Republic of Seychelles

Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum ©Adrian Skerrett Website
Birding the Seychelles

The islands of Seychelles lie between approximately 4ºS and 10ºS and 46ºE and 54ºE in the western Indian Ocean. A small landmass and geographic isolation limits the number of species compared to continental areas but size isn’t everything. For a start, the main islands (in terms of population and accessibility) are both the world’s only granitic ocean islands and the world’s oldest ocean islands. Antiquity means a high level of endemism while oceanic isolation means huge seabird colonies. Added to this, there is a remarkably high number of migrant species making up almost three-quarters of the species on the Seychelles list.

Most birders will only visit the inner islands of the Seychelles Bank (the granite islands including Mahe, Praslin and La Digue plus the coral cays of and Bird Island and Denis). The outer islands require more time and money with accommodation available only on Desroches and Alphonse in the Amirantes and access elsewhere only possible by joining a cruise. There are 12 endemics in the granitic islands, seven of which can be seen on Mahé (including Seychelles White-eye and the only opportunity to see Seychelles Scops Owl). The other five can be seen by staying on Praslin (home to Seychelles Black Parrot) and arranging trips to La Digue for Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher and either Cousin or Aride (or both) to see Seychelles Magpie Robin, Seychelles Warbler and Seychelles Fody. Trips to Cousin are very easy to arrange. They are well organized if somewhat regimented due to numbers and of fairly short duration (about 2 hours). Nevertheless all five endemics on the island are pretty well guaranteed (including Seychelles Magpie Robin, Seychelles Warbler and Seychelles Fody). Aride has the same five endemics but requires a full day trip and is often closed due to high seas in May-September. At other times it offers more time and space and more birds than Cousin; attractions include the world’s largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Tropical Shearwater, the only breeding Red-tailed Tropicbirds east of Aldabra plus thousands of frigatebirds (mainly Greater but some Lesser). An alternative possibility is an excursion to Cousine which has the same endemics as Aride and Cousin plus Seychelles White-eye. This is sometimes possible by special arrangement, but this will only be granted when the private villas on the island are unoccupied. When available it is a superb opportunity to see birds away from the crowds of non-birders and still enjoy a cold beer at the island’s bar.

A visit to Bird Island (two nights stay) is a must for the serious birder. It is named after the enormous Sooty Tern colony present April-September but October-December is the most exciting time to see rarities, when almost any Eurasian migrant could turn up, due to the location of the island on the northern perimeter of the Seychelles Bank. A trip to the outer islands requires joining a cruiseship or one of a few live-aboard schooners based at Mahé. However, opportunities have become more limited since the rise of Somali piracy and currently require special permission and security arrangements. Most of the outer islands are very young, only a few thousand years, so have few land birds and no endemics except in the Aldabra group, which is more ancient. Nine of the twenty IBAS of Seychelles are in the outer islands mainly due to huge seabird colonies. The World Heritage Site of Aldabra accounts for around one-third of the landmass of Seychelles, but is uninhabited except for the warden and staff of the research station. Avian attractions include 11 seabird species and nine endemic species or subspecies, including the last flightless bird of the Indian Ocean (Aldabra Rail).

When to goLand birds are of course present year round but some are at their best during the breeding season, mainly October –March. Some seabird species are present year-round but others breed either during the southeast monsoon (May-September) or the northwest monsoon (October-April), mainly the former. October-December is the best time to see migrants, some lingering on to April (especially waders including Crab Plover). If this is a birding trip of a lifetime the best time is mid-October to end-November combining the end of the southeast seabird season with the beginning of the northwest and the height of the migration season together with calm seas and settled weather.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 238

    (However, a few new species are recorded each year and a total of 275 species have been accepted by Seychelles Bird Records Committee (SBRC) as recorded in Seychelles up to 1 June 2017)
  • Number of bird species:

    National Bird: Seychelles Black Parrot Coracopsis nigra
  • Number of endemics: 13

    Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea, Seychelles Blue Pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrimus, Seychelles Black Parrot Coracopsis (nigra) barklyi, Seychelles Scops Owl Otus insularis, Seychelles Swiftlet Aerodramus elaphrus, Seychelles Bulbul Hypsipetes crassirostris, Seychelles Warbler, Acrocephalus sechellensis, Seychelles Magpie-robin Copsychus sechellarum, Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina, Seychelles Sunbird Cinnyris dussumieri, Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestus, Aldabra Drongo Dicrurus aldabranus, Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum

    There are also two endemic sub-species may yet be elevated: Aldabra Rail Dryolimnas (cuvieri) aldabranus and Aldabra Fody Foudia (eminentissima) aldabranus

  • iGoTerra Checklist

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Useful Reading

  • A Checklist of the Birds of Seychelles

    | By Adrian Skerrett | Lulu Press | 2007 | Paperback | 100 pages, Graphs | ISBN: 9781847530745 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands

    | (Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles and the Comoros) | Ian Sinclair & Olivier Langrand | New Holland Publishers | 2013 | Paperback | 264 pages, 71 plates with 1160 colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781431700851 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Seychelles

    | By Adrian Skerrett & Tony Disley | Christopher Helm | 2011 | Paperback | 176 Pages, 65 Colour Plates, Black & White Illustations, Maps | ISBN: 9781408151518 Buy this book from
  • Complete Birds of Seychelles

    | By B Narainsamy Ramen & Adrian Skerrett | Narainsamy Ramen | 2016 | Hardback | 304 Pages, Colour Photos | ISBN: 9789994902958 Buy this book from
  • Wildlife of Seychelles

    | By John Bowler | WILDGuides | 2006 | Hardback | 192 pages, 51 col plates | ISBN: 9781903657140 Buy this book from
  • African Bird Club

    Seychelles is world-renowned for its idyllic tropical beaches and, among birders, for its endemics and its seabird colonies. Seychelles comprises over 115 islands scattered across 1,374,000 km2 of the western Indian Ocean. Once sandwiched between Africa and India as part of Gondwanaland, Seychelles split off from Africa some 127 million years ago and from India about 65 million years ago. The 40 central islands are granitic ­ not only are they the only granitic oceanic islands in the world; at 750 million years old, they are also the oldest islands in the world…
  • Island Conservation Society

    'The Society promotes the conservation and restoration of island ecosystems, sustainable development of islands, and awareness of their vulnerability and vital importance to the planet's biodiversity.'
  • Marine Conservation Society Seychelles

    The Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) is a Non-Governmental Organisation registered in Seychelles which promotes the conservation of the marine environment through education, research and the implementation of a number of programmes. Current activities include long running monitoring programmes on turtles and terrapins, as well as several grant funded programmes and projects.
  • Nature Protection Trust

    From 1992 to 2012 Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles worked to preserve the species andenvironments of the Seychelles islands through practical conservation, researchand publication.
  • Nature Seychelles - BirdLife Seychelles

    Nature Seychelles is a leading environmental organisation in the Western Indian Ocean. It is the largest and oldest environment NGO in the Seychelles archipelago, where it is involved in environmental conservation and management. BirdLife International is represented in the Seychelles by Nature Seychelles…
  • Seychelles Bird Records Committee

    News of all birds recorded in Seychelles
  • Seychelles Islands Foundation

    Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) manages and protects the World Heritage Sites of Aldabra and Vall
  • Seychelles National Parks Authority

    The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is responsible for all of the marine and terrestrial national parks of Seychelles and a number of these parks have been designated since 1979. The terrestrial parks include Morne Seychellois National Park, the Praslin National Park and the Veuve Reserve on La Digue. The Marine National parks includes Ste. Anne (one of the first marine protected area in the Indian Ocean), Silhouette, Port Launay, Baie Ternay, Ile Coco, Curieuse & Saint Pierre.
  • Seychelles Seabird Group

