The Philippines is one among the very few countries that is considered to have mega-diversity, from flora and fauna specifically when it comes to birds and mammals. Birdwatching in the Philippines is the current trend among the birders worldwide. Let’s discover further what these birders love about the avian diversity in the country.
A look at the statistics
In the Philippines, the avifauna totals to about 657 species, 214 species of which are endemic. Of these endemic species, 68 are globally threatened, 52 are accidental or rare, and 5 are introduced by humans. Specifically, there are 48 non-passerines and 35 passerines.
According to a Science Daily article, biologists worldwide already considers the Philippines as a ‘biodiversity hotspot.’ They also claim that the country might have a unique bird species than what is already known. About 31% of all bird species found in the Philippines are regarded as Philippine-only (or can be found in the Philippines exclusively).
Where to bird watch
Further, there are more than 200 bird-watching sites in the country in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with special mention in Palawan and Batanes.
The top bird-watching sites in the country are found in: Ilocos Norte, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Cavite, Pampanga, Laguna, Manila, Quezon, Bicol, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Batanes, Cebu, Bohol, Samar, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Zamboanga.
For those who occupy Manila properties, the closest bird watching paradises are in Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna, Mt. Palay-Palay National Park in Cavite and Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Zone. Another avifauna haven is in Wildlife and Bird Watching Sanctuary in Nuvali where you can see hundreds of bird species including herons and otters.
When to bird watch
Birding is possible all-year-round. However, it is best to visit the Philippines between December and July (dry season). During the wet season, it is tough to spot the majority of the birds though you can still watch or observe some species like pittas. Not to mention, terrains can get muddy, traveling to and fro the site will be more of a challenge.
Some local bird clubs also conduct bird festivals from time to time. Birders can contact these bird clubs to determine schedules.
The best time to bird watch is during the morning when they start to search for food. You should be up before 5 am.
Must-watch birds in the country
In the city, the most commonly observed birds are Eurasian tree sparrow, Yellow-vented bulbul, Olive-backed sunbird, zebra dove, black-naped oriole, golden-bellied flyeater and Philippine pygmy woodpecker.
However, there are must-see birds as well. Top of the list is the Philippine eagle. Others are Palawan peacock pheasant, steere’s pitta, Philippine cockatoo, scale-feathered malkoha, rufous hornbill, green racquet-tail, spotted wood kingfisher, Apo myna and Bukidnon woodcock.
What to bring when bird watching
When you embark on bird watching in any of the sites mentioned above, make sure to bring binoculars and camera with you. You should also bring a guide and journal where you can document the experience.
Also, bird watching is a hobby that is not for everybody. Patience is a virtue, and it holds true for this hobby. If you cannot stand long hours of silence, you might as well give it up. Respect for the birds and their natural habitat are also necessary.
The Philippines is a home to hundreds of bird species, each one of which has its own distinct beauty. Our avian bionetwork is legendary, making the entire archipelago as the latest bird watching hotspot. There are many choices for bird watching sites even in and around the metro. While bird watching is a worthwhile activity, this is not for everybody. It takes drive patience and passion to be a bird watcher!