A Naturalist online field guide [update 2023]

vietnam birds

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Vietnam is an avian paradise that should be on the bucket list of any bird enthusiast! Boasting the highest number of endemic species on the Southeast Asian mainland, including 19 Endemic species and 39 nearly exclusive species, Vietnam is a treasure trove of bird diversity. It’s also home to several distinct subspecies, adding to the country’s allure for birdwatchers. In recent years, Vietnam has become a popular destination for birders from all over the world, making it a must-visit location for those interested in exploring the region’s birdlife.

This online resource could help you to overview your next coming Vietnam Birding Tours

Vietnam birds by Birds Family

Endemic birds of Vietnam

Vietnam birds Endemic Tonkin Partridge

Tonkin Partridge – Arborophila tonkinesis

Distributes from Northern Central to East Tonkin, this species was being complicated in taxonomy. Arborophila charltonii, A. tonkinensis, and A. graydoni (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as A. charltonii following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Vietnam Birds endemic Edward’s Pheasant

Edward’s Pheasant (Lophura edwardsi) – CR

Formerly distributed from Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri & Thua Thien Hue provinces and considered as locally fairly common. However, recently there was no sighting, probably more than 20 years.

Vietnam birds endemic Black-crowned Fulvetta

Black-crowned Fulvetta (Alcippe klossi) – LC

A split from Rufous-winged confined to south Annam. Fairly common and easy to see in Langbian and Bidoup mountains

Vietnam Birds Endemic White-throated Wren-Babbler

White-throated Wren-Babbler (Rimator pasquieri) – EN

A recent split from Long-billed and confined to Mt Fan Si Pan in west Tonkin. It has also been recorded in recent years at Mu Cang Chai Species and Habitat Conservation Area (Yen Bai Province) and Van Ban Nature Reserve (Lao Cai Province)

Vietnam Bird endemic Orange-breasted Laughingthrush

Orange-breasted Laughingthrush (Garrulax annamensis) – LC

Now split from Spot-breasted and endemic to south Annam. Locally common in Di Linh ad Da Lat.

Vietnam birds endemic Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush

Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush (Garrulax konkakinhensis) – VU

Only known from Mt Kon Ka Kinh in central Annam until it located and photographed it at Mang Canh in 2010, this place become a popular destination for birding nowadays.

Vietnam Birds endemic Golden-winged Laughingthrush

Golden-winged Laughingthrush (Garrulax ngoclinhensis) – VU

So far only known from Mt Ngoc Linh in central Annam, Mang Ri forest near Tu Mo Rong is the most accessible site to see this species.

Vietnam birds endemic Collared Laughingthrush

Collared Laughingthrush (Garrulax yersini) – EN

Only found in south Annam, centred round Mt Langbian, Bidoup Nui Ba national park and Chu Yang Sin national park

Vietnam birds endemic Grey-crowned Crocias

Grey-crowned Crocias (Crocias langbianis) – EN

New genus name is Laniellus, endemic to south Annam and very localized, it can be found at Ta Nung, Tuyen Lam and a site at Dam Rong on the road 28 Da Lat  to Ban Me Thuot. Recently found in Mang Den and Ngoc Linh (Wildtour, 2014).

Vietnam birds endemic Vietnamese Greenfinch

Vietnamese Greenfinch (Carduelis monguilloti) – LC

Confined to pine forest in south Annam, common in Da Lat and Di Linh

Vietnam birds endemic Vietnamese Cutia

Vietnamese Cutia – Cutia legalleni

A bulky, heavyset bird with a murderous-looking hooked bill. Very similar in appearance to Himalayan Cutia, but ranges do not overlap. Male has blue-gray crown and wing patch, midnight-black mask, orange back and rump, and black-barred white underparts.

Add a subheading 4 WANEE asia

Dalat Shrike‑babbler – Pteruthius annamensis

White-browed Shrike Babbler P. flaviscapis is proposed to be split into four 
• Pied Shrike Babbler P. flaviscapis
• Himalayan Shrike Babbler P. ripleyi
• Dalat Shrike Babbler P. annamensis (Endemic)
• Blyth’s Shrike Babbler P. aeralatus

Other endemic as: Annam Minivet; Yellow-crowned Green Magpie; Langbian Tit; Annam Grasshopper-warbler; Annam Golden-breasted Fulvetta; Tonkin Fulvetta; Annam Streaked Wren-babbler; White-spectacled Sibia; Langbian Sunbird

Vietnam birds lists

Vietnam birds Critically Endangered Species 

Edwards’s Pheasant (Lophura edwardsi); Baer’s Pochard (Aythya Baeri); Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis); White-shouldered Ibis (Pseudibis davisoni); Giant Ibis (Pseudibis gigantea); Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi); Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus); Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus); White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis); Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris); Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola)

