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  • Photograph of White-tailed Tropicbird

    A 'normal' White-tailed Tropicbird photographed by Jon Hornbuckle. Many on Christmas Island have an apricot or golden hue and are known as 'Golden Bosunbirds'.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Best Birds and other wildlife on Christmas Island


    Christmas Imperial-pigeon, Christmas (Glossy) Swiftlet, Christmas Boobook and Christmas White-eye.

    Breeding Endemics
    Abbott’s Booby (about 3000 pairs, nesting mainly Jun-Mar, and ranging at sea around the island, north to Java) and Christmas Frigatebird (about 2000 pairs in three colonies at the northern end of the island, nesting mostly Jan-Aug).

    Other Specialities
    Red-tailed Tropicbird (nesting mostly Nov-Apr), White-tailed Tropicbird (including the endemic ‘golden’ fulvus form, nesting all year round), Red-footed Booby (mostly, if not all, white phase, nesting mostly Apr-Sep), and Great (nesting mostly Jan-Aug) and Lesser (a few) Frigatebirds.

    Brown Booby, Pacific Reef-egret, White-faced Heron, Variable (Christmas natalis) Goshawk, Nankeen (Australian) Kestrel, White-breasted Waterhen, Brown Noddy (nesting mostly Apr-Sep), Grey-capped Emerald Dove, Western (Asian) Koel and Island Thrush (erythropleurus). Java and Eurasian Tree Sparrows have been introduced. Also a chance of rarities which have included Barau’s Petrel, Oriental Plover and Grey Wagtail.

    Blue Crab, Coconut (Robber) Crab (the largest terrestrial arthropod on Earth) and Red Crab.

    Christmas Island (Large) Flying Fox. Also a chance of Spinner Dolphin.

    Christmas Island is surrounded by rich coral reefs and many spectacular underwater ‘drop-offs’ just a short distance offshore. The great diversity of coral reef fish includes Whale Shark (after the Red Crab spawning season in December-January and again March-April), Manta Ray (mainly after the Red Crab spawning season in December-January), the rare Dragon Moray Eel, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, White-tip Reef Shark, Dogtooth Tuna, Harlequin and Peacock Cods, Blue Tang, Moorish Idol and many butterflyfish.

    Green Turtle

    Best Sites for Birds, crabs and other wildlife on Christmas Island

    Most of the seabirds are easy to see from The Settlement, where most of the visitor accommodation is situated. Nesting colonies of both boobies and frigatebirds are at LB4 Lookout and Lily Beach, and both species of tropicbirds nest at Flying Fish Cove, where there is also a superb reef accessible with a mask and snorkel straight from the jetty. Most landbirds are easily seen too although a 4WD may be required to cruise the tracks in the middle of the island for the goshawk. The best place for some rarities, such as Grey Wagtail, is the tip! Flying Foxes usually have a roost on the golf course. For more information visit the Parks Australia office.

    Best Times for Birds, crabs and other wildlife on Christmas Island

    Most of the endemic birds can be seen all year round on this wet and humid tropical island, although birding is most likely to be affected by the frequent rain, especially during the rainiest season which lasts November to May, and by the Red Crab migration, which usually takes place in November-December, resulting in the closure of some roads, which may prevent access to some birding sites. Daily temperatures vary little from month to month, ranging from a minimum of 22°C in August to a maximum of 28°C in April.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Christmas Island

    The Australian Bird Guide by P Menkhorst. PUP, 2017.

    The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by P, P and R Slater. Reed/New Holland, 2009 (Revised Edition).

    The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by G Pizzey and F Knight. Harper Collins, 2012 (Ninth Edition).

    Birds of Australia by K Simpson and N Day. PUP, 2010 (Eighth Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe: complete compact edition. Steve Parish Publishing, 2016.

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe. Steve Parish Publishing, 2003.

    Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago by J Eaton et al. Lynx Edicions, 2016.

    Apps etc.

    The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia.

    Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Christmas Island

    Many trip reports, some for Christmas Island, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Christmas Island. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Christmas Island' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides on Christmas Island

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders on Christmas Island

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Christmas Island

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Christmas Island include the following.