Birding in Arfak

Arfak is broadly known as a birding area. If we googling “Birding in Arfak” you may find a bunch list of stories or even tour operators that offer their birding trip to Arfak. Not just an ordinary birder who may lay their steps in Arfak I may say, but one with special interest and possess a true heart of birder. Birding is more about passion accompanied by patience and determination. It has to be fun. First thing to remember, it is not easy to get into Arfak (only accessible by the 4WD car type). However, the endemic yet phenomenal birds and unspoiled forest make Arfak special.

We left for Manokwari in the morning using Garuda Indonesia Airlines from Sorong. Manokwari is the only stop, a proper place to spend a night in and to get prepared for before heading to Arfak the next day. Manokwari is the last place where we can buy supplies and arrange a transport to Arfak. For transport we can either rent a car or try our luck at Terminal Wosi. Since we were in a group with supplies for at least a week we decided to rent a 4 WD car which cost 1 million to Maibrig area; 1,2 million to Kwau area; and 1,5 million to Syoubri area (choose your destination and you get the price). For this trip, we managed to get into Maibrig. The positive side of Maibrig is the birds locations. They are relatively close each other and not far from the village. The backward is the homestay. It is just right on the side of the main road. Not the one as we expected but it is more than enough for the moment.



Pic 1. The only access to Arfak

We feel so lucky to have a chance to step in Arfak for birding. As part of our work assignment, we want to use this opportunity to at least educate ourselves about birds in the highland of Arfak, hopefully can think and do more for our conservation plan in Arfak as a follow up. We didn’t hope much this time since this would be our first birding in this unique area. I myself am not really a birder nor my colleagues Pak Fiktor and Bu Ayati. I consider myself as a nature hike addict. My other colleague, Dwi Suryana, is a good birder. Nevertheless, this will be his first time birding in a highland, in Arfak. That means none of us is familiar with the birds in Arfak. Those facts make this trip unpredictable and yet so exciting.

Trip to Arfak is costly and be prepared for unexpected events and some challenges. These may be the result of the nature of Arfak (a mountain with funny road with simple homestay and limited supplies) and the nature of birding (weather, the bird characteristics). All in all influence the arrangement of the trip. Just an advice, whatever challenges and unexpected event may rise, don’t let them ruin your Arfak trip since Arfak offers more than just bird specialties but also pretty much beautiful landscape!

Pic 2. Arfak!

Our routine is get ready early in the morning (could be as early as 3 am), get ready for a long and uphill battle walk during the day, be ready to compose yourself everytime you encounter unexpected things, and be patience and keep silent while birding. And you may get a well worthy reward afterwards, which is your bird target!

We have list of bird target. Our highlights are Magnificent BoP, Black Sicklebill, Arfak Astrapia, Western Parotia, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Lesser BoP, Superb BoP, Vogelkop Bowerbird, and Mask Bowerbird. We found later since our first day that the birds displaying time in the highland is slightly different from the one in the lowland. As one taught for lowland, we were a bit surprised and need to adjust ourselves. Most birds’ display time is around 6-8 am and 1-3 pm unless the Magnificent BoP, Western Parotia and Vogelkop Bowerbird. Those three birds can be seen all day long, of course still depend on the weather and on your luck. The most challenging and exhausting one is Black Sicklebill! He is just a WoW. can’t be described by any easy words! He lives up in the highest mountain, he plays only around 6 am. And he is not easy to spot. A good timing in a right place is compulsory. He is just the treasure among all!

Pic 3. Magnificent BoP                                           

Pic 4. Vogelkop Bowerbird                                           

Pic 5. Western Parotia                                            

Pic 6. Mating ground of Vogelkop Bowerbird           


At last, we found most of our bird target unless Arfak Astrapia. As have been said before, we feel blessed to be able to witness these fabulous God’s creatures in the just right before our eyes. For certain, there is no room for complain. While there are rooms for excitements and for sure there are rooms for involvements to keep the area intact; for the sake of the marvelous birds, for the sake of the majestic landscape, and for the sake of the purity of the people. Arfak is Splendid! Birding in Arfak is Precious!

List of Birds found in Arfak during our trip

No Indonesian English Latin Status
1 Anis-papua kecil Lesser Ground-Robin Amalocichla incerta LC NP
2 Atoku besar Feline Owlet Nightjar Aegotheles imsignis LC NP
3 Burung-buah dada-kuning Mid Mountain Berrypecker Melanocharis longicauda LC NP
4 Cabai papua Olive crowned Flowerpecker Dicaeum pectorale LC NP
5 Cendrawasih belah-rotan Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise Dyphyllodes magnificus LC App. II P
6 Cendrawasih kecil Lesser Bird-of-Paradise Paradisaea minor LC App.II P
7 Cendrawasih kerah Superb Bird-of-Paradise Lophorina superba LC App. II P
8 Cucak-pisau dada-hitam Black breasted Boatbill Machaerirrhynchus nigripectus LC NP
9 Cucuk-panjang kate Spectacled Longbill Oedistoma iliolophus LC P
10 Delimukan pomo Cinnamon Ground-Dove Gallicolumba rufigula LC NP
11 Elang-alap mantel-hitam Black-mantled Goshawk Accipiter melanochlamys LC App. II P
12 Isap-madu paruh-panjang Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus LC P
13 Isap-madu tutul Spotted Honeyeater Xanthotis polygrammus LC P
14 Julang papua Blyth’s Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus LC App.  II P
15 Kacamata dahi-hitam Black-crowned White-Eye Zosterops atrifons LC NP
16 Kakatua koki Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita LC App. II P
17 Kancilan kelabu Grey Whistler Pachycephala simplex LC NP
18 Kancilan obuhai Regent Whistler Pachycephala schlegelli LC NP
19 Kancilan sclater Sclater Whistler Pachycephala soror LC NP
20 Kapasan alis-hitam Black browed Triller Lalage atrovirens LC NP
21 Kicuit batu Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea LC NP
22 Kipasan hitam Black Fantail Rhipidura atra LC NP
23 Maleo gunung Wattled Brushturkey Aepypodius arfakianus LC P
24 Mandar-gunung koma Chestnut Forest-rail Rallicula rubra LC NP
25 Melipaga rimba Forest Honeyeater Meliphaga montana LC P
26 Melipotes pipi-kuning Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus LC P
27 Merpati-gunung papua Papuan mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisi LC NP
28 Myzomela hitam-merah Red Collared Myzomela Myzomela rosenbergii LC P
29 Namdur api Masked Bowerbird Sericulus aureus LC P
30 Namdur polos Vogelkop Bowerbird Amblyornis inornata LC P
31 Nuri kalung-ungu Blue collared Parrot Geoffroyus simplex LC App. II NP
32 Paradigalla ekor-panjang Long-tailed Paradigalla Paradigalla carunculata NT App. II P
33 Parotia arfak Western Parotia Parotia sefilata LC App. II P
34 Paruh-sabit kurikuri Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus VU App. II P
35 Perkici josephina Josephine’s Lorikeet Charmosyna josefinae LC App. II NP
36 Perkici papua Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou LC App. II NP
37 Perkici paruh-kuning Yellow billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii LC App. II NP
38 Perkici punggung-hitam Fairy Lorikeet Charmosyna pulchella LC App. II NP
39 Pitohui hitam Black Pitohui Pitohui nigrescens LC NP
40 Pitohui kepala-hitam Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous LC NP
41 Punggok rimba Papuan Boobook Ninox theomacha LC App. II NP
42 Remetuk tunggir-hijau Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronota LC NP
43 Robin badut Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis LC NP
44 Robin biru-abu Blue-grey Robin Paneothello cyanus LC NP
45 Robin hijau Green-backed Robin Pachycephalopsis hattamensis LC NP
46 Robin kelabu Smoky Robin Paneothello cryptology LC NP
47 Serak hitam Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa LC App. II NP
48 Sericornis kecil Tropical Scrubwren Sericornis beccari LC NP
49 Sericornis paruh-putih Pale-billed Scrubwren Sericornis spilodera LC NP
50 Tepus-tikus gunung Mountain Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis robusta LC NP
51 Uncal paruh-hitam Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia nigrirostris LC NP
52 Walet sapi Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta LC NP


LC           : Least Concern

NT          : Near Threathened

VU          : Vulnerable

App.II    : Appendix II

P             : Protected

NP          : Not Protected

Areas for birding

There are several places for birding in Arfak. Regarded as the oldest (since 1992) and so the most well-known with the best reputation is Syoubri. Pak Zeth is the guide. But other areas as Kwau and Maibrig are not less interesting either. The last two areas are guided by Pak Hans. Pak Hans is also arranged a trip to another birding site called Mupi Gunung. Just if you want to go deep in the forest, Syoubri with their German camp and Mupi gunung are the best option.

Things to bring

Sleeping bag, binocular (recommended Swarovski), long sleeve, long pants, torch, jacket, insect repellant, food (bring extra for your porter that may be more than arranged), blankets.

Cost to pay (in thousand rupiah)

Guide                                                    : 400/day

Room                                                    : 200/day/person in Syoubri and

   100/day/person in Kwau and Maibrig

Cook                                                      : 125/day/cook

Worker/porter                                        : 125/day/worker

Firewood                                                : 50/bundle

Village contribution                                : 50/day/visitor

Local supplies (vegetables, oil)             : depend on the negotiation

Acknowledgment: BBKSDA Papua Barat that makes this work possible; Photographer: Dwi Suryana, Taufik Haryanto; Narrator: Taufik Haryanto