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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Purple-bearded Bee-eater

    The superb Purple-bearded Bee-eater by Mark Harper.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Ivory-breasted Pitta

    A male Ivory-breasted Pitta by Mark Harper.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Sulawesi and Halmahera

    It is possible to see over 100 Sulawesi and North Moluccan endemics on a thorough two-week trip.

    Sulawesi Endemics 86 (including satellite islands such as Togian Islands)
    (Four fruit-doves, six kingfishers, six starlings and mynas, and two hylocitreas)
    Maleo, White-faced Cuckoo-dove, Sulawesi Ground-dove, Grey-headed Imperial-pigeon, Maroon-chinned Fruit-dove, Red-eared Fruit-dove, Lompobattang Fruit-dove (southwest), Western Superb Fruit-dove, Sombre Pigeon, Heinrich’s (Diabolical/Satanic) Nightjar, Bay Coucal, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Black-billed Koel, Sulawesi Cuckoo, Snoring Rail, Blue-faced Rail, Isabelline Bush-hen, Sulawesi Woodcock, Minahasa Masked-owl, Sulawesi Masked-owl, Ochre-bellied Boobook, Cinnabar Boobook, Speckled Boobook, Sulawesi Scops-owl, Sulawesi Honey-buzzard, Sulawesi Goshawk, Spot-tailed Goshawk, Dwarf (Small) Sparrowhawk, Sulawesi Hornbill, Knobbed Hornbill, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Purple-winged Roller, Sulawesi Dwarf-kingfisher, Blue-headed (Green-backed) Kingfisher, Black-headed Kingfisher, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Plain-backed Kingfisher, Sulawesi Lilac (Lilac-cheeked) Kingfisher, Ashy Woodpecker, Sulawesi (Pygmy) Woodpecker, Ornate Lorikeet, Mustard-capped (Yellow-and-green) Lorikeet, Sulawesi Hanging-parrot, Pygmy Hanging-parrot, Golden-mantled Racquet-tail, Yellowish-breasted Racquet-tail (also Togian Islands), Sulawesi Pitta, Dark-eared Myza, White-eared Myza, Maroon-backed Whistler, Sulphur-bellied Whistler, Cerulean Cuckooshrike, Pied Cuckooshrike, White-rumped Cuckooshrike, Pygmy Cuckooshrike, Sulawesi (Rusty-bellied) Fantail, Sulawesi Drongo, Piping Crow, Malia, Sulawesi Leaf-warbler, Streak-headed White-eye, Pale-bellied (Sulawesi) White-eye (southeast), Black-ringed White-eye (southwest), Sulawesi Babbler, Pale-bellied Myna (south), Sulawesi (Crested) Myna, Northern White-necked Myna, Southern White-necked Myna, Fiery-browed Starling, Grosbeak (Finch-billed) Starling, Geomalia, Red-backed (Rusty-backed) Thrush, Sulawesi Thrush, Sulawesi Streaked (Brown) Flycatcher, Sulawesi Blue-flycatcher, Blue-fronted Flycatcher, Matinan Flycatcher, Minahasa (Great) Shortwing, Great Shortwing, Rufous-throated Flycatcher, Lompobattang Flycatcher (south), Northern Hylocitrea, Southern Hylocitrea, Yellow-sided Flowerpecker, Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker and Grey-sided Flowerpecker.

    Sulawesi Near-endemics

    Sulawesi and Java 1
    Grey-cheeked Green-pigeon.

    Sulawesi, Java and Lesser Sundas 1
    White-shouldered Triller.

    Sulawesi, Java and Sumatra 1
    Mountain Serin.

    Sulawesi, Java, Sumatra and Borneo 1
    Black-backed Swamphen.

    Sulawesi and Lesser Sundas 1
    Pale-headed Munia.

    Sulawesi, Sangihe and Talaud (Islands off north Sulawesi) 1
    Sulawesi Cicadabird.

    Sulawesi, Banggai Islands and Sula Islands 1
    Black-crowned White-eye.

    Sulawesi (including satellite islands) and Sula Islands 11
    White-bellied Imperial-pigeon, White (Silver-tipped) Imperial-pigeon, Sulawesi Nightjar, Sulawesi Swiftlet, Sulawesi Serpent-eagle, Sulawesi Hawk-eagle, Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Black-billed Kingfisher, White-rumped Triller, Ivory-backed Woodswallow and Pale-blue Monarch.

    Sulawesi, Sula and Obi 1
    Sulawesi Myzomela.

    Sulawesi and North Moluccas (Maluku) 1
    Moluccan Drongo-cuckoo.

    Sulawesi and South Moluccas (Maluku) 1
    Chestnut-backed Grasshopper-warbler.

    Sulawesi to West Papuan Islands 1
    Sultan’s Cuckoo-dove.

    Small Islands of south Sulawesi 6
    Flores Sea Cuckoo-dove, Blue-tailed (Elegant) Imperial-pigeon (also elsewhere in Wallacea), Selayar Whistler (Selayar), White-tipped Monarch (Selayar and Tanahjampea), Wakatobi White-eye (Takangbesi) and Tanahjampea Blue-flycatcher (Tanahjampea and Kalao).

    Javan Pond-heron, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, shorebirds such as Australian Pratincole, Ruddy Kingfisher and Blue-faced Parrotfinch.

    Moluccas (Maluku) Endemics 5
    Moluccan (Brush) Cuckoo, Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk, Moluccan Eclectus, Moluccan Cuckooshrike and Moluccan Flycatcher.

    North Moluccas (Morotai, Halmahera, Bacan and Obi) Endemics 46
    (Four fruit-doves, three kingfishers, three pittas, two paradise-crows and Standardwing Bird-of-paradise)
    Widespread 29
    Cinnamon-bellied Imperial-pigeon, Scarlet-breasted Fruit-dove, Grey-headed Fruit-dove, Blue-capped Fruit-dove, Moluccan Owlet-nightjar, Halmahera Swiftlet, Goliath Coucal, Halmahera Boobook, Moluccan Goshawk, Azure Dollarbird (Purple Roller), North Moluccan Dwarf-kingfisher, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, Sombre Kingfisher, White Cockatoo, Chattering Lory, Moluccan Hanging-parrot, North Moluccan Pitta, Ivory-breasted Pitta, White-streaked Friarbird, Moluccan Myzomela, Black-chinned Whistler, Moluccan Cicadabird, Rufous-bellied Triller, Moluccan Monarch, Long-billed Crow, Halmahera Paradise-crow, Wallace's Standardwing, Cream-throated White-eye and Halmahera Flowerpecker.

    Morotai 3
    Morotai Pitta, Dusky Friarbird and Morotai White-eye.

    Halmahera 5
    Drummer (Invisible) Rail, Halmahera Boobook, Halmahera Oriole, Halmahera Cicadabird and Halmahera Golden Bulbul.

    Bacan 1
    Bacan Myzomela.

    Bacan and Obi 1
    Moluccan (Obi) Woodcock.

    Obi 7
    Rusty (Cinnamon-bellied) Imperial-pigeon, Carunculated Fruit-dove, Obi Myzomela, Cinnamon-breasted (Rufous) Whistler, Obi (Northern) Fantail (also Bisa), Obi Paradise-crow and Obi Golden Bulbul (and potentially Obi (Grey-throated/Variable) Goshawk, Obi Spangled Drongo, Obi (Moluccan) Monarch, Obi (Cream-throated) White-eye and and Obi (Common) Cicadabird.


    Halmahera and Buru 1
    White-naped Monarch.

    Obi, Buru, Seram and Boano 1
    Pale Cicadabird.

    Obi and Banggai Islands 1
    Obi Cicadabird.

    Moluccas (Maluku), Banggai Islands and Sula 1
    Moluccan Starling.

    Moluccas and Misool (West Papua) 1
    Moluccan Scrubfowl.

    Moluccas and Kofiau (West Papua) 1
    Spectacled (Moluccan) Imperial-pigeon.

    Moluccas and West Papuan Islands 4
    Dusky Scrubfowl, Violet-necked Lory, Moluccan King-parrot and Island Whistler.

    Moluccas and New Guinea 3
    Gurney’s Eagle, Pygmy Eagle and Common Paradise-kingfisher.

    Lesser Frigatebird and Papuan (Blyth's) Hornbill. Also a chance of other seabirds such as Great Frigatebird, Brown Booby, Bridled Tern and Bulwer’s Petrel, and possibly Aleutian Tern.

    Dian’s and Spectral (Sulawesi) Tarsiers, Babirusa, Sulawesi Wild Pig, Bear Cuscus, and macaques including Heck's, Moor, Sulawesi Crested and Tonkean. Also a chance of Anoa, Bottlenose and Spinner (May-Nov) Dolphins, and Short-finned Pilot Whale (May-Nov).

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    The seas around Sulawesi, especially those to the east of the main island, are believed to be the richest in the world. Over 3000 fish species have been recorded, mostly around some of the richest and most pristine coral reefs on Earth, as well as Green and Hawksbill Turtles, and Bumble-Bee, Harlequin and Tiger Shrimps.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Sulawesi and Halmahera

    Photograph of Knobbed Hornbill

    Knobbed Hornbill by Coke & Som Smith.

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Sulawesi and Halmahera

    Although the rainy season may last into August the best time to visit these islands to look for birds is mid-July to October, especially August-September. Wallace's Standardwings usually display the most at the start of the dry season, which is usually August to early September. The climate is equatorial and the temperature in the lowlands is usually 25°C–28°C throughout the year. Most days in the lowlands are hot, humid and sunny, with spells of cloud and rain at times. In montane areas it can be much cooler.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Sulawesi and Halmahera

    Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago by J Eaton et al. Lynx Edicions, 2021 (Second Edition).

    A Guide to the Birds of Wallacea by B Coates and K Bishop. Dove Publications, 1997.

    Birding Indonesia edited by P Jepson and R Ounsted. Periplus Editions, 1997.

    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 Sulawesi and Halmahera

    Many trip reports, some for Sulawesi and Halmahera, 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 Sulawesi and Halmahera. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Sulawesi and Halmahera' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Sulawesi and Halmahera

    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 Sulawesi and Halmahera

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Sulawesi and Halmahera

    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 Sulawesi and Halmahera in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.