Birding Without Borders

Day 325: An Endemic Birdfest

Noah looks forward to the plethora of endemic species of birds Sulawesi has to offer.

November 21, 2015: Lore Lindu, Sulawesi — I had a half-night layover in Surabaya last night and continued with a crack-o-dawn flight to Makassar, on the southwest corner of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, this morning. There, I met a local birder named Monal, who will spend the next week with me, and we headed straight out to see what we could find.

On the short hop to Makassar today, I crossed a significant geographical boundary called the Wallace Line, which runs between Borneo and Sulawesi. This line is named after a British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, who explored these islands in the mid-1800s and noticed that the fauna west of this line are mostly Asian while those on the east side are more Australian. This is because Borneo and everything westward was connected to mainland Asia relatively recently, while deeper water here has been a barrier for the past 50 million years. This means that the birds on Sulawesi are very different than those on Borneo, even though the two islands aren’t very far apart. The island of Sulawesi alone has about 100 endemic species of birds!

Monal and I visited a patch of forest where we hoped to find a Black-ringed White-eye, a bird which lives only in this part of Sulawesi. When we found the bird a short while later, we turned around and headed straight back to the airport. The two of us caught an afternoon flight up to Palu, in north-central Sulawesi, and wound into the mountains this evening. Looking forward to an endemic birdfest tomorrow.

New birds today: 9

Year list: 5317

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