982 species of bird have been recorded in the wild in Thailand, of which three are endemic, one introduced by humans, and 45 rare or accidental. Seven species listed are extirpated in Thailand and are not included in the species count, and 49 species are globally threatened. The sequence of bird families and species follows Clements (2000); unless otherwise indicated, the species included are as in Robson (2004), and the status in Thailand is from Lekagul and Round (1991). Species with no indicated status are resident or partially resident non-rarities.
In 1991, it was estimated that 159 resident and 23 migratory species were endangered or vulnerable due to forest clearance, illegal logging, hunting and habitat degradation, especially in the lowlands. Those species most affected are large water birds whose wetland habitat has been largely lost to agriculture, and forest species, where deforestation for agriculture and logging have removed or degraded the woodlands.
Laem Pak Bia, a location for the enigmatic 'White-faced' Plover
The birds of Thailand are mainly typical of the Indomalaya ecozone, with affinities to the Indian subcontinent to the west, and, particularly in the southern Peninsular region, with the Sundaic fauna to the southeast. The northern mountains are outliers of the Tibetan Plateau, with many species of montane birds, and in winter the avifauna is augmented by migrants from the eastern Palearctic and Himalayas. The Java Sparrow has been introduced by man, and the Cattle Egret has naturally colonised.
Thailand's habitats are contiguous with those of neighbouring countries, so it has few endemic birds. Perhaps the most intriguing is the White-eyed River Martin, known only from its single wintering site in Thailand, but is now probably extinct.
Grebes are small to medium-sized diving birds. They breed on fresh water, but often visit the sea whilst migrating and in winter. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers; however, their feet are placed far back on their bodies, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 19 species worldwide. Of these, three species have been recorded in Thailand.
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide of which three have occurred in Thailand.
Short-tailed Shearwater is a long-distance migrant occasionally recorded in Thailand
Storm-petrels are small birds which spend most of their lives at sea, coming ashore only to breed. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering or pattering across the water. Their flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 22 species worldwide, one of which has been recorded in Thailand.
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are three species worldwide of which two have occurred in Thailand.
Spot-billed Pelican, once common, now rare and endangered
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are eight species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating sea-birds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies; the majority of species have mainly dark plumage, but some are pied black and white, and a few are more colourful. There are 38 members of this family worldwide, of which three occur in Thailand.
Darters are frequently referred to as "snake-birds" because they have long thin necks, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged.
The males have black and dark brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape, and a larger bill than the female. The females have a much paler plumage, especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet, and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving. There are four species worldwide, of which one occurs in Thailand.
Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black and white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There are five species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of this family fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide of which 20 occur in Thailand.
very common resident and winter visitor
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are virtually mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide of which ten occur in Thailand.
now a rare breeder and passage migrant
Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which comprises the ibises and spoonbills. Its members have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary flight feathers. They are strong fliers and, despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide of which six occur in Thailand.
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide of which 25 occur in Thailand.
The Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds mostly have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide of which 46 occur in Thailand.
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide of which nine occur in Thailand.
The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails.The female is the brighter of the sexes, and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young. There are 16 species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". There are 15 species worldwide of which two occur in Thailand.
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and appear to be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide of which 15 occur in Thailand.
The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide in the Tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. There are eight species worldwide of which two occur in Thailand.
The Crab Plover is related to the waders, but is the only member of its family. It resembles a plover but has very long grey legs and a strong black bill similar to that of a tern. It has black and white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet and a bill designed for eating crabs.
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are nine species worldwide of which two occur in Thailand.
The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are nine species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long pointed bills which curve downwards. There are 17 species worldwide of which two occur in Thailand.
Little Pratincole, a wader which hunts insects in flight
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide of which 14 occur in Thailand. In addition to the listed species, a distinctive Charadrius plover known as ‘White-faced’ Plover has been seen in Thailand in recent years. It is at present unclear whether it is a new species or a subspecies of Kentish Plover.
