Birdwatching

From iconic species like the green parrot and the boobook owl, Norfolk Island is home to a fascinating mixture of land, water and seabirds. The island's isolation means that a high proportion of these birds are found nowhere else in the world.

For more information about Norfolk's birds download our bird app - it's a great companion to the walks around Norfolk Island National Park. Download the Norfolk Island bird checklist too and keep track of what you see during your visit.

Please do not feed the birds. Wild birds find their own natural foods like insects, plants and small mammals. Other foods can make them sick.

  • Seabirds

    Seabirds have adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle and behaviour, they often have many similarities with feeding niches and breeding.

    • Wedge-tailed shearwater

      If you look out to the ocean at sunset you may see these birds floating on the water before coming ashore just after nightfall. Known to locals as 'ghost birds', you may hear their moaning calls echo across the island at night.

      Shearwaters cover vast distances during their annual migration, travelling as far as 300 kilometres a day on their way to Norfolk to breed.

      Image credit: Tony Morris

    • Masked booby

      These large and distinctive seabirds have a white body, black tail and a small black mask around their large yellow or yellowish-green beak. Phillip Island, Nepean Island and the Norfolk islets are the main local breeding areas for the masked booby.

      You can often see these birds at their nests between August and February. See if you can spot a chick - they are nearly as big as their parents.


    • Red-tailed tropic-bird

      Flushed with rose on the breast and black borders on the wings, you will see these spectacular snowy-feathered seabirds between October and May.

      Using their two bright scarlet tail quills, they perform elaborate and unique courtship rituals that can include hovering in a vertical position or even flying backwards.

      Image credit: Angry Sun Bird


    • Sooty tern

      With their sooty grey back and white underside, you might see these birds in large noisy flocks of thousands returning to one of Norfolk's offshore islands to breed.

      The local name for these birds is the whale bird, as they arrive back on Phillip Island at the same time as the spring/summer whale migration.


    • White-capped noddy

      Also known as black noddies, you can recognise these birds by their black-brown feathers and distinctive white patch on the top of their heads.

      During summer, many of the tall trees become home to large numbers of white-capped noddies. They are known locally as 'titeracks' - a sound similar to an adult bird's call.


    Read more on SeabirdsClose
  • Forest birds

    Forest birds like the protection of the trees and the covger it provides for nesting and feeding. Some will be found on the forest floor, others in the newer growths that are not too high and others will live in the higher areas of the trees right up in the canopies of the treetops.

    • Green parrot

      The green parrot is the symbol of Norfolk Island National Park and a conservation success story. Thanks to an assisted breeding program, this iconic bird is recovering from near extinction.

      Listen for their characteristic 'kek-kek-kek' call and keep your eyes out for this parrot's bright green feathers, red crown-patch and blue-edged wings.

    • Norfolk Island boobook owl

      With only one female known to exist, this owl was once the rarest bird in the world.Thankfully it has been saved from extinction through crossbreeding with closely-related morepork owls from New Zealand.

      You can hear their particular 'boo-booork' call from dusk until midnight, especially on warm moonlit nights.


    • Sacred kingfisher

      With their blue-grey wings, green back and golden breast, these kingfishers can often be seen perching on branches and posts. The local name for these charismatic birds is 'nuffka', literally meaning Norfolker.

      From September to December they form burrows for nesting by flying full speed into the ground to loosen dirt before finishing the job with their claws and beak.

      Image credit: Fir 0002


    • Scarlet robin

      There is no mistaking the male robin's spectacular red breast contrasting with a black back and white head-patch. The female is brown rather than black, and with a chest more dull orange than red.

      Pairs lay two to four eggs in a small nest made from plants and spider webs, the exterior camouflaged with lichens and moss.

      Image credit: Neil Sauders


    • Silvereye

      With a white eye-ring distinctive of this family of birds, you can distinguish these grinnells (the Norfolk name for all the white-eyes) from their relatives by their grey chest colouring.

      Silvereyes have adapted to life on the island within the forest and around human habitation. You can find them year-round wherever fruit is available.


    Read more on Forest birdsClose
  • Introduced birds

    Introduced birds are those species that have been transported to Norfolk Island, an area they would not normally occur. Some introduced birds have become major pests, and compete with native species for resources such as space, food or nest sites.

    • Feral chicken

      The colour of the feral fowl varies from plain black, white or red/brown, through to showy mantled metallic-green, and speckled.

      Widespread on the island, this domestic escapee causes serious disruption to natural regeneration of native plant species and threatens some of Norfolk Island's endangered snails.

    • Crimson rosella

      Introduced in the early 1800s as a cage bird, this showy 'red parrot' with a blue face-patch, tail and wing margins is now prolific around the island.

      They directly compete for nest sites, territory and food with the endangered green parrot.


    • European blackbird

      The male blackbird, as its name suggests, is usually all black with an orange to yellow beak. Young birds have a brown coloured beak.

      The female is a plain brown colour with a yellowish beak. They can often be seen hopping along the ground in search of insects or worms, or feeding on fruits in the tree tops.

      Image credit: Kip Lee


    • Common starling

      These glossy birds form large flocks in open pastures and also occur in smaller groups in forested and residential areas.

      You can distinguish them from blackbirds, as starlings always run when on the ground while blackbirds always hop.

      Image credit: Eric Bégin


    • Feral pigeon

      Believed to have arrived on Norfolk in 1790 with the wreckage of the Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet, pigeons are now common around the entire island.

      Their colour varies from pale grey with a metallic green sheen on thier necks and black wing stripes, through to dark greyish-black with minimal patterning.


    Read more on Introduced birdsClose