A stunning Azure-breasted Pitta in Rajah Sikatuna National Park on the island of Bohol by Dubi Shapiro.
Endemics 265 (Six swiftlets, 11 hornbills, 11 kingfishers, eight woodpeckers, three pittas, four rhabdornises, 15 flowerpeckers and 13 sunbirds)
Widespread 83 Philippine Duck, Philippine Collared-dove, Philippine Green-pigeon, Pink-bellied Imperial-pigeon, Spotted Imperial-pigeon, Yellow-breasted Fruit-dove, Philippine Frogmouth, Philippine Nightjar, Pygmy Swiftlet, Grey-rumped Swiftlet, Ridgetop Swiftlet, Ameline Swiftlet, Philippine Swiftlet, Philippine Coucal, Philippine (Square-tailed) Drongo-cuckoo, Philippine Hawk-cuckoo, Philippine (Plain) Bush-hen, Philippine Swamphen, Bukidnon Woodcock, Chocolate Boobook, Philippine Eagle-owl, Philippine Honey-buzzard, Philippine Serpent-eagle, Philippine Eagle, North Philippine Hawk-eagle, South Philippine (Pinsker’s) Hawk-eagle, Philippine Trogon, Southern Rufous Hornbill, Rufous-crowned (Blue-throated) Bee-eater, North Philippine Dwarf-kingfisher, South Philippine Dwarf-kingfisher, North Indigo-banded Kingfisher, White-throated (Brown-breasted/Smyrna) Kingfisher, North Sooty Woodpecker, South Sooty Woodpecker, Philippine (Pygmy) Woodpecker, Philippine Falconet, Philippine Cockatoo, Guaiabero, Philippine Hanging-parrot (Colasisi), Montane (Luzon) Racquet-tail, Philippine Pitta, Azure-breasted (Steer’s) Pitta, Philippine Oriole, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Black-bibbed Cicadabird, Philippine Pied Fantail, Balicassiao, Short-tailed Drongo, Short-crested Monarch, Celestial Monarch, North Rufous Paradise-flycatcher, Philippine (Large-billed) Jungle Crow, Elegant Tit, White-fronted Tit, Philippine Bulbul, Yellow-wattled Bulbul, Philippine Leaf-warbler, Philippine Mountain (Sunda) Warbler, Yellowish White-eye, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Stripe-headed (Stripe-sided) Rhabdornis, Coleto, Philippine Magpie-robin, Philippine Shortwing, Little Slaty Flycatcher, Thicket (Bundok) Flycatcher, Philippine Fairy-bluebird, Philippine Leafbird, Olive-backed Flowerpecker, Striped (Thick-billed) Flowerpecker, Bicoloured Flowerpecker, Red-keeled Flowerpecker, Buzzing (White-bellied) Flowerpecker, Pygmy Flowerpecker, Fire-throated (Fire-breasted) Flowerpecker, Orange-tufted Spiderhunter, Naked-faced Spiderhunter, Grey-throated Sunbird, Magnificent Sunbird, Metallic-winged Sunbird, Handsome Sunbird and White-cheeked Bullfinch.
North 6 White-eared Brown-dove, Cream-bellied Fruit-dove, Rufous Coucal, Red-crested Malkoha, Scale-feathered Malkoha and Brown-banded Rail.
Luzon 36 Luzon Bleeding-heart, Flame-breasted Fruit-dove, Calayan Rail (island off north Luzon), Spotted Buttonquail, Luzon (Worcester’s) Buttonquail, Luzon Lowland (Philippine) Scops-owl, Luzon Highland Scops-owl, Northern Rufous Hornbill (also Marinduque), Luzon Hornbill, Luzon Flameback, Green Racquet-tail (also Marinduque), Whiskered Pitta, White-lored Oriole, Isabela Oriole, Blackish Cicadabird (also Marinduque and Catanduanes), Blue-headed Fantail (also Catanduanes), Green-backed Tailorbird, Grey-backed Tailorbird (also Catanduanes), Benguet Grasshopper-warbler, Cordillera Ground-warbler, Sierra Madre Ground-warbler, Bicol Ground-warbler (also Catanduanes), Philippine Bush-warbler, Chestnut-faced Babbler, Luzon Striped Babbler, Golden-crowned Babbler, Grand (Long-billed) Rhabdornis, White-browed Shama (also nearest islands), Blue-breasted Blue-flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Blue-flycatcher (also Catanduanes), White-browed (Rusty-flanked) Jungle-flycatcher, Furtive Flycatcher, Luzon Water-redstart, Yellow-crowned Flowerpecker, Luzon Sunbird and Flaming Sunbird (also Catanduanes).
