04 July 2015: Winged Wonders–Malaysian Heritage

Winged Wonders: Malaysian Heritage showcases the spectacular beauty and remarkable drama of our resident and migratory birds from the common to the rare. Over 200 bird species featured in this lavishly illustrated book.

ww-1The cover of  Winged Wonders: Malaysian Heritage shows a close-up photograph of the naturally shy and reclusive owl with wings spread majestically. As any avid birdwatcher will attest to, bird photography is one of the most challenging and daunting types of wildlife photography, even more so when the subject comprises close-ups of birds in flight. If anything, this new book is testament to the dedication of a husband and wife team to their shared passion in life.

The sequel to Winged Wonders of Malaysia (2004) is every bit as impressive as its predecessor. Hundreds of photographs capturing birds in flight and at rest, hunting, feeding, roosting – all of them in their natural habitat – lowlands; mudflats and mangroves; rice fields; freshwater wetlands; scrublands; lowland, small hill and highland forests. Each and every photograph featured in this book are new, as are the bird species, except where interesting observations are highlighted. Each species is labelled by its common name in English; local name in Malay; and its scientific or Latin name (binomial nomenclature), accompanied by short, easy-to-understand descriptions written in layperson’s language. “With this book”, says the authors, “are our hopes to create public awareness and appreciation for the diverse wealth and the vast array of our avifaunal legacy.”

ww-2According to Malaysian Nature Society, birds and their respective habitats in Malaysia are currently threatened by various forms of land use development, poaching/hunting, habitat degradation and possible competition with escapees and alien species. Malaysia is also ranked as one of the top 20 countries in the world with the highest number of globally threatened birds, many of which are forest-dependent.

The author, Hum Kim Choy has enjoyed almost 40 years of bird-watching. At 82, he is still carrying his heavy camera equipment and trekking forest paths. He is frequently joined by his wife Ooi Poh Sim, during his bird-watching trips. After five decades of togetherness, she has picked up some of her husband’s photography skills, and her photos are featured in this book as well.