One of the world’s lesser-known birding locations, Myanmar (Burma) is fast opening up to the world’s travel industry offering numerous opportunities for adventurous bird spotters. Here are some of the country’s most distinctive avian species.
The Crested Wood Partridge
The lowland rainforests of southern Myanmar are home to the Crested Wood Partridge (Rollulus Rouloul). This is a curious looking, rotund bird that resembles a feathered ball 9-10 inches across, with pencils for legs and an upside-down fan brush on its head.
The unusual avian is a type of pheasant that roosts on the ground and shares parental duties between mother and father. It spends a large amount of its time pecking around for seeds, fruit, and bugs. When startled, it will take off running. Due to loss of habitat, the rotund ball of feathers is listed as a near threatened species.
The Barred Eagle Owl
Also known as the Malay Eagle Owl, this bird makes its home in subtropical and tropical lowland forests, including those in Myanmar ( Burma). The “bars” refer to the stripes that mark its plumage, which is generally dark grey with a lighter belly for adults, and white for juveniles.
Eagle owls are the world’s largest group of owls in terms of body size, although the Barred Eagle Owl is not the largest of them. It generally grows to be about eighteen inches in length.
One of the most striking aspects of this owl is its large eyes, which are a cross between beautiful and downright creepy. When paired with the feathered tufts that decorate its ears (and resemble horns), the bird has a rather unnerving appearance.
The big-eyed birds mean no harm, however; they simply come out to hunt at dusk, when they dip, dive and dine on the rodents, snakes, and smaller birds they snatch with their powerful talons. The plentiful bugs found in their rainforest home are another favorite snack of the Barred Eagle Owl.
Fortunately, the Barred Eagle Owl is not a threatened species. This is due in part to the fact that it can be found over a very wide range of Southeast Asia, and does not seem to mind nesting around humans who may have intruded on its territory. Barred eagle owls mate for life and are known to return to the same nest year after year to raise their wide-eyed owlets.
Lady Amherst’s Pheasant
Finally, this remarkable bird even has an upper-class name to match the male bird’s classy plumage. The Lady Amherst (Chyrstolopholus amherstiae) is a forest-dwelling pheasant that spends its days hunting and pecking in search of tasty tidbits to eat, and then roosts in the treetops at night.
Many of the bird’s behaviors are unknown, because it is often hidden by the thick vegetation of its home forests.
Sarah Countess Amherst, (1837-1892) wife of India’s Governor General William Pitt Amherst, was the inspiration for the bird’s unusual name. In 1828, she sent the first of these pheasants back home to England. Native to Myanmar and Southwestern China, a few of these exotic imports escaped into the wild, and began a feral pheasant population in the Bedfordshire area.
Males often reach about 43 inches in length, with a large majority of that in the long tail feathers. They have striking patches of color on their upper bodies, and a ruff that can be raised to attract attention when putting on a display for prospective mates. Females have attractive, but less showy plumage, which helps them to blend in to their surroundings.
Lady Amherst pheasants are listed as a species of “least concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) because they are successful breeders. They are often bred in captivity by pheasant fanciers, some of whom cross them with other breeds to create interesting hybrids