To finish off our “Tailorbird Series” we show showcase the other tailorbirds found in other islands besides Luzon and Mindanao.
This is the Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, probably the easiest tailorbird to see and photograph in the Philippines. It is also a non-endemic and can be seen in other Asian countries, but in the Philippines, it is confined only to Palawan.
The island of Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines (after Luzon) and has several species of endemic tailorbirds. The tailorbirds here are quite diversified and are restricted to certain parts of the island as well as altitudinal range restrictions.
First off the list is Rufous-fronted Tailorbird. This used to belong to the Philippine Tailorbird complex and was split 4-ways following the Clements’ checklist. This tailorbird is confined the lowland forests of Mindanao and can also be found in neighboring Samar, Leyte and Bohol.
And then we have the Black-headed Tailorbird, a lowland species found in the eastern parts of Mindanao in Agusan, Surigao and Eastern Davao provinces. The most reliable place to see this bird is in PICOP, Surigao del Sur.
Then there is the White-headed Tailorbird that is confined to the lowland to middle elevation forests of Western, Central and Southern Mindanao. This tailorbird is very similar to Black-headed Tailorbird as well as the Bohol-only Yellow-breasted Tailorbird when it comes to plumage and call.
Lastly, we have the Rufous-headed Tailorbird. This is a Phyllergates tailorbird meaning they are not true tailorbirds and are more related to Cettia bush warblers like the Mountain Tailorbirds of Luzon. The Rufous-headed Tailorbird is endemic to high elevation mountains of Mindanao like Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, Mt. Apo in Davao and other mountains above 800 meters.
The Philippines is definitely one of the centers for tailorbird biodiversity in the world. The current number of tailorbird species recorded in the Philippines stands at 11 (including the “bush-warbler” Cettia types) with an amazing 8 species endemic to the Philippines. These are small active birds often preferring the underbrush of primary and secondary forests and scrubs. A lot of them are skulkers, and despite their bright colors with different shades of yellow, green and rufous, they can be tricky to locate and photograph. The true tailorbirds belonging to the genus Orthotomus got their name from the way they construct their nests: these species use large, broad leaves that are stitched together with plant fiber or spider’s web.
Presenting the Tailorbirds of the Philippines:
We start from Luzon, we have Trilling Tailorbird (1), Grey backed Tailorbird (2) and Mountain Tailorbird (3). The Trilling Tailorbird’s range is from north central Luzon to northern Luzon and is confined to lowland forests. Grey-backed Tailorbirds, as the name implies have more greys on their backs and napes compared to Trilling Tailorbird. The Grey-backs are confined to lowland south central and south Luzon, with subspecies in Catanduanes and Masbate and Ticao, a little bit different from those from the mainland. In the high elevation mountains, there is Mountain Tailorbird, one of the three non-endemic tailorbirds of the Philippines. It is also a Phyllergates tailorbird, they are not “true” tailorbirds and are more related taxonomically to “Cettia” bush-warblers.
This is the critically-endangered Sulu Hornbill, Anthracoceros montani This hornbill species is endemic to the islands of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Sanga Sanga. According to Birdlife International and the IUCN, this species “faces the possibility of imminent extinction” mainly due to the destruction of its forest home. The population estimate is around 40 individuals and most of the birds can now be seen only in the island of Panglima Sugala, in Tawi-Tawi. The Sulu and Sanga Sanga populations are believed to be extirpated.
Many thanks to the Municipality of Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi and the MBLT-9.
Sulu Hornbill, Anthracoceros montani
June 2017, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines
Video by Nicky Icarangal, Jr.
Digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX 30-70x 95 spotting scope, Panasonic GH4 with Swarovski APO-TLS adapter with RODE VideoMic Pro.
For more videos and pictures of Philippine birds, kindly visit www.birdingphilippines.com
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We have here a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher from the northern ends of the Philippines, from Sabtang Island, one of the islands in the Batanes group.
Locally known as Tiwayway, the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher is a rare migrant to the Philippines. The easiest place to see them in the country would be in the Batanes island group during March to August, when they would come to breed. Like most paradise-flycatchers, the Tiwayway builds a cup-shaped nest usually on a fork of a tree. The male birds sport a nice, very long tail (as shown in this video) while the female is similar but lacks the long tail and has more brown in the body (shown in the picture).
The Batanes group of islands is an interesting place to go birding especially for Philippine birders as it has its own set of birds that are found nowhere else in the Philippines. For more information about Batanes birding, drop us an email at our contact page or check out one of Birding Philippines’ Trinket Constantino blog here.
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata
April 2014, Sabtang Island, Batanes Island Group, Philippines
Video by Adrian Constantino
Digiscoped with a Swarovski ATM 80 HD, Panasonic G3 with a Canon 40mm lens coupled with Swarovski Universal Camera Adapter.
A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by Robert Kennedy, et al.