Territory of Norfolk Island

Spotless Crake Zapornia tabuensis ©Andy Walker Website
Birding Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. It and two neighbouring islands form one of Australia’s external territories.The Norfolk Island pine, a symbol of the island pictured in its flag, is an evergreen tree native to the island and is quite popular in Australia, where two related species also grow.

Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of the Australian mainland. Norfolk Island is the main island of the island group the territory encompasses and is located at 29°02′S 167°57′E. It has an area of 34.6 km² (13.3 mi²), with no large-scale internal bodies of water but 32 km of coastline. The island’s highest point is Mt Bates (319 m above sea level), located in the northwest quadrant of the island. The majority of the terrain is suitable for farming and other agricultural uses. Phillip Island, the second largest island of the territory, is located at 29°07′S 167°57′E, seven kilometres south of the main island.The coastline of Norfolk Island consists, to varying degrees, of cliff faces. A downward slope exists towards Sydney Bay and Emily Bay, the site of the original colonial settlement of Kingston. There are no safe harbour facilities on Norfolk Island, with loading jetties existing at Kingston and Cascade Bay. All goods not domestically produced are brought in by ship, usually to Cascade Bay. Emily Bay, protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, is the only safe area for recreational swimming, although surfing waves can sometimes be found in Ball Bay.The climate is subtropical and mild, with little seasonal differentiation. The island is the eroded remnant of a basaltic volcano active around 2.3 to 3 million years ago, with inland areas now consisting mainly of rolling plains. It forms the highest point on the Norfolk Ridge, part of the submerged continent Zealandia. The area surrounding Mt Bates is preserved as the Norfolk Island National Park. The park, covering around 10% of the land of the island, contains remnants of the forests which originally covered the island, including stands of subtropical rainforest. The park also includes the two smaller islands to the south of Norfolk Island, Nepean Island and Phillip Island. The vegetation of Phillip Island was devastated due to the introduction during the penal era of pest animals such as pigs and rabbits, giving it a red-brown colour as viewed from Norfolk; however, pest control and remediation work by park staff has recently brought some improvement to the Phillip Island environment.The major settlement on the Island is Burnt Pine, located predominantly along Taylor’s Road, where the shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall are located. Settlement also exists over much of the island, consisting largely of widely-separated homesteads.

Norfolk Island has 174 native plants; 51 of them are endemic. At least 18 of the endemic species are rare or threatened. The Norfolk Island Palm Rhopalostylis baueri and the Smooth Tree-fern Cyathea brownii, the tallest tree-fern in the world, are common in the Norfolk Island National Park but rare elsewhere on the island. 150 bird species were originally present; 6 are extinct and three species and two subspecies are highly endangered. Norfolk island has only one native mammal, Gould’s wattled bat Chalinolobus gouldii, which is very rare or may be extinct. Before European colonization, most of Norfolk Island was covered with subtropical rain forest, the canopy of which was made of Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) in exposed areas, and the palm Rhopalostylis baueri and tree ferns Cyathea brownii and C. australia in moister protected areas. The understory was thick with lianas and ferns covered the forest floor. Only one small tract (5km²) of rainforest remains, which was declared as the Norfolk Island National Park in 1986. This forest has been infested with several introduced plants. The cliffs and steep slopes of Mt. Pitt supported a community of shrubs, herbaceous plants, and climbers. A few tracts of clifftop and seashore vegetation have been preserved. The rest of the island has been cleared for pasture and housing. Grazing and introduced weeds currently threaten the native flora, displacing it in some areas. In fact, there are more weed species than native species on Norfolk Island.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 162

    162 birds have been seen... however, only 59 are resident or regular and a further 30 occasionally spotted the rest can be regarded as vagrant or acidental
  • Number of endemics: 4

    Norfolk Island Parakeet Cyanoramphus cookii Norfolk Island Gerygone Gerygone modesta Slender-billed White-eye Zosterops tenuirostris White-chested White-eye Zosterops albogularis

  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Norfolk Island - The Birds

    by Margaret Christian Green Eyes Publications | 2005 | Paperback | 108 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 0975821202 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Norfolk Island Botanic Garden

    The Norfolk Island Botanic Gardens house a collection of specimens of plants endemic to Norfolk Island. The garden aims to develop and display a collection of Norfolk Island's unique flora with a strong emphasis on increasing knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of Australia's plant heritage

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Norfolk Island

    WebpageSatellite View
    The island boasts a bird list of one hundred and sixteen species. Of these sixty-six are vagrants or non-breeding migrants. A number of the seabirds which nest on Phillip Island are subject to agreements which Australia has entered into with the Governments of Japan and the People's Republic of China…
  • Phillip Island

    WebpageSatellite View
    With the extermination of rabbits from the Island attention has turned to weed control, revegetation and monitoring of seabirds particularly Whale Birds. Continuing work to control African Olives around the endangered Hibiscus has been undertaken.
Trip Reports

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

  • 2013 [01 January] - Phil Gregory

    …The Norfolk Island Golden Whistler must be a strong candidate for a split, and work on what currently constitutes Pacific Robin might yield up another as these sure don’t look or sound like the Fiji birds. Trip List total ended up at 45 plus one large raptor sp. I missed Goldfinch and Nankeen Kestrel and had no sign of Shining Bronze Cuckoo, and think we are maybe just too early for Little Shearwater (though they say two taxa breed here, one in summer and one in winter), whilst White-necked Petrel again eluded me despite seeing so many Black-winged from shore…
  • 2021 [03 March] - Neil Broekhuizen

    PDF Report
    With continuing international travel restrictions in Australia, we decided to take a short trip to Norfolk Island to pick up the four endemic species there and have a short holiday. There are direct flights most days from Sydney, taking around two and a half hours to get to the Island. Although you don’t need passports if you are an Australian citizen, most people use them as a form of ID as you have to travel through the International Terminal at Sydney Airport. We stayed in a charming cottage, Tintoela, that came with a basic hire car.
Other Links
  • Norfolk Island National Park Birdwatching

    Norfolk Island is home to a fascinating mixture of land, water and seabirds. The island's isolation means that although Norfolk has relatively few land and forest bird species, a high proportion of these birds are found nowhere else in the world
  • Norfolk Island Parakeet Cyanoramphus cookii

    Full species profile
  • Norfolk Island White-eye Zosterops albogularis

    Full Species profile
  • Norfolk Island's Flora & Fauna

    Some Birds To Watch Out For

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