Monday, November 18, 2013

Green-faced Parrotfinch (Erythrura viridifacies)

Last January, 2013, word got around the birding community that Green-faced Parrotfinches were seen at a mountainside in Samal, Bataan province. The person who saw them was Stinson, an employee of Dr. Joey Soriano, who in turn informed his co-members at the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). 

This species is very seldom observed and is classified as uncommon and vulnerable according to Prior to this year, this Philippine endemic was last seen in 2008 at Alcoy Forest in the island of Cebu. Although mainly a resident of Luzon, there were several sightings in the islands of Panay and Negros as well. It has been said that before World War II, these colorful finches were captured by the thousands and sold on the streets of Manila with some even shipped to San Francisco for the caged bird trade. (source:

Scientists concluded that this recent irruption (a sudden increase in number) was due to the flowering bamboo trees in the mountains of Bataan.

About 5 inches (12-13 cm) in length, these birds are entirely green except for bright red upper tail coverts and tails. Females are similarly colored and the only distinguishing characteristic is that they have shorter tails and show some buff on their bellies and vents. The bills of both male and female are thick and dark grey in color.

Needless to say, such rarity brought birders to Bataan with the hope of seeing and even photographing the Green-faced Parrotfinches. Our first attempt on January 21st was a heartbreaker. We saw about seven parrotfinches but they were across a ravine that even with my long lens I still was unable to get a good photo.

However, luck was with us on our second trip five days later. The birds were so near that at times I had to step back to a get full view of them.

For the stories about these two trips to Bataan, please see here and here.

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