Nearly half of all Australian bird species call Northern Queensland home, making it a birders’ paradise. You don’t have to look too hard to find them either.
For instance, the Wet Tropics is home to 13 endemic bird species found nowhere else and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is within the Cairns, Atherton Tablelands, Cassowary Coast, and Daintree Rainforest regions described below.
Venture further afield and you’ll be rewarded with more spectacular sightings. Below you can read all about the great places to go birding. From ancient coastal rainforests to the Cape, Gulf Plains and the famous Queensland Outback, each area has its own unique habitats, plants and animals.
URBAN | FARMLAND | RAINFOREST | WETLANDS | COAST
Cairns is the bustling heart of Tropical North Queensland and a great base to start exploring from. Locally, the Cairns Esplanade, Flecker Botanical Gardens, Centenary Lakes, and Cattana Wetlands are just some of the places to see some of our favourite birds. Hop on a boat for the Great Barrier Reef, venture further afield for even more birding excitement, or just kick back and embrace the laid-back tropical lifestyle with the locals.
RAINFOREST | COAST
The Daintree is renowned for its ancient rainforests, jungle-clad mountains, crystal clear streams, and pristine beaches. And it starts only 95 km north of Cairns. This is a place to slow down, relax and take your time. Strolls along the beaches often yield sightings of Beach Stone-curlew. Exploring the forest trails can reveal Southern Cassowary and many other special rainforest birds. Take a specialised birdwatching boat trip on the Daintree River to see locals like the Great-billed Heron and Shining Flycatcher, as well as the iconic Daintree crocodiles.
FARMLAND | RAINFOREST | WETLANDS | COAST
Just over an hour south of Cairns, the Cassowary Coast begins. Featuring misty rainforest clad mountains, sparkling rivers and waterfalls, secluded beaches, a rainforest canopy walk, tropical islands, and abundant birds, the region has a unique North Queensland character. As the name suggests, this region has the highest concentration of Southern Cassowary in Australia.
FARMLAND | RAINFOREST | SAVANNAH | WOODLANDS
You’ll find an incredible array of wildlife just one hour west of Cairns. The higher altitude of the Atherton Tablelands is home to an amazing variety of birds, including Wet Tropics endemic species and subspecies. Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and Victoria’s Riflebird are just some of the stunning birds you may see. Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo and Platypus are highlights too. The abundance of bird life, diversity of habitats and ease of access makes this area a ‘must visit’ locale for bird enthusiasts.
CAPE YORK PENINSULA
RAINFOREST | SAVANNAH | WOODLANDS | COAST
Cape York is impressively vast, extending from Cooktown to the northern tip of Australia, and offshore, the Torres Strait Islands sit like jewels in the aqua-coloured sea. This region is considered one of the country’s best birding locations – home to extraordinary birds like the Palm Cockatoo, Red-bellied Pitta, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Eclectus Parrot, Golden-shouldered Parrot and Red Goshawk. Take a 4WD trip or join an organised birding tour to explore this remote region.
ARID | SAVANNAH | WOODLANDS | COAST
Discover where the Outback meets the sea. Stretching from the Atherton Tablelands right across the Gulf of Carpentaria, Gulf Plains is dotted with geological wonders, historic mining towns and legendary fishing spots. Don’t forget your binoculars – it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise too. The Gulf Plains are an internationally recognised Key Biodiversity Area for migratory waders. The region's extensive wetlands are a crucial breeding area for Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, amongst other waterbird species, and there are mangrove specialists such as White-breasted Whistler and Yellow White-eye, that are found nowhere else in Queensland.
ARID | SAVANNAH | WOODLANDS
Endless horizons! This is a landscape of open plains interspersed with gorges and dry rivers that can flood, deserts of gibber and red sand dunes, waterholes and channel country, historic pioneering settlements, indigenous culture and sacred places. There are special birds to be found, and opportunities to see large flocks of Corellas, Galahs, Budgerigars, and Emus – especially where there is water. Good rains and the subsequent lush vegetation growth promote explosions of wildlife, including the raptors that hunt them, such as Letter-winged Kites. Discover Outback birding while exploring where dinosaurs once roamed the earth on the Australian Dinosaur Trail. Birding in the outback is an unforgettable experience.
MOUNT ISA REGION
ARID | SAVANNAH | LAKES
Mount Isa is home to stunning scenery and equally stunning birds. Kalkadoon and Carpentarian Grasswrens are top of the list for most visitors as they are endemic to the region. The surrounding spinifex ranges and open woodland are also home to Painted Finch, Spinifex Pigeon, Spinifexbird, Grey-headed and Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Varied Lorikeet, Cloncurry Ringneck, and Black-tailed Treecreeper. Don’t forget to look up for Little Woodswallows. Nearby, Boodjamulla National Park, with its emerald-coloured waters and red sandstone cliffs is simply breath-taking. It’s a great place to see Purple-crowned Fairy-wren and Sandstone Shrike-thrush in Queensland.
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Throughout the year we host many social birding activities. From regular monthly surveys at Hastie's Swamp on the Tablelands and social birdwatching at Warrina Lakes in the Cassowary Coast, to long weekend camping trips and activities that include scientific fieldwork.
It's not all oldies and twitchers either! Everyone is warmly welcomed to join us and experience the many first-class birding opportunities Northern Queensland has to offer.