Broadbills of the Thai-Malay Peninsula

on 3rd July 2008


Broadbills make up a small group of tropical birds of the family Eurylamidae. There are a total of 15 species, mostly brightly coloured. Eleven species are from Southeast Asia while the remaining four are African species. The Thai-Malay Peninsula claims seven species.


Singapore used to have five species: Black-and-red (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) (above left), Black-and-yellow (Eurylaimus ochromalus) (above right), Banded (Eurylaimus javanicus) (below left), Dusky (Corydon sumatranus) (below right) and Green (Calyptomena viridis) (top). They are all extinct now.


Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand still have seven species, the five above as well as Long-tailed (Psarisomus dalhousiae) (below left) and Silver-breasted (Serilophus lunatus) (below right).


Broadbills are so-called because they have a large, broad, flat, hooked bill and a wide gape. All the seven species are found in rainforests. They are more often heard than seen. And all are distinctly brightly coloured – and cute.

Willis, Dr Eric Tan & Mark Chua
July 2008
(Images: Black-and-red, Black-yellow and Long-tailed by Dr Eric Tan; Banded, Dusky and Silver-breasted by Willis; and Green Broadbill by Mark Chua)

Bruce, M. D. (2003). Family Eurylaimidae (broadbills). Pp.54-93 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D. A. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 8. Broadbills to Tapaculos. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
2. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

5 Responses

  1. I may be completely wrong here but are the 5 species of Broadbills “extirpated” and not “extinct” since they are still found elsewhere? I am not sure the correct term (since I am not a scientist 🙂

    Either way, that stinks that 5 are gone from Singapore. Is there any possibility of reintroduction or is that too difficult with this family of birds?

  2. Extinct is usually associated with species. I must confess I am not too familiar with the word extirpated.

    Now that the relevant government agencies have completed their task of turning the country into a “city in a garden” I am sure we can persuade them to look seriously into the reintroduction of bird species.

    Habitat loss is the main reason why we lost five species of broadbills, as with most extinctions all over the world. So far, I am aware of only the reintroduction of the Oriental Magpie Robin, whose population used to be excessively poached. Also, we have been successful in increasing the population of the Oriental Pied Hornbill.

    Reintroducing broadbills sounds exciting. We need to study their habitat, food and other needs. Mostly, we need committed birders and ornithologists who are interested in the project.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Birdfreak, you are correct. Extinction refers to the complete loss of a species, none are alive, anywhere. Extirpation is the local extinction of a population, not a species. The Singapore populations of those broadbill species are extirpated. You caused a bit of momentary panic in my mind by saying they’re extinct – they’re absolutely beautiful birds and I don’t want to see them go. Great pictures by the way.

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