    A volunteer from Germany has been helping out with counts of birds on Cousin and Cousine. Harald Legge spent the months of May and June engaged in the project, which has provided vital data for Seychelles Seabird Group. His work programme took him to Cousin island to carry out counts of Lesser Noddy, Fairy Tern, White-tailed Tropicbird and Brown Noddy…

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Morne Seychellois

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Morne Seychellois National Park is situated on the island of Mahe, the largest island of the Seychelles archipelago. Morne Seychellois covers an area of approximately 3,045 hectares, more than 20% of Mahe and made up of a mixture of mangroves, lush tropical jungles and tall mountains. It is 10km in length and between 2km and 4km wide, equipped with an extensive trail network, covering more than 15km.
  • NP Praslin

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Praslin National Park was established in 1979 and is the second largest terrestrial National Park in the Seychelles. As the name suggests it is located on the second largest island, Praslin. It covers a total surface area of 324 ha of the upper lands of Praslin and includes the World Heritage site of the Vallée de Mai. Its altitude ranges from 80 meters in the ravines to 367m at the highest point of the island. It offers a wide variety of landscapes and viewpoints.
  • NP Veuve Special Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    In the 1960's, the rarity of the Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher was a cause for concern, so that in 1970, a local man, Abraham Niole, was employed to protect and monitor the birds and their nests, by the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSNC). In 1980-1981, Christopher Cadbury and Tony Beamish initiated a reserve for the Veuve. The area of land, which currently makes up the reserve, was leased by the RSNC from Mrs Rene Payet. The fenced reserve was managed by the RSNC and the Seychelles National Parks and Nature Conservancy Commission.…
  • NR Aride Island

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Aride is the northernmost island of the granitic Seychelles, it is roughly 68 hectares in area (approximately 0.67 km 2), and 1.6 km long and 0.6 km wide and alongside Aldabra, Aride has one of the most important seabird populations in the Indian Ocean. Eighteen species of native birds (including five only found in Seychelles) breed on Aride, this is far more than on any other granitic island. The island is leased and managed as a nature reserve by the Island Conservation Society of Seychelles but is presently owned by the UK Registered Charity Island Conservation Society UK The only human inhabitants are the reserve's staff, currently four Seychellois rangers and two Island Wardens. They live in small plantation houses close to the beautiful coral sand beach overhung by palms on the south side of the island…
  • SR Cousin Island

    WebpageSatellite View
    Cousin Island is a granitic island covering 27 hectares and lies approximately 2km from Praslin island. It became the world’s first internationally owned-reserve when it was purchased in 1968 by the International Council for the Protection of Birds (ICBP), now Birdlife International. The objective was to save the last remaining population of the Seychelles warblers…
  • Seychelles Important Bird Areas

    WebpageSatellite View
    Seychelles is of great ornithological interest. It has 30 currently recognised endemic forms of landbirds and waterbirds, including 12 terrestrial species, which show biogeographic influences from Africa, Asia and Madagascar. Eleven species of global conservation concern occur which include 9 of the endemic landbirds while one other is an endemic warbler from Aldabra, Aldabra Warbler Nesillas aldabrana, which has not been seen since 1983 and is now considered extinct…
  • Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    The most noteworthy bird is the endemic subspecies of black parrot Coracopsis nigra barklyi (E); restricted to Praslin Island and totally dependent on the Vallée de Mai and the surrounding palm forest. A census in 1994 recorded 108 birds. Other birds include: the endemic Seychelles Bulbul Hypsipetes crassirostris, Blue Pigeon Alectroenas pulcherrima, Seychelles Sunbird Nectarinia dussamieri, Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea and an endemic Cave-nesting Swiftlet Collocalia francica elaphra. Exotic birds include Indian Mynah Acridotheres tristis and Barn Owl Tyto alba affinis…
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Seychelles Travel

