You should know by now that there are a good number of birds that spend an appreciable amount of time underwater. There are, for example, the Penguins and Diving Ducks. And then there are the crazy-awesome Dippers and one should not forget the great diving birds like Gannets and Albatrosses.

This Yellow-crowned Amazon was not quite as vociferous as his Central American cousins


And like many of these birds, I too love to spend time beneath the water – there are few things better than free diving or scuba diving with dolphins, whale sharks or coral reef fish. Looking through some of my photos from my last trip to Thailand, I got to wondering what birds the various fish and creatures would be if they were feathered. Let me try to explain what I am getting at:

(before I get started, I don’t have a guide for the creatures of the area so please excuse the rough IDs)

This species of Damselfish seems to live in flocks – one sees them flitting around corals, particularly around the branches of staghorn corals. Actually, much like a flock of Groove-billed Anis, hopping about in the shrubbery, but jumping up to moan at you if you get too close.

A flock of wanna-be Groove-billed Ani

 Well, not exactly like a Pink-throated Twinspot, but the colours of this Snapper do kinda remind me of one

This has got to be an owl. But what owl could possibly be this gaudy. Oooooh, I know, its a Pitta!

A Pitta hiding from a curious birder

A Yellow-crowned Night Heron laying patiently in wait at the water’s edge


Red-backed Shrike – really pretty to look at, but do not touch (this is a fire-coral, btw)

This Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo is playing shy in the Eucalyptus branches. It is a cavity nester after all.

This Rock Cod (Grouper) tends to hang out directly on the coral surfaces. It kinda reminds me of Little or Least Bittern, hanging out motionless all day, watching the world go by.

Eagle Owls are often seen hiding in small caves.

 See, with a little bit of imagination, even a scuba diver can find birds all over the place. Talk about having birds on the brain, huh.

Happy birding,

Dale Forbes

Written by Dale Forbes
Dale grew up in the forests and savannas of South Africa, developing a love for nature from a young age. After studying Zoology and Wildlife Science, he moved to Central America to continue his work in conservation biology. He is a member of BirdLife International’s Advisory Board and is Swarovski Optik’s Head of Strategic Business Development.