Where to watch birds and wildlife in
A stunning Steere's Pitta in Rajah Sikatuna National Park on the island of Bohol by
- A birdlist of about 600 species, well over a third of which (234) are endemic to a country slightly smaller than the
- Including the Philippine (Monkey-eating) Eagle, the second largest eagle in the world
- Cinnamon Ibon, in a family of its own
- And Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Bukidnon Woodcock, Philippine Cockatoo, fruit doves, Scale-feathered Malkoha, owls, Philippine
Trogon, kingfishers, Rufous-crowned (Blue-throated) Bee-eater, hornbills, Mindanao and Visayan Wattled Broadbills, Steere’s and Whiskered Pittas, three
rhabdornises, fantails, Philippine Fairy Bluebird, leafbirds, sunbirds and flowerpeckers
- As well as Philippine Tarsier
- And the chance to swim with Dugongs,
Manta Rays, Whale Sharks and numerous
coral reef fish including sharks and rays
Best Birds and other wildlife in the Philippines
The birdlist for the Philippines includes 234 endemic species according to the IOC World List as at the end of
2014. The birds listed are usually present during the northern winter. Philippine (Monkey-eating) Eagle, Palawan Peacock Pheasant, hornbills,
Philippine Cockatoo, Blue-capped Wood, Indigo-banded, Rufous-lored, Silvery and Spotted Wood Kingfishers, Rufous-crowned (Blue-throated) Bee-eater,
Philippine Trogon, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Asian and Philippine Fairy Bluebirds, leafbirds, Hooded, Red-bellied, Steere's and Whiskered Pittas,
Mindanao and Visayan Wattled Broadbills, Grand, Stripe-breasted and Stripe-headed Rhabdornises, sunbirds, fruit doves, fantails, flowerpeckers,
Flame-templed Babbler and Cinnamon Ibon (not a white-eye, now in a family of its own), as well as Philippine Duck, Tabon Scrubfowl, Red Junglefowl,
Chinese Egret, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Brahminy Kite, Philippine Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Philippine Falconet, Philippine
(Purple) Swamphen, White-browed Crake, Malaysian Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Grey-tailed Tattler, Pintail and Swinhoe’s
Snipes, Bukidnon Woodcock, Barred and Spotted Buttonquails, Whiskered Tern, green and imperial pigeons, Guaiabero, Blue-naped Parrot, racquet-tails,
Colasisi (Philippine Hanging Parrot), coucals, scops owls, hawk owls, Palawan (Javan) and Philippine Frogmouths, Great Eared Nightjar, Whiskered
Treeswift, swiftlets, needletails, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Great Slaty Woodpecker,
White-breasted Woodswallow, Philippine Minivet, Common Iora, cuckoo shrikes, trillers, Green-backed and Yellow-bellied Whistlers, Mountain Shrike,
orioles, Black-naped and Short-crested Monarchs, Blue and Rufous Paradise Flycatchers, Elegant and Palawan Tits, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, bulbuls,
tailorbirds, White-browed Shortwing, Luzon Water Redstart, flycatchers, White-browed Shama, Eye-browed Thrush, babblers, Falcated Ground Babbler,
Asian and Short-tailed Glossy Starlings, Coleto, Apo and Hill Mynas, Little and Naked-faced Spiderhunters, Red-eared Parrotfinch and White-cheeked
Bullfinch. Also a chance of Pied Harrier, bleeding-hearts, Celestial Monarch, Metallic Pigeon, Asian Dowitcher and Great Knot.
Dugong, Philippine Tarsier, Long-tailed (Crab-eating) Macaque, and Golden-crowned and Large Flying Foxes.
Also a chance of Philippine Colugo (Flying Lemur).
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Devil, Eagle and Manta Rays, Whale Shark (Dec-May, mostly Feb-Apr), other sharks including
Thresher (Monad Shoal is one of the best places in the world for this spectacular shark), Leopard and Scalloped Hammerhead (deep water shoals mostly
Jan-Apr), numerous other coral reef fish including groupers, frogfish, pipefish and scorpionfish, seahorses and nudibranchs, as well as Water Monitor
and Tockay Gecko.
Other Natural Wonders of the Philippines
Subterranean River An 8.2 km (5 mile) long, navigable underground river on the island of Palawan.
Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in the Philippines
- La Mesa Eco Park Ashy Thrush.
- Sierra Madre Grand Rhabdornis, Whiskered Pitta, White-lored Oriole and Golden-crowned Babbler.
Also a chance of Luzon Bleeding-heart and White-fronted Tit.
- Mount Polis Luzon Racquet-tail and Luzon Water Redstart. Also a chance of Whiskered Pitta.
- Candaba Swamp WR Philippine Duck, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Philippine Swamphen and
White-browed Crake. Also a chance of Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler.
- Subic Bay Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, Luzon Hawk Eagle, Green Racquet-tail, Rufous-crowned Bee-eater colony, Luzon
Flameback, White-fronted Tit, Green-backed Tailorbird and Coleto. Also a chance of White-lored Oriole.