    Tour Operator
    Seychelles offers the birding enthusiasts the opportunity of viewing a number of critically endangered species, 11 endemic species and 4 endemic sub-species such as the Seychelles Kestral (Falco araea), Seychelles Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas pulcherrima), Seychelles Scops Owl (Otus insularis), Seychelles Swiftlet (Aerodramus elaphrus), Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina), Seychelles Bulbul (Hypsipetes crassirostris), Magpie Robin (Copsychus sechellarum), Seychelles Brush Warbler (Acrocephalus modesta), Seychelles Fody (Foudia sechellarum, Seychelles Sunbird (Nectarinia dussumieri), Seychelles White Eye (Zosterops modesta).
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [09 September] - Martin Partridge

    PDF Report
    In the trees next to the balcony appeared two Seychelles Bulbul, two Seychelles Blue Pigeons and a number of Seychelles Sunbirds flying around the vegetation. Fruit bats were numerous. Pairs of Fairy Terns were also visible in the distance. The following morning before catching a ferry to La Digue we observed a Seychelles Kestrel above the Guest house.
  • 2016 [10 October] - Niels Bomholt

    PDF Report
    In Danish
  • 2017 [10 October] - Michael Mills - Seychelles, Mauritius & Reunion

    PDF Report
    ...We started off with Seychelles Sunbird and Seychelles Bulbul, and it was only a matter of minutes before we lured a pair of very rare (fewer than 100 individuals on Mahé) Seychelles White-eyes in for close-up views. Introduced Zebra Dove, Common Myna, Madagascar Red Fody and Madagascar Turtle Dove were in evidence too, as were some noisy White-tailed Tropicbirds...
  • 2018 [02 February] - Ross Gallardy

    I was exhausted (and still partly jet-lagged) and was intermittently sleeping in the back seat of the car when Ross came back to get me. I am taken only a couple meters down from the car and had perched eye level views of a Seychelles Scops-Owl! It was nearly 2am, but the bird that so many birders complain about being impossible was found.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Pat & Judy Hayes - Seychelles & Dubai

    If you are looking for a full-on trip report of the Seychelles you would be advised to look elsewhere. This is a holiday/celebration with our passion for birds being indulged a little. Jude has always wanted to visit some of the coral islands found in the Indian Ocean, so this was the excuse we were looking for, more a holiday than a full-on bird trip.
  • 2018 [05 May] - Steve & Tessa Blaber - Seychelles, Reunion and Mauritius

    PDF Report
    This trip was designed primarily to see the endemics on each of the islands, together with other species missing from our list. Overall, the trip was extremely successful and enjoyable with almost all the endemics seen. On all the islands there is relatively little pristine habitat left and the sites for finding the endemics are well known.
  • 2018 [07 July] - Bill and Helen Simpson

    PDF Report
    A very easy trip with short distances to travel and easy birds, made more interesting by having to visit the other islands for their endemics. The toughest bird was the White-eye only being seen on one day out of four short visits.
  • 2018 [09 September] - Mark Van Beirs -

    PDF Report
    The undisputable highlight of our recent tour to these lovely islands was the excellent nocturnal observation of a rare, delightful Seychelles Scops Owl in the hill forest of Mahé.
  • 2020 [02 February] - David Karr

    PDF Report
    A week-long family holiday to the central Seychelles islands, visiting the granitic islands of Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and Aride, (all are necessary to cover the thirteen endemic species). We managed to connect with all targets with relative ease, with the notable exception of Seychelles Scops Owl – which was a dip despite three valiant attempts in less-than-ideal, misty and rainy conditions.
  • Birdwatching in the Seychelles

    A welcome - and a caution! This is not a comprehensive account of Birdwatching in the Seychelles. It is a personal account of a 2 week vacation in the Seychelles in 1998 by two ordinary mature (middle-aged) English birdwatchers! If you are thinking of visiting the Islands and hope to do some birding, you may find it of some help. But don`t expect to find everything you need here!
Places to Stay
  • SeyVillas

    Your holidays should be a unique experience.?We advise you and together we will create an individual dreamlike holiday package. The Seychelles are one of the most attractive destinations worldwide, set in the beautiful Indian Ocean. We are looking forward to introducing you a very special offer. We have visited all of our accommodations personally to ensure high quality and to come up to your expectations

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