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Part 3: Tailorbirds of the Philippines

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.

Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird from Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Then we have this very nice looking skulker, the Yellow-breasted Tailorbird endemic to the islands of Bohol , Leyte and Samar. It is quite similar to Mindanao endemics White-eared and Black-headed Tailorbird

Yellow-breasted Tailorbird
Yellow-breasted Tailorbird from Rajah Sikatuna NP, Bohol

Then we have the Philippine Tailorbird that ranges only in Negros and Panay and Guimaras Islands and then the highly restricted Ashy Tailorbird from the small islands in Cagayancillo in the Sulu Sea.

That is it! All the tailorbirds of the Philippines. Indeed, the Philippines is one of centers of tailorbird biodiversity.

Part 1 here: Tailorbirds of Luzon

Part 2 here: Tailorbirds of Mindanao

Happy birding!

Part 2: Tailorbirds of the Philippines: Mindanao

This is part 2 of a three part series. See part 1 here. 

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.

Rufous-fronted Tailorbird
Rufous-fronted Tailorbird

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.

Black-headed Tailorbird
Black-headed Tailorbird from Siargao

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.

White-eared Tailorbird
White-eared Tailorbird from Zamboanga

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.

Rufous-headed Tailorbird
Rufous-headed Tailorbird from Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon

Next part: Tailorbirds from other Philippine Islands

The Tailorbirds of the Philippines Part 1

This is part 1 of a three part series.

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:

Tailorbirds of the Philippines
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.

Trilling Tailorbird
Trilling Tailorbird from Camp Sawa, Cagayan. Luzon
Grey-backed Tailorbird
Grey-backed Tailorbird from Catanduanes
Mountain Tailorbird
Mountain Tailorbird from Mt. Polis, Mountain Province

Next post: Part 2: the Tailorbirds of Mindanao

Sulu Hornbill

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
#birdingphilippines #wildwednesdays #suluhornbill #tawitawi #itsmorefuninthephilippines

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

An Orange-bellied Flowerpecker digiscoped from the view deck of Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park in Sibulan, Negros Island Region.

This is just one of the 15 species of flowerpeckers found in the Philippines. This species can be found all over the country preferring a wide variety of habitats from forests to forest edges often near fruiting and flowering trees.

Did you know: Flowerpeckers play an important role in seed dispersal and they are one of the most important propagators of mistletoes. Check out this relationship between flowerpeckers and mistletoes here:

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum trigonostigma
June 2017, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes NP, Negros Island Region, Philippines
Video by Adrian Constantino
Digiscoped with a Swarovski ATM 80 HD, Panasonic G3 with Swarovski UC adapter.

For more videos and pictures of Philippine birds, kindly visit www.birdingphilippines.com
#birdingphilippines #wildwednesdays #flowerpecker #itsmorefuninthephilippines

Philippine (Red-vented) Cockatoo

The Philippines only has one species of cockatoo: the Philippine or Red-vented Cockatoo. It used to be widespread and ranged in the major islands of the Philippines but the rampant poaching for the illegal pet trade as well as habitat destruction lead to its decline and is now declared as Critically Endangered. Currently, the best place to see the Philippine Cockatoos in the wild is in the island of Palawan, in Rasa Island. Access to the island is restricted and is managed by one of the Philippines’ top conservation organizations, the Katala Foundation (http://www.philippinecockatoo.org/)

This cockatoo was videoed eating Malunggay fruit (Moringa oleifera) in the Municipality of Narra, in mainland Palawan. The residents of Narra through the initiatives of the Katala Foundation planted Malunggay trees to provide additional food for the increasing number of cockatoos in the area. Very recently, the conservation efforts of the Katala Foundation and their partners in the local government of Narra won the 2015 GALING POOK awards, an award recognizing the top local governance programs in the whole Philippines. Thru the efforts of both the LGU of Narra and the Katala Foundation, former poachers of the Philippine Cockatoo were converted to deputized wildlife wardens and now act as guardians of the Philippines’ only cockatoo as well as other wildlife in the area. From 23-25 wild cockatoos in 1998, the Rasa Island population has already plateaued at more than 200 individuals and some of them are now relocating to the Palawan mainland, hopefully to establish new populations. Definitely one of the successful conservation stories in the Philippines.

Please do help save the Philippine Cockatoo. You can do your share by supporting the Katala Foundation here.

Philippine (Red-vented) Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia
June 2015, Municipality of Narra, Palawan, Philippines
Video by Nicky Icarangal, JR.
Digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX 95 HD, Panasonic GH3 with Swarovski TLS-APO adapter.

Some of the text are from the Katala Foundation.

Japanese Paradise Flycatcher

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).

Japanese Paradise Flycatcher (Female)  Trinket Constantino / www.birdingphilippines.com
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher (Female)
Trinket Constantino / www.birdingphilippines.com

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.

Reference:
A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by Robert Kennedy, et al.

Baliccasiao

Balicassiao, an endemic drongo found only in the forests of Luzon, Masbate, Mindoro, Negros and Panay, and Cebu. It is a common bird in the forest and forest edge and characterized by its glossy black plumage. It is a very raucous and noisy denizen of the forest, with bird calls a mixture of melodious whistles and screeches and metallic tinkling sounds. It mostly travels in small groups, together with Rough-crested Malkoha and Scale-feathered Malkohas (in Luzon) and other small birds (in other islands).

This one was digiscoped from quite a distance away in the forests of Subic. If we compute for the 35 mm equivalent focal length for this shot, it will be a whopping 3200 mm! Some of the wonders of digiscoping. 🙂

Balicassiao Dicrurus balicassius
April 2016, Subic, Zambales, Luzon, 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 calling Sulu Hawk-Owl

This is a Sulu Hawk-Owl, one of the Philippines’ 24 owl species. This endemic owl was videoed on the island of Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi province. The Sulu Hawk-Owl is endemic to the Sulu Archipelago, a group of islands located in the south western Philippines very close to the island of Borneo. The Sulu Archipelago has been treated as a separate Endemic Bird Area (EBA) due to several species of birds that are found only in this region and nowhere else. The other endemic species in the area include the Sulu Hornbill, Sulu Bleeding-heart Pigeon, Blue-winged Racket-tail, Sulu Pygmy Woodpecker and Tawi-tawi Brown-Dove. Aside from the birds, this is the only place in the Philippines where you can see Slow Loris. The Sulu Archipelago is also known for their unspoiled beaches and amazing marine life.

Unfortunately, a big part of the Sulu Archipelago (the island groups of Jolo and Basilan) have been subject to years of conflict between terrorist groups and Philippine military forces. Proper planning and coordination with Philippine authorities should be made in advance if you desire to see these birds.

Sulu Hawk-Owl Ninox reyi
November 2015, Panglima Sugala, Tawi Tawi, Philippines
Video by Nicky Icarangal, JR.
Digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX 95 HD, Panasonic GH3 with Swarovski TLS-APO adapter.