The Island (once known as Celebes) Group of Sulawesi consists of four provinces - Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Utara, Sulawesi Tenggara and Sulawesi Selatan.
Indonesia lies within Asia and Australasia. East of wallace’s line, which falls between Bali and Lombok, the Island of the Lesser Sundas, Moluccas and Sulawesi form a transition zone, known as Wallacea, between the Asian and Australia avifaunas. The avifauna is partly Asian and many birders visit Asian and 'Wallacean' Indonesia.
Birding in Sulawesi is an amazing experience because nearly 100 of the 330 or so birds which have been recorded are endemic (67) or near endemic (26) and first-time visitors will be forgiven for thinking that they are in that avian paradise they have always dreamt of, where almost every different species they see is a new one.
Furthermore, it is possible to see a high percentage of these unique and often extraordinary birds by visiting just three sites: Tangkoko NR and Dumoga – Bone NP at the northeastern corner of Sulawesi. Manado is the capital of the province, which is accessible by air from Singapore via Jakarta and Ujung Pandang. And Lore Lindu NP is in central Sulawesi; Palu is the capital of the province, which is accessible by air from Ujung Pandang, Denpasar, Jakarta and Balik Papan (Kalimantan or Borneo).
A nice selection of Sula endemics after a short boat ride from Luwuk, including the newly rediscovered Banggai Crow.
Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park (Formerly Dumoga Bone NP)
A massive national park which has only partially been explored. Known sites include Tambun for Maleo and some nice lowland birding…
Montane birding in north Sulawesi. Not as many species as Lore Lindu, but a few things are easier to see here.
Just outside Manado and a great spot for Scaly Kingfisher.
Near Manado and good for waterbirds and migrant raptors.
Lore Lindu National Park
Lore Lindu NP is home to most of Sulawesi’s endemic species, including the magnificent Red-Knobbed Hornbill (Rhyticeros cassidix) which is common and the largest bird in the park with a wing span of over one meter. Speckled Boobook, Yellow-breasted and Golden-mantle Racquet-tail, Green Imperial Pigeon, Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon, Sulawesi Hanging parrot, Pygmy and Ashy Woodpeckers, Purple-bearded Bee-eater (Jul – Sep); White-neck Myna, Red-bellied pitta, etc. And the Maleo bird, a megapode that buries its single large egg in the warm sand to be incubated by the heat of underground hot springs. Two other endemic birds are the Sulawesi woodcock (Scolopax celebensis) and Heinrich’s Nightjar. Sulawesi woodcock is rarely seen; many birdwatchers visit this park but miss it.
Last August (2000) three birdwatchers from England (Dave Rosair, Tony Prater and Don Taylor) who accompanied by me (Royke Mananta); found this bird at Lore Lindu NP after four days of exploring. They visited the park especially looking for this bird. In the Field Guide the call hasn’t been described, but we heard it when it was startled and took to the air making a short flight. If you are lucky you can find Heinrich’s Nightjar in the park during the day when they sleep on the ground or at night when they fly. This bird is also rarely seen.
An endemic white-eye and some good migrant shorebirds can be found by those with a few hours to kill between flights.
Sangihe, Talaud & Siau
The string of islands off north Sulawesi including Sangihe, Siau and Talaud are not so easy to get to, but loads of great endemics await those who try it.
