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Bird Life

With such a diverse range of habitats Cape York is an exciting and rewarding year-round birding destination.
Bird Life

Spotted Whistling Duck - courtesy of David Mead

Female Eclectus Parrot. Courtesy of Lynette Ensor
Female Eclectus Parrot. Courtesy of Lynette Ensor

Cape York Peninsula is a bird-watcher's paradise, with 321 species of birds having been recorded here, 18 of which are found only on the Cape, including the eclectus parrot and palm cockatoo. Two species, the golden-shouldered parrot and white-streaked honeyeater, are endemic to the area.

Highlights include two species of birds of paradise from Papua New Guinea - the magnificent riflebird and the trumpet manucode, which are found in the Lockerbie Scrub rainforest. And cassowaries are seen in the Iron Range National Park and the Daintree rainforest.

Iron Range National Park

Metallic Starling at Nest. Courtesy of Lynette Ensor
Metallic Starling at Nest. Courtesy of Lynette Ensor

The mix of coastal and lowland rainforest species makes Iron Range a fascinating birding destination. Endemics include eclectus parrots, red-cheeked parrots, Marshall’s fig parrots, palm cockatoos and the magnificent riflebirds. From October-March Chili Beach offers the incredible spectacle of a congregation of thousands of Metallic Starlings.

Take a spotlight to see the nocturnal birds such as Papuan frogmouths, owlet-nightjars and a variety of owls.

Stop at the Portland Roads Café for local information on the best birding spots or base yourself at Portland House to explore the area. Check the Portland House Bird list.

Magpie geese, courtesy Lynette Ensor
Magpie geese, courtesy Lynette Ensor

Lakefield National Park protects over 200 bird species, including the threatened golden-shouldered parrot, star finch and red goshawk. The wetlands attract a great diversity of waterbirds including brolgas, sarus cranes, black-necked storks, magpie geese, comb-crested jacanas and ducks.

Base yourself at the Lotus Bird Lodge - the following birds have been identified in the Violet Vale Station, Lakefield National Park and Artemis Station areas on the Lotus Bird Lodge Bird list .

Lockerbie Scrub

Lockerbie Scrub is a swathe of monsoon rainforest at the Tip of Cape York. Highlights among a huge selection of species are the 2 birds of paradise (Magnificent Riflebirds and Trumpet Manucodes), Yellow-Legged Flycatchers and Frilled Monarchs.

Basing yourself at Bamaga you will have easy access to the birding spots at Lockerbie Scrub, Pajinka and Somerset Beach.

Driving through the Cape York Peninsula, other areas which offer very productive birding are at Coen, Archer River, Musgrave and Nifold Plain regions.

Shipton's Flat, near Rossville, is a lovely day out from Cooktown with refreshing waterholes and stunning scenery plus abundant bird life. If you continue down to Twin Forks, this is also the area where Bennett's Tree Kangaroos can be seen.

There are at least 137 species of closed forest dependent birds in the Wet Tropics with 13 endemic species – 9 from the uplands and 4 from the lower altitudes.

Base yourself from Helenvale, Bloomfield or further down the coast at Cape Tribulation to explore the remarkable Daintree World Heritage rainforest.

Birdwatching in Cooktown

Experience amazing birdwatching with expert guides:

Mungumby Lodge

Kirrama Wildlife Tours

Great Northern Tours