBUL (Alophoixus ruficrissus ruficrissus)

Relatively common around Kinabalu

CHARLOTTE'S BULBUL (Iole charlottae) [E]

Common at Danum

CINEREOUS BULBUL (GREEN-WINGED) (Hemixos cinereus connectens)

Views for some at the waterfall in the Crocker Range

STREAKED BULBUL (Ixos malaccensis)

Brief views at the RDC.

Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)

ARCTIC WARBLER (Phylloscopus borealis)

A couple of them seen from the canopy walkway at Danum.

YELLOW-BREASTED WARBLER (Phylloscopus montis)

This bright yellow-breasted Phylloscopus was common in the highlands and seen both at the Crocker Range and Kinabalu.

MOUNTAIN LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus trivirgatus kinabaluensis)

The more typical looking Phylloscopus that we saw on a number of occasions on Kinabalu.

Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)

BORNEAN STUBTAIL (Urosphena whiteheadi) [E]

This adorable little high-pitched whistler was along the Silau Silau trail, where we ended up getting nice views of it singing away across the stream.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Kinabalu Pygmy Squirrel probably won the race for cutest mammal, and we saw several of them across our time on the mountain. Look at those ear tufts! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

YELLOW-BELLIED WARBLER (Abroscopus superciliaris)

Heard on a couple of occasions and seen by some.

MOUNTAIN TAILORBIRD (Phyllergates cucullatus)

Seen well at a couple of spots in Kinabalu, and heard multiple times as well.

ABERRANT BUSH WARBLER (SUNDA) (Horornis flavolivaceus banksi)

This was the taxon of Sunda Bush Warbler we saw in the Crocker Range.

ABERRANT BUSH WARBLER (SUNDA) (Horornis flavolivaceus oreophilus)

Believe it or not, the Sunda Bush Warbler we saw at Kinabalu (this one) is actually considered a different taxon than the first couple we saw at Gunung Alab.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)

CHESTNUT-CRESTED YUHINA (Staphida everetti) [E]

These charismatic songbirds were common in large flocks throughout the five days of highlands birding.

PYGMY WHITE-EYE (Heleia squamifrons) [E]

A couple of these were in the trees on the grounds of our hotel outside Kinabalu NP.

BLACK-CAPPED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops atricapilla)

Seen well on all five birding days in the highlands.

MOUNTAIN BLACK-EYE (Zosterops emiliae) [E]

We had this special Zosterops at both Gunung Alab and the Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Blue-winged Pitta is a migrant that is rarely seen on these tours, but we found one hopping along the edge of the flooded Menanggol River! Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)

BOLD-STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis bornensis)

Danum, Gomantong, and the Kinabatangan


A fantastic experience with a noisy troop of these in a small mixed flock during our afternoon walk there.

GRAY-HOODED BABBLER (Cyanoderma bicolor)

Danum and the river

RUFOUS-FRONTED BABBLER (Cyanoderma rufifrons) [*]

Heard every day at Danum


Heard on three days near the lower gate at Kinabalu, and seen atypically well on our penultimate morning there

SUNDA SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus bornensis)

A group of three of these were briefly in view along the Danum Valley road one morning

BLACK-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigricollis)

We got real good views of this sharply contrasting babbler along the GOmantong road

CHESTNUT-RUMPED BABBLER (Stachyris maculata)

This big charismatic babbler put on a heck of a show at the canopy walkway at Danum and then again at Gomantong

GRAY-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigriceps)

Nice views in a couple of spots in the highlands, including Gunung Alab and along the SIlau Silau trail.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Checker-throated Woodpecker gave us a run for our money, but we had seen it a couple of times by the end of our montane stay. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)

SOOTY-CAPPED BABBLER (Malacopteron affine)

Seen at Danum and Gomantong, and heard along the Menanggol

SCALY-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron cinereum)

One afternoon at Danum, and then along the road at Gomantong

RUFOUS-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnum)

Several encounters on at least three days at Danum

MOUSTACHED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnirostre)

A couple of days in a row at Danum

BLACK-CAPPED BABBLER (Pellorneum capistratum)

