Blue-headed Pitta Maliau Basin Sabah

Blue-headed Pitta Maliau Basin Sabah

One of the beautiful birds in Sabah is the Blue-headed Pitta which I photographed at Maliau Basin some years ago. Most birders or bird watchers from around the world have a pitta list, and this is one of the birds they would love to see or photograph.

Over at Maliau Basin Conservation Area in the middle of Sabah Borneo, one has a good chance to spot the Blue-headed Pitta. And the best part is that it is usually seen around the Agathis Camp, which is a short trek from the base camp of Maliau.

Blue-headed Pitta Maliau Basin Sabah

Endemic to Borneo, Pitta hunters from around the world need to visit this unique island and head over to the Malaysian state of Sabah in the North.

The photo shows a beautiful male Blue-headed Pitta standing in the open grassy area around the Agathis Camp when I visited some years ago.

This is also a medium sized bird which usually spends a lot of time on the ground in lowland areas. Though Pitta’s are not easy to come by, over here in Maliau Basin, it is quite common to spot. Habitats usually are the primary forest, but they are often spotted in secondary forest.

The male has bright plumage with a very distinctive bright blue crown and black cheeks combined with a white throat. Female is more buff colored with a hint of blue at the tail area.

Sabah Blue-headed Pitta
The beautiful plumage of the pitta seen at Maliau Basin.

Where To See Blue-headed Pittas?

There are a number of places around Borneo where you can spot the Blue-headed Pitta and they are;


  • Kabali-Sepilok Forest Reserve
  • Kinabatangan River
  • Sukau
  • Tabin Wildlife Reserve
  • Danum Valley Conservation Area
  • Maliau Basin Conservation Area
  • Kalabakan Forest Reserve
  • Tawau Hills Park
  • Ulu Merutai Besar (Tawau)


  • Gunung Mulu National Park
  • Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary


  • Sungai Rampayoh
  • Labi
  • Ulu Temburong National Park


This is probably my only time that the Blue-headed Pitta was comfortable in the open and allowing me to photograph it from a distance of 10 meters away.

Usually when I look for Pitta’s, it’s not as easy as this one and to date, I have never had the opportunity to see one so easily.

You will also need to engage a local bird guide for this, and there are some specialists bird guides available in Sabah, who speak good English, Mandarin and some even Japanese or other languages.

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