Tankoko And Dumoga Bone Birdwatching Tours
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
* Field Guides & Bird Song
For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Indonesia as a whole - please see the Indonesia page of Fatbirder
A Guide to the Birds of Wallacea
Sulawesi, The Moluccas and Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia - Brian J Coates and K David Bishop 535 pages, 64 col plates [697 species], colour photos, maps, illus. Dove Publications 1997
ISBN: 0959025731Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Sulawesi, Lesser Sundas and Sabah
R Thomas and S Thomas - Frogmouth Publications - In preparation
ISBN: 156570Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Delina Panontongan - Tourist Guide
I am Guiding for the Adventure Tours and Birding in Sulawesi…
Rockjumper Birding Tours
Our Sulawesi & Halmahera - Wallacean Endemics tour comprehensively covers much of the area’s available habitats, maximizing our chance to find the more than one hundred range-restricted bird species confined to this fabulous region…
Sulawesi has a total bird count of 350 species, with 4 categories classified: residents 127, endemic 88, migrants 97, and counted as residents or migrants 32…
Sultan Birding Tours
Sultan birding tours based in Manado North Sulawesi of Indonesia, specialized in operating bird photography and bird watching within the island of Sulawesi (Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Tomohon Highland, Dumoga Bone national Park, Lore Lindu National Park), Halmahera and other birding destination in Indonesia…
Vacation Indonesia Tours
Vacation Indonesia Tours, owned by Nurlin Djuni & Darwin Sumang, is your gateway to Indonesia. We can immerse you in our culture, heritage and our extraordinarily diverse natural history. The Islands of Indonesia are justly famous for birdwatching. Over 372 species have been recorded and many are found nowhere else. Nurlin Djuni specialises in Birdwatching/Holidays Tours in Sulawesi, Halmahera, Papua, Java, Bali, Kalimantan, Lesser Sundas and Sumatera…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2009 [10 October] - Dave Farrow
Another splendid Birdquest tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera, and one that was rather different to usual, in that we did not see rain until our penultimate day! Everywhere was very hot and dry, some areas not having had any rain for three months, perhaps the effect of an ‘El Nino’ weather event. This however didn’t seem to have any negative effect on the birding, and we recorded a very handsome total of 283 species…
2009 [10 October] - Nicolaas & Robert van Zalinge
In total we saw 210 bird species. As we had been to Sulawesi before, we mostly limited ourselves to areas not visited previously: Dumoga-Bone and Gunung Ambang, but revisited Tangkoko. The island of Halmahera was new to us and therefore we spent nearly half the time there. For us the top ten birds were: Spotted Harrier, Maleo, Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar, Great-billed -, Scaly – and Paradise Kingfishers, Purple Roller, Ivory-breasted and Red-bellied Pittas and Wallace’s Standard-wing Bird of Paradise…
2009 [10 October] - Peter Ericsson
…We arrived in the evening after having changed flight in Kuala Lumpur. First night we lodged in Manado. The hotel was located on a hill surrounded with greenery and overlooking the bay and city…
2009 [10 October] - Stijn De Win
I assume it will be easy for anyone to figure from my photos on this page that the birds were great! Let me start about the island first, -no not its shape-, who ever notices that when you’re on the ground enjoying the place…
2010 [08 August] - Stijn De Win
Highlights in Lore Lindu National Park were numerous, Piping Crow, Sulawesi Thrush, Diabolical Nightjar, Savannah Nightjar, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Blue-faced Parrotfinch, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater, the hard to find Maroon-backed Whistler gave away great views in the end and we found an obliging Great Shortwing for excellent photo opportunities even though the species wasn’t active singing during our stay…
2010 [09 September] - Dave Farrow
Another great Birdquest tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera, and once again quite different climatically to previous visits, as we experienced rain on almost every day. It didn’t dampen our birding though, and we enjoyed great success with 278 species recorded, On Sulawesi we enjoyed many superb endemics such as Green-backed, Lilac-cheeked, Sulawesi Dwarf and Great-billed Kingfishers (some of the 12 species seen)…
2011 [08 August] - Peter Ericsson
When Stijn De Win from B2A asked me if I could act as tour leader to Sulawesi/Halmahera I was more then thrilled. Having visited Sulawesi with Stijn back in 2009 I knew the exciting birds waiting in these exotic lands. The tour had 4 participants besides Royke and me. All experienced global birders in the 4-5000 ‘birds seen’ region. Thus it was no surprise that the tour ended up with 239 species recorded and a record 105 endemics…
2013 [09 September] - Craig Robson
…The latest Birdquest tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera was packed with superb highlights, amongst a total of 270 species. The bird of the trip was the fantastic Blue-faced Rail that we were shown in north Sulawesi, but we also enjoyed good views of Geomalia, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Purple Dollarbird, Great Cuckoo-dove, Moluccan King Parrot, Moluccan Scrubfowl, and the amazing Maleo and Standardwing Bird of Paradise….
