Greet the city's feathered friends as you embark on a tour of the wetlands not far from the city.
The Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary is a 24 hectares patch of mangrove wetlands that provides a safe environment for local wildlife and international birds alike. The sanctuary acts as a centre for environmental education and promotes eco-tourism. So this is where visitors can discover a genuine appreciation for nature.
The birds here are free to come and go as they like. This allows them to be in a habitat that really aims to simultaneously protect and respect. What is extremely important about this sanctuary is that it is the only remaining area of widespread mangrove forest that was once part of the city’s simpler days. Because of this, the 1996 state government transformed it into a bird sanctuary in the hopes of educating people about the importance of wetlands. It was honourably acknowledged as a State Cultural Heritage Site in 1998.
Bird watching is an immensely popular activity here as the nature reserve is home to at least 80 species. The best time to do this is at dawn, before the birds take flight in search of food, or when they return home at the end of the day around dusk. Interestingly, many winter visitors are attracted to roost here.
Common feathered friends include those from Siberia, the Greater Sunda Islands, Europe, and the regions just beyond Antartica and Australasia. There are birds that migrate from all across Asia, too. If you are very lucky, you might catch sight of the Nankeen night heron or the lesser adjutant stork. Besides housing guests, the sanctuary is also home to year-round residents. These colourful tenants range from yellow-bellied prinias to green pigeons. Other wildlife is also found here. This includes water dwellers like jellyfish, water snakes, fiddler crabs and mud lobsters.