Raptor Watch (RW) is now Malaysia’s biggest and best eco-tourism event and a signature for the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). Organised by the Malaysian Nature Society, is a festival to celebrate the return of the migratory birds of prey or better known as raptors on their journey back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. Raptor Watch is a public event meant to raise awareness on the conservation of raptors and their habitats.
Raptor Watch is held annually on the first weekend of March. However, the spring raptor migration actually begins in mid-February and lasts till mid-April. For those who are not able to come to the RW, you can still go anytime within this period to see the birds. Over the years of monitoring, MNS has discovered that the peak period to watch the greatest number of birds is the first weekend of March. Despite the scientific data behind it, raptor migration cannot be guaranteed. Nature is unpredictable. A change in wind direction, haze, and rain may deter the birds from flying across leading to a `no bird day’.
Best time to watch the raptors will be between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. In the past there have been records of birds flying as late as 6 p.m. The reason why raptors choose to fly during the hottest period of the day is because they need thermals. Thermals are hot air columns produced by the land due to the heat from the sun. As raptors are very large creatures, they require these thermals to help them glide on the sky without using energy to flap their wings. Thermals will assist the raptors in getting them back to their breeding grounds in far northern temperate Asia with minimal usage of energy.
Raptor Watch is an opportunity for the general public to witness one of nature’s most exquisite offerings. Raptors migrate southward to escape the bitter cold of the northern winters and make the same venturous journey back during spring to their breeding grounds in temperate Asia.