2013 [09 September] - Robert Hutchinson
…Our success continued on Halmahera with all endemic night-birds seen (plus amazing views of Moluccan Scrubfowl which is very much a night-bird!), Wallace’s Standardwings at a spectacular lek site, great views of Ivory-breasted Pitta, Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove and the difficult Purple Dollarbird. Moluccan King Parrot, Barking Owl and ‘Halmahera’ Leaf Warbler were among the less regular species found…
2013 [09 September] - Sam Woods
2013 [10 October] - Peter Ericsson
… We did several stops along the way and caught up with a number of common birds which included 40 enigmatic and endemic Grosbeak Starling roosting in a dead tree. This bird is so attractive that it has made it on the cover of the Birds of Wallacea by Coates, Bishop and Gardener…
2014 [08 August] - Rob Gordijn
A three week independent trip to Sulawesi and Halmahera, a popular combination of islands since they offer two very different sets of species with lots endemics on both islands. In the first two weeks we visited Central and North Sulawesi: Lore Lindu, Tangkoko, Dumago Bone and Gunung Ambang. The last week we travelled to Halmehera to visit three more sites: Binagara, Galela and Weda...
2014 [09 September] - Dave Farrow
Another great Birdquest tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera, we enjoyed great success despite the effects of ever-increasing habitat destruction at some sites. On Sulawesi we enjoyed many superb endemics such as Green-backed, Lilac-cheeked, Sulawesi Dwarf and Great-billed Kingfishers, (some of the 14 Kingfisher species recorded!), a daytime roosting Sulawesi Scops Owls and both Ochre-bellied and Speckled 2 BirdQuest Tour Report: Ultimate Sulawesi & Halmahera www.birdquest-tours.com Boobooks, Cinnabar Boobook, Sulawesi Masked Owl, Sulawesi and Satanic Nightjars (to make five Nightjar species seen), that marvel of evolution the Maleo, Knobbed and Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbills, Red-eared and Oberholser’s Fruit Doves, Sulawesi Serpent Eagles, Sulawesi Hawk Eagles, Spot-tailed and Sulawesi Goshawks, Small Sparrowhawk, Purple-bearded Bee-eaters...
2014 [09 September] - David Hoddinott - Wallacean Endemics
... Here we found a good variety of species including the range-restricted Javan Plover and, most importantly, the south Sulawesi endemic, Palebellied Myna. Other notable sightings included a splendid Spotted Harrier, White-headed Stilt, Long-toed Stint and breeding Little Tern, Sacred Kingfisher, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Pied Bush Chat, Pale-headed Munia and Paddyfield Pipit....
2014 [09 September] - Peter Ericsson
...Scarlet Mysomela is a tiny bird with a bright red head and something everyone enjoyed. Several were seen. Slender-billed Cuckoo Doves were common, a Great Sulawesi Hanging Parrot showed well. A juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle came crashing through the woods being mobbed by some Slender-billed Crows. Sulawesi Babbler also gave reasonable views as did Island Verditer Flycatcher. The Barred Rail came in full view on the roadside and a Black Eagle soared on high....
2014 [09 September] - Rob Hutchinson
...On Sulawesi the list of star birds is a long one but the likes of Geomalia, Maleo, Sulawesi Thrush, Great Shortwing, Maroon-backed Whistler, Scaly Kingfisher (among a whole set of stunning endemic kingfishers), Red-backed Thrush certainly stand out. Mention should also be made of the Hylocitrea which is now a monotypic family found only in the uplands of this island and a fine set of night-birds of which we saw all expect species including Cinnabar Boobook, Sulawesi Masked Owl and both Diabolical Nightjar and Ochre-bellied Boobooks at their day roosts. A short hop across the water to Halmahera gave us a whole new set of species, best of which was arguable the amazing Wallace’s Standardwing display, although there is stiff competition from the likes of Moluccan Scrubfowl, Moluccan King Parrot, all night-birds including the bizarre Moluccan Owlet Nightjar, Ivory-breasted Pitta and the fabulous Purple Dollarbird...
