19 May, 2022

A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Tassie

With its spectacular wildlife and outstanding natural features, there’s no wonder why Tasmania is one of the best spots in Australia for birdwatching.

Counting over 383 bird species across various habitat, from coast to rainforest, Tasmania is a true paradise for birds’ lovers. Many species thrive in the island’s leafy, low-rise urban areas too, so there’s always a cheery welcome wherever you go.

Summit of kunanyi / Mt Wellington. Photo: Emily Ristevski.

Close encounters

Birdwatching here doesn’t have to involve long drives into the wilderness and even longer waits with binoculars. Just go for a walk in and around the cities, towns and local beaches to meet dozens of native species. Even most of the 12 only found here, like the native hen – lovingly known as the ‘turbo chook’ because these flightless birds can literally run faster than Olympic sprinters.

In Hobart, kunanyi/Mount Wellington is a top spot for birdwatching: nearly 70 species have been seen here, of which more than 50 are fairly common, including yellow wattlebirds (the unofficial state bird) and fan-tailed cuckoos. Just outside the capital, Orielton Lagoon is internationally recognised wetlands where waterbirds including ducks, swans, egrets, cormorants, herons and pelicans thrive.

It’s even easier to see waterbirds in Launceston. The Tamar Island Wetlands reserve is a haven for around 60 species, easily spotted from the boardwalk, bird hide and picnic tables.

Little penguin. Photo: Stu Gibson.

Penguin parades

The world’s smallest penguins hang around some of Tassie’s coastal towns. Every evening just after sunset, little (aka fairy) penguins emerge from the water and waddle up beaches as far south as Bruny Island, but especially near the northern town named after this cute birdie.

The neighbourhood’s best places to see them are Penguin Point, Lillico Beach, Sulphur Creek and Burnie, where volunteer guides are on hand during the March-October breeding season. There are also ticketed tours in Low Head, and the east-coast town of Bicheno.

Black Headed Honey Eater. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Terry Waite.

National treasures

Tasmania’s national parks are prime locations for birdwatching. One of the very best is Maria Island, where you might spy the endangered forty-spotted pardalote, but definitely more common species like big Cape Barren geese.

Mount William National Park is another favourite for bird lovers. Residents include yellow-tailed black cocktaoos and honeyeaters, and watch out for albatross and sea eagles off the coast. Narawntapu National Park, known as Tasmania’s Serengeti, is rich with waterbirds by the sea and lagoon where you can watch from a bird hide.

Maybe best of all is South Bruny National Park. Bruny Island, classified an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, doesn’t just have penguins – 150 species are found here including all 12 of those endemic feathered friends. So twitchers flock here too, especially during the biennial Bruny Island Bird Festival.

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Photo: Hype TV and Aerial Vision Australia.

Take a tour

Want expert guidance about where and what to look for? Inala Nature Tours offer numerous Tasmanian birdwatching experiences – especially around Bruny Island, including their own 600-hectare conservation reserve. From three-hour tours to whole weekends with accommodation in the reserve, it’s birdy bliss.

Other operators who can show you everything from plovers to peregrine falcons include Bellbird Birding Tours and Pepper Bush Adventures, while Shutterbug Walkabouts offer a women-only Birds on Bruny photography tour. Showcasing all sorts of marine wildlife and wild places, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ cruises are a wonderful opportunity to watch seabirds in their element, from riding the wind and skimming the water to nesting on inaccessible cliffs.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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