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide of which 39 occur in Thailand.
The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are seven species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide of which eight occur in Thailand.
Terns are a group of generally general medium to large sea-birds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide of which 16 occur in Thailand.
Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish. There are three species worldwide of which one has occurred in Thailand.
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape and a generally erect stance. The upper mandible has slight mobility in the joint with the skull. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species worldwide of which seven occur in Thailand.
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Many Old World cuckoo species are brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide of which 31 occur in Thailand.
Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide of which two occur in Thailand.
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide of which 18 occur in Thailand.
Collared Scops Owl
very common resident
The frogmouths are a group of nocturnal birds related to the nightjars. They are named for their large flattened hooked bills and huge frog-like gape, which they use to take insects. There are 12 species worldwide of which four occur in Thailand.
Nightjars are medium-sized ground-nesting nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide of which six occur in Thailand.
Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide of which 14 occur in Thailand.
The treeswifts or crested swifts are aerial near passerinebirds, closely related to the true swifts. They differ from the true swifts in that they have crests, long forked tails and soft plumage. There are 4 species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
The family Trogonidae includes the trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. There are 33 species worldwide of which six occur in Thailand.
The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, southern Asia, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long down-turned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide of which six occur in Thailand.
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not. There are 12 species worldwide of which two occur in Thailand.
Hornbills are a group of birds whose bill is shaped like a cow's horn, but without a twist, sometimes with a casque on the upper mandible. Frequently, the bill is brightly coloured. There are 57 species worldwide of which 13 occur in Thailand.
The Asian barbets are plump birds, with short necks and large heads. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. Most species are brightly coloured. There are 84 species worldwide of which 15 occur in Thailand.
Honeyguides are among the few birds that feed on wax. They are named for the behaviour of the Greater Honeyguide which leads large animals to bees' nests and then feeds on the wax once the animal has broken the nest open to get at the honey. There are 17 species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails, and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species worldwide of which 36 occur in Thailand.
Male Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker
The broadbills are small, brightly coloured birds that feed on fruit and also take insects in flycatcher fashion, snapping their broad bills. Their habitat is canopies of wet forests. There are 15 species worldwide of which seven occur in Thailand.
Pittas are medium-sized stocky passerines with fairly long, strong legs, short tails and stout bills. Many, but not all, are brightly coloured. They spend the majority of their time on wet forest floors, eating snails, insects and similar invertebrate prey. There are 32 species worldwide of which 13 occur in Thailand.
uncommon wet season migrant visitor, some winter in the Peninsular
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There are 91 species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide of which 13 occur in Thailand.
Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails and comprises the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. These are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide of which 13 occur in Thailand.
White Wagtail of subspecies M. a. leucopsis,
commonest of three wintering subspecies
The cuckoo-shrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some minivet species are brightly coloured. There are 82 species worldwide of which 18 occur in Thailand.
The Malaysian Rail-babbler is a rail-like passerine bird which inhabits the floor of primary forest in the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. It is the only member of its family. The nominate subspecies E. m. macrocerus is found in Thailand.
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throat or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests.There are 130 species worldwide of which 36 occur in Thailand.
The ioras are bulbul-like birds of open forest or thorn scrub, but whereas that group tends to be drab in coloration, ioras are sexually dimorphic, with the males being brightly plumaged in yellows and greens. There are four species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements. There are five species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide of which 21 occur in Thailand.
Blue Whistling Thrush
common resident and winter visitor, Thailand breeding subspecies shown
The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub. There are 111 species worldwide of which eight occur in Thailand.
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are 291 species worldwide of which 58 occur in Thailand.
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. There 274 species worldwide of which 69 occur in Thailand.
resident in northern mountains
The parrotbills are a group of birds native to East and Southeast Asia, though feral populations are known from elsewhere. They are generally small, long-tailed birds which inhabit reedbeds and similar habitats. There are 20 species worldwide of which five occur in Thailand.
