INTRODUCTION by Peter Boesman
On a recent sound recording trip to Peninsular Malaysia, I was surprised little was available to learn bird songs prior to my visit. Despite the growing availability of bird sound recordings in publications and on the internet, it seemed like this bird-rich destination with world-famous birding places like Fraser’s Hill and Taman Negara was in need of a dedicated publication. Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to publish my own birdsound recordings from the area, enhanced with contributions by others, in a similar way I had done in the past for a number of neotropical countries.
General knowledge of bird sounds has increased dramatically over the last decade, and as a consequence, whenever a new work is being published, also the level of expectation is gradually climbing. A mere single recording per species is no longer considered good enough a standard. I have therefore made a special effort to bring together a true sound collection, illustrating as much as possible the bird voices of Peninsular Malaysia: 932 recordings of 312 resident species are included.
I hope it will help birders and scientists in many ways, and will eventually – by continued interest in eco-tourism and conservation – benefit the marvelous birds of Malaysia…
About this package
The aim of this work is to cover the sounds of the resident bird species from Peninsular Malaysia.
All recordings have been taken in Peninsular Malaysia (with a few from Singapore and just across the Thai-Malaysian border), to ensure the sounds perfectly reflect what can be heard in this region. There are thus no recordings from far away, from subspecies not occurring in Peninsular Malaysia, which may have quite a different voice.
The collection of recordings presented here (932 recordings of 312 species) has a total playing time of about 10 hours, the equivalent of some 10 audio CD’s… While this collection is far from a complete overview of all resident species, it actually includes most of the vocalizations commonly heard while exploring nature in Peninsular Malaysia. This is the first time ever such a large collection is being published for Peninsular Malaysia, and it also covers most of the resident species known from Singapore.
I have typically included several sound files per species, e.g. to illustrate different types of vocalizations, to illustrate some degree of individual variation or to document vocalizations from different corners of a bird’s distribution. Obviously, with mainly less than 5 recordings per species, one can only give a flavor of this.
I have used denominations like ‘song’ and ‘call’ to group the recordings, but one should not give too much importance to these denominations, as they are obviously an oversimplification of the different functions of vocalization. Nevertheless, ‘song’ typically is used for the vocalization which indicates a bird’s presence in its territory, and (especially for Passeriformes/Songbirds) this is usually the longer, more melodious vocalization of the species. ‘Call’ at the other hand is typically a shorter vocalization, and can be used either for contact, alarm, distress,…
About the Author
Peter Boesman started birding in his home country Belgium when he was twelve. He quickly started travelling all over Europe as a backpacker to learn more about the birds of the old continent. At home he made his knowledge at use by guiding nature walks, writing articles, and taking up responsibilities in the birder’s community. He was member of the Belgian Rarities Committee and co-author of the Avifauna of Flanders, Belgium.
Parallel to his studies and interest for nature, Peter also studied music, and obtained the Belgian government medal for piano and a First prize at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent (presently called a Master in Music) before he was even eighteen years old ! Whether this early interest in music developed his abilities for working with bird sounds much later in his life will remain an open question.
In the 1980’s he started travelling beyond Europe: Africa, Asia, the Middle-East, USA and finally, in 1988, he visited Venezuela, his first neotropical experience.
Only 2 years later, a managerial job opportunity offered by a Belgian multinational company made him move to Venezuela, which allowed him in his free time to get better acquainted with the local avifauna. It was also an opportunity to visit neighboring neotropical countries. Peter made several discoveries in Venezuela, and published articles about them (he was involved in the re-discovery of Grey-headed Warbler, Rusty-flanked Crake, Great Antpitta, Plain-flanked Rail and he put some new birding places on the map such as Caño Colorado in E Venezuela, now a standard stop on many birding tours).
It is in this period that he also got interested in recording bird vocalizations. There was hardly anything available about Venezuelan birds and it became quickly obvious that knowing bird songs was essential to study birds in the neotropics. Armed with a directional microphone and a tape recorder he went off in the field. This was the start of the creation of his present bird sounds collection. Soon he made many unique recordings, not only in Venezuela, but also in other neotropical countries. In Colombia he made the first recordings of a Screech Owl in the Santa Marta region, now suggested to be a new species, and in the same region he recorded in 1994 the foliage-gleaner which was described some 15 years later as Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner based on voice!
In 1995, while birding in Peru, an accident involving a Bushmaster snake had near-fatal consequences. Peter miraculously survived, but lost his complete right leg. Less than a year later, he made his first attempts to get back in the field supported by his Venezuelan wife, he continued recording bird vocalizations and did several bird-censuses of areas in NW Venezuela.
Later he moved to the USA for his job, where he published a pioneering CD-ROM Birds of Venezuela, photographs, sounds and distributions. From his new base, it didn’t take him long to venture into the northern side of the neotropics: Mexico. Even when the job called him back to Belgium, he continued travelling to Mexico, and after some years he had not only visited most corners of this magnificent country, but gathered a vast collection of bird song recordings.
In the same way, he could not resist the tempting treasure of birds in Brazil.
At the end of 2005, he again came up with a pioneering idea to publish a large set of bird song recordings on a single MP3 CD per country, for Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela.
While in Belgium, he decided it was time also for this region to have some fresh new recordings (surprisingly, very little had been published of his home country in recent decades!). He acquired the latest digital recording equipment and visited all corners of Belgium and the Netherlands. A few years later, Peter could again deliver, this time an incredible MP3 multimedia field guide of the birds of Belgium and the Netherlands. The novelty not only being the excellent sound recordings, but also the unique combination of sound, pictures, distribution maps and text in a format useable on both PC/Mac and MP3 players.
His latest achievements rightly deserve the term ‘monumental’, for the first time the vocalizations of Peru are documented in a single work containing no less than 3350 recordings of some 1530 Peruvian bird species, in a similar way he documented the birds of Costa Rica, and now there is the update for Brazil and Venezuela in which no less than 4600 (resp. 4200) recordings are included.
Through the years, Peter has observed some 3700 different bird species in the New World alone, and accumulated a bird sound collection of some 28000 recordings, all digitally available and supported by a database with recording details. He has probably published vocalizations of more bird species than anyone in the world by now, despite his serious physical handicap !
I am very grateful to all the contributing recordists who made it possible to create this work. In alphabetic order they are Marc Anderson, Nick Athanas, Marcus Braun, David Farrow, Greg Irving, Ding Li Yong, Frank Lambert, Mike Nelson, Sander Pieterse, Jelle Scharringa, John van der Woude, Arend Wassink and Sam Woods.
My life-long birding friend Mark Van Beirs accompanied me in the field, and fully shared his Asian bird experience.
James Eaton gave some much appreciated help with the identification of several recordings.
Erwin Collaerts generously allowed me to use his photographs for the cover and label.
For the distribution of this work, I could count again on the support of Bernard Geling of Birdsounds.nl .
HOW SOUND PACKAGES WORK IN BIRDSEYE
Purchasing this package gives you access to a large collection of bird sounds, all within BirdsEye. It also gives you access to the BirdsEye images and text, as well as the eBird data available for the species that are included in the package.
You can download it to your phone for offline use and remove it to free up space as often as you wish. You can access this package on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, so long as they are all registered to your BirdsEye account. To download all of the sounds for offline use, just go to “Settings” and then choose “Download for Offline”. Enjoy!