Birdwatching in the Philippines is a highly attractive proposition. Due to the long geological isolation of these islands, the bio-diversification of birds is remarkable, with 172 endemic species found among the islands of the archipelago.


On the Island of Luzon, north of Manila, in the shadow of Mount Arayat, Candaba Marsh is a good spot to find Philippine Ducks, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, Pheasant-tailed Jacandas, Greater-painted Snipes, Grey, Purple and Black-crowned Herons, Clamerous and Oriental Reed Warblers, Greater painted Snipes and the endemic Plain Bush-hens. 

A little further west, the forest around the former US Naval facility at Subic Bay provides opportunities to find Luzon Hornbills, Luzon Hawk-eagles, Philippine Fairy Bluebirds, Green Racquet-tails, Philippine Tailbirds, Philippine Serpent-eagles, Philippine Falconets, White-lored Orioles, Blue headed Fantails, Sooty and Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers, among many species found here.           

South of Manila, the beautiful Mount Makiling, and its sloping forest, are the focus for sightings of Indigo-banded Kingfishers, Pygmy Swiftlets, Philippine Hawk-cuckoos, Lemon-throated Leaf Warblers, Spotted Wood-kingfishers, Philippine Bulbuls, Buzzing and Striped Flowerpeckers, Elegant Tits, Black-chinned Fruit-Doves, Sulphur-billed Nuthatches and Grey-backed Tailorbirds among its feathered populations.

In the north of Luzon, Mount Polis sits close to the famous UNESCO World Heritage rice fields of Banaue in the Cordillera, and is a good place to find Luzon Water-redstarts, Mountain Shrikes, Luzon Sunbirds, Philippine Bush Warblers, Chestnut-faced Babblers, Flame-crowned Flowerpeckers, Crested Mynas, green-backed whistlers, White-cheeked Bullfinches, Luzon Jungle-Flycatchers, Olive-backed Pipits, Blue Rock-thrushes and Flame-breasted Fruit Doves among its many residents.


Another important birding area in the Philippines is the island of Palawan, which has the added advantage of some amazing beaches to enjoy. In Sabang, you have the prospect of seeing Palawan Spider-hunters, Palawan Flowerpeckers, Oriental Hobbies, Hooded Pittas and Palawan Drongos.


In the nearby St. Paul’s National Park, an area of rich forest, limestone cliffs and beachy coves, it is common to see Palawan Peacock-pheasants, Stork-billed and Ruddy Kingfishers, Palawan Tits, Palawan Blue Flycatchers, Blue-headed Racquet-tails, Tabon Scrubfowls, Blue-naped Parrots, Blue Paradise-flycatchers and Ashy-headed Babblers.


Another important enclave for birds is found in the Philippines southernmost island, Mindanao, famous as the home of the Philippine Eagle found at Mount Kitanglad Natural Park, where you may also see Philippine Frogmouths, Mindanao Tarictic Hornbills, Giant Scops-owls, Apo Sunbirds, Mindanao Raquet-tails, Blue-capped Wood-kingfishers, Philippine Nightjars, Red-eared Parrotfinches, Bukidnon Woodcocks, Long-tailed Ground-warblers and Short-tailed glossy Starlings.

Although a repeat of the episode is highly unlikely, ornithologists wishing to visit this area should be aware of an incident in February 2015, where a group of bird watchers were caught in brief crossfire between government and rebel forces, during which their guide received a stray gunshot wound.


On the island of Bohol, Rajah Sikatuna National Park has a number of birding trails, where its possible to see Metallic-winged Sunbirds, Philippine Eagle-owls, Silvery Kingfishers, Mindanao Bleeding-hearts, Philippine Trogons, Whiskered Treeswifts, Brahminy Kites, Black-faced and Philippine Coucals, Spangled Drongos and Black-naped Monarchs among many others. 


Off the coast of Cebu, Olango Island is the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary, a host to many migratory wetland birds, best visited between September and May, where you can see birds from elsewhere in Asia such as Chinese Eagrets, Eurasian Curlews, Kingfishers, Asian Dowitchers and Rofous-necked Stints.


On Samar, at Samar Island Natural Park headquarters near Taft, several trails will take you into the forest to see Samar and Rufous Hornbills, Visayan Pygmy Babblers, Visayan Blue Fantails, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeons, Azure-breasted Pittas, Philippine Needletails, Metalic-winged and Handsome Sunbirds, Naked-faced Spiderhunters and Everett’s Owls.