Monday, June 10, 2024

Walking Tour, Birdwatching and Butterflywatching in District Sonder of Minahasa highland

Sonder is a small district town in the highland of Minahasa regency. It has got birdwatching sites that are easy to be explored on foot. These birding sites are located along the forest edge, the farmland, fish ponds and paddy fields.

Birders can go by car to higher elevation forest of Sonder to watch such birds as Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja), Warbling White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), White-faced Cuckoo Dove (Turacoena manadensis), Sulawesi Cuckoo Dove (Macropygia albicapilla), Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis omissus), and Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker (Yungipicus temminckii), Sulawesi Drongo, Black-faced Munia (Lonchura molucca), and a lot more.

Sulawesi Cuckoo Dove (Macropygia albicapilla)
There is an asphalt paved road that reaches this area. It enables car to bring birdwatchers to the highest point where they can enjoy birdwatching by walking down the slope to lower elevation forest and farmland. 
Warbling White-eye (Zosterops japonicus)
Formerly called Mountain White-eye, now the bird is called Warbling White-eye
Crimson Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird in higher elevation forest of Kecamatan Sonder in Minahasa Highland
Black-faced Munia (Lonchura molucca)


There are flowers that grow on both sides of the road. They attract various kinds of insects especially butterflies such as the Blanchard's Ghost (Idea blanchardii), The Common Birdwing (Troides helena), Blanchard's Wood Nymph (Ideopsis vitrea), Meyer's Jay butterfly (Graphium meyeri), Sulawesi Leafwing (Doleschalia polibete celebensis), Manado Yellow Tiger (Parantica manadensis), and etc.

tropical birds in Indonesia
Turquoise Flycatcher, Pale Blue Monarch, female Sahul Sunbird, Barred Rail, Gray-sided Flowerpecker, Black-crowned White-eye
Blanchard's Ghost (Idea blanchardii)
Blanchard's Ghost Butterfly

Inside the District town of Sonder, there is a small forest. It is located behind GMIM's Siloam Hospital. The small forest, stretches along the slope of Tounelet village. Visitors could watch birds such as Chestnut Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, Brush Cuckoo, Gray-sided Flowerpecker, Yellow-sided Flowerpecker (Dicaeum aureolimbatum), Turquoise Flycatcher, Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster), Sulawesi Hanging Parrot, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Slender-billed Crow, White-nest Swiftlet, Barn Swallow. 

Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)
Zebra Dove in District town of Sonder in Minahasa regency of North Sulawesi Province - Indonesia

When we walk further down the slope of Sonder town and to the farmland and paddy field areas, we will be able to watch Collared Kingfisher, Hair-crested (White-eyed) Drongo, Yellow-billed Malkoha (Rhamphococcyx calyorhynchus), White-breasted Woodswallow, Zebra Dove, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Sunda Teal, White-browed Crake, Cinnamon Bittern, Barred Tail. 

Gray-sided Flowerpecker in Rambunan village of Minahasa highland
Gray-sided Flowerpecker
Flowers and Butterflies
We could continue the walking tour further to northern area towards Tincep village. We will see more birds that like to feed on small fish, insect or grain in paddy field. Tincep village is famous for its flower plants. So, we will be able to see colourful flowers along the roadside. When there are flowers, there are butterflies too. There are Gigon Swallowtail, Lime Swallowtail, Sacred Tabby, The Clipper (Parthenos sylvia) and a lot of other butterflies in District Sonder of Minahasa regency.
Lime Swallowtail
Lime Swallowtail in Tincep village

colorful flower plants in Minahasa highland
Colourful flower plants along the roadside of Tincep village in Minahasa Highland

My Birding Device

Nowadays I use a pair of 10×50 binoculars, a spotting scope to watch birds. I also bring an old bridge camera Fujifilm HS50EXR and cell phone to take pictures of wildlife and scenery. Visitors who are photographers can bring their 

More Birding Sites

Minahasa peninsula as a whole has got a lot of birdwatching sites. Visitors could enjoy birdwatching in Mount Mahawu, Lake Linow and Pine Forest of Lahendong. The farmlands of Pinaras, Sawangan and Rambunan villages are also very good sites for walking tour and birdwatching. For lowland areas, Talawaan area, Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Temboan hill, and Kalinaun river near Batu Putih village will be the recommended choice for visitors.

Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus)
Eastern Cattle Egret

Traveling to Minahasa

Map of flight routes to Manado city
Flight route to Manado city
land route from Manado city to Tomohon and Sonder town
Map location of Tomohon town and District Sonder in Minahasa highland

Visitors who are interested in traveling to Minahasa region to enjoy this walking tour, sightseeing and birdwatching activities, need ti fly from their countries to one of the major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Makassar and Balikpapan. After that, they could continue their trip to Manado city by taking domestic flights served by Garuda, Citilink, TransNusa, Lion Air, and Batik Air.

There are direct flights between Manado and Singapore served by Scoot Air as well as between Manado city and Guangzhou that is served by China Southern Airlines. 

From Manado city, the land trip to Tomohon town and District Sonder could be carried out by car.


There are hotels, resorts and homestays in Minahasa especially in Tomohon. Visitors could find them in or


If you are interested in visiting Minahasa highland to enjoy walking tour, sightseeing and birdwatching and want me to organize your tours, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to: +6281332245180 or by email to:

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