Birding on Sumba

Sumba is part of East Nusa Tenggara, famous for its megalithic traditions, one of which is Pasola. On this island, grassland and monsoon forest are still well preserved place for various animal species. Approximately ± 200 species of birds, ± 110 species of butterflies, ± 35 species of herpetofauna and ± 23 species of mammals. In particular, Sumba island has 36 endemic species and about 14 species of islands endemic.

For birdwatchers, Lewa, Yumbu-bridge and Manurara are mandatory locations to seek endemics. In August 2017 we found a new birding site in Sumba island. In the area of the only national park on the island, named Billa. This location is better than Lewa, especially for bird-photography. Almost all endemic species are within a very close distance and can be accessed by foot. Yet, by far the best location to see Sumba Buttonquail, is the grassland around Yumbu.

The following information on the birding site in Sumba:

Billa, Praingkareha Resort

It is part of Manupeu Tana Daru and Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park, located in the southern part of the island. Administratively entered into District Tabundung East Sumba, Nusa Tenggara province. To get to Billa from Waingapu is about 4-5 hours (110 Km).

Almost all endemic species can be found (except for Sumba Buttonquail) without moving from one site to another. Paradise for bird-photographers especially in August – October when the river dries up until the remaining small pools.

All passerine like Spectacled Monarch, Sumba Brown Flycatcher, Sumba Jungle Flycatcher, Sumba Flycatcher, Orange-backed Thrush, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Arafura Fantail, Oriental-dwarf Kingfisher, Paradise-flycatcher and Elegant Pitta Paradise will come for a drink, easy to taking a photo. On the edge of the river can be found Red-naped Fruitdove, Sumba Green Pigeon, Sumba Cicadabird.

There is a hill called Laibola, about 30 minutes from the camping area to its peak. The best location in the morning to see Billa landscape along with the rising of the Sun, the birds will start actively looking for perch such as dozens of Sumba Hornbill before the breeding period, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Electus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Great-billed Parrot and Marigold Lorikeet.

Greater Sumba Boobook easy to find in Billa

At night, just go to the public toilet Greater Sumba boobok will sound and be easily observed along with a dozen Least Sumba Boobooks and Meesi Nightjar.


A village located in the middle of the island, still has a nice monsoon forest to see the endemics, accessible by driving from Waingapu (City center) about 1 hour 30 minutes (55 Km).

The main location consists of several sections along the connecting roads of West and East Sumba, among others: a patch of degraded forest east of Lewa at KM51 on the road, c10km west of Lewa at KM68-72; c20km south of Lewa near the village of Watumbela; and about 30km west of Lewa at KM93-98.

Elegant Pitta, endemic race of the island

The birds might be can see Sumba Green Pigeon, Elegant Pitta, Chestnut-backed Thrush, Mees’s Nightjar, Orange-crested Cockatoo, Sumba Hornbill, Pale-headed Munia, Five-coloured Munia, Barn Owl, Greater Sumba Boobook, Little Sumba Boobook, Sumba-jungle Flycatcher, Sumba Flycatcher, Sumba-brown Flycatcher.

Yumbu Grassland

This site was commonly visited for Sumba Buttonquail. An area of open savannah like grassland east of town (12km from the airport). Aim for a road bridge at Yumbu. Walked the grasslands south east of the bridge, and also briefly north of the bridge.

Access and Accommodation

The best way for you to get to all the locations in Sumba is by renting a car, because it makes it easier to reach each site. The trails can be a bit confusing so you may consider asking a local for assistance as a guide.

In Billa there are no hotels or homestays. Asking local people for stay at night or build a tent on a camping area (close with spring water and public toilet). Unlike Lewa and Yumbu, you can stay at night at Hotel in Waingapu and drive to the site in the early morning.

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