birding Philippines


Philippines The Philippine archipelago is a cluster of 7,107 islands extending for nearly 2000 kilometres across the warm tropical waters of the Pacific. Most of the land area of the Philippines is divided amongst the eleven larger islands, with two-thirds accounted for by the two largest, Luzon and Mindanao. In the north, the Batan Islands are little more than 200 kilometres south of Taiwan, while the southernmost islands lie only 50 kilometres off the east coast of Borneo.

Diversified Flora and Fauna
Despite their proximity to other parts of Asia, the rugged mountainous islands of the Philippines have enjoyed a long and complex period of isolation which has resulted in an evolutionary explosion with considerable variation from one island to another. There are almost 4000 species of trees, over 180 species of mammals and 350 species of reptiles. The extraordinary degree of endemism in the Philippines is well demonstrated by the country’s bird life: over 600 species of bird have been recorded of which around 400 are resident and almost 200 are endemic, many of these restricted to just one island (and with many more endemic subspecies, some of which are highly distinctive, the number of birds treated as endemic species seems sure to rise).

Vanishing Rainforest
The marvelous but vanishing avifauna of the Philippines is amongst the most threatened on our planet: it is no exaggeration to say that some species will, within a short time, become impossible to find, so delaying a visit to the Philippines is not a good plan.

Sadly, in common with so many parts of the world, the rainforest in the Philippines is severely threatened and much has already disappeared. In consequence many bird species are in imminent danger if the destruction continues and in order to see some of the specialties it will be necessary to visit some remote areas.

Oriental Hollywood
Travel in the Philippines offers some fascinating insights into the history of the islands. This is perhaps the least ‘Oriental’ of all the Far Eastern countries: four hundred years of Spanish colonial rule followed by ‘fifty years of Hollywood’ (as the period of association with the United States is popularly referred to) have inevitably left their mark.

American Influence
The friendly Filipinos are predominantly Catholic and the countryside is adorned with thousands of extravagantly decorated churches. In the towns the American influence is even stronger than the Spanish, one of the more endearing aspects being the fleets of brightly decorated ‘jeepneys’ (intricately painted copies of extended American jeeps festooned with chrome-plated accessories, plastic streamers, garlands of flowers and enough lights to decorate a Christmas tree).

Untouched Wilderness
In complete contrast, ethnic minority groups still exist in the most remote areas of the Philippines whose lives have been little changed over hundreds or even thousands of years. With magnificent scenery, friendly people and an incomparable selection of little-known birds, the Philippines have all the ingredients for a truly memorable tour.