Black-throated Tit, locally common in northern mountains
Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet that includes insects. There are nine species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
Thornbills and their relatives are highly varied small to medium-sized passerine birds that build covered nests entered from the side. There are about 65 species worldwide and one occurs in Thailand.
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are species 59 worldwide of which four occur in Thailand.
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 24 species worldwide of which six occur in Thailand.
Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There are six species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
The penduline tits are a group of small insectivorous passerine birds, related to the true tits. They are named from the hanging basket nests they construct. There are 13 species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Their flight is fast and direct on short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed. There are 131 species worldwide of which 22 occur in Thailand.
fairly common in Peninsular
The flowerpeckers are very small, stout, often brightly coloured birds, with short tails, short thick curved bills and tubular tongues. There are 44 species worldwide of which ten occur in Thailand.
The white-eyes are small birds of rather drab appearance, the plumage above being typically greenish-olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As the name suggests, many species have a white ring around each eyes. There are 96 species worldwide of which four occur in Thailand.
Shrikes are passerine birds known for the habit of some species of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 31 species worldwide of which five occur in Thailand.
The helmetshrikes are similar in build to the shrikes, but tend to be colourful species with distinctive crests or other head ornaments, such as wattles, from which they get their name. There are 12 species worldwide of which four occur in Thailand.
The drongos are mostly black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright whilst perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground. There are 24 species worldwide of which seven occur in Thailand.
The woodswallows are soft-plumaged, somber-coloured passerine birds. They are smooth, agile flyers with moderately large, semi-triangular wings. There are 11 species worldwide of which one occurs in Thailand.
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide of which 19 occur in Thailand.
The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly coloured, usually in red or yellow and black, some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season. There are 116 species worldwide of which three occur in Thailand.
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed-eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have a wide variation in plumage colours and pattern. There are 141 species worldwide of which eight occur in Thailand.
The emberizids are a large family of seed-eating passerine birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In the Old World, most species are named as "buntings". Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 275 species worldwide, of which eight occur in Thailand.
Finches are small to moderately large seed-eating passerine birds with a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and nine primary flight feathers. Finches have a bouncing flight, alternating bouts of flapping with gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species worldwide, of which ten occur in Thailand.
Sparrows are small passerine birds, typically small, plump, brown or grey with short tails and short powerful beaks. They are seed-eaters, but also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide of which four occur in Thailand.
^Short, L. L. Horne J. F. M. (2002) "Family Capitonidae (barbets)" in del Hoyo J., Elliott A. & Christie D.A. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 7. Jamacars to Woodpeckers Lynx Edicions, Barcelona ISBN 84-87334-37-7
^Collar, N. J. & Robson, C. (2007) Family Timaliidae (Babblers) 70–291 in; del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World |, Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
^ abcdeHarrap, Simon; Quinn, David (1996). Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers. Christopher Helm. ISBN0-7136-3964-4.
^ abCheke, Robert A; Mann, Clive; Allen, Ricard (2001). Sunbirds: A Guide to the Sunbirds, Spiderhunters, Sugarbirds and Flowerpeckers of the World (Helm Identification Guides). Pica / Christopher Helm. ISBN1-873403-80-1.
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^ abHarris, Tony; Franklin, Kim (2000). Shrikes and Bush-shrikes: Including Wood-shrikes, Helmet-shrikes, Shrike Flycatchers, Philentomas, Batises and Wattle-eyes (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. ISBN0-691-07036-9.
^Madge, Steve; Burn, Hilary (1994). Crows and jays: a guide to the crows, jays and magpies of the world. A&C Black. ISBN0-7136-3999-7.
^Feare, Chris; Craig, Adrian (1999). Starlings and Mynas. Princeton University Press. ISBN0-7136-3961-X.
^ abcClement, Peter; Harris, Alan; Davis, John (1999). Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. ISBN0-7136-5203-9.
^Byers, Clive; Curson, Jon; Olsson, Urban (1996). Sparrows and Buntings: A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN0-395-73873-3.