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 got his first pair of binoculars for a very early birthday after his dad realized that it was the only way to be left in peace. Many robins, eagles and finches later, he ended up at university studying various biology things and wrote a thesis on vertebrate biogeography in southern African forests. While studying, he also worked on various conservation/research projects (parrots, wagtails, vultures, and anything else that flew) and ringed thousands of birds. Dale studied scarlet macaws, and worked in their conservation, for three years in southern Costa Rica, followed by a year in the Caribbean working on Whale Sharks. After meeting the woman of his dreams, he moved to Austria where he now has the coolest job in the world making awesome toys for birders (Swarovski Optik product manager). He happens to also be obsessed with photography, particularly digiscoping, and despite all efforts will almost certainly never be a good birder. He also blogs for