Luzon and Mindoro 3 Green-backed Whistler, Northern Black-and-white Triller (also Semirara) and Ashy Thrush.
Luzon, Mindoro and Mindanao 1 Mountain Shrike.
Mindoro 8 Mindoro Bleeding-heart, Mindoro Imperial-pigeon, Black-hooded Coucal, Mindoro Boobook, Mindoro Hornbill, Mindoro Racquet-tail, Mindoro Bulbul and Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker (also possibly Panay and Negros).
Luzon, Panay, Negros and Cebu 1 Green-faced Parrotfinch.
Luzon, Negros and Cebu 1 Lemon-throated Leaf-warbler.
Luzon, Negros and Samar 1 Ashy-breasted Flycatcher.
Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Bohol 1 Black-crowned Babbler.
Luzon and Mindanao 2 Whitehead’s Swiftlet and Long-tailed Grasshopper-warbler.
Tablas, Romblon, Cebu and Siquijor 1 Streak-breasted Bulbul.
North and Central 1 Amethyst Brown-dove, Luzon Boobook and Spotted Kingfisher.
Central 16 Buff-eared Brown-dove, Visayan (Negros) Scops-owl, Visayan (Tarictic) Hornbill, Samar (Mindanao) Hornbill, North Silvery Kingfisher (Samar, Leyte and Bohol), Yellow-faced Flameback, Visayan Wattled Broadbill, Visayan Cuckooshrike, Visayan Fantail, Visayan Blue Fantail, Chestnut-crowned Tailorbird, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird (Samar, Leyte and Bohol), Visayan Miniature Babbler (Leyte Plumed-warbler), Visayan Bulbul, Visayan Pygmy Babbler (Samar and Leyte) and Bohol Sunbird (Bohol only).
Tablas 1 Tablas Fantail and Tablas Drongo.
Tablas and Sibuyan 1 Romblon Boobook.
Panay 1 Panay Striped Babbler.
Panay and Negros 10 Negros Bleeding-heart, Grey-breasted Brown-dove, Rufous-headed (Writhe-billed) Hornbill, White-winged Cicadabird (also Panay), Flame-templed Babbler, Visayan Rhabdornis, Visayan Shama (also Ticao and Masbate), White-throated (Negros) Jungle-flycatcher (also Guimaras), Black-belted Flowerpecker (also Guimaras) and Maroon-naped Sunbird (also Guimaras).
Panay, Negros and Cebu 1 South Indigo-banded Kingfisher.
Negros 2 Negros Fruit-dove (Mt Canlaon) and Negros Striped Babbler.
Cebu 4 Cebu (Amethyst) Brown-dove, Cebu Boobook, Black Shama and Cebu Flowerpecker.
Central and South 12 Short-billed Brown-dove, Philippine Spinetail, Black-faced Coucal, Giant Scops-owl, Mindanao Lowland (Everett’s) Scops-owl, Dimorphic Kingfisher, Rufous-lored (Winchell’s) Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Flameback, Blue-crowned Racquet-tail, Yellowish Bulbul, Brown Tit-babbler and Striated Wren-babbler.
South 3 Mindanao Boobook, Writhed Hornbill and Rufous-fronted Tailorbird.
Mindanao 33 Dark-eared (Mindanao) Brown-dove (also Basilan), Mindanao Highland Scops-owl, Mindanao Hornbill, South Silvery Kingfisher (also Basilan, Dinagat and Siargao), Blue-capped (Hombron’s) Kingfisher, Mindanao Lorikeet, Mindanao Racquet-tail, Mindanao Wattled Broadbill, McGregor’s Cuckooshrike, Black-and-cinnamon Fantail, Mindanao Blue Fantail (also Basilan), Mindanao Miniature Babbler (Plumed-warbler), Black-headed (White-browed) Tailorbird (also Dinagat and Siargao), White-eared Tailorbird (also Basilan), Zamboanga Bulbul (also Basilan), Rufous-headed Tailorbird, Mindanao White-eye (Goodfellow's Heleia), Rusty-crowned Babbler (also Basilan and Dinagat), Mindanao Pygmy Babbler, Bagobo Babbler, Apo Myna, Slaty-backed (Mindanao) Jungle-flycatcher, Cryptic Flycatcher, Whiskered Flowerpecker, Flame-crowned Flowerpecker, Olive-capped Flowerpecker, Lina’s Sunbird, Grey-hooded Sunbird, Apo Sunbird, Tboli (Apo) Sunbird, Red-eared Parrotfinch, Cinnamon Ibon and Mindanao (Mountain) Serin.
