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Birdwatching Subic Bay


Class 1 Philippine Birdwatching Destination

Birdwatching in Subic Bay offers remarkably easy access to rainforest and water bird species. Within Subic Bay Freeport area, habitats for birds encompass: coastal marine, tidal estuary, lowland river, mangrove, woodland and lowland rainforest. No matter your special birdwatching interest, Subic Bay has something for everyone.

Thanks to the U.S. Navy, who previously maintained the majority of the primary rainforest within what is now the Subic Bay Freeport, woodland and rainforest birds are visible in abundance and variety. Around the coastlines too, because the waters were similarly protected from over-fishing, food supply and habitat for wildfowl and marine bird species is good, with many birds still using Subic Bay for stopovers during migration.

Endemic rainforest bird species that are resident in Subic Bay include: Philippine Hanging Parrot (Psittacula philippensis); the Jungle Kingfisher (Ceyx melanurus); and, the Luzon Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides m. manillae). Endemic birds of prey are found in Subic Bay too: the Philippine Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis holospilus) and the Philippine Falconet (Microhierax erythrogonys). And, at night, you may find the endemic, Luzon Scop’s owl (Otus longicornis). This is just a selection; a bird list is available upon request, courtesy of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority ("SBMA"), Ecology Center.

Please note: you are required to apply for a birding permit before you enter the designated birding trail areas around the Ilanin Forest and adjacent areas. Contact the SBMA Ecology Department (office hours Monday to Friday only): email; or telephone +63 47 252-4155

Download the SBMA Birding Etiquette & Guidelines At Subic Bay here

Birdwatching Locations Around Subic Bay

Every location where there is no concrete is a good location for birdwatching around Subic Bay. The rainforests are pervasive over all the surrounding hills to the East of the Bay. Even just staying in one of the residential areas, such as Kalayaan or Binictican, can afford a close encounter with hornbills, parrots and kingfishers.

These are just three of the many places you can go birdwatching in Subic Bay:

Triboa Bay

Marine birds and wildfowl are frequent visitors to the shoreline area around Triboa Bay, just South of the airport. Around Triboa Bay the coastline is almost untouched by human hand and therefore offers excellent habitat and food resources for resident and visiting birds. Come here to see the endangered Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica) and other wildfowl, mixing it up with terns and waders.

Ilanin Forest

The Ilanin Forest area, in the southeast corner of Subic Bay, is a good place to observe kingfishers; here you may also find the Philippine pygmy woodpecker (Picoides maculatus). There are many designated birding trails in the Ilanin Forest and this is where the greatest variety of forest birds may be found; and, you can obtain a full list of birding trails from the SBMA Ecology Center when you apply for your birding permit. Renting a bicycle and taking the slower pace to get there can be very rewarding because it gives you the opportunity to explore forest tracks where birds may be otherwise shy.

Kalayaan and Binictican

Although Kalayaan and Binictican are Subic Bay residential areas, birdwatching here can be almost as fruitful if you can observe the forest from a house adjacent to the forest. Green and blue parrots do not seem to mind being close to human habitation, nor do the tarictic hornbills and, for an alternative splash of brilliant yellow color, you can expect to see black-naped orioles (probably: Oriolus chinensis) in the trees around both Kalayaan and Binictican.

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Rent Birdwatching Equipment In Subic Bay

Renting birdwatching equipment around Subic Bay is not possible at this time; you should bring your own binoculars, cameras etc.. The best advice: if you really want to appreciate birdwatching in Subic Bay, recruit the services of one of the Pastolan Aytas tribespeople, who still live in areas of the rainforest, where access by visitors is restricted. The Pastolan Aytas have lived their lives in the forest and, because of their exposure to serious ornithologists amongst the ranks of the U.S. Forces (that were stationed here up to 1992), they have a keen appreciation for the unusual birds around Subic Bay and are happy to share their birdwatching knowledge.

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