Common at Danum

SHORT-TAILED BABBLER (Pellorneum malaccense)

Nice views along the road at Danum adjacent to the canopy walkway

TEMMINCK'S BABBLER (Pellorneum pyrrogenys)

Good views near the entrance to Kinabalu

WHITE-CHESTED BABBLER (Pellorneum rostratum)

Along the rivers, especially the Menanggol

FERRUGINOUS BABBLER (Pellorneum bicolor)

Good views of responsive individuals along the Gomantong Road

STRIPED WREN-BABBLER (Kenopia striata)

Excellent scope views of a singing bird at the top of the Danum entrance road

HORSFIELD'S BABBLER (Malacocincla sepiaria) [*]

We heard these at Borneo Rainforest Lodge

MOUNTAIN WREN-BABBLER (Gypsophila crassa) [E]

We played hide and seek with a pair of loudly singing Mountain Wren-Babblers on one of the trails at Kinabalu

Field Guides Birding Tours
Bornean Green-Magpie is spectacular, and the green-magpies in Sabah are much more confiding then elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where they are relentlessly pursued for the cage bird trade. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)

BROWN FULVETTA (Alcippe brunneicauda)

Seen well a couple of times at Danum

SUNDA LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax palliatus)

We encountered several groups between the Crocker Range and Kinabalu

CHESTNUT-HOODED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Pterorhinus treacheri treacheri) [E]

We had these charming and snappy looking laughingthrushes all throughout the Kinabalu section of the tour

Sittidae (Nuthatches)


Finally caught up to these cute trunk crawlers on our final couple of days in the lower area of Kinabalu.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

ASIAN GLOSSY STARLING (Aplonis panayensis)

Human-altered habitats throughout.

COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa)

A few good views of this fancy myna. Heartening given their desirability for the cage bird trade.

JAVAN MYNA (Acridotheres javanicus) [I]

The commonest myna in the countryside throughout our travels.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EVERETT'S THRUSH (Zoothera everetti) [E]

A rare and exceptionally range restricted thrush that we found on our first early morning at Kinabalu, and then we saw it once or twice subsequently as well.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Mount Kinabalu looming well beyond the Timpohon Gate (and guide Adrian), which is the highest you can drive on the mountain. To go beyond this, you need a trekking permit to climb the mountain and stay the night in a remote lodge much of the way up the climb. Luckily for us, we had a great experience with the highland birds below the gate, so we didn't have much FOMO, especially after watching the porters packing in huge loads of supplies for the lodge on foot. Photo by participant Brianna Denoncour.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)

GRAY-STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa griseisticta)

One of three nondescript, lookalike migrant muscicapa flycatchers which we saw on the tour. We saw a couple of these longest-winged ones around Danum.

DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa sibirica)

Another of the three similar looking congeners, we saw these at several locations, including several at Danum.

ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa dauurica)

We saw a few of these drab migrants across several locations and altitudes.

ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (BLACK) (Copsychus saularis adamsi)

Sukau and Kinabalu, in second growth/settled areas

RUFOUS-TAILED SHAMA (Copsychus pyrropygus) [*]

Heard only along the river.

WHITE-CROWNED SHAMA (Copsychus stricklandii stricklandii)

Common and conspicuous at both Danum and Sukau.


Seem most days, and some nights, along the rivers at Sukau.

BORNEAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis superbus) [E]

Nice views of a male on our final morning at Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

BLUE-AND-WHITE FLYCATCHER (Cyanoptila cyanomelana)

Best views of this dapper looking flycatcher were right around the Hill Lodge.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Bornean Forktail is a somewhat recent split, and we had a nice experience with this indivdual in the Crocker Range. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

INDIGO FLYCATCHER (Eumyias indigo)

Several views in the highlands at Kinabalu.

VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus)

Danum Valley and the Gomantong Caves road.


Repeated excellent views of this highland special at Kinabalu.

BORNEAN SHORTWING (Brachypteryx erythrogyna)

A great experience with a singing bird along the Silau Silau Trail.

SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN (Larvivora cyane)

We had a female along the road just before the rain closed in during an afternoon walk at Danum Valley.

BORNEAN WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus borneensis) [E]

Seen every day we were at Kinabalu, including a nest that was occupied on our first visit but then was unoccupied on subsequent visits.

WHITE-CROWNED FORKTAIL (MALAYSIAN) (Enicurus leschenaulti frontalis)

We heard one, and then had brief views, towards the start of the Danum Valley entrance road.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Red Leaf Monkey was a common sight in the lowlands, and we had an especially intimate experience with this small family group in front of the lodge at Danum. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BORNEAN FORKTAIL (Enicurus borneensis)

Seen at both the Crocker Range and at Mt. Kinabalu.

CHESTNUT-NAPED FORKTAIL (Enicurus ruficapillus)

Great views of a pair at Danum Valley, and then we saw one (probably one of the previously seen pair) sleeping during a night drive.

MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER (Ficedula mugimaki)

This migrant was around Kinabalu

SNOWY-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hyperythra sumatrana)

Several lovely encounters with this sharp flycatcher in the highlands.

LITTLE PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula westermanni)

Every day at Kinabalu NP.

Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)


Good numbers on a couple of days at Danum.

YELLOW-RUMPED FLOWERPECKER (Prionochilus xanthopygius) [E]

Perhaps the most regularly encountered flowerpecker during our time at Danum.


One perched atop a tree along the Menanggol during one of our morning boat rides.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Malay Civet was one of our good finds during our Danum Valley night drives. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.


Brief views along the canopy walkway.


Sepilok, Danum, Poring Springs.

BLACK-SIDED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum monticolum) [E]

An endemic of the higher elevations on Borneo, and we got good experiences with them at Gunung Alab and Kinabalu.


Two sightings ten days apart, at Sepilok and then the morning we left the river.

Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)

RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD (Chalcoparia singalensis)

Good views at RDC, and then a good view of a nest being attended by both male and female along the road at Gomantong.

PLAIN SUNBIRD (Anthreptes simplex)


BROWN-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes malacensis)

Sepilok and Poring Springs.

RED-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes rhodolaemus)

Best views during our first visit to Gomantong.

VAN HASSELT'S SUNBIRD (Leptocoma brasiliana)

Best views were of multiple birds along the rivers.

OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis)

Common in second growth habitat.

TEMMINCK'S SUNBIRD (Aethopyga temminckii)

The highland analog to the next species, we had repeated excellent views of this brilliant red (for the males) sunbird.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A closeup up of our favorite curious Orangutan baby. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Aethopyga siparaja)

Common in the lowlands, and we had some blisteringly good views of this stunner.

PURPLE-NAPED SPIDERHUNTER (Kurochkinegramma hypogrammicum)

Best views were at RDC.

LONG-BILLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera robusta)

Very good views from the highest tower at RDC.

LITTLE SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera longirostra)

Danum and the Kinabatangan.

WHITEHEAD'S SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera juliae) [E]

Excellent repeated views around a flowering tree near the park buildings at Kinabalu.

YELLOW-EARED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera chrysogenys)

Our most satisfying experience was the side-by-side comparison between this species and Spectacled at the lodge at Sepilok.

SPECTACLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera flavigaster)

We had this good looking spiderhunter on the lodge grounds at both Sepilok and Danum.

BORNEAN SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera everetti) [E]

Mostly brief views around Danum, and then finally better views at Crocker Range and Poring Springs.

Irenidae (Fairy-bluebirds)


Seen here and there throughout the tour, with good views on a couple of occasions.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Large Frogmouth was perhaps the biggest highlight from our multiple night floats at Sukau. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.
Chloropseidae (Leafbirds)

GREATER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis sonnerati)

A couple of encounters at Danum.

LESSER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis cyanopogon)

Common at RDC and Danum.

BORNEAN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis kinabaluensis) [E]

Encountered a few times around Mt. Kinabalu, and finally for everyone on the last morning around Hill Lodge.

Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)

BAYA WEAVER (Ploceus philippinus) [I]

We had them at their colony in Sepilok on the first afternoon.

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

DUSKY MUNIA (Lonchura fuscans) [E]

Several places in the lower and mid elevations, including around the river and at Poring Springs.

WHITE-BELLIED MUNIA (Lonchura leucogastra)

Several places along the tour, including nest building at the RDC.

CHESTNUT MUNIA (Lonchura atricapilla)

Especially along the river.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) [I]

Every day when we were away from Danum Valley (and even once at Danum!).

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)

Roadsides in the highlands and at Gomantong.

EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (EASTERN) (Motacilla tschutschensis tschutschensis)

A couple of these were at the bridge on our final afternoon.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We tried to go on at least some kind of nocturnal prowl each night at Danum (weather permitting), since the possibilities there are seemingly limitless. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.


MOON RAT (Echinosorex gymnurus)

We actually didn't see one of these, but we did smell them in the vicinity a couple of times around the Kinabatangan River and its tributaries. Heard only is noted, so why not smelled only?!

COLUGO (Cynocephalus variegatus)

Nice scope views of a female foraging in the canopy right near the main building at BRL, just as we were getting ready to go for a night drive - another for your list of "good animals seen from the carpark."

LARGE FLYING FOX (Pteropus vampyrus)

TREFOIL HORSESHOE BAT (Rhinolophus trifoliatus)

The bat hanging from a leaf in the woods between the nature trail and the road during our last short morning walk at BRL was apparently this species.



Good, albeit brief, views of one close the edge of the road at Sepilok.

SLOW LORIS (Nycticebus cougang)

The very first mammal we stopped for on our very first night drive at Danum Valley turned out to be this most primitive of primates. We watched this pale furry mammal work its way, slowly of course, through the upper reaches of a large tree before it buried itself behind some foliage.

CRAB-EATING MACAQUE (Macaca fascigularis)

Some around Danum Valley, but especially common along the rivers.

PIGTAIL MACAQUE (Macaca nemestrina)

Very common along the rivers.

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We made several trips up the serene Menanggol (or Menanggul) River during our time in Sukau. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

SILVERED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis cristata)

Common around the river, with repeated views of plenty, including plenty of young ones and some of the scarce red morphs.

RED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis rubicunda) [E]

Lovely experiences with a couple of troops of these at Danum Valley.

SABAN GRIZZLED LANGUR (Presbytis sabana)

A very scarce and endangered species of langur, we saw four of these roosting in a tree during a night drive at Danum Valley. Very rarely seen on the tour!

PROBOSCIS MONKEY (Nasalis larvatus) [E]

These iconic big-schnozzed primates were relatively common during our boat trips, especially along the Menanggol. This abundance in one of their best strongholds belies their true status on Borneo, where they are threatened by habitat clearance in the lowlands.

GRAY GIBBON (Hylobates muelleri) [E]

Their calls were heard every day in the lowlands, and we also got views of these shy and very fast moving monkeys on at least three occasions.

ORANGUTAN (Pongo pygmaeus) [E]

PALE GIANT SQUIRREL (Ratufa affinis)

Multiple locations, but best views by far were at the RDC towers.

PREVOST'S SQUIRREL (Callosciurus prevostii)

This medium-sized black squirrel was very common throughout the lowlands and we also saw it up at Poring Springs.

PLANTAIN SQUIRREL (Callosciurus notatus)

Abundant in second growth in the lowlands, so seen around Sepilok and the river.

BORNEAN BLACK-BANDED SQUIRREL (Callosciurus orestes) [E]

Several encounters with this stripe-sided squirrel of the highlands around Kinabalu, including repeatedly at our lunch spot.

HORSE-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus hippurus)

A couple of brief sightings, at Sukau lodge and then up at Gunung Alab.

LOW'S SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus lowii)

The small squirrel that was facing downward on a tree trunk and constantly twitching its tail in the forest just off the roadside at Danum Valley was one of these smallish, mostly nondescript squirrels.