- Mount Makiling Luzon Hornbill, Indigo-banded (Botanical Gardens) and Spotted Wood Kingfishers, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis,
Rufous Paradise Flycatcher, Red-bellied Pitta, White-browed Shama, and Barred and Spotted (Awasa Track) Buttonquails.
- Donsol Whale Shark.
- Mindoro Blue-crowned Racquet-tail (Lake Libuao), Black-hooded Coucal (Sablayan Penal Colony), Mindoro Hornbill (Sablayan
Penal Colony) and Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker (Lake Libuao). Also a chance of Mindoro Bleeding-heart.
- Puerto Princesa Chinese Egret.
- Narra/Rasa Island Philippine Cockatoo, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Chinese Egret.
- Iwahig Penal Colony/Balsahan River Palawan Flycatcher, and Falcated Ground and Melodious Babblers.
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River (St Paul's) NP Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Tabon Scrubfowl, Blue-headed Racquet-tail,
Asian Fairy Bluebird, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Falcated Ground Babbler and Hooded Pitta, as well as Water Monitor. Also a chance of Blue Paradise
Flycatcher and Malaysian Plover.
- Mantanai Island Mantanai Scops Owl.
- Dimakaya Island, Coron Bay Dugong.
- Negros Visayan (Twin Lakes NP) and Writhed Hornbills, Flame-templed Babbler (Malanjua River), White-winged Cuckoo Shrike,
Maroon-naped Sunbird (Twin Lakes NP) and Visayan Flowerpecker (Valencia). Also a chance of Negros Bleeding-heart. The famous town of Dumaguete is also
on this island - famous for the nearby coral reefs where the scuba-diving is exceptional and the waters particularly renowned for frogfishes and
- Cebu Black Shama. Also a chance of Cebu Flowerpecker (Alcoy area), Chinese Egret (Olango Island) and Asian Dowitcher
- Monad Shoal, Malapascua Island Manta and Devil Rays, and Thresher and other sharks.
- Oslob Whale Shark.
- Magsaysay Park/Rajah Sikatuna NP Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove, Rufous-lored and Silvery Kingfishers, Visayan Wattled
Broadbill, Samar Hornbill, Steere’s and Red-bellied Pittas, Philippine Oriole, Visayan Blue Fantail and Bohol Sunbird. Also a chance of Mindanao
Bleeding-heart and Philippine Colugo.
- Tarsier Sanctuary, Corella Philippine Tarsier. For more information see
Philippine Tarsier Foundation.
- Cabilao Island Deep water shoals of Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks.
- Anda one of the best places for seahorses, as well as frogfish, scorpionfish and nudibranchs.
A Philippine Eagle on Mount Kitanglad by Ian Merrill.
- PICOP Mindanao, Rufous and Writhed Hornbills, Blue-crowned Racquet-tail, Philippine Trogon, Blue-capped Wood,
Rufous-lored and Silvery Kingfishers, Steere’s and Red-bellied Pittas, Short-crested Monarch, Rufous Paradise Flycatcher and Philippine Leafbird.
Also a chance of Celestial Monarch and Mindanao Wattled Broadbill.
- Mount Kitanglad Philippine Eagle, Bukidnon Woodcock, Mindanao Racquet-tail, Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis,
Black-and-cinnamon Fantail, Apo Myna and Apo Sunbird. Also a chance of Blue-capped Wood Kingfisher, Giant Scops Owl, Cinnamon Ibon and Red-eared
- Mount Apo Writhed Hornbill, Mindanao Racquet-tail, Blue-capped Wood Kingfisher, Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis, Apo Myna
and Apo Sunbird.
- Zamboanga Mindanao Hornbill, Short-crested Monarch and Zamboanga Bulbul. Also a chance of Mindanao Wattled Broadbill.
Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in the Philippines
Any time between December and May is a good time to visit the Philippines, although the peak time for birds is usually mid-January to mid-March
at the beginning of the nesting season and the peak time for Whale Sharks is February to April, although they are usually present from December to
Recommended Bird Books etc. for the Philippines
Birds of the Philippines, The Greater Sundas and Wallacea by N Arlott. William Collins/PUP, due 2018.
A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by R Kennedy et al. OUP, 2000.
Fishes of the Philippines by G Broad. Anvil Publishing Incorporated, 2003.
Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.
Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this
book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light
to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet.
However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered,
lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for the Philippines
Many trip reports, some for the Philippines, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these
websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to
the Philippines. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites,
which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Philippines' below.
Local bird and wildlife guides in the Philippines
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders.
Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are
the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional
skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently,
employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the
wildlife you wish to see.
Accommodation for birders in the Philippines
Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to the Philippines
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other
wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably
according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours
last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an
important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals
and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and
transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where
the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the
cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local
transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and
that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those
which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously
lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit.
Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are
certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are
the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional
skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom
tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set
itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes,
whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made
attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are
also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds
or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best
sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the
pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit
people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of
strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small
groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with
a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the
price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Philippines in the next couple
of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.