Friday, November 1, 2019

Birding in Sonder of Minahasa

Sonder is a highland district town in Minahasa regency of Indonesia. It has got tens of sites that are suitable for birdwatching. I offer walking tour and birdwatching for tourists who are interested in seeing this beautiful landscape of Minahasa highland as well as watching various species of tropical birds of Sulawesi. The level of difficulty for the walking tour is easy. So, it is suitable for anyone.

In the rice field, river banks, and ponds, we can see such birds as:

  • Little Egret
  • White-browed Crake
  • Cattle Egret
  • Little Egret
  • Cinnamon Bittern
  • Purple Heron
  • Sunda Teal
  • Slender-billed Crow
  • Chestnut Munia
  • Scaly-breasted Munia
  • Black-faced Munia
  • White-breasted Woodswallow
  • Collared Kingfisher
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • and etc.
Olive-backed Sunbird in Tounelet village of Kecamatan Sonder, Minahasa
Sahul Sunbird in Tounelet Slope of Kecamatan Sonder of Minahasa Highland
If visitors walk through the alleyways of the small town that have got trees on both of their sides, they could see:
  • Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)
  • Sahul Sunbird (Cynniris frenatus)
  • Brown-throated Sunbird
  • Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon (Ducula radiata)
  • Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon (Treron Griseicauda)
  • White-eyed Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus leucops)
  • Sulawesi Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus montanus)
  • Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja)
  • Grey-sided Flowerpecker
  • Black-crowned White-eye (Zosterops atrifrons)
  • and a lot more.
Birdwatching, sightseeing, cultural tour in Minahasa regency of North Sulawesi
Birdwatching in Kecamatan Sonder of Minahasa regency the Province of North Sulawesi
Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis) in the outskirt of Sonder town of Minahasa regency
Sulawesi Scops Owl in Sonder of Minahasa highland
The farmland and secondary forest of Sonder are not dense. There, visitors could see:
  • Yellow-billed Malkoha (Rhamphococcyx calyorhynchus)
  • Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis)
  • Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)
  • Zebra Dove
  • Finch-billed Myna
  • Pale Blue Monarch (Hypothymis puella)
In the mountains, more interesting birds could be watched such as:
  • Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker
  • Warbling White-eye
  • Sulawesi Cuckoo Dove
  • White-faced Cuckoo Dove
  • Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher
  • Scaly-breasted Kingfisher
  • Crimson Sunbird
  • Warbling White-eye
  • and etc.

More birds can be seen in Kecamatan Sonder of Minahasa regency if we spend around 3 to 4 days there. The easiest birdwatching site in Sonder is the forest of Tounelet. Its name is Tounelet village. Various species of birds could be seen there. Visitors can walk down the slope along the roadside from Siloam hospital to the "downtown" of Sonder and then to the market. 

Some of the many birds in Sonder town of Minahasa regency, Indonesia

Internet Connection
Sonder town is covered by 4G internet connection provided by telkomsel. You only need to buy Simpati Simcard and internet quota at the airport or at the nearby supermarket to get access to the internet.
There are eating houses or food stalls in Sonder town. So, it is easy to find food there. Because most of the Minahasan traditional foods are spicy, please inform the food vendors in advance if you do not want chilli souce in the foods that you order.

Where is Sonder town and How to get there?
There are daily flights from major cities in Indonesia to Manado city. Transportation to Sonder town from Manado city can be served by Gocar, Grab or chartered car. It is very easy to reach Sonder. From the bus terminal of Tomohon town, find a public transportation to Kecamatan Sonder. Visitors can stay at the homestays in the town or in hotels in the nearby Tomohon town.
Birding can be done in the small Tounelet forest inside the town to farmlands and forest at the outskirts of Sonder.
flying route to Manado city
Flying Route to Sorong city

Birding and sightseeing tour in District Sonder of Minahasa regency of North Sulawesi
Sonder town in Minahasa highland of North Sulawesi
Field Guide Book
Birding is a fascinating activity. It brings us closer to nature. Our birding experience can significantly be enhanced if we bring a field guide book. For Indonesia, the recommended book now is Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago - Greater Sundas and Wallacea. The authors of the book were James A. Eaton, Bas van Balen, Nick W. Brickle, and Frank E. Rheindt.
Birding Devices
In addition, visitors need to bring a good pair of binoculars such as Nikon Monarch HG 8×42, Nikon Monarch5 10×42, Nikon Action Extreme 12×50.
Birding camera such as Nikon Coolpix P1000, P900 or Canon SX70 HS will allow birdwatchers to take pictures of birds in high trees for identification purposes.
Because I work as a tourist guide, I often bring a spotting scope. Mine is a Kinglux 20-60×60 mm, a pair of Visionking 10×42mm roof prism binoculars, laser pointer, and sound player and a portable loudspeaker for calling birds.
Birding in Sonder is easy. We do not need expensive hiking shoes. I usually spend my time walking in the farmland areas especially in placescwhere there are tall trees. There are unpaved roads, and footpaths which I can follow. They are not steep. I only wear flip-flops or running shoes. Because I often bring complete birding gear, I always wear jeans or trousers that have several big pockets. I put laser pointer, sound player and loudspeaker as well as a pen and a small note book in them.
Further Explorations of Minahasa Highlands
From Sonder, visitors could explore more villages, and towns in Minahasa highland.
Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon in Tounelet village of Kecamatan Sonder, Minahasa highland, North Sulawesi
Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon in Tounelet village of Sonder, Minahasa Highland

Other Attractions

Minahasan society are mostly farmers. Visitors who stay in Sonder can go to Rambunan village for birding and also for seeing how local farmers make palm sugar using the sweet sap of aren tree. A visit to Polutan village will give visitors a chance to see how local people make flower vases, big plates using clay as the main raw material. There are also other villages in Minahasa highland which are interesting to be explored. The nearby Leilem village is a famous for its home industry in wooden furniture.

There are waterfalls in Tincep village. Visitors can go there while doing birding along the terraces of rice fields.


If you are interested in taking a birding tour in North Sulawesi and want me to be your guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Also read: