Over Wintering Migratory Birds of Peninsular Malaysia

This presentation (see below) details the journey many migratory birds take across the East-Asian Flyway from their breeding sites in Northern Asia down to over-wintering sites in Peninsular Malaysia. However some species or groups of individuals will actually continue further South toward regions such as Australia, even as far as New Zealand in some cases.

The mangroves of S.E. Asia in particular create the perfect habitat for over-wintering birds. Large abundance of food resources, suitable habitat & stable weather conditions all contribute to providing suitable conditions for many migratory species, whether they use these regions as stop over, refueling stations or simply as their over-wintering homes. Mangrove ecosystems are now recognised as essential ecosystems in Conservation Biology due to the amount of biodiversity that they actually support, this including hundreds of different wetland bird species, including many migratory species. These estuarine intertidal zones show much habitat zonation, with the highly specialised & adapted plant species such as Rhizophora providing not only habitat but more suitable conditions in these brackish environments, creating various habitats: wetlands, mudflats, sea grass, mangroves etc. Of these the migratory bird species described in the presentation will mainly be found within mudflat & wetland regions.

It is still not known within science completely how these birds are able to migrate year after year, back to their original breeding spots with such accuracy. There are many theories to support different ideas, however it is believed that many of these birds have the ability to detect the Earth’s magnetic field, providing them with a compass sense, providing some light on how certain migratory species are able to navigate in the dark. It is also believed they have adapted the ability to detect polarised light from the sun or stars, which can be used as a navigation tool. However some evidence shows that polarised light is primarily used to calibrate the other navigation systems the birds already have in use (see Mulheim).

Why Migrate? Most of the regions in which migratory species breed within over summer months, provide excellent resources, especially for developing chicks. However this regions during winter e.g. Siberia/Northern Asia, can be the front of extreme weather conditions whereby many animals will become dormant, reducing food levels. Therefore the energy expenditure moving thousands of miles becomes less of a burden. During flight many species will fly in groups, taking up a V-shape formation. This provides energy efficiency, reducing drag and allowing the birds to sustain flight for longer.

28 migratory species over-winter or stop-off in Kuala Gula during the winter months. The most common being the Common Redshank detailed within the presentation. The Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) along with many other migratory species are types of waders, whom show the necessary adaptations required for ‘wading’ in mudflat areas. Typically, long bills, legs & necks allow for these species to keep the main body dry whilst wading in the shallow water searching for small invertebrates by bending over their long neck. Other species however such as Kingfishers (e.g. Collared Kingfisher, Todiramphus chloris) will prefer to perch upon branches and swoop down across the water catching fish, amphibians or large invertebrates. However some groups or individuals of these species have become inclined to stay in these areas, Common Redshank’s can actually be found within Malaysia & Singapore all year round, with more joining them during the over-wintering months.

Despite the fascinating adaptations many of these birds show, whether morphological or behavioural, there are still many challenges and threats to migratory species in this region. Along with the bad weather & exhaustion that can kick in during migratory flights, humans are the main cause for concern. Many of these wetland sites are being cleared for agriculture or industry, with vast areas of mangrove & wetland habitat being deforested in recent times. Pollution has also played a part, particularly in Malaysia, with it’s vastly growing Oil Plantation growth, yet even renewable energy seems to cause problems, with man made structures such as wind turbines causing deaths of many individual migratory birds.

WordPress currently doesn’t allow the embedding of prezi codes, so until I record the presentation I’m afraid this this will have to suffice. http://prezi.com/r8etwsjqfh8m/migratory-birds-of-peninsular-malaysia/?kw=view-r8etwsjqfh8m&rc=ref-29341493

Little Egret - Northern Populations migrate to southern Asia

Little Egret – Northern Populations migrate to southern Asia

Sungei Buloh Wetlands - JB view

Sungei Buloh Wetlands – JB view

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