top of page
Isabela Oriole Oriolus isabellae

The Isabela Oriole project


ORIS is a contraction of the scientific name of the Critically Endangered Isabela Oriole, Oriolus isabellae.

This bird species is found only on Luzon Island, and then mainly in the municipality of Baggao, Cagayan. The estimated population in the wild is around 50-400 individuals. 

Buhay-ilang runs the ORIS project, where we study the ecology and population status and work with the local community to protect this rare bird from extinction.

What We Do

Furthering our cause is the most important goal of our organization. We seek to support, empower, and provide high quality resources to our community in a safe and secure environment. Our success isn’t measured in terms of wealth or profit margin, but by the value we provide to those we serve.

Para sa Kiyaw.png

The ORIS project is back with #FlyHighIsabelaOriole sponsored by the March Tides Foundation through the Oriental Bird Club. True to form, we are still a bunch of youth volunteer students from different universities working with each other driven by passion and fueled by the boundless energy hope can bring.

Follow and support us on Facebook ( and Instagram ( by not just liking our pages but also engaging with us in the comments and stories. Join our games, raffle and maybe you can win a prize!

  • English Name: Isabela Oriole. Named after the province of Isabela, where it was first discovered and collected by John Whitehead in 1894

  • Scientific Name: Oriolus isabellae Ogilvie-Grant, 1894

  • Family: Oriolidae, Order: Passeriformes

  • Local Name: Kiyaw (Ilocano, Tagalog)

  • Name derived from the sound of the oriole’s call, much like a whistle. The name in Ilocano also refers to the bird’s yellow color.

  • Distribution and Habitat: Endemic to Luzon, Philippines; Found in lowland forest and forest edge, below 500 meters above sea level

  • Threat category: Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List 2018); to be uplisted from Other Wildlife Species to Critically Endangered (Updating of 2004 National List of Threatened Fauna Species)

  • It is estimated that there may be less than 250 mature individuals left in the wild, with its population still decreasing due to habitat loss.

  • Description: Medium-sized bird, about 20cm, 50g. Feathers are yellow-olive on the head, back and upper wings and has yellow underparts; has yellow eye-ring, yellow lores, broad, dark gray bill and dark gray legs

  • Other information: Feeds on caterpillars, insects and small fruits. Usually seen in pairs, may form mixed flocks with Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike (Coracina striata), Northern Black-and-white Triller (Lalage melanoleuca), and White-lored Oriole (Oriolus albiloris).

Research and Conservation

The Isabela Oriole was already rare when birdwatchers began to search for birds in the Philippines. Back in 2004, two birdwatchers discovered a population in Isabela province and for the first time recorded its call and made notes on its ecology. This prompted the start of the project a number of years later when Joni Acay and Nikki Dyanne Realubit got a grant from the Conservation Leadership Program to further study the species and do population surveys in its historical range. This led to the formation of the ORIS project, where the species got attention from all over the country and birdwatchers came to see these extremely rare birds.

bottom of page