2014 [10 October] - Frank Lambert
...The birds made us work hard as usual, and we had many early-morning starts, but our commitment paid off with excellent views of nearly all the species seen. Highlights on Sulawesi included species such as Geomalia, Maleo, Red-backed Thrush, Malia, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Great Shortwing, Purple-winged Roller, Matinan Flycatcher, Hylocitrea, four species of endemic myna, Sulawesi Pitta (split by Clements), several stunning endemic kingfishers, and three of the four endemic Accipiter species. We also had some surprise species such as the rarely observed Sulawesi Ground Dove and the undescribed ‘Sulawesi Brown Flycatcher’...
2015 [04 April] - Peter Marsh
I chose a trip to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to seek the Hylocitrea (Olive–flanked Whistler), the only member of the family Hypocoliidae. While this was the prime target of the trip I was, of course, open to the enjoyment of any and all birds encountered on the trip.
2015 [08 August] - Dave Farrow - Sulawesi & Halmahera.
Of the 12 species of Kingfisher recorded on the tour, on Sulawesi we saw Green-backed, Lilac-cheeked, Sulawesi Dwarf and Great-billed Kingfishers. Nightbirds are always pleasing and we saw Ochre-bellied, Speckled and Cinnabar Boobooks, Sulawesi Scops Owls, and five Nightjar species that included a pair of Great Eared at roost, a Satanic on its nest and a Sulawesi Nightjar. We saw Knobbed Hornbills, Red-eared Fruit Doves, Sulawesi Serpent Eagles, Sulawesi Hawk Eagles, Spot-tailed and Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawks, Purple-bearded Bee-eaters, Purple-winged 2 BirdQuest Tour Report: Sulawesi & Halmahera www.birdquest-tours.com Roller, Piping Crow, Malia, Hylocitrea, Red-backed and Sulawesi Thrushes.
2015 [09 September] - Sam Woods - Sulawesi & the Moluccas
...stunning birds to boot, and are rightly revered as some of the most highly desired species in all of the region; a quick perusal of our final bird list reveals exquisite birds like Sulawesi Dwarf-Kingfisher, Lilac-cheeked and Green-backed Kingfishers, Knobbed and Blyth’s Hornbills, Moluccan and Ivory-breasted Pittas, Purple-winged and Azure Rollers (A.K.A “Purple Dollarbird”), Rusty-backed (Red-backed) Thrush, and the astonishing Wallace’s Standardwing.
Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park (Formerly Dumoga Bone NP)
The park has been identified by Wildlife Conservation Society as the single most important site for the conservation of Sulawesi wildlife and is home to a large number of species endemic to Sulawesi…
Lore Lindu National Park
Lore Lindu National Park is a forested protected area on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, in the province of Central Sulawesi. The area of the national park is 2,180 km² covering both lowland and montane forests. It provides habitat to numerous rare species, including 77 bird species endemic to Sulawesi…
Birding in Sulawesi – Burung-Nusantara / Birds-Indonesia
Information about birding sites in Sulawesi, including key species, maps, access, local guides and resources. Sulawesi has the highest percentage of endemic birds of any island in the world. The birding in many places is also easy, and almost all the endemic species can be seen at a small number of sites in the centre and north. For those looking for more adventure (and more birds!) the islands off the north of Sulawesi (Sangihe, Talaud, Siau) are also packed with goodies, as are the islands to the east (Banggai, Peleng). If that’s not enough to tempt you, it also has great beaches and world class diving. Browse sites from the map or the table. Each site page will show links to birding trip reports, guides and other content that is relevant. Help us keep this information up to date by posting your experiences back here as comments…
Operation Wallacea is a series of scientific wildlife survey and conservation expeditions to a remote corner of the island of Sulawesi. It has been running wildlife research and community development projects in SE Sulawesi for the last 6 years. In 2001 there were nearly 300 mainly University students, together with 35 scientists, a professional photographer, an artist, expert trackers and forest support teams, diving staff and extensive logistics team to support the wide range of projects completed.
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Marie-France Grenouillet
Excellent photos of North Sulawesi birds…