JENTINK'S SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus jentincki) [E]

Also called jetpack squirrel because of its frenetic lifestyle. Common in the forest at Kinabalu.


Several encounters at high elevation in Kinabalu NP.

PLAIN PYGMY SQUIRREL (Exilisciurus exilis) [E]

Also known as Least Pygmy Squirrel, we encountered several of these tiny nondescript brown squirrels in the lowlands, including along the road at Danum and Gomantong.

WHITEHEAD'S PYGMY SQUIRREL (Exilisciurus whiteheadi) [E]

This adorable little squirrel has long pointy white ear tufts, and we saw a couple of them over the course of our stay at Kinabalu, including one on our "Whitehead's morning" where we saw this as well as the avian Whiteheads's trio before noon.

BLACK FLYING SQUIRREL (Aeromys tephromelas)

We saw these on a couple of nocturnal expeditions at Danum Valley. They are outnumbered by the next species roughly 10 (or more) to 1.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Slow Loris is another very strange primate, and we saw this one early on in our very first night drive at Danum. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.

THOMAS'S FLYING SQUIRREL (Aeromys thomasi) [E]

The most common mammal that we encountered during our night drives at Danum.


Brief views of one of these canopy dwellers during our night walk at Sukau.

NORWAY (BROWN) RAT (Rattus norvegicus) [I]

One was, sadly, all the way up at the Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu.

MALAY CIVET (Viverra tangalunga)

Very nice views on our first night drive at Danum.

BORNEAN SMALL-TOOTHED PALM CIVET (Arctogalidia trivirgata stigmaticus)

We had this arboreal civet on two nights; once at Danum, and once just down river from the lodge at Sukau.

BORNEAN PYGMY ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus borneensis)

Arguably the most memorable wildlife encounter of the entire tour. We found a herd of these elephants along the Kinabatangan and Resang Rivers and we watched them (including a couple of small young ones) nosh out and interact to our heart's content for an hour or so. A truly magical experience!

GREATER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus napu)

Roadside on one of our night drives at Danum

LESSER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus javanicus)

One was swimming across the river during our late afternoon between the forest and the palm plantations.

SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor)

A couple of nocturnal encounters at Danum, including one heard only at the lodging.

Field Guides Birding Tours
These Bornean Pygmy Elephants were part of the troop that was the mammal highlight for many in the group. Photo by participant Matt Denoncour.


COMMON HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus frenatus)

Common in a couple of locales.

PAINTED BRONZEBACK (Dendrelaphis pictus)

Very common in the reed-beds along the river.

MANGROVE CAT SNAKE (Boiga dendrophila)

This black and yellow banded snake was curled up in a tree overhanging the Resang River one afternoon, near the Pygmy Elephants.

HARLEQUIN FLYING TREEFROG (Rhacophorus pardalis (Rhacophoridae))

Frog Pond at Danum.

JADE TREEFROG (Rhacophorus dulitensis (Rhacophoridae))

Frog Pond at Danum.

FILE-EARED TREEFROG (Polypedates otilophus (Rhacophoridae))

Frog Pond at Danum.

CRICKET FROG (Hylarana nicopbariensis (Ranidae)) [*]

The most common frog vocalization at the frog pond at Danum, but we never laid eyes on one.

GREEN PADDY FROG (Hylarana erythraea (Ranidae))

Three days (or nights) along the river.

BORNEAN HORNED FROG (Megophrys nasuta (Megophryidae)) [E*]

Heard only several times at Danum Valley.

SALTWATER CROCODILE (Crocodylus porosus)

A couple of these scattered around the river, both day and night. Mostly smallish ones, but one or two sizable beasts.

CRESTED GREEN LIZARD (Bronchocela cristatella)

This was the handsome lizard we saw in the midday shade of a tree along the Danum entrance road that Sabinus was calling a "triangle-headed lizard,"


We saw one of these at Danum, where several species in the genus occur.


The large gecko that was around the lodge at Danum Valley. Their appearance was quite variable, especially between the smaller and larger ones.

