Birds of Kangaroo Island: Hints & Tips for Birders

Our guide to Kangaroo Island birds and the best places to find them

Kangaroo Island’s ample birdlife and varied habitats make it a dream destination for birdwatching. Between the walking trails, lagoons, beaches, and parks, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to encounter a variety of feathered friends.

The birds of Kangaroo Island are an impressively diverse group, including over 260 species from over 60 bird families, with several evolving into Kangaroo Island subspecies. Among this spectacular variety, some are endangered. The island’s Glossy Black Cockatoo is a prime example, as this subspecies is no longer found on the mainland. While the Kangaroo Island emu has been extinct for over a century, other birds have been introduced, including the well-known Kookaburra, Kangaroo Island’s laughing favourite, which has flourished since being introduced here in the early 1900s.

Let’s dive straight into the best regions to go birding and check out what to bring along on your adventure.

Best Locations to see Kangaroo Island birds

Listed below are seven of our favourite birdwatching locations.

American River and Pelican Lagoon

The river has resident and migratory shorebirds, Pied Oystercatchers, Cape Barren Geese and Australian White Ibis. Look out for Wedge-tailed Eagles, White-bellied Sea Eagles and Eastern Ospreys along the Cannery Trail. Pelican Lagoon has ducks, swans, herons, egrets, spoonbills and, of course, pelicans! You may also be lucky enough to spot a Glossy Black Cockatoo around town—just ask a local for the best places to find them.

Flinders Chase

Flinders Chase National Park in the west end is a great location for Cape Barren geese, Crimson Rosellas and Grey Currawongs. In September and October, flocks of short-tailed Shearwaters head west to breed before returning in April and May. Numbers of migrating Shearwaters are estimated at 20,000 per hour, making this part of one of the world’s most significant wildlife migrations.

D’Estrees Bay, Murray Lagoon and the Macgillivray wetlands

Find rock parrots at D'Estrees Bay during the first half of the year. During winter and spring, when water levels are higher, there are plenty of birds at the lagoon and wetlands. The lagoon is also a superb spot to find birds of prey on Kangaroo Island. The wetlands have ducks, waterfowl, white-headed stilts, banded stilts and red-necked avocets.

Exceptional Kangaroo Island Bird Watching

What to Bring When Birdwatching

Field guides

Field guides help you identify species of birds in various locations. They can be either books from any bookstore, or an app you can download. Track down a copy of the local photographic field guide Birds of Kangaroo Island by Chris Baxter, which will be the most useful! Once you can use the guide to identify specific birds, you’re all set.

Bird life list

Hand in hand with your field guide is your bird life list—a list of birds you’ve seen, alongside details of the date, time, and location. Look for an Australian birdwatching app to use as a bird life list or note them down the classic way with a pen and notepad. The thrill of adding a new bird—or ‘lifer’—to your list is indescribable!

A pair of binoculars

Using binoculars for birdwatching is the best way to see the birds more closely without scaring them away. Binoculars can make all the difference between an average outing and an amazing birding experience!

Hat and hiking shoes

Since you’ll be outdoors for a few hours, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect you from the sun, rain and wind. Hiking shoes and boots with tread and ankle support are ideal for uneven, muddy or slippery ground.

Snacks and water

Carry along some nibbles such as Granola bars, crackers, and protein bars—they won’t melt or need to be refrigerated. Take your wrappers home with you and don’t forget to pack your reusable water bottle! Staying hydrated is absolutely important, whether the day is hot or cold.