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Birds recorded in Mount Kitanglad Natural Park at Inhandig

Sitio Inhandig is a Bukidnon village sited at about 1500 metres above sea level sitting right at the periphery of the Mount Kitanglad Natural Park's core protected area. While the environs of the village is predominantly secondary scrub, cogon grasslands and cultivation, very pristine lower montane forests are to be found immediatley behind the village.

We made a number of short exploratory trips (a total of 5 in all) into the forests in the immediate vicinity of the village during our 3 day sojourn. In general, forest here is high stature lower montane forests, with trees towering to about 30 over meters. Notably too, are the immense varieties of ferns and ferns allies, including various mosses and liverworts, known to locals as "Lumut" growing on all the branches and trunks of the trees. Flora here is distinctive of montane communities with various tree ferns, palms and well as an immense diversity of epiphytic orchids.

Like the most montane bird communities, diversity in the mountains are more impoverished when compared to the lowland. But what is striking is that many montane species are endemic and have very specific ecological needs, such that they are mostly confined to highland habitats. Another distinctive feature of the montane avifauna is the predominance of select species, especially passerines like white-eyes, fantails as well as nuthatches. Congregations of these small passerines often move together as a mixed flocks foraging in the canopy, middle storey and under-storey levels, atypical of most mountains. Elsewhere is South-east Asia, similar phenomena can be noted in Luzon, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and the Malay Peninsular.

Avian Biogeography

Mindanao falls very near the meeting points of 3 zoological realms, the Oriental, Wallacean and Palearcitc sub-regions, therefore species representative of all 3 zoological realms are represented here, especially on Mount Kitanglad. On the mountain itself, we find communities of pigeons (Fruit Doves and Imperial Pigeons in Particular), parrots (Lorikeets and Racquet-tails), fantails and white-eyes, elements of the Wallacea-Australian transitional region. Simultaneously, babblers, woodpeckers and old-world flycatchers are the elements of the oriental faunal region while lastly, the Palearctic region also contributes in part to the resident avifauna in the form of finches, warblers, and the like.

Summary of Species Recorded

A total of 43 species were recorded throughout our 3 days of stay in Sitio Inhandig and Sitio Olagohon, as well as the journey between the two. Almost all of the birds were seen with very few heard. We have to admit that we were not exactly proficient with the bird calls and thus spent much time trying to find the birds, without the use of playback, a habit of many birdwatchers which can be very disruptive to the bird's territoriality. The sequence here we chose to use follows Kennedy et al. 2002. This is also the main reference source to the Philippine birds nowadays.

No. Species - Latin Name

1. Philippine Eagle* - Pithecophaga jefferyi
1 chick, apparently now 5 month old seen at nest at the first eagle view-point. Nest sits on a 30 metres tall tree but can be seen at eye level from view-point. No parent bird seen anywhere around though.

2. Barred Rail - Gallirallus torquatus
1-2 heard calling from grassy scrub around Olangohon area.

3. White-breasted Waterhen - Amaurornis phoenicurus
1 calling the typical "uwak-uwak" notes, heard from scrubby muddy areas around the Inhandig, within proximity of cultivation.

4. White-eared Brown-Dove - Phapitreron leucotis
2-3 heard daily, with 1 seen well, perched high above in canopy, attracted to an imitation of its call. Apparently a familiar bird to the locals as many are able to mimic its calls.

5. Yellow-breasted Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus occipitalis

1-2 heard daily, around Sitio Inhandig in mossy forest, but always far and never respond to imitations of its call.

6. Philippine Cuckoo-Dove - Macropygia phasianella
A pair was seen in flight over Sitio Inhandig. Notable is its rich rufous plumage and long tail.

7. Mindanao Montane Racquet-tail* - Prioniturus waterstradtii
2 birds heard in flight during the ascent from Inhandig to Lalawan ridge. Metallic shrieking calls, similar to other racquet-tails.

8. Philippine Hanging-Parrot - Loriculus philippensis
Particularly common in open scrubs around Olangohon as well as Sitio Inhandig. Numbers of 7-12 were very noisy and seen to be attracted to flowering Eugenia trees in the forest edges behind Inhandig.

9. Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo - Hieroccocyx pectoralis
1-2 heard calling on ascend to Lalawan ridge.

10. Brush Cuckoo - Cacomantis variolosus
Certainly the commonest species of cuckoo here, known to the local Lumad Tribespeople as "Pitopit". Heard at all hours of the day, sometimes calling late into the evening and also calling way before daybreak. 2-3 heard daily.

11. Philippine Coucal - Centropus viridis
2 heard daily, calling well hidden in tall grassy scrubs. 1 flushed from tall grass during ascent to Lalawan ridge.

12. Grass Owl - Tyto longimembris
Very quite and we noted one bird flying in the evening perhaps returning to its roost at the forest edge, behind cultivation in Sitio Inhandig. A diurnal hunter.

13. Great-eared Nightjar - Eurostopodus macrotis

1-2 seen sallying over the forest canopy in the evening at last light. No calls heard.

14. Glossy Swiftlet - Collocalia esculenta
Small numbers 10-12 seen daily.

15. Pygmy Swiftlet - Collocalia troglodytes
Small number 4-5 seen daily, but seems less common than previous species here.

16. Blue-capped Wood-Kingfisher* - Actenoides hombroni
1 pair of this spectacular kingfisher was heard and seen at dawn in the thick mossy forests behind Sitio Inhandig. Perches silently in mid canopy and therefore easy to overlook, but has a typical monotonous repeated call very typical of Actenoides Kingfisher.

17. Mindanao Tarictic Hornbill - Penelopides panini
3 were seen foraging quietly in forest trees just opposite the Eagle viewpoint. Also 1 was seen in tall mossy forests behind Sitio Inhandig.

18. Philippine Pygmy-woodpecker - Dendrocopos maculatus
Small numbers of this woodpecker is seen daily, with up to 3-4 birds. Seen to make use of isolated patches of secondary scrubs as well as trees for foraging. Also seen to participate in bird waves with other passerines like white-eyes and fantails.

19. McGregor's Cuckoo-shrike* - Coracina mcgregori
Supposed to be common at the elevation of Sitio Inhandig, but only 1 seen. One bird was observed perching very high up in the canopy hunting for prey along mossy tree branches, though no call was heard. Also one was seen perched on bare trees around Inhandig itself.

20. Pied Triller - Lalage nigra
2 birds were seen in isolated trees completely surrounded by scrub and cultivation enroute to eagle viewpoint.

21. Yellow-vented Bulbul - Pycnonoctus goiaver
Common, a lowland open country bird, but must have benefited from clearance of forest and now living in high altitude cleared areas, including Inhandig.

22. Philippine Bulbul - Hypsipetes philippinus
Very noisy and gives a wide repertoire of notes. Seem to favour both open secondary forests as well as pristine montane forest. Many seen daily, up to 10-12 birds. Sometimes seen to participate in mixed feeding flocks.

23. Elegant Tit - Parus elegans
Small numbers were seen to participate in mixed feeding flocks, but not as abundant as other members like white-eyes. Up to minimum of 5 birds seen daily. Recorded in forest enroute to Inhandig, as well as some open secondary growth.

24. Sulphur-billed Nuthatch - Sitta ochrolemys
One of the dominant members of the mixed feeding flocks seen. Always very noisy and thus easily seen as they creep among the branches picking up insects and larva. At least 15 birds seen daily.

25. Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis - Rhabdornis inornatus

3 birds were seen perching on a bare tree enroute from Sitio Inhandig to Damitan in open secondary forests. Distinct coloration, with dark grey head and chesnut mantle.

26. Brown Tit-Babbler - Macronous striaticeps
2 seen in a mixed feeding flock in mossy forest behind Sitio Inhandig, feeding in company of whistler and tailorbirds. Generally a lowland species.

27. White-browed Shortwing - Brachypteryx montana

Common in Mount Kitanglad and heard at almost all forested spots, uttering, its blaring musical notes, but always concealed by foliage on the forest floor.

28. Mountain Leaf-Warbler - Phylloscopus trivirgatus
2-3 seen, not in feeding flocks. Were seen hunting for insects like a flycatcher at about 5-6 metres above the ground. Makes soft twittering notes.

29. Tawny Grassbird - Megalurus timoriensis
This is the dominant species of grassbird present here in the highland and small numbers, on average of 4-5 birds were heard and glimpsed daily. Tend to be secretive and always well concealed from view.

30. Red-headed Tailorbird - Orthotomus heterolaemus
Fairly common, with birds heard and seen daily. The Mindanao race is sometimes lumped with Mountain Tailorbird, but has a distinctive orange colored heard. 2 birds including juveniles seen.

31. Long-tailed Bush-Warbler - Bradypterus caudatus
High pitched notes originating from this species heard, but never seen. This is a very secretive warbler and always keeps itself hidden under dense foliage.

32. Mountain Verditer Flycatcher - Eumyias panayensis
Common in forests and open scrubs around Sitio Inhandig and sometimes seen to participate in mixed feeding flocks with white-eyes and ibons. It is often seen perched alone calling from isolated bare perches.

33. Little Pied Flycatcher - Ficedula westermanni
1 male was seen in a mixed feeding flock with mountain white-eyes in the high canopy, in mossy forests behind Inhandig.

34. Black-and-Cinnamon Fantail - Rhipidura nigrocinnamonea
A faitful participant of bird waves, but never occuring in abundance, with normally about 2-3 birds present. Birds are observed to stay high up in the canopy, occasionally coming lower to the middle-storeys. Distinctive plumage with black and cinnamon contrasting colors and white eyebrow. 5-7 seen daily in mossy forest behind Sitio Inhandig.

35. Yellow-bellied Whistler - Pachycephala philippensis
Common but hard to see, though it sometimes come low to the understorey. One bird was seen associating with tailorbirds and babblers in the undergrowth in mossy forests behind Sitio Inhandig. Also seen in mixed feeding flocks.

36. Grey-hooded Sunbird* - Aethopyga primigenius
A nondescript small sunbirds, often seen alone, but sometimes participating in mixed feeding flocks. 2-3 seen daily in forest behind Sitio Inhandig. Also 1 seen in scrubs near the eagle viewpoint.

37. Apo Sunbird* - Aethopyga boltoni
1 female seen. Grayish throat and striking orange patch on its belly noticed, and also senn associating with white-eyes and cinnamon ibon, in tall forest up Lalawan ridge.

38. Olive-capped Flowerpecker - Dicaeum nigrilore

Easily the commonest flowerpecker here. Many were seen to be attracted to the flowering Eugenis trees behind Sitio Inhandig, with at least 7-8 birds present at a moment. Also one was carrying nesting materials to construct as ball shaped nest of 20 cm situated 20 metres above the ground in disturbed montane forests behind Sitio Inhandig.

39. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker - Dicaeum ignipectus

1 male seen perched on a bare tree overlooking the eagle viewpoint at Lalawan.

40. Mountain White-eye - Zosterops montanus
One of the most abundant birds around with many flocks of 20-30 birds seen daily, foraging either as monospecific flocks or mixed feeding flocks, from open scrub interspersed with trees as well as closed forest.

41. Black-masked White-eye - Lophozosterops goodfellowi

Not as common as though, with only 2 sightings, both of 1 to 2 birds seen in mixed feeding flocks. Bords were distinct from its smaller congener as told from size as well as more drab plumage consisting of a whitish throat and olive green body.

42. Cinnamon Ibon - Hypocrytadius cinnanomeus
A regular participant of feeding flocks, keeping to the canopy. Unlike other white-eyes which are actively hopping and flying about, this bulkier aberrant white-eye tends to be more sluggish. Up to 5 and 3 seen on 2 separate dates.

43. Chesnut Munia - Lonchura malacca
2 seen feeding among Cogon grass, but later flushed and flew away, in open areas near Lalawan creek.

Conclusion


A fairly good variety of birds were observed, but a few key species like Bukidnon Woodcock, Apo Myna and Flame-crowned Flowerpecker were notably missed due to our very limited time frame spent in Inhandig. The forests here generally have a low bird density, perhaps due to extensive fragmentation and habitat degradation. There are a number of trails which allowed access to prime habitat in the form of primary forests, but there are much rooms for improvements for the trail infrastructure to be developed and other facilities tobe constructed.