Eurasian Wryneck – a vagrant to Peninsular Malaysia?

on 22nd January 2022

There have been 4 sightings of the Eurasian wryneck (Jynx torquilla) recorded so far on eBird and 1 (that I am aware of) on Malayan Nature Society Perak Bird Group Facebook:

  1. 1990-10-17 at Malim Nawar, Perak by Lim Kim Chye
  2. 2007-01-15 at Sungai Dua ricefields, Pulau Pinang by
  3. 2012-01-02 and 2012-01-23 at Ladang Tebu FELDA, Chuping, Perlis by Bee-Cheng Ng and Dave Bakewell respectively.
  4. 2014-01-25 at Kuala Kubu Bahru, Selangor by Terence Ang
  5. 2017-12-03 near Ipoh City, Perak by Simon Ho (FB report)

I saw a Eurasian Wryneck at the outskirts of Ipoh City, Perak today, 17th January 2022. I fortunately saw the bird, from a distance, before it saw me. It was close to the ground and I managed a few distant images (above, below). Once it spotted me it immediately ‘disappeared’. I attempted to relocate the bird but failed.

It may have arrived on migration yearly, perhaps a few birds each year (1-3) but easily missed, as the locations spotted may be less popular with bird watchers. Also, it had good plumage for camouflage and is often noted as foraging on or close to the ground.

Mike HN Chong of Selangor, Malaysia had this to say: “Excellent find! This individual looks to me, not a full adult yet?

“Agree that it’s more a rare migrant than a vagrant in recent years, although the gaps in the years of sightings are pretty much uniform i.e. 2-3 years from 2012-2017? I am not sure if it’s a ‘common migrant’ though. Even the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo which is regularly sighted over recent years, I don’t think can be called a common migrant. It is more uncommon unless there’re many sighting all over to support this. Asian Brown Flycatcher to me is a common migrant.”

Agree that its cryptic plumage and very shy behaviour (as you attested) make it harder to spot. Moreover, the open/secondary belukar/parkland(?) area you may have seen it is not a prime birding or photographers’ location. So it may be missed due to this habitat preference by birders, etc.

Much like the Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops) which prefer open/parkland habitats, It also could be overlooked, like Eurasian wryneck. Of course with recent discovery hoopooe this could be a breeding resident again in Peninsula Malaysia!


I suspect the key habitat is ex-tin mining ‘wetlands’ where there is water, wetland vegetation as well as some dry sandy areas. After all…

  1. Lim Kim Chye (1990-10-17) saw his at Malim Nawar, Perak – ex-tin mining ponds used for fish farming.
  2. Simon Ho (2017-12-03) saw his at Kinta Nature Park near Batu Gajah  – ex-tin mining ponds with lots of wetlands habitat.
  3. Terence Ang (2014-01-25) sighting was next to an ex-tin mining pond at Kuala Kubu Bahru, Selangor.
  4. My observation (2022-01-17) was also an ex-tin mining pond area with some fish farming.
  5. Dave Bakewell (2007-01-15) at Sungai Dua, Pulau Pinang was a rice fields habitat.
  6. Bee-Cheng Ng and Dave Bakewell (2012-01-02 and 2012-01-23) was at a FELDA  estate (Oil Palm?) at Chuping, Perlis.

 So overall I suspect a wetlands habitat, especially ex-tin mining areas is the best bet.

This is in contrast to the native breeding habitat which is more wooded but while on migration may be more at ‘wet’ or ‘sandy’ areas.

Winkler, H., D. A. Christie, and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. state:

“Open forest, clearings, woodland with low undergrowth, wooded pasture, and unimproved meadowland with scattered trees, so long as dry and sunlit, and grass areas not too well developed; avoids damper vegetation and higher mountains. Prefers open riparian forest, and lighter parts of more closed mixed or deciduous broadleaf forest and forest edge; also copses, avenues, plantations, parks, orchards, larger gardens, non-intensive farmland; locally, also pure stands of pine (Pinus) or larch (Larix). In non-breeding season, open dry woodland, bushy grassland and gardens, in S Asia typically in scrub, thickets, also in canopy of forest and in cultivations; overwinterers in S Europe found mostly in coastal wetlands and maquisMigrants also in treeless open habitats, including desert. Mostly lowlands to c. 1000 m, occasionally higher, in Europe to 1600 m in Alps and Caucasus; in Himalayas, breeds at 1500–3300 m; non-breeders to 1800 m in SE Asia.”


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

17th and 19th January 2022


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.

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