Bird watching holidays in Australia take birders to a vast country of varied habitats, home to stunning endemics and breeding visitors. From the south-west hills of Western Australia to the tropical forests of Queensland and the sub-Antarctic islands in the Southern Ocean, Australia is sure to satisfy amateur and experienced birders alike.
The vast state of Western Australia is home to a broad range of bird species. Visiting the state’s south-west corner provides ample sightings for highly rewarding bird watching holidays. Starting in the hills of the Darling Range, birders can search for local endemics such as Red-winged Fairywren, Red-eared Firetail, Western Rosella and Red-capped Parrot. In the Wandoo bushlands of Dryandra State Forest, the birds are plentiful, including Brush Bronzewing, Painted Button-quail, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Collared Sparrowhawk and Rufous Treecreeper. Heading south, the Stirling Ranges are home to Australian Owlet-nightjar, Western Yellow Robin, Crested Shrike-tit and more, while the nearby Cheyne Beach is known for its ‘big three’ of Western Whipbird, Western Bristlebird and Noisy Scrub-bird. In addition to all this, the Karri Eucalyptus forests are home to fairywrens, whistlers and wattlebirds, and the route back to Perth can take in Sugarloaf Rock and its Red-tailed Tropicbirds.
The tropical landscape of Queensland is a rich and intensely rewarding destination for bird watching holidays. Starting in Cairns, birders can explore the mangroves of the bay in search of waterbirds, then boat out to Michaelmas Cay on the famous Great Barrier Reef, where numerous sea birds breed and rest, including Sooty Terns, Bridled Terns, Crested Terns, Brown Boobies, Common Noddy and more. Inland, the Atherton Tablelands and the crater lakes of Eacham and Barrine are home to endemic bird species and some of Australia’s more elusive mammals. Under the guidance of an expert naturalist, birders can hope to see the Wompoo Pigeon, Emerald Doves, Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Black Butcherbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Spotted Catbird and Lovely Fairy Wren. Daintree Rainforest and Lamington National Park round off the trip, searching for the Papuan Frogmouth, Little Kingfisher, Great-billed Heron and Southern Cassowary.
The sub-Antarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand are a different world entirely. The Southern Ocean’s nutrient-rich waters fuel a lively ecosystem that sustains millions of albatrosses, penguins, petrels, cormorants and other stunning sea birds, as well as Sperm Whale, Orca Whale, Dusky Dolphins and Hourglass Dolphins. Cruising among the islands is an incredible experience for those on bird watching holidays.
Snares Island is an excellent first stop: the endemic Snares Island Penguin nests here, alongside Southern Giant Petrel, Antarctic Tern, Snares Fernbird, Broad-billed Prion and Salvin’s Albatross. At the Auckland Islands, Auckland Island Shag and Yellow-eyed Penguin will delight. Australia’s Macquarie Island gives birders the opportunity to see the Royal Penguin’s only nesting site, as well as nesting pairs of King Penguins, Gentoo Penguins and Rockhopper Penguins and other birds including the Macquarie Shag. On archipelago after archipelago, the birds of the Southern Ocean are a delight.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for bird watching holidays, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to Jaguar watching tours in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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