WATER MONITOR (Varanus salvator)

One at the RDC, and then seen a few times around the Kinabatangan River.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Here's Megan with some excited birders (and botanizers) at Poring Springs, where we saw TWO impressive Rafflesia flowers in fine day 2 form. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.


GREAT MORMON (Papilio memnon)

At least one flyby at Danum Valley.

Other Creatures of Interest

RAFFLESIA (PORING) (Rafflesia keithii) [E]

The genus Rafflesia includes the largest flowers in the world, and this species is the second largest of that genus. We saw a four day old bloom on our first visit to Poring Springs, and then saw two different two day old blooms, one of which measured 80 cm across, on our second visit. What a bizarre 5+ year life cycle these flowers have, culminating in a bloom that is open for a week before decaying beyond recognition.

PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes chaniana)

The larger yellow pitcher plants with pink markings at Gunung Alab appear to have been this endangered species.

BROWN LEECH (Haemadipsa zyelanica)

Indeed, though we did not encounter as many as we feared at Danum, despite the rain. The worst area for them was actually at the boot washing station back at the lodge, where some past hitchhikers languished waiting for fresh meat. Luckily, we were vigilant rather than unsuspecting, and mostly avoided them.

TIGER LEECH (Haemadipsa guangchuanensis)

Like the prior species, not as bad as it could've been, though we did see quite a few. Actually quite an interesting animal, and with those bold yellow racing stripes can even be considered pretty if you can get past its blood-sucking ways.


These fun rolly polly "tractor tread millipedes" were seen several times across all our lowland birding sites

GIANT FOREST ANT (Camponotus gigas)

Common and conspicuous (for an ant, anyway) at RDC and Danum.

COMMON BIRDWING (Troides helena)

Seen most days in the lowlands.

RAJAH BROOKE'S BIRDWING (Trogonoptera brookiana)

The butterfly that floored Wallace when he visited in the 1800s floored us as well when we finally encountered it at Kinabalu. Wow!


This huge, striking butterfly was seen winging through the forest often, and was common from the RDC through the river, and seen a lot in Danum.

CLIPPER BUTTERFLY (Parthenos sylvia)

Several days in the lowlands.

LYSSA MOTH (Lyssa zampa)

We saw multiples every day around Kinabalu, including a few flying high up as the mornings warmed up enough for them to take flight. These big moths floating across the sky seemed like they would be tempting targets for birds, but they seemed to mostly escape from these flights unscathed.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw several of the more than 300 species of stick insects hosted by Borneo. This one is apparently in the family Heteropterygidae, and is definitely super cool. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.


The huge leaf-like katydid blending in on a roadside bush at Danum Valley was a Malaysian Katydid (Ancylecha fenestrata)

The big blue/purple tarantula that we found on the side of a tree while on a night drive at Danum Valley was in the genus Phormingochilus. This genus is rather confounding, with several species of similar-looking species, and this one is either P.tigrinus, P.everetti ("Malaysian Purple Earth Tiger Tarantula" - how's that for a common name?), or an undescribed species.

Gold-margined Stingless Bee (Lepidotrigona terminata) was the bee whose nest looked like a paper tube coming out of the side of a tree at Danum Valley. Daniel spotted this nest and we got to watch it for a minute or two as a few of the inhabitants came and went.

Polyrhachis ypsilon is the scientific name of the caramel-colored ants we saw on the tower Danum, with the vertical hooked spikes coming off their body. They are one of the "Fishhook Ants" which is currently considered a subgenus of the Spiny Ants, though the taxonomy is far from settled.

The huge scarab beetles we saw doing flight displays on Kinabalu were Giant Yellow Stag Beetles (Odontolabis femoralis waterstradti).

The large land snail we saw in the forest at Poring Springs was likely the Bornean endemic Exrhysota brookei.

Of the half dozen or so species of stick insect we encountered, an identification of one of them has been suggested as

Planososibia emileenae.

The orchid we found at Poring Springs while we were looking at Rafflesia was a Moth Orchid in the genus Phalaenopsis.

Totals for the tour: 293 bird taxa and 35 mammal taxa