Logo of PallyPlanet
Photo of a Whiskered Pitta
Whiskered Pitta ( Photo by Pally Planet)

I was shivering and thoroughly soaked in the torrential rain that had been pounding the Philippines’ Luzon province for the past ten hours when I asked my guide from Bangkong Vally to cancel the mission and return to the camp below the hills. Ra Sya Ana, my host and a gifted birder from the Philippines who had arranged this trip to see one of the most challenging pittas until recently, had advised against going up at dawn on the cyclone day, even the same morning. While the cyclonic downpour continued unabated, we began the 2-hour hike before sunrise. The trail was mainly flooded and blocked by fallen trees, making it difficult for us to reach the mountaintop. The wind was getting stronger. We sat for nearly two hours inside the roofless hide. The bird was nowhere to be found. My tour guide was Chriss, a local boy who later became well-known among bird photographers and appeared in several international television documentaries as the Whiskered Pitta charmer. He could summon the bird by name, which would seem almost daily. That day, on the other hand, was understandably different.


Philippine Pitta Is An Endangered Endemics of the Philippines 

When I couldn’t take the rain and wind any longer, I told Chris to pack our belongings and leave before a falling tree killed us. Chriss doesn’t speak English. So he gave me a sympathetic smile but didn’t move an inch. He later told my friend that he assumed I was having a temper tantrum because the bird did not appear. He refused to move and kept calling the bird in the rain. I was shivering like a leaf when I noticed a flash of blue and red behind a bush about 5 metres away. It was Whispered Pitta, the gem of the Philippine Forest. I shivered again.

Whiskered Pitta is a medium-sized bird found on the Philippines’ Luzon province’s montane forest floor. It has brown on the back and sides with a red belly, a blue chest, tail, and wing edge, rufous on the back of the head, a dark face with a pale moustache, and a pale line behind the eye.

I sincerely thank Ray Sta Ana and Chris for showing me this bird.


The Whiskered Pitta, scientifically named Pitta kochi, is a stunning medium-sized bird known for its vibrant appearance. Its body has a collection of colours, featuring a turquoise head, emerald green wings, and a golden-yellow belly. The bird has short whisker-like feathers surrounding its eyes, which adds to its unique beauty.

This bird species thrives in the dense tropical forests of the Philippines that too in a couple of Islands. The most reliable location is Mount Banahaw in Luzon Islands.

The Whiskered Pitta feeds mainly on insects, such as spiders, worms, and other invertebrates. Due to its specific habitat preferences and limited distribution, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts consider spotting one of these birds in the wild to be a rare and exciting experience.

In addition to its stunning appearance, the Whiskered Pitta also has fascinating behaviours. For instance, males perform intricate courtship displays, showcasing their beautiful plumage and melodious calls to attract a mate. These birds build their nests on the forest floor in secluded spots, using leaves and twigs to create a cosy shelter for their eggs. They also have a wide range of calls, from melodious whistles and trills to distinct chuckling sounds. Some Whiskered Pittas even undertake seasonal migrations to seek suitable breeding grounds, making their movements even more fascinating for ornithologists.