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Whether you are going