It is believed that Christmas Island is the emergent summit of an ancient submarine volcano formed some 60 million years ago. Today it rises 360m above the Indian Ocean in a series of steep cliffs, wave-cut terraces and a central plateau. If you are looking for an unforgettable birdwatching destination, you will love Christmas Island! 63% of the island's 135 square kilometres is national park and the island's close proximity to South East Asia and the equator has resulted in a diverse range of bird species.
The island is large enough to have developed its own unique rainforest ecology. There are hundreds of species of birds with seven of the 13 land birds being endemic to the island, including the inquisitive Christmas Island Thrush, whose melodious evening song lends a wonderful musical quality to the tropical, palm-fringed sunsets.
Christmas Island is the only sole nesting place of the Abbott’s Booby; here it nests in tall rainforest trees on the central plateau. It is also the only nesting place of the Christmas Island Frigate Bird, and is home to the lovely Golden Bosun Bird. It has been said that “to biologists, Christmas Island approaches the same level of importance as the famous Galapagos Islands”.
Christmas Island also supports an endemic owl, goshawk, imperial pigeon, emerald dove, white-eye warbler, switflet and ground thrush.
Many species are quite inquisitive and those birdwatching can be rewarded with some truly special sightings. With little effort is it quite easy to tick off a full list of residents in a busy week or more relaxed fortnight, though the elusive Christmas Island Hawk Owl keeps many coming back for more!
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 77
Number of endemics: 2 - 7
There are differing claims as to the number of endemics ranging from 2 to 7…
Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon Ducula whartoni and Christmas Island White-eye Zosterops natalis are agreed by all sources. The others may be full or sub-species; they are: Christmas Island Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus natalis, Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica natalis Christmas Island Hawk Owl Ninox squamipila natalis, Christmas Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus erythropleurus and Glossy Cave Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta natalis
Two seabirds, Abbott's Booby Papasula abbotti and Christmas Island Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi, are endemic while breeding, and also rely on the remaining forest for nesting sites.
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
See http://www.christmas.net.au/ for background information on the island.
Guides & Tour Operators
Birdwatching Holidays on Christmas Island
Many species are quite inquisitive and those on a birdwatching holiday can be rewarded with some truly special sightings. Highlights include the rarest bobby and frigate birds in the world, the Abbotts Booby & the Christmas Island Frigatebird. With little effort is it quite easy to tick off a full list of residents in a busy week or more relaxed fortnight, though the elusive Christmas Island Hawk Owl keeps many coming back for more!
Island Explorer Holidays
Just like it says - the local specialist who offer birding trips as well as general tourism…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2005 [06 June] - Gary & Marlene Babic
This report covers a short visit to a wonderful location, Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Christmas Island holds several endemic species and subspecies, and most are easy to locate, but the logistics can be formidable. In this report I will try to outline some of the issues that need to be addressed for visiting this location…
2013 [10 October] - Pete Morris
…From the Abbot’s Boobies and Christmas Boobooks of Christmas Island, to the clean sweep of southwest endemics (which included great views of the notorious trio of Noisy Scrubbird, Western Whipbird and Western Bristlebird), to the northwest, where goodies such as Yellow Chat, Gouldian Finch and Black Grasswren all obliged, we enjoyed success after success. We also marvelled at some stunning landscapes, saw some other fascinating mammals and reptiles and enjoyed (?!) some good Aussie hospitality (especially the chats about the cricket)…
Places to Stay
Birds of Christmas Island
Of the 11 native land birds and shorebirds, seven are endemic species or sub-species. The glossy cave swiftlet Collocalia esculenta natalis feeds on flying insects and nests in caves or overhangs…
Birds of Christmas Island
A valuable nesting location in a vast expanse of open ocean, Christmas Island is home to large numbers of seabirds: frigatebirds (two species); boobies (three species) and spectacular tropicbirds (two species). Visitors don't even need to leave the settled areas to get good sightings at close range of endemic Christmas Island Frigatebirds wheeling overhead and the graceful undulating flight of the Golden Bosun, an especially elegant Christmas Island form of tropicbird…
Birds Recovery Plan
Christmas Island (Endemic Birds Areas of the world)
General characteristics Christmas Island, an external territory of Australia, is a raised coral island in the Indian Ocean, c.200 km south of Java in Indonesia (EBAs 160 and 161) and 2,600 km west of Darwin in North-West Australia (EBA 187)…
Christmas Island Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi
Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) is a frigatebird which breeds only on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Like other frigatebirds, this species does not walk or swim, but is a very aerial bird which obtains its food by picking up live prey items from beaches or the water surface, and the aerial piracy of other birds…
National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis
…Road killed Christmas Island Hawk-Owls are occasionally reported. A substantial increase in vehicular traffic will be associated with the proposed satellite launching station and the new immigration, reception and processing centre. This will likely increase the number of roadkills in high traffic areas. Thus it is possible that collisions with cars will become an issue for the conservation of populations in high traffic areas. Feral Cats Felis catus are widespread throughout the original and modified vegetation on the island. Owls are unaccustomed to predators and may roost very low to the ground and consequently may occasionally be at risk of being caught by cats. However, cats do not appear to be a significant threat to owls at present (Tidemann et al. 1994, Van der Lee and Jarman 1996)…