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MALUKU ISLANDS

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# Species:594
# Excl Vagrants:594
# Endemics:169
# Near Endemics:4

ABOUT THE BIRDING

The Maluku or Moluccan Islands include islands on the Halmahera Plate. The ocean acts as a barrier preventing many species from dispersing between islands, resulting in a high rate of endemism within the island chain. Some 1047 islands, mostly small are included in the Malukus. The largest and most frequently visited is Halmahera, which is described separately (see sidebar link). Other islands sometimes visited by birders include Ambon, Seram, Buru, and Kai.

AMBON ISLAND

Ambon is the gateway to the Maluku Islands. The main birding attraction is the single island endemic bird present, namely the Ambon White-eye. This species can generally be found in remnant forest patches above Ambon City. Serval other Seram endemics are also present, though now in low numbers due to habitat destruction.

BOANO ISLAND

Boano is a small island in the central Maluku Islands located off the norther coast of Hoamoai Peninsula in western Seram Island. The main attraction is the Black-chinned (Boano) Monarch, a bird left undiscovered for 76 years after its initial collection in 1918. It's a bird of relatively undisturbed forest on the island.

SERAM ISLAND

Seram Island is the largest of the Maluku Island chain. It's located just north of Ambon. It has a complex geology caused by its location where several tectonic plates collide, which uplifted the peaks in the island center to over 3000m. It has a high rate of endemic species, more than 10% of all bird species on the island. The main road across the island is the Trans-Seram Highway, also called the Masohi-Sawai-Wahai Road, which passes through degraded forest and then much better forest. The road passes through the vast and mostly undeveloped Manusela National Park, so roadside birding makes it possible to find virtually all the island endemics. Beyond the last restaurant the road climbs steeply from 300m to 1200m, then dips down to around 800m before climbing again through a second pass. The best birding is between the two passes, though any part of the road can be productive. Among the many birds typically seen are Seram Imperial-Pigeon, Seram Mountain-Pigeon, Moluccan Cuckoo, Red Lory, Seram White-eye, Wakolo Myzomela, Seram Honeyeater, Seram Friarbird, Moluccan Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Whistler, Drab Whistler, Streak-breasted Fantail, Seram Golden-Bulbul, and Long-crested Myna. At lower elevations along the road, additional possibilities include Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove, Great-billed Parrot, Moluccan King-Parrot, Lazuli Kingfisher, and Violet Crow (split by some authorities from Slender-billed Crow. Night birding in the lowlands offers possible sightings of Moluccan Scops-Owl and Seram Masked-Owl. Also possible is the rare Salmon-crested Cockatoo and Purple-naped Lory. Just offshore from the village of Sawai is the small island of Pualu Sawai and other small islands. Possibilities on these islands include Forsten's Scrubfowl, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk, Pied Imperial-Pigeon, Blue-eared Lory (rarely seen), and Olive Honeyeater (common on the small island beyond Pulau Sawai during dry season).

BURU ISLAND

Buru is the third largest island in the Maluku chain and is located west of Ambon and Seram. The island is mostly mountainous with the highest point reaching 2700m. Over 175 species of birds have been recorded, including 10 specialties. The island is reached by ferry from Ambon. Lowland forest near the capital of Malea is a good place to find endemics such as Drab Whistler, Northern Fantail, White-naped Monarch, Black-tipped Monarch, Buru Golden-Bulbul, and Buru Oriole. The highlands can be reached by an old logging road from the north coawst. Notable birds there include Buru Mountain-Pigeon, Moluccan Scops-Owl, Moluccan King-Parrot, Buru Racquet-tail, Buru White-eye, Hair-crested Drongo, Spangled Drongo (a possible split as Buru Drongo), Tablas Drongo, Tawny-backed Fantail, and Island Leaf-Warbler (a possible split as Buru Leaf-Warbler. Additional specialties include Buru Pitta, Buru Honeyeater, Buru Cuckooshrike, Buru Flowerpecker, and Blue-faced Parrotfinch. On higher elevation ridgelines the elusive Buru Thrush can be ferreted out with some effort. One can also hope to find the little known, poorly described, and endangered Buru endemic Rufous-throated White-eye or Madanga, first described in 1922 and rarely seen since.

KAI ISLANDS

The Kai Islands are reached via a short flight from Ambon to Kai Kecil, one of the two main islands in the group. The habitat is mainly dry forest, mostly degraded, grassland, and scrub, with several nice beaches on the coast. Forested stretches of road outside town are a good place to find the main target birds, Kai Coucal, Little Kai White-eye, Kai Cicadabird, and White-tailed Monarch. Also usually present are Wallace's Fruit-Dove, White-breasted Fruit-Dov, Elegant Imperial-Pigeon, Papuan Pitta, Wallacean Cuckooshrike, and Northern Fantail. Ohoililur Beach was once a great birding site but has been massively disturbed by road construction and clearing. The main target bird there is the scarce Island Whistler, now harder to find but still possible. The island of Kai Besar also has its attractions. Most notable is the endemic Kai Leaf-Warbler (a likely future split from Island Leaf-Warbler), and Great Kai White-eye. Other notable birds on the island are Brown Cuckoo-Dove (a likely future split from Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove) and White-bellied Cuckooshrike.

LOCATION OF SITE

The Maluku or Molucca Islands are located in Indonesia between Sulawesi and West Papua, New Guinea.