Bird Spotting in Cambodia

Image of a bird on end of periscope

Cambodia has an incredible variety of habitats and unique bird sites attracting some of the world’s most endangered bird species.

It’s almost impossible to list all of the Cambodian bird sites and species that you can visit and see, however, explore the key sites below and the many wonderful bird species you can see there.

Phnom Kroam

Phnom Kroam is a 30-minute ride car journey from Siem Reap, also reachable by tuk-tuk. The solitary peak is adorned with a pre-Angkorian era temple. Phnom Kroam sits on the edge of the Tonle Sap lake and overlooks rice paddies, lotus ponds, and floodplain habitat.

It is perfect for a half day or full day adventure, starting at dawn with the flights of egret and storks or later in the afternoon as the temperature cools down. A good variety of water birds are seen here, including herons, bitterns, rails and ducks. If water levels are good, waders can be found in numbers here also. Between November and April (Cambodia’s dry season), Bluethroat, Siberian Rubythroat and a variety of migrating warblers can be found.

A typical trip to this area typically brings 65 to 75 species over a 3 hour period. Similar areas nearby can be used if the conditions dictate it. These supplementary areas include rice paddies and floodplain beyond Chereav and the Wat Chedai area.

Bokor National Park

Climb up through the lush evergreen forest to Bokor Mountain, close to the idyllic town of Kampot, in the southern coastal region of Cambodia. There is a tangible change in the ecosystem as you reach the top of the mountain as you find yourself in refreshingly cool, mountain forests.

The key bird species to see at Bokor are the near-endemic Chestnut-headed Partridge, Silver Broadbill, Long-tailed Broadbill, Indochinese Green Magpie, Great Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon.

Aural Mountain

A trip to the tallest mountain in Cambodia, Phnom Aural, Kampong Speu in Cambodia’s southwest holds one of the 2 endemic species found in Cambodia, the Cambodian Laughing Thrush, in addition to the Chestnut-headed Partridge. Also, both the White-tailed Robin and the Blue-winged Minla (Siva) are found on Aural Mountain.

Because of Aural Mountain’s towering elevation, the habitat is considered different to others in any part of Cambodia and many of the species found here are unique.

Species of particular interest include Silver Pheasant, Mountain Scops Owl, Moustached Barbet, Blue, Blue-rumped and the Rusty-naped Pitta at the highest elevations. Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Mountain Bulbul, Large Niltava, Slaty-backed, Little Pied and Snowy-browed Flycatchers, Green Cochoa, and the recently split Buff-breasted Flowerpecker are among the other high altitude species that can be spotted here.

It must be noted, however, that a climb to the summit requires a relatively arduous climb on a trail with a guide for approximately six hours. Local guides will carry your bag, prepare food and set up camp along the way.

A 2 night stay in suggested to maximise the fantastic array of species you will see at Phnom Aural. Montane forest is wet, so be prepared for possible rain or fog at some altitudes.

Tmatboey Giant and White-shouldered Ibis Site

Tmatboey is an isolated village located in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Cambodian Plains, 45 kilometres north of Preah Vihear City. It is an important site for a community ecotourism area established by the Ministry of Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Cambodia Program. It looks to help the local people by directly linking bird-watching tourism, conservation and community development.

Tmatboey supports global breeding populations of two critically endangered Ibis species: the Giant Ibis and the White-shouldered Ibis.

The area is a rich eco-system of open woodlands, deciduous forest and scattered wetlands. This landscape supports a unique range of threatened bird and mammal species and perhaps the finest remaining example of deciduous dipterocarp forest.

A typical trip to the Tmatboey ecolodge takes 4 days and 3 nights taking in other sites around Preah Vihear sites on the way. The best time to see the two rare Ibis species is from January to April, although the White-shouldered Ibis can be found with reasonable certainty throughout most of the year.

The success of the project is evident through the population increase in White-shouldered Ibis from a single breeding pair in 2002 to eleven pairs in 2017. The roost sites a steadily increasing number of individual adults that are carefully monitored annually. In September 2016, 38 individuals were counted, a number that was unthinkable when the project began over ten years ago.

The ecotourism project at Tmatboey received the ‘Responsible Tourism Award 2007’ and in 2008 it was a joint winner of the Equator Prize for poverty reduction through the sustainable use of biodiversity.

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