Vietnam birds Endangered Species 

Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus); Scarly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus); White-winged Duck (Cairina scutulata); Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personatus); Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilus dubius); Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea); Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor); White-eared Night-heron (Gorsachius magnificus); Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis); Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris); Spotted Greenshank (Tringa guttifer); Black-bellied Tern (Sterna acuticauda); Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis); Pallas’s Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus); Silver Oriole (Oriolus mellianus); White-throated Wren-babbler (Napothera pasquieri ); Collared Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron yersini); Grey-crowned Crocias (Laniellus langbianis)

Vietnam Birds Vulnerable Species 

Common Pochard (Aythya ferina); Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea); Sarus Crane (Antigone antigone); Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis); Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus); Asian Woollyneck (Ciconia episcopus); Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes); Wood Snipe (Gallinago nemoricola); Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis); Saunders’s Gull (Saundersilarus saundersi); Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla); Relict Gull (Ichthyaetus relictus); Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga); Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca); Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis); Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus); Fairy Pitta (Pitta nympha); White-browned Reed-warbler (Acrosephalus tangorum); Pleske’s Grasshopper-warbler (Helopsaltes pleskei); Nonggang Babbler (Stachyris nonggangensis); Chinese Grass-babbler (Graminicola striatus); Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush (Ianthocincla konkakinhensis); Golden-winged Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron ngoclinhense); Beautiful Nuthatch (Sitta formosa); Brown-chested Jungle-flycatcher (Cyornis brunneatus); Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora); Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica).

Data Deficient

White-faced Plover (Charadrius dealbatus)

Near-endemic birds

Orange-necked Partridge; Crested Argus; Germain’s Peacock-pheasant; Lowe’s Green-pigeon; Yellow-vented Green-pigeon; Giant Ibis; Red-vented Barbet; Necklaced Barbet; Annam Barbet; Chinese Yellow-nape; Red-collared Woodpecker; Blue-rumped Pitta; Bar-bellied Pitta; Annam Sultan Tit; Brown-backed Bulbul; Limestone Leaf-warbler; Grey-crowned Tit; Indochinese Fulvetta; Black-headed Parrotbill; Black-eared Parrotbill; Pale-throated Wren-babbler
Sooty Babbler; Nonggang Babbler; Grey-faced Tit-babbler; Indochinese Babbler
Tonkin Streaked Wren-babbler; Indochinese Wren-babbler; Vietnamese Cutia; Black-hooded Laughingthrush; Germain’s Laughingthrush; White-cheeked Laughingthrush; Brownish-backed Sibia; Plain Minla; Black-crowned Barwing; Yellow-billed Nuthatch; Langbian Lesser Shortwing; Annam Sunbird; Mekong Wagtail.

Vietnam Birds Habitats

Lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen forest

The lowland areas of Vietnam below an elevation of about 900 m are dominated by the natural forest type known as the lowland evergreen forest. This forest is home to a diverse range of bird species and broadleaf tree species. Sadly, this habitat type is now under threat and covers only a fraction of its original area due to deforestation for agriculture.

Semi-evergreen, or mixed deciduous, forest is another type of forest found in Vietnam that is very similar in composition to the lowland evergreen forest but has deciduous trees, such as dipterocarps, in addition. Trees with buttresses, bamboo, palms, and vines are commonly found in this forest type.

There are many bird species that can be found in both lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen forest habitats in Vietnam, including cuckoos, trogons, hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers, pittas, broadbills, bulbuls, ground babblers, flowerpeckers, and sunbirds.

Montane evergreen forest

Montane evergreen forest takes over from lowland evergreen forest above about 900 meters, with oaks, chestnuts, beeches, laurels, and conifers dominating.

In Vietnam, two distinct types of montane evergreen forests can be recognized: lower montane and upper montane evergreen forest. At an altitude of over 1700 meters, there is a clearly defined transition to upper montane evergreen forest, where rhododendrons start to dominate.

Vietnam’s montane evergreen forests are home to a high density of bird species, including shrike-babblers, tits, warblers, babblers, nuthatches, thrushes, and flycatchers. This habitat is particularly interesting in Vietnam, as it is where many of the endemic and near-endemic babblers and laughingthrushes occur.

Deciduous forest

Deciduous forests in Vietnam can be found in the dry low-lying areas of the west-central and southern regions, particularly near the border with eastern Cambodia. There are two types of deciduous forests in Vietnam: dry dipterocarp forest and mixed deciduous forest. Dry dipterocarp forest is found in drier areas on poor soil, with a canopy dominated by dipterocarp trees and an open grassy understory. It is not as rich in bird species as lowland evergreen or semi-evergreen forests due to the lack of a midstory. Typical species found in this forest type include woodpeckers and parakeets.

