A bird’s eye view of Kakadu Bird Week

Kakadu National Park is a bird lover’s paradise – home to more than a third of Australia’s bird species. Kakadu is the perfect place to discover and learn all about the unique species of birds living in this magical part of the world, which is dual World Heritage listed for both its natural and cultural values.

Between 25 September and 2 October 2021, Australia will put on one spectacular show for Kakadu Bird Week. During the week, visitors and viewers are treated to specialist lectures, cultural events and some of Australia’s best birdwatching. The Kakadu Bird Week falls when the dry season in the Northern Territory is at its peak and the wetlands are receding in advance of the arrival of the monsoon rains. This is when Kakadu’s rich variety of birds and wildlife are at their most visible.  

Image: Parks Australia

Kakadu was voted number one in bird watching destinations in Australia by Australian Geographic and is home to over one-third of Australia’s bird species. It is a great opportunity to view graceful sea eagles, elegant kingfishers, distinctive Jabirus and watch the remarkable Jacanas (aka ‘Jesus Bird’) seemingly walking on water.

Kakadu Bird Week is the perfect time for nature lovers to discover Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. The Festival will feature a packed itinerary of events designed for both dedicated bird watchers and also those who just love seeing nature at its most spectacular.

Where to bird watch

Image: Parks Australia

Kakadu’s birdlife will blow you away. From colourful finches to majestic birds of prey, Kakadu is home to a third of Australia’s bird species. The park has been voted the number one birdwatching destination in Australia by Australian Geographic.

East Alligator

See rainforest and stone country birds from May to December. Take the Mangarre Rainforest walk to look for the beautiful rainbow pitta and the Bardedjilidji walk to see the endemic chestnut-quilled rock pigeon.

South Alligator

You’ll love the diversity of birdlife at our wetlands and billabongs. Marvel at the birdlife at Mamukala wetlands from an observation platform or a walk beside the wetlands. A mural shows the changing birdlife in each season. See magpie geese in their thousands from late August to late October – a traditional bush food for Kakadu’s Aboriginal owners. See the birdlife change as the Kungarre Walk passes through monsoon forest, woodlands and along a billabong.

Jabiru

Take the Illigadjarr walk to a seasonally-open wetland with a great mix of habitats. See wetland birds and waders in the paperbark swamp and a different mix of birds in the open grassland.

Burrungkuy (Nourlangie)

At the foot of the soaring escarpment, you’ll find a mix of woodland, stone country and wetland birds. Towards the end of the dry season birds flock to the remaining water at Anbangbang Billabong. From darters and magpie geese to large-billed pelicans, there’s a huge diversity to enjoy.

Yellow Water

Discover a riot of colourful birdlife at Yellow Water wetlands, or explore the nearby billabongs and lookouts. From a Yellow Water Cruise you’ll see dozens of different species, from the snake-necked darters drying their wings beside the water to tiny azure kingfishers hiding in the foliage (July to November).

Mary River

From common characters to rare and elusive birds, Kakadu’s south is sure to please. At Gunlom campground you can’t miss our raucous cockatoos and galahs, or the brightly-coloured dollar birds that swoop from their perch to catch flying insects. The paperbark swamp leading to Maguk Falls and plunge pool is a great place to see rainbow pittas. And for a chance to see the elusive Gouldian finch and the hooded parrot, look near the salmon gums and termite mounds on the Yurmikmik Walks.

What’s on during Bird Week

Image: Parks Australia

A highlight of the Festival will be three sunset cruises on Yellow Water Billabong, led by one of Australia’s most renowned ‘twitchers’, Luke ‘Hawk Eye’ Paterson from NT Bird Specialists. Luke’s 2½-hour Ultimate Bird Lovers Cruise will showcase Kakadu at its most dramatic. Seats will be strictly limited so that there is plenty of room for passengers to set up tripods to capture imagery of the birds and the landscape as the sun goes down over the wetlands. Available each evening from 26 – 28 September, passengers join the cruise at Cooinda Lodge from 4.15pm. Prices: $119 (adult), $99 (children). The cruises will be limited to a maximum of 30 passengers.

Yellow Water Cruises will also operate regular cruises throughout the week, from sunrise to sunset, and these cruises are included in special packages available from Cooinda Lodge and Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel (see below).

There will be a wide range of bookable and free events during the week, and a special program for children has been designed to introduce them to the wonders of birding and the science of discovery.

Kakadu National Park rangers will provide free daily walks at many of Kakadu’s major tourism sites, including Ubirr and Nourlangie. Details are available via: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/do/events/birdweek/

Hot tips for Bird Week

Download the Kakadu Birds app for iphone or Kakadu Birds app for android to meet around 50 of the favourite birds. See pictures, listen to bird calls and learn where to find them. Kakadu promotes responsible and minimal impact experiences with wildlife. Please do not use bird call playback to attract wildlife in the park.

Can’t make it in person this year? Watch the 2020 Birdwatching in Kakadu with Luke Paterson below.

Kate Webster is a world traveller, ocean lover and conservation warrior who is determined to make every moment count for not only herself, but the world around her. An editor and travel journalist, Kate travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the people and places she visits. She is a passionate conservation advocate, sustainable traveller and always travels with reason and cause.

kate@capturedtravel.com