The Sulu Racquet-tail

Prioniturus verticalis

An illustration of a pair of Sulu Racquet-tails made sometime during the late 1800's by bird illustrator John Gerrard Keulemans. From wikipedia.

The Sulu Racquet-tail is named after a pair of unique long feathers ending in flattened tips coming out from behind it, likened to a pair of "racquets" with long handles by observers1. Also known as the Blue-winged Racquet-tail and locally known as Sangkilit2, the females and juveniles have vivid green heads while the males display even more color: a large red spot in the middle of a bright blue cap.

It is also one noisy parrot, especially while in flight3. You can listen in on how they sound like here! They can only be found on the following Philippine islands in the Sulu Archipelago: Bongao, Manuk Manka, Tawi-Tawi, Sibutu, and Tumindao4.

The Sulu Racquet-tail can only be found on these Philippine islands of the Sulu Archipelago: Bongao, Manuk Manka, Tawi-Tawi, Sibutu, and Tumindao.

The Sulu Racquet-tail is a critically endangered species5

The tameness of this parrot and the high rate of gun ownership on these islands have made it an easy target and today conservation actions are not only hindered by security issues across the Sulu Islands, but previously logged areas are now being converted to agriculture making reforestation difficult. Despite the overwhelming threats that face the Sulu Racquet-tail, three of them were sighted in January of 2012 during a five-day visit to the islands. The population is now estimated at under 400 birds total1.

How you can help

The following organizations contribute not only to the conservation of this particular species, but to the diverse range of birds found in the Philippines.

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

Established in 2003, The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines is the pioneer bird watching club in the nation dedicated to promoting bird watching as a hobby and as a responsible way of enjoying the Philippines' most coveted natural habitats. The volunteer-led club contributes to the conservation of Philippine endangered birds by promoting bird watching as a healthy and recreational practice, encouraging responsible behavior from local communities and tourists alike, as well as environmentally-responsible policies from local governments and officials.

The Haribon Foundation

Started in 1972, Haribon, named after the Philippine Eagle's name in Filipino for "Bird King", gave birth to the Philippine environmental movement. Eventually coupling itself with international conservation organizations such as BirdLife International and the World Wildlife Fund, Haribon has contributed greatly not only to help establish conservation reserves and parks for Philippine birds and other species domestically, but to publications that put the Philippines on the map internationally in regards to its unique but endangered bird populations.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation

Since 1987 the Philippine Eagle Foundation has been focused on saving the Philippine Eagle and consequently saving hundreds of other species that live within its forest realms in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. With the help of donors and grants, the foundation conducts research, rehabilitation, and captive breeding programs.

Help endangered birds worldwide

BirdLife International is the world's largest partnership of conservation organizations. 117 organizations make up this partnership in over 100 countries across the globe, including the Philippine's own Haribon Foundation. Together, they create bird mascots and flagships to help push for the conservation of endangered birds, consequently conserving the forests they reside and the other wildlife in these areas. By doing so they conserve biodiversity in these areas to improve the quality of people's lives and integrating bird conservation into sustaining people's livelihoods. A symbiotic relationship is then created between people and the environment, as opposed to the "one uses the other" practice that is currently established the world over.

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*This site is not affiliated with the "Angry Birds" game, Rovio, or Jaakko Iisalo, and is for educational purposes only. Learn more about the illustrator here. If you find any errors please let me know!


1. Birdlife species factsheet on the Sulu Racquet-tail.

2. The local name of "Sangkilit" is mentioned by bird photographer Ivan Sarenas on this forum at

3. Robert S. Kennedy's "A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines" is regarded as the leading guidebook on Philippine birds.

4. From Joseph M. Forshaw's "Parrots of the World."

5. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Sulu Racquet-tail (Prioniturus verticalis)