Malaysian Birds - Waterbirds

From the family of Rallidae

Many waterbirds ranging from small to medium-sized get classified under the genus of Rallidae sharing the same profile and feeding habits. One such similarity is that almost all species found in Malaysia are associated with wetlands. They are ground birds and most are especially fond of dense vegetation in marshlands.

Most birds have bodies that are short and rounded. Though they are able to fly but not powerful flyers and cannot sustain flights for long period. Given the dense vegetation where they are hiding they often prefer to run rather than fly.  One thing leads to another, with less powerful fight muscles reduces the flightless rail's energy expenditures, makes it easier to survive in habitats where resources may be limited. Most species walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces.

In general, they are shy and secretive birds, avoiding contacts with humans and are difficult to observe. The genus “Porphyrio” prefers floating water hyacinth, but this type of habitat is often disappearing, and we are seeing less and less Grey-headed Swamphens. In the past, these Grey-headed  Swamphen and the Eurasian Moorhens were multiplying at such a fast rate that there were treated as pest for a while.

Included in this grouping, worldwide there are 142 species and in South east Asia there are 17 species. The record shows that within this number, 14 species have being reported as sighted in Malaysia. Of this number only the Grey-headed Swamphen and the Euasian Moorhen appear in the open and could be seen with ease. The former skulking in the swampy vegetation and the later swimming in open water. The rest of the birds hardly seen. They will detect the arrival of humans - make for cover earlier long before we could detect their presence. With a bit of luck sometimes encountered at some distances away, the bird would not feel threatened yet.

Collection of Rails

  1.Barred Rail  
  2. Brown-cheeked Rail



  3. Buff-banded Rail



  4. Slaty-breasted Rail  

Collections of Crakes

  5. Band-bellied Crake


  6. Baillon's Crake


  7. Ruddy-breasted Crake  
  8. Red-legged Crake  
  8. Slaty-legged Crake  
  9. White-browed Crake



Other Waterbirds

  10. Black-backed Swamphen  
  11. Gray-headed Swamphen  
  12. Watercock  
  13. White-breasted Waterhen  
  14. Eurasian Coot  
  15. Eurasian Moorhen  


The pictures, its quality and the number available is good testimony as to the chances of meeting up with the birds. Those could be seen easily and which birds are hardly encountered.

It is rather difficult to add any comments on most of these bird other than saying that they are hardly seen. To make matters worse, there is also a long list of other water birds that have no report of sightings at all.

I am still collecting more pictures of them.


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