With 7,107 islands and 600+ bird species to choose from, the Philippines is one of the best birding destinations in the world! It is home to some of the world’s most exotic birds. Several species of hornbills, colorful fruit doves, rare parrots, fascinating woodpeckers, remarkable eagles and many other unique birds await you. Come and bird watch in the Philippines to explore and learn more about these 10 Must See Birds of the Philippines.
The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), considered the world’s largest eagle, is understandably one of the most desirable birds for visitors to the Philippines. Locally called ‘haribon’, it is found in tropical rain forests on four major islands: eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.
The male and female Philippine Eagle are similar in appearance. It has brown and white-colored plumage; creamy-brown crown and nape adorned with long, brown feathers that form a shaggy crest. It has a dark face, blue-gray eyes, and a bluish curved bill. Dark brown tail and yellow legs with large, powerful, claws.
Adult males generally measure 86 to 102 cm (2.82 to 3.35 ft) long with a wing span of 2 meters and weighs 4.7 to 8 kilograms (10 to 18 lbs). It feeds mainly on monkeys and flying lemurs.
In 2010, the IUCN and BirdLife International listed this species as critically endangered because of habitat loss, rampant hunting and pollution. Estimated population – as few as 90 pairs surviving.
The Luzon Bleeding-heart
The Luzon Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) known for the splash of vivid red color at the heart of their white breasts, is a ground dove endemic to the central and southern parts of Luzon, and Polillo Islands, in the Philippines. This species is found in lowland forest below 1,400 meters.
Generally slate grey in color – it has a round body, black bill, a short tail and long red legs. It measures about 25 cm long and weighs about 150-200 g. It feeds primarily on seeds, fallen berries, grubs, insects, and worms.
The Luzon Bleeding-heart is classified as Near Threatened due to habitat loss and rampant hunting.
The Apo Myna (Basilornis mirandus) is one of the most bizarre looking birds in the Philippines! This species is found high elevation forests of Daggayan, Mt Kitanglad and Mt Apo in Mindanao. Its iridescent black plumage, the flashy white rump, the large bright, yellow bare skin around the eye and the filamentous crest makes it one of the most-sought after species birders seek in the Mindanao.
Adults measure 30 cm long and weighs 110 g. The bird feeds mostly on fruits and insects.
This species is currently considered Near Threatened due to habitat destruction.
Spotted Wood Kingfisher
The Spotted Wood Kingfisher (Actenoides lindsayi) is one of the most colorful endemic kingfishers in the Philippines. The species is found in Luzon, Panay, Negros, Marinduque and Catanduanes. It inhabits subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The best place to look for this kingfisher will be Mt. Makiling in Luzon and Mt. Kanlaon or Twin Lakes in Negros Island.
The Spotted Wood Kingfisher is strictly a forest kingfisher and feeds on insects, other invertebrates as well as small vertebrates.
It measures around 254 mm long. The Spotted Wood Kingfisher is classified as Least Concern.
The Red-vented Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), is the only known cockatoo species endemic to the Philippines. Its natural habitat includes mangrove forests, lowlands, and forest edges. The main stronghold for the species is on Palawan where sterling conservation work by the Katala Foundation has established a stronghold for the species on Rasa Island.
The Katala as it is locally called, is easily recognized by its all creamy-white plumage, a helmet crest, pale yellow underwings and by the red-orange feathers around the vent. Male has black-brown iris, female has brownish-red iris.
It measures 31 cm (12.2 in) long with an 20.5 cm (8 in) wingspan and weighs 300 g (0.6 lb). It feeds on the seeds and fruits of wild trees.
The Red-vented Cockatoo is classified Critically Endangered due to habitat loss and rampant pouching
The Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove
The Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus occipitalis) is one of five fruit dove species endemic to the Philippines. Locally called Punay, this colorful fruit dove is widespread over the country except the Palawan region. This species inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, usually taking advantage of fruiting trees.
Generally, Yellow-breasted Fruit-dove has face, forehead, crown and sides of breast light bluish grey, tinged with yellow. Adult reaches 28-33 cm in length and weighs about 204-278 g. This species has a very large range; and hence is Not globally threatened.
This species has a very large range; and hence is Not globally threatened.
Palawan Peacock Pheasant
Philippine endemics don’t come much more colorful and spectacular than the Palawan Peacock Pheasant! The Palawan Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis), is a medium-sized bird found only in the pristine forests of Palawan,in southern Philippines. It inhabits primary and secondary forest. Fortunately, this lovely bird has become accustomed to visitors hence, provided wonderful views to visitors.
The species is known for the male’s distinctive high pointed crest, and vibrant plumage, which is glossy black with a dazzling metallic green-blue luster on the crest, crown, neck, mantle and wings. The tail feathers are marked with two sets of large and striking green-blue ocelli (peacock eyes). The bills are black and the feet are brown in both sexes.
Adult male measures about 50 cm (19.7 in) long and weighs 430 g (9 lbs). Females are smaller, and typically brown in color with a pale face. Its diet includes seeds, nuts, small fruits, insects and other invertebrates. The Palawan Peacock-pheasant is classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat loss, hunting and capture for trade, and small population size.
The Philippines is home to two very funky endemic malkoha; the Red-crested Malkoha is amazing in its own right, but the completely bizarre Scale-feathered Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus cumingi) really takes one”s breath away. It is endemic to Luzon, Marinduque and Catanduanes in N Philippines. The species prefers lowland forests all the way up to the mountains. The easiest place to find it is probably at Mount Makiling, Laguna.
The adult has gray head with unique scales. Dark brown upperparts back and white-tipped graduated tail. Full grown male measures 42 cm (of which tail constitutes c. 22–24 cm) and weighs 148–204 g. F is smaller and duller in color.
The species feed on caterpillars, centipedes, scorpions, snails, worms, small snakes and lizards.
Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the Scale-feathered Malkoha is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Steere”s Pitta (Pitta steerii) is among the most desirable birds for bird watchers because of its flashy colors. One of four species of resident pitta, it is found in lowland forests of Samar, Leyte, Bohol and Mindanao.
Adult “Bislig“, as it is locally known, has dark green upperparts with green-blue uppertail-coverts. It has black head, tail, and wings. The species measure 20 cm (7.5 in) and weighs around 86–100 g (3-3.5 oz). Females are slightly smaller.
It feeds on insects and worms.
The Steere”s Pitta or Azure-breasted Pitta is currently listed as vulnerable and is threatened by the loss of its habitat.
With ten endemic species, The Philippines is a large hornbill” arena for bird watchers! The biggest and most gorgeous is the Rufous Hornbill Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax) also known as Philippine Hornbill. Although it occurs in 11 islands: Biliran, Bohol, Buad, Calico-an, Dinagat, Leyte, Luzon, Marinduque, Mindanao, Samar, and Siargao; it is mostly easily seen in the remaining lowland forests in Mindanao. This species inhabit primary evergreen forests up to 2,100 m.
It has three subspecies namely: Luzon Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax hydrocorax), Visayan Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax semigaleatus) and Mindanao Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax mindanensis).
All sub-species have generally black and brown plumage with white tail. However, the Luzon Rufous hornbill is characterized by its red bill while the Visayan and Mindanao Rufous Hornbill have red bills that are pale yellow on the distal half.
Adults can reach up to 76 cm (30 in) long. It feeds on berries, fruits, insects as well as decaying flesh.
Locally called “Kalaw”, it is sometimes called “the clock of the mountains” because of its periodic noontime call.
The Rufous Hornbill is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ in the IUCN Red List.