Territory of Christmas Island

Christmas Island White-eye Zosterops natalis ©Linda Cash Website
Birding 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.

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Information
  • Tourist Information

    See http://www.christmas.net.au/ for background information on the island.

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Christmas Island

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Island covers approximately 135 sq km, of which about 85 sq km (63%) is Christmas Island National Park…
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birdwatching Holidays on Christmas Island

    Tour Operator
    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

    Facebook Page
    Just like it says - the local specialist who offer birding trips as well as general tourism…
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2014 [11 November] - Richard Baxter

    PDF Report
    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 [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.
  • 2016 [Summer] - Richard Baxter

    PDF Report
    It was with much excitement and anticipation that we gathered on Tuesday morning the 17 th November 2015 for the first trip to Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories of the 2015-16 migration season. Several migrants had been seen on both islands in recent days and the local endemics were ready to put on a great show
  • 2019 [09 September] - Mark Van Beirs

    PDF Report
    The little known and hard to see Black Grasswren was without a doubt the Bird of the Tour, not only because we saw this secretive and rare, iconic species so well, but also because of the major effort involved in getting to its remote haunts in the wilderness of the Kimberley in the extreme northwest of Australia. The Christmas Island pre trip produced amazing views of marvels like Red-tailed and exquisite “golden” White-tailed Tropicbirds, Christmas Island Frigatebird, the antediluvial-looking Abbott’s Booby and Christmas Island Boobook.
Other Links
  • 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
    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.
  • 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.

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