Mixed deciduous forest occurs in areas with more nutrient-rich soil, resulting in a more diverse vegetation mix of varied tree species and often some bamboo. This forest type is richer in bird species than dry dipterocarp forest, as it has a middle story, and bird communities are similar to those found in lowland evergreen forests.

Coniferous forest

Vietnam’s native coniferous forest on the Dalat Plateau, at the southern extremity of the Annamites, is dominated by Benguet pine, Pinus kesiya, also known as three-needled pine. Bird diversity in this forest type is low compared to most others, but some key species such as Slender-billed Oriole, Red Crossbill and the endemic Langbian Tit and Vietnamese Greenfinch are almost entirely restricted to this habitat. At higher elevations on the Dalat Plateau, conifer species including two endemic pines, Krempf’s pine Pinus krempfi and Dalat pine Pinus dalatensis, are mixed with montane evergreen forest, and bird communities here are very similar to those in montane evergreen forest. Conifer species such as the cypress Taiwania and the highly-prized Fokienia grow in montane forests of the Hoang Lien range in the far north-west of Vietnam.

Limestone forest

This forest type is an evergreen forest that grows in areas of limestone and on limestone outcrops, often sculpted into striking karst formations with sharp jagged peaks. It is found in parts of northern and central Vietnam, and is an important habitat for several limestone specialists such as Limestone Leaf-warbler, Greyish Limestone-babbler and the near endemics Sooty Babbler and Nonggang Babbler.

Freshwater wetlands

Freshwater wetlands in Vietnam include rivers, lakes and marshes. The bird communities of all these habitats have suffered as a result of human exploitation and encroachment. Typical riverine birds such as River Lapwing, Masked Finfoot, White-winged Duck and Blyth’s Kingfisher are rare, and some are on the verge of extinction in the country.
Many artificial lakes and reservoirs have been created throughout the country in recent years, but perhaps due to pressure from hunting or simply being unsuitable, they attract few birds. Several protected areas incorporating fresh water wetlands throughout Vietnam provide an important refuge for waterbirds such as crakes, rails, storks, ibises, bitterns, herons, egrets, cormorants and Oriental Darter, as well as small numbers of wintering ducks.

Seasonally inundated grasslands

One of the most threatened habitats in Vietnam, seasonally inundated grasslands, once covered large areas of southern Vietnam, particularly the Mekong Delta region bordering Cambodia. Much of the original grassland has been converted to agriculture and only a few fragments now remain. Bird species restricted to this habitat in Vietnam include dwindling numbers of wintering Sarus Cranes.

Coastal wetlands and other coastal habitats

Vietnam’s coastal wetlands include intertidal mudflats, and man-made habitats such as salt pans and shrimp ponds. In northern Vietnam, the Red River’s intertidal mudflats represent important habitat for migratory and wintering birds including globally threatened such as Black-faced Spoonbill, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Spotted Greenshank and Saunders’ Gull. In the south of the country parts of the Mekong Delta offer similar habitats, while saltpans and shrimp ponds along Vietnam’s central and southern coastline provide important feeding areas for migrant waders.
Much of Vietnam’s native mangrove forest has disappeared, but what remains or has been replanted in recent years provides habitat for bitterns, herons, egrets, cormorants and kingfishers as well as Golden-bellied Gerygone, Mangrove Whistler, Mangrove Blue-flycatcher and Copper-throated Sunbird.
Undisturbed beaches and coastal scrub along Vietnam’s long coastline provide suitable breeding habitat for a variety of species including plovers, terns, bee-eaters and kingfishers, while stands of beachside Casuarina trees are favoured by Plain-backed Sparrow and Oriental Greenfinch.
The rocky offshore islands and islets that comprise the Con Dao archipelago off Vietnam’s south-east coast offer important breeding sites for seabirds, several of which occur nowhere else in Vietnam. These include Red-billed Tropicbird, Brown Noddy, two species of booby and several species of tern. In addition to seabirds, Con Dao is also home to two pigeons adapted to island life, Nicobar Pigeon and Pied Imperial Pigeon.

Vietnam Birds Hotspot

Hot-spot for Birding in Vietnam 

all birding in hot-spot informative info [updated Jan 2023]

Nr.: Nature reserve; Np. National Park; mt. Mountain

Vietnam Birds References

Taxonomic: The taxonomic order and nomenclature follow Clements, version 2022. Globally threatened species (status in red) were identified by Birdlife International in Birdlife Data Zone (species)

Countries list: Lepage, D. 2023. Checklist of the birds in Vietnam. Avibase, the world bird database. available at https://avibase.bsc-eoc.org

Bird-Photos: Online collection from Photographers with the copyright on each Picture.

Text: AI Synthetic

Claim info: Please email vietnambirdguide@gmail.com for any contributions or reports. I’m happy to improve it.