Camiguin (island off north Mindanao) 3 Camiguin Boobook, Camiguin Hanging-parrot and Camiguin Bulbul.
Mindanao, Samar and Leyte 3 Mindanao Bleeding-heart, South Black-and-white Triller and Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis (also Biliran).
Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago 1 Orange-lined Sunbird.
Sulu Archipelago 6 Tawitani Brown-dove, Sulu Boobook, Sulu Hornbill (Tawitani at least), Sulu (Pygmy) Woodpecker, Sulu (Blue-winged) Racquet-tail (possibly still exists only on Tawitani) and Sulu Bulbul.
(Sulu Bleeding-heart (Tawitani Island) is known only from two specimens collected in 1891)
Palawan and area including Balabac and Calamian Islands 23 Palawan Peacock-pheasant, Palawan Scops-owl, Palawan Hornbill, Red-headed Flameback, Spot-throated Flameback, Blue-headed Racquet-tail, Blue Paradise-flycatcher, Palawan Tit, Palawan (Grey-throated) Bulbul, Sulphur-bellied Bulbul, Ashy-fronted (Olive-winged) Bulbul, Palawan Striped Babbler, Melodious Babbler, Ashy-headed Babbler, Falcated Wren-babbler, White-vented Shama, Palawan Blue-flycatcher, Palawan Flycatcher, Palawan Fairy-bluebird, Yellow-throated Leafbird, Palawan Flowerpecker, Palawan (Pale) Spiderhunter and Lovely Sunbird.
Philippines and Malaysia 1 Palawan Frogmouth (Banggi Island in Malaysia).
Philippines and Borneo 2 Mantanani Scops-owl (small islands) and White-vented Whistler (Si Amil, Pandanan and Sipadan Islands off northeast Borneo, west-central and southern Philippines).
Philippines and Indonesia 5 Grey Imperial-pigeon (Sulu Archipelago (Philippines), Miangas (Sulawesi, Indonesia) and Talaud Islands (Indonesia)), Blue-naped Parrot (throughout Philippines, satellite islands of north Borneo, and Talaud (Indonesia)), Southern Rufous Paradise-flycatcher (central and southern Philippines, and Talaud), Everett’s White-eye (central and southern Philippines, and Talaud) and Purple-throated Sunbird (most of Philippines and Maratua Island, off east Borneo).
Philippines and Taiwan 2 Taiwan (Whistling) Green-pigeon (Batanes, north Philippines) and Lowland White-eye (northern Philippines and islands south of Taiwan).
Philippines, Taiwan and Japan 3 Black-chinned Fruit-dove, Ryukyu Scops-owl (Nansei-Shoto Archipelago, Lanyu Island off southeast Taiwan, and the Batanes and Babuyan Islands off northern Luzon, Philippines) and Ijima’s Leaf-warbler (Izu and Tokara Islands, Japan, in summer, migrating south via Taiwan to the Philippines during the winter when rarely seen).
Philippines and Japan 1 Yellow Bunting.
Others Asian Blue (Blue-breasted) Quail, Philippine (Tabon) Scrubfowl, Barred Buttonquail, Chinese Egret, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Buff-banded and Barred Rails, White-browed Crake, Malay Plover, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Pintail and Swinhoe’s Snipes, Metallic Pigeon, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Great Eared-nightjar, Whiskered Treeswift, Brown-backed Needletail, Ruddy Kingfisher, Rufous-backed Dwarf-kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Great Slaty and White-bellied Woodpeckers, Western Hooded Pitta, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Mangrove Whistler, Warbling (Mountain) White-eye, Citrine Canary-flycatcher, Turquoise Flycatcher, Mangrove Blue-flycatcher, Sunda Thrush, Short-tailed Starling, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch.
Also a chance of Chinese Crested Tern, a very rare winter visitor, as well as Japanese Night-heron, Black Bittern, Slaty-legged Crake, Eastern Grass-owl, Middendorff's Grasshopper-warbler.
The superb Sulphur-billed Nuthatch by Mark Harper.
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.
Subterranean River An 8.2 km (5 mile) long, navigable underground river on the island of Palawan.
A Philippine Eagle on Mount Kitanglad by Ian Merrill.
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 May.
A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by R Kennedy et al. OUP, 2000.
Birds of the Philippines, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo, Sulawesi, the Lesser Sundas and the Moluccas by N Arlott. William Collins, 2018. (Hardback. Paperback due 2020)
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.
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.
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.
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.