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).
|Common Paradise Kingfisher|
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.
|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 visited some birding sites in Sulawesi islands such as Ramang-Ramang, Karaenta, Lore Lindu, Tangkoko, Mount Mahawu, Mount Ambang, and Tambun. Islands further to the east, i.e. 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 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.
Despite high cost, birdwatchers still fly to West Papua because they really want to watch birds of paradise. by Charles Roring
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|Pale Blue Monarch printed on a big cloth|
|Bird Knitting Nest-Watercolour on Paper|