Image courtesy Girlie Cervantes
This bird has been positively identified as a sub-specie of Purple-throated sunbird, indigenous to the area around Cagayan and the Babuyan Islands: Leptocoma sperata henkei
This red breasted bird was spotted while walking a forest trail in Santa Ana, Cagayan, Philippines, in early February 2012. It was one of a pair that were heard calling to each other from the treetops of a remote, lowland forest area near the seashore, facing the Pacific Ocean; the other of the pair was not seen before they both flew deeper into the forest cover.
Searching the Internet we can find only the red-breasted blackbird/blackbill (Sturnella militaris) that apparently has a close approximation to the general shape and size of this bird but: the beak of our bird is much longer and thinner than that of the blackbird/blackbill; the red plumage extends to the legs whereas the blackbird’s red plumage stops a long way short of the legs; and, this particular specimen is a little smaller.
If there is another distinguishing element it is that the red breasted blackbird/blackbill ranges throughout Central and South America and the Philippines is rather a long way from there.
We do not know the sex of our bird but presume that it may be the male, if only because the male of bird species is typically the more colorful than the female.
We would be pleased if someone could assist us in identifying this bird as we believe it to be somewhat unique as nobody in the vicinity recalls such a bird before.
This bird is just one of many scores of birds that inhabit Cagayan from time to time. Cagayan is the first stop for many East Asian birds that follow the migratory route North-South, using the forests and wetlands that run the length and breadth of the Philippine archipelago, connecting East Asia to the tropical regions of East Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.