The Celestial Monarch is one of the most-sought after birds after the Great Philippine Eagle in any birding trip to the Philippines. The excellent field guide “A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines” by Robert Kennedy, et al. describes it as “gorgeous” with its bright cerulean blue head with long slender crest feathers swaying in the wind down its cobalt blue back. When excited, the crest feathers rise up.
This rare endemic can be found in the lowland forests of Luzon, Samar, Negros, Tawi-tawi and Mindanao where it forages singly or in mixed flocks in the middle and upper canopy of forests and forest edge. In Mindanao, where this video was taken, it is often mixed in feeding flocks together with Short-crested Monarchs, Blue Fantails, and Rufous Paradise Flycatchers.
Sadly, the number of these beautiful endemics have been declining rapidly as a consequence of widespread and continuing habitat destruction of its lowland forest home. The continuous whirring of chainsaws that can be heard in the video remains as the biggest threat to this cerulean jewel of our forest.
Celestial Monarch, Hypothymis coelestis
January 2011, PICOP Forest, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines