Island Hopping Olango Island: Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Surrounded by ocean near the Equator, the Philippines is a midway point for migrating birds. They come to Cebu Province, Central Visayas from Japan, China, and Russia. Their destinations are in Australia and New Zealand. Olango Island provides natural shelter and a rich source of food at this rest stop.
For people, Olango Island is not limited to tourism. You can arrange to do commercial photography and videography on your island tour.
Travel to and from Olango Island is via pump boats (local bangka boat types or you can rent one of our speedboats). Limits on development help keep almost-pristine conditions for all species of visitors.
Bird Watching on Olango Island
The Olango Island bird sanctuary is one of only a few bird sanctuaries in the Philippines. It accommodates 48 of the 77 regional migratory species. This is more than anywhere else in the Philippines. Olango Island is also home to 49 domestic bird species.
Peak migration is from November to February. Every year, 40,000 migrating birds visit Olango Island during this peak season. These migratory birds come for the 1,030 hectares of mangrove forest, coral reefs, coralline sand flats, and seagrass beds. Olango Island is an ideal nesting place because of the weather. There are few typhoons, calm water currents, and few earthquakes.
From September to May, the best time to go bird watching is about 2 hours before the highest tide. During off-peak season, birdwatching is still possible. From an observation area you can point your camera through a bird watching telescope. You can also bring bird watching binoculars with you. Knowledgeable tour guides will be with you.
Your Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary Excursion
While bird watching, also take time to enjoy the 4,482 hectares of beaches, rocks, flats, mudflats, and salt marsh. To make your island tour easier, native foliage has identification markers. There is a tunnel of thick trees, streams of clean water, wetlands, and badlands. There are also some grassy areas that look landscaped, but the birds do that!
The bird species include:
- Asian dowitcher (Asiatic dowitcher)
- bar-tailed godwit
- barn swallow
- brown shrike
- Chinese egret (Swinhoe's egret)
- collared kingfisher (white-collared kingfisher, mangrove kingfisher)
- common greenshank
- common kingfisher
- common redshank
- common sandpiper
- curlew sandpiper
- Eurasian curlew
- Far Eastern curlew
- golden-bellied flyeater
- great knot
- greater sand plover
- grey plover (black-bellied plover)
- grey-tailed tattler (Polynesian tattler)
- gull-billed tern
- Kentish plover
- little egret
- olive-backed sunbird (yellow-bellied sunbird)
- Pacific swallow
- pied fantail
- red-necked stint (rufous-necked stint)
- ruddy turnstone
- striated heron (mangrove heron, little heron, green-backed heron)
- Terek sandpiper
- whiskered tern
- yellow-vented bulbul (eastern yellow-vented bulbul)
Other animal life and aquatic life on Olango Island include:
- fiddler crab (calling crab)
- fish, other
- giant clam
- grey reef shark
- hammerhead shark
- invertebrate, other
- jackfish (jack, northern pike)
- mollusk (mollusc)
- shellfish, other
- starfish (sea star)
- tuna (tunny)
- whale shark
On Olango Island you can walk a near mile-long pier to water deep enough for boats. There are no accommodations, but you can stay overnight at a grassy tent campgrounds. You can visit the observation deck, kayak through mangroves, go on a nature walk, or go backpacking. Olango Island is beautiful even during off-peak season!