Territory of Christmas Island
The Territory of Christmas Island is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name. It is located in the Indian Ocean, around 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of Java and Sumatra and around 1,550 kilometres (960 miles) north-west of the closest point on the Australian mainland. It has an area of 135 square kilometres (52 square miles).
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 Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
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.
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)…
2014 [11 November] - Richard Baxter
In November and December 2014 I ran two back to back birding tours to Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands and Christmas Island. Both tours were twelve days in duration and involved five days on CI and seven days on Cocos. We’re usually the first group of birders to visit the islands during the migration season, hence each day is filled with anticipation as to what vagrants we might find. This trip is also a good indicator as to what species we might find when we return in February, as many of the vagrants spend all summer on the islands.Overall, they were hugely successful.
2015 [11 November] - Richard Baxter
We landed on a very dry CI, the driest I’ve seen the island since 2004. We were in the grip of the worst El Nino ever recorded, with news in the last couple of days that the current El Nino had broken the previous 1997 records. There was no chance of any monsoonal rain any time soon and it was going to be hard work to find any vagrants on Christmas Island. I was hoping that Cocos was far enough west to escape the El Nino influence and perhaps it would deliver the vagrants that had not made their way south to CI.
2015 [12 December]
After a few free days in the south-west I jumped on a plane and headed off the Christmas Island. I should put in a couple of excuses here to explain my poor results in this iconic birding location. I had four days on the island but was there for work so had limited dedicated birding time. That said, my work took me all over the island and regularly into the national park, so I don’t have too many excuses.
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…
Christmas & Cocos Keeling Islands Birding Guide
PDF Brochure - Your essential guide to birding on the islands.
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
The Christmas frigatebird or Christmas Island frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) is a seabird of the frigatebird family Fregatidae which is endemic to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.
National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi)
The Christmas Island Frigatebird is the rarest endemic seabird on Christmas Island and is listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In Australia, it is confined to Christmas Island where it breeds in terrace forests in only three small areas totalling about 170 ha in extent
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)…
Where to watch birds and wildlife in Christmas Island
While the skies above are sprinkled with boobies, frigatebirds and tropicbirds, including Abbott’s Boobies and Christmas Island Frigatebirds, which nest here and nowhere else on Earth, and beautiful ‘golden’ White-tailed Tropicbirds.