Birding in Halmahera


Halmahera is the largest island of the Moluccan archipel, which is nicely situated between Sulawesi and Papua. It is home to no less then 24 endemic species of birds, of which the Invisible Rail and Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise have nearly mythical connotations to birders from all over the world. Until recently Halmahera was very difficult to visit because of a bad infrastructure and security issues, but this has all improved a lot. To make the long trip to Indonesia for only this island is maybe a bit too much, but if you combine it with Sulawesi it’s a perfect boost to your life list with very spectacular birds without too much effort.

Key Bird Species

Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise:  Astonishing endemic of the northern Moluccan islands. It was one of the favorites of Alfred Wallace and he is honored by its scientific name Semioptera wallacii. Seeing this unique bird displaying with its white shoulder feathers raised up into the air is a spectacle not to be forgotten.

Ivory-breasted Pitta:  Very large pitta with an unique red-patched white belly. Restricted to the Mollucan islands and one of the most sought for birds in Indonesia. 

Halmahera Oriole: Endemic Oriole of the Mollucan islands. Not very bright or spectacular, but relatively easy to see in edges, cultication and even gardens. It’s typical beautiful Oriole whistle is an easy way to find the bird.

Halmahera Flowerpecker: Tiny and only flowerpecker of the Moluccans and an endemic of course. Males have an attractive red breast patch and the birds are easily found high up in the canopy everywhere, but you need a scope to enjoy its beauty in full.

Azure Roller: Also known as the Purple Dollarbird this dark purple beauty shows its bold pale wing markings in its rolling flight. It’s a rare species completely confined to a small area in the northern Mollucans and a jewel on your life list.


Other special bird species are: (forest, fairly common), (forest, common), (forest, fairly common but shy),  

More nature



Minimum amount of days: 4 (3 nights).

Advised amount of days: 6 (5 nights).

Maximum amount of days: 8 (that should be enough to explore the area completely).

Price level: $… pp/pd.

Needed level of fitness: Average, you hike to a lek for the Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise and during the day it can get very hot sometimes.


Nearest airport: Ternate, connections to Jakarta and Makassar.

Transport: From Ternate to Sofifi with an 1-hour speedboat, from Sofifi to Subaim 4 hours by private car. From Subaim by private car.


Bali’s Guesthouse, Subaim:

The newest and most comfortable accommodation with good food at the restaurant next door. Nice rooms, but no hot-water showers.

Alternative is Barokah Guesthouse, Subaim.

Combinations and extensions:

Good destinations to combine with Halmahera: Manado, Tangkoko, Ramang Ramang and Makassar.

Typical itinerary:

1Transport Ternate to SubaimOne hour ferry Ternate – Sofifi and about 4 hours drive Sofifi – Subaim
2Birding in Poli
3Birding in Uni uni Mountain
4Birding in Uni uni Mountain
5To Tobelo for Moluccan ScrubfowlOvernight in Tobelo
6Transport Tobelo – Sidangoli and back to Ternate


Bird List

BirdChance of seeing (%)Remarks
Moluccan Megapode (Eulipoa wallacei)<10
Dusky Megapode (Megapodius freycinet)>50
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)<10
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)<10
Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)>10
Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia doreya)>90
Great Cuckoo-Dove (Reinwardtoena reinwardti)<90
Asian Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)<10
Scarlet-breasted Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus bernsteinii)>90
Superb Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus superbus)<50
Blue-capped Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus monacha)>50
Gray-headed Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus hyogastrus)>90
Spectacled Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula perspicillata)>90
Cinnamon-bellied Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula basilica)>90
Pied Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula bicolor)>50
Goliath Coucal (Centropus goliath)>90
Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis)<50
Black-billed Koel (Eudynamys melanorhynchus)>10
Moluccan Cuckoo (Cacomantis aeruginosus)<10
Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus)<50
Moluccan Drongo-Cuckoo (Surniculus musschenbroeki)<10
Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus optatus)<10
Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus)<10
Moluccan Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles crinifrons)>50
White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)<10
Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta)>90
Halmahera Swiftlet (Aerodramus infuscatus)>90
Uniform Swiftlet (Aerodramus vanikorensis)>50
Pacific Swift (Apus pacificus)<10
Moustached Treeswift (Hemiprocne mystacea)>50
Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis)<10
White-browed Crake (Poliolimnas cinereus)<10
Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana)<10
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel)<10
Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana)<10
Great Egret (Ardea alba)<10
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)<10
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)<10
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)<10
Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata)<50
Rufous-bellied Eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii)<10
Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malaiensis)<10
Pygmy Eagle (Hieraaetus weiskei)>50
Gurney’s Eagle (Aquila gurneyi)>50
Gray-faced Buzzard (Butastur indicus)<10
Chinese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter soloensis)>10
Variable Goshawk (Accipiter hiogaster)>50
Moluccan Goshawk (Accipiter henicogrammus)<50
Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk (Accipiter erythrauchen)<10
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)>90
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)<10
Moluccan Scops-Owl (Otus magicus)<50
Barking Owl (Ninox connivens)<50
Halmahera Boobook (Ninox hypogramma)>50
Blyth’s Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus)>90
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)<10
Moluccan Dwarf-Kingfisher (Ceyx lepidus)<10
Blue-and-white Kingfisher (Todiramphus diops)>50
Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus)<10
Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)<10
Beach Kingfisher (Todiramphus saurophagus)<10
Sombre Kingfisher (Todiramphus funebris)>50
Common Paradise-Kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea)<50
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)<50
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)<50
Azure Roller (Eurystomus azureus)<50
Spotted Kestrel (Falco moluccensis)<50
Oriental Hobby (Falco severus)<10
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)<10
Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus)>50
Red-cheeked Parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi)>90
Red-flanked Lorikeet (Hypocharmosyna placentis)>50
Moluccan Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus amabilis)>50
North Moluccan Pitta (Erythropitta rufiventris)<50
Ivory-breasted Pitta (Pitta maxima)>90
Dusky Myzomela (Myzomela obscura)>50
White-streaked Friarbird (Melitograis gilolensis)>90
White-bellied Cuckooshrike (Coracina papuensis)<10
Moluccan Cuckooshrike (Coracina atriceps)<50
Rufous-bellied Triller (Lalage aurea)>50
Halmahera Cuckooshrike (Celebesia parvula)>50
Common Cicadabird (Edolisoma tenuirostre)<50
Black-chinned Whistler (Pachycephala mentalis)>50
Drab Whistler (Pachycephala griseonota)<10
Halmahera Oriole (Oriolus phaeochromus)>50
White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)<10
Willie-wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)<50
Hair-crested Drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus)>10
Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus)<50
Paradise-crow (Lycocorax pyrrhopterus)>90
Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise (Semioptera wallacii)>90
Pale-blue Monarch (Hypothymis puella)<10
White-naped Monarch (Carterornis pileatus)<50
Spectacled Monarch (Symposiachrus trivirgatus)>50
Moluccan Flycatcher (Myiagra galeata)<50
Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto)<50
Long-billed Crow (Corvus validus)>90
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)<10
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler (Helopsaltes fasciolatus)<50
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)<50
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)<50
Sula Golden-Bulbul (Hypsipetes longirostris)<10
Halmahera Golden-Bulbul (Hypsipetes chloris)>90
Island Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus)>50
Cream-throated White-eye (Zosterops atriceps)>50
Metallic Starling (Aplonis metallica)<50
Moluccan Starling (Aplonis mysolensis)<50
Gray-streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta)>50seasonal
Halmahera Flowerpecker (Dicaeum schistaceiceps)>50
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)<10
Black Sunbird (Leptocoma aspasia)>90
Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)>50
Black-faced Munia (Lonchura molucca)<10
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)<10
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)<10
Gray Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)<10


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