Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Birdwatching in Indonesia

Indonesia has got thousands of big and small islands between Asia and Australia. These islands attract the attention of naturalists, biologists and birdwatchers to come and study the flora and fauna of this country. According to field guide book Birds of Indonesia by James Eaton, et al., there are 1,417 species of birds in Indonesia (not including New Guinea).

For birds in New Guinea region, readers can study them by reading such field guide books as Birds of New Guinea by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler, et al.; and Birds of New Guinea (including Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville) by Phil Gregory who said that there are 943 species of birds that are known to occur in New Guinea. Key highlights include: Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Wilson's Bird of Paradise and Red Bird of Paradise, Hooded Butcherbird, Palm Cockatoo, Yellow-faced Myna, Black Lory, Orange-breasted Fig Parrot, Large Fig Parrot, Hooded Pitta, Papuan Pitta and a lot more. For birding sites, Sausapor town, Klabili village, Gauksuak beach as well as Waigeo island in Raja Ampat are the ones that can easily be accessed from Sorong city.

Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus(
A Female Eclectus Parrot in her nest in West Papua's forest

With this abundant species of birds, Indonesia has now become the most important destination for birding visitors. From all the islands in this archipelago, I highly recommend 2 destinations, i.e. Sulawesi and West Papua. Sulawesi island is located in the transitional zone between the continents of Australia and Asia. The endemicity of birds in Sulawesi is the highest in Indonesia. For West Papua, the main attractions for visitors will be its Birds of Paradise. 

Although most of the islands in Indonesia have got birds that are different from New Guinea, for the islands such as Halmahera and Seram that are closer to West Papua province, they share some species with New Guinea. Some of them include Eclectus Parrot, Beach Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Great Cuckoo Dove, Blyth's Hornbill, and the migratory ones such as - Rainbow Bee-eater and Common Dollarbird. 

I personally have guided tourists to visit some interesting rainforest sites in Mount Kerinci and Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra,  for Sulawesi island: Ramang-Ramang, Karaenta, Lore Lindu, Tangkoko, Mount Mahawu, Mount Ambang, and Tambun. Islands further to the east that include Ternate and Halmahera are also good destinations for birding. 

Inter-insular Trading and Introduced Bird Species

Inter-insular trading in Indonesia allows ships to carry people and goods between the islands. Birds are originally from Java, Sumatra, Borneo and the Malayan peninsula such as White-rumped Shama and Spotted Dove have now reached cities in West Papua. Some birds escape to the nearby forest. Black-capped Lory, Coconut Lorikeet from West Papua have also reached Sulawesi and Java. However, they will not survive innthe forest because much of the forests in Java have been badly damaged. The introduced birds from West Papua may not be able to compete with local birds in Java in finding food inside the ever shrinking forest of the island. 

Birding in West Papua

Birding in West Papua is more challenging than birding in other islands of Indonesia. The birding sites in West Papua are often located in remote forest far from cities. Most often, birdwatchers need to use 4WD pick-up cars to reach them. Birdwatchers do not have a lot of choices for accommodation either. That's why, on the average, the cost of birding tours in West Papua is higher than in other islands of Indonesia. The target birds include Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Large Fig Parrot, Orange-breasted Fig Parrot, Amboyna Cuckoo Dove, Palm Cockatoo, White-bellied Cuckooshrike and a lot more. 

bird of new guinea
Palm Cockatoo

Birdwatching in Sulawesi

As the island with the highest endemism of avifauna, Sulawesi is a highly recommended destination for birdwatching visitors. Some of the unique birds which can be watched include:

  • Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker (Picoides temminckii)
  • Gray-sided Flowerpecker 
  • Yellow-sided Flowerpecker
  • Citrine Canary Flycatcher
  • Turquoise Warbling Flycatcher
  • Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon 
  • Sulawesi Cuckoo Dove (Macropygia albicapilla)
  • Green Imperial Pigeon
  • Black-naped Fruit Dove
  • White-faced Cuckoo Dove
  • Sulawesi Scops Owl 
  • Speckled Boobook
  • Barred Rail
  • Ruddy-breasted Crake
  • Isabeline Bush Hen
  • White-browed Crake
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • Sooty-headed Bulbul
  • Black-crowned White-eye
  • Mountain (Warbling) White-eye
  • Pale Blue Monarch
  • Eastern Cattle Egret
  • Little Egret
  • Great-billed Heron
  • Gray Heron
  • Pacific Reef Heron
  • Purple-winged Roller
  • Sulawesi-crested Myna
  • Finch-billed Myna
  • White-browed Crake 
  • Chestnut Munia, 
  • Scaly-breasted Munia
  • Black-faced Munia
  • Sahul Sunbird 
  • Crimson Sunbird
  • Rusty-backed Thrush
  • Collared Kingfisher
  • Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher
  • Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher
  • Scaly-breasted Kingfisher
  • Ruddy Kingfisher 
  • Green-backed Kingfisher
  • Great-billed Kingfisher
  • Brush Cuckoo
  • Sulawesi Pygmy Hornbill
  • Knobbed Hornbill
  • Blue-tailed Bee-eater
  • Slender-billed Crow
  • Gray-rumped Treeswift
  • and etc.

birwatching in minahasa
Black-naped Oriole, Sulawesi Pymy Woodpecker, Pale Blue Monarch, Sultan's Cuckoo Dove


If you are interested in traveling to Indonesia to enjoy birdwatching, and you want me to organize your trip, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to +6281332245180 or by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com. 

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