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Sulawesi - BirdForum Opus

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Sulawesi, aka Celebes, is Indonesia's fourth largest island (the world's eleventh) and its third largest by population. The island has a strange, vaguely starfish shape with four main "arms". It lies to the east of Wallace's line but nonetheless has many Asian faunal components such as Anoa, macaques and tarsiers. Much of the interior is mountainous with altitudes which may exceed 2,000 m. Lake Matano is the deepest in South East Asia (590 m), is probably at least four million years old and exhibits high levels of endemism.


Mainland Sulawesi hosts about 430 bird species.


Mainland Sulawesi has around 90 endemic species (see table). This compares favourably with Colombia, the country with the most bird species. That has roughly the same number of endemics (80-90ish) but is around 6.5 times larger!

The proportion of endemic birds is somewhat lower than in mammals and butterflies (both around 40%). Hylocitrea may deserve its own family.

The following list tries to reflect birds which are restricted to the Indonesian province of Sulawesi. It excludes endemics restricted to North Maluku Province even though many are closely related to species on Sulawesi (e.g. Sula Lorikeet). See below the table for species which also occur on Halmahera and other islands.

The endemic birds of Sulawesi Province
species notes mainland Sulawesi Bacan Banggai Benteng Bunaken Buton Kabaena Island Lembeh Mantehage Manui Peleng Sangihe Islands Selayar Islands Sula Islands Tagian Islands Talaud Islands Taliabu Tanah Jampea Thulandang Togian Islands Wakitobi Regency
Maleo x
Sula Megapode x x x
Diabolical Nightjar x x
Bay Coucal x x x
Yellow-billed Malkoha x x x
Sulawesi Cuckoo x x
Flores Sea Cuckoo-Dove x
White-faced Cuckoo-Dove x x x
Sula Cuckoo-Dove x x x x
Sulawesi Ground Dove x x
Red-eared Fruit-Dove x
Banggai Fruit-Dove x x
Maroon-chinned Fruit-Dove x x
White-bellied Imperial-Pigeon x x x x x x x
Grey-headed Imperial-Pigeon x
Sombre Pigeon x
Snoring Rail x
Blue-faced Rail x x
Talaud Rail x
Talaud Bush-hen x
Isabelline Bush-hen x x x
Sulawesi Woodcock x
Sulawesi Serpent-Eagle x x x x x x x
Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle x x x x x
Sulawesi Goshawk x x x
Spot-tailed Goshawk x x
Small Sparrowhawk x
Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk x x x x x
Minahasa Masked-Owl x
Sulawesi Masked-Owl x x x x x
Togian Boobook x
Ochre-bellied Boobook x x
Cinnabar Boobook x
Speckled Boobook x x
Sulawesi Scops-Owl x x x
Banggai Scops-Owl x x
Siau Scops-Owl
Sangihe Scops-Owl
Knobbed Hornbill x x x
Sulawesi Hornbill x x x
Purple-winged Roller x x
Green-backed Kingfisher x x x
Scaly-breasted Kingfisher x
Sulawesi Lilac Kingfisher x x x
Sangihe Lilac Kingfisher reported from Tangkoko in Sulawesi x x
Talaud Kingfisher x x
Sulawesi Dwarf-Kingfisher x x x
Purple-bearded Bee-eater x
Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker x x x
Ashy Woodpecker x x x
Golden-mantled Racquet-tail x x x x x x x
Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail x x x
Yellow-cheeked Lorikeet x
Ornate Lorikeet x x x x x
Red-and-blue Lory reported from NE Sulawesi x x x
Sulawesi Hanging-Parrot x x x x
Sula Hanging-Parrot x x x
Sangihe Hanging-Parrot x
Pygmy Hanging-Parrot x x x
Sulawesi Pitta x x x x
Sula Pitta x x x
Dark-eared Myza x
White-eared Myza x
Ivory-backed Woodswallow x x x x x
Cerulean Cuckooshrike x
Pied Cuckooshrike Seram (?) x x x x x x
Slaty Cuckooshrike x x x
White-rumped Cuckooshrike x x
Sulawesi Cicadabird x x x x x x
Salvadori's Cicadabird x x
Pygmy Cuckooshrike x x
White-rumped Triller x x x x x x x x
Maroon-backed Whistler x
Sangihe Whistler x
Sulphur-bellied Whistler x
Sulawesi Drongo x x x x x x
Sulawesi Fantail x x x
Peleng Fantail x
Cerulean Flycatcher x
White-tipped Monarch x x
Piping Crow x x x
Banggai Crow x x
Hylocitrea x
Togian Golden Bulbul x
Sangihe Golden Bulbul x
Sulawesi Leaf Warbler x
Lompobattang Leaf Warbler x
Sulawesi Bush Warbler x
Malia x
Streak-headed White-eye x x x
Wakatobi White-eye x
Black-crowned White-eye x x x x
Sangihe White-eye x
Sulawesi White-eye x x x
Togian White-eye x
Black-ringed White-eye x
Sulawesi Babbler x x x x
Sulawesi Myna x x
Helmeted Myna x x x
White-necked Myna x x
Fiery-browed Myna x
Finch-billed Myna Introduced elsewhere x x x x
Pale-bellied Myna Introduced elsewhere x
Geomalia x
Rusty-backed Thrush x x x
Red-and-black Thrush x x
Sulawesi Thrush x
Sulawesi Brown Flycatcher x
Banggai Jungle Flycatcher x x
Matinan Flycatcher x
Blue-fronted Flycatcher x
Great Shortwing x
Rufous-throated Flycatcher x x
Lompobattang Flycatcher x
Yellow-sided Flowerpecker x x x x
Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker x
Elegant Sunbird reported from NE Sulawesi x x

Sources for above: species list from Avibase edited and corrected in the light of ebird records, [1], [2]. Records of island endemics (e.g. Talaud Kingfisher) from north Sulawesi should be considered unverified.

Regional endemics

These species also occur on Halmahera or other Moluccan islands:

Sulawesi Nightjar (Sulawesi, also Buton, Peleng, Sula Islands, Halmahera), Black-billed Koel (Sulawesi, also Benteng, Buton, Halmahera, Manui, Peleng, Sangihe Islands, Sula Islands, Taliabu, Togian Islands), Sula Cuckoo-Dove (Peleng, also Sula Islands), Elegant Imperial-Pigeon (Known from Tangkoko on Sulawesi. Also Benteng, Manui, Moluccas, Sangihe Islands, Talaud Islands), Silver-tipped Imperial-Pigeon (Sulawesi, also Banggai, Buton, Peleng, Sula Islands, Taliabu, Togian Islands, Halmahera), Great-billed Kingfisher (Sulawesi, also Buton, Peleng, Sangihe, Sula Islands, Taliabu, Togian Islands, Halmahera), Sulawesi Myzomela (Sulawesi, also Bacan, Benteng, Peleng, Obi, Taliabu), Drab Whistler (Peleng nearest population to mainland Sulawesi), Pale-blue Monarch (Sulawesi, also Benteng, Buton, Halmahera, Peleng, Sula Islands, Taliabu, Togian Islands), Grey-sided Flowerpecker (Sulawesi, also Benteng, Buton, Halmahera, Manui, Peleng, Sangihe Islands, Sula Islands, Taliabu, Talaud Islands, Togian Islands, Wakitobi Regency)

Other notable species

Philippine Megapode (Sulawesi, also Sangihe Islands, Talaud, Togian Islands, Philippines etc), Metallic Pigeon (Sulawesi, also widespread in Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea), Sultan's Cuckoo-Dove (Sulawesi, also the Moluccas and New Guinea), Stephan's Dove (Sulawesi, also the Moluccas to the Solomon Islands), Grey-cheeked Green-Pigeon (Sulawesi, also widespread across adjacent islands, Bali, Halmahera, Java), Pink-headed Imperial-Pigeon (Benteng nearest population to Sulawesi), Black-backed Swamphen (Sulawesi, also widespread in Indonesia, Malay Peninsula), Javan Plover (Sulawesi, also Bali, Java, Lesser Sundas, Singapore (?)), Spotted Kestrel (Sulawesi, also Bali, Java, Lesser Sundas, Moluccas, Mindanao), Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Sulawesi; widespread (and introduced elsewhere) but rare), White-shouldered Triller (Sulawesi, also Bali, Java, Lesser Sundas), Citrine Canary-Flycatcher (Sulawesi, also Banggai, Buton, Peleng, Sula Islands, Taliabu, Philippines), Red-chested Flowerpecker (Sulawesi, also Bali, Lesser Sundas), Pale-headed Munia (Sulawesi, also Lesser Sundas)

Other Wildlife


Sulawesi has 230 species of mammals. Around half are endemic: some 111 species [4]. They include the largest viverrid in the world, the Sulawesi Palm Civet. (Note that the fossa of Madagascar has traditionally been treated as a viverrid but is now placed in the Malagasy endemic family Eupleridae. It is heavier but has a shorter head-body length.) Better known inhabitants include macaques (7 species), Anoa (2 species), tarsiers and Babirusa.


The wider Sulawesi region has around 560 species of butterflies [3]. This is around half Borneo's total although the latter is about four times larger. About 240 species are endemic, whilst 130 or so of these are restricted to the mainland.

Other groups

A total of about 210 reptile and amphibian species are known from Sulawesi (as at 2011 see [6]), of which 60% are endemic.

There are around 70 species of endemic fish in Sulawesi. The majority are in the following families: Telmatherinidae (sailfin silversides: around 17 species), Adrianichthyidae (ricefishes: 19 species), Zenarchopteridae (viviparous halfbeaks: 16 species), and Gobiidae (gobies: 11 species) [5].

Access and Facilities

There are airports at Makassar (main), Manado and Pula. Most visitors fly from Jakarta.

Selected Sites


  1. Norman Arlott (2018) Birds of the Philippines and Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo, Sulawesi, the Lesser Sundas and the Moluccas. Collins Field Guides.
  2. Eaton, J.A.. van Balen, B. Brickle, N.W., B Rheindk F.E. (2021). Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago, Greater Sundas and Wallacea. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona. Second Edition
  3. Vane-Wright, R.I. & de Jong, R. (2003) The butterflies of Sulawesi: annotated checklist for a critical island fauna. Zool. Verh. Leiden 343, 11.vii.: 3-267.
  4. Maryanto, I., Maharadatunkamsi, Achmadi, A. S., Wiantoro, S., Sulistyadi, E., Yoneda, M., Suyanto, A., Sugardjito, J. (2019) Checklist of the Mammals of Indonesia: Scientific, English, Indonesia Name and Distribution Area Table in Indonesia Including CITES, IUCN and Indonesian Category for Conservation. Research Center for Biology Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). Available from link
  5. See https://sulawesikeepers.org/endemic-freshwater-fish-of-sulawesi/, part of https://sulawesikeepers.org/
  6. Koch, A (2011). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Sulawesi: Underestimated Diversity in a Dynamic Environment. In book: Biodiversity Hotspots. Distribution and Protection of Conservation Priority Areas. Chapter: 20 Publisher: Springer Editors: Frank Zachos, Jan C. Habel [DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-20992-5_20 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-20992-5_20] (read in abstract only).