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Indonesia is the one of the world’s richest countries in terms of biodiversity, and its birdlife reflects that well. The country holds more than 1500 bird species and (depending on taxonomy), up to 600 of those are endemic to the country. This makes it not only a must-visit nation, but one that any serious world birder needs to return to multiple times, to even get to basic grips with. The Wallacean islands of the Lesser Sundas are filled with endemic species, and this tour visits the best of them to seek out more then 80 species restricted to this particular region. An Extension to Bali and Java, has a completely different feel to it, being considered outside of Wallacea, and offers the critically endangered Bali Myna and audacious Green Peafowl and Javan Banded-Pitta.
Sulawesi and Halmahera are located in eastern Indonesia, and sit within the biogeographical region of Wallacea, so named, after the great naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace. In his long visit to the region he recognized the distinct changes in fauna between western and eastern Indonesia, and marked an invisible line separating Bali to the west from Lombok to the east (later referred to as “the Wallace Line”), which serves to illustrate the change from Asian biota to the west, and Australasian fauna to the east. This has since been expanded to recognize a general zone of transition between these two great biogeographical zones of Asia and Australasia-Wallacea. Long periods of geographical isolation have left this region loaded with endemics, with some 90 or more found on Sulawesi (taxonomy dependent), and more than 40 regional endemics found on the “Spice Island” of Halmahera, (part of a rich group of islands which were the subject of war and conflict between colonial powers such as Portugal and the British Empire during the 17th Century, when native spices such as nutmeg, mace and cloves were more valuable than gold). This ensures that any first time visitor to the region will leave with over 100 lifebirds, with some spectacular species such as Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise and Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher likely to be among them.
Finally, there is West Papua, which biogeographically feels more like Australasia than Asia. For those looking for spectacular birds and plentiful endemic species, West Papua is loaded with them: Red and Wilson’s Birds-of-Paradise and Splendid Astrapia head up an all-star cast of birds-of-paradise, and among more than 300 endemic bird species are species outside of this key family that are no less dramatic, with Western Crowned Pigeon (one of the World’s largest pigeons), Golden Cuckooshrike, Golden Monarch, Goldenface and the giant, black-and-gold, MacGregor’s Honeyeater just some of the endemic offerings in this unique outlier of Indonesia.