Escape to Da Lat plateau’s kingdom of birds

By Huynh Phuong, Andy Nguyen   October 17, 2021 | 07:59 am GMT+7 --> --> save for later --> Langbiang Plateau, considered the roof of Da Lat Town in the Central Highlands, is an ideal destination to admire rare, colorful birds.

Located around 12 kilometers to the north of downtown Da Lat, Langbiang Plateau was popularized by French biologist Alexandre Yersin in 1893 and is designated an Endemic Bird Area by BirdLife International, a global partnership of non-governmental organizations that strives to conserve birds and their habitats.

Lying 1,400 meters above sea level, the plateau is surrounded by high mountains, green pine forests and fresh air, making it an ideal habitat for rare birds.

In Da Lat, there are some endemic birds that have evolved to adapt to the typical habitat and climate in Langbiang and cannot be found in other countries. Among them is Da Lat Shrike-Babbler (Pteruthius annamensis), which could be identified with a bright white eyebrow and a black-and-orange panel on the wings.

The species can be observed across pine hills in the area of the Than Tho, Tuyen Lam or Dankia hydroelectric lakes.

The Vietnamese cutia (Cutia legalleni) usually feeds among pine trees. The male has a blue-gray crown and wing patch, midnight-black mask, orange back and rump, and black-barred white underparts.

Its natural habitat is tropical moist montane forests.

At the Datanla waterfall tourist area, a few kilometers from downtown Da Lat, visitors can capture Streaked Spiderhunter with a long, curved black bill and black streaking all over its yellow-green upperparts and lighter yellow underparts.

This species can be found alone or in pairs. Their nesting season is from March to July. The nest is usually made of leaves tied together with cobwebs, found attached to the reverse side of a leaf.

The Annam Sunbird, an endemic sub-species of Mrs Gould's sunbird found in Da Lat is seen perching in a tree. The male has a blue crown, red breast and yellow rump and mainly lives in pine forests at a height of 1,000 to 2,500 meters above sea level.

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch (Sitta nagaensis) has long black eye stripes, blue-grey crown and upperparts, white neck, light brown lowerparts and chestnut-brown lower tail feathers. The species is always active, social and follow mixed flocks.

An orange-headed thrush (Geokichla citrina) with a beak full of prey to feed its young. The species has an entirely orange head and underparts, uniformly grey upperparts and wings.

The orange-headed thrush is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms and fruit. It nests in trees but does not form flocks.

Visitors can meet migratory birds at Datanla Waterfall such as blue whistling thrush (Myophonus caeruleus). This whistling thrush is dark violet blue with shiny spangling on the tips of the body feathers, abdomen and under the tail.

They feed on the ground, often along streams and in damp places foraging for snails, crabs, fruits and insects.

Tuyen Lam Lake or Dat Set Village hosts colorful birds living in low forest areas surrounded by pine trees and shrubs like slender-billed oriole (Oriolus tenuirostris ), which has a beautiful golden oriole with a long, lipstick-red bill and an elegant black band across the eyes.

Long-tailed Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus) can be observed near Tuyen Lam Lake.

The female long-tailed minivet has a yellow forehead and rump, grayish crown, nape, ear coverts and back.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), which appear near Xuan Huong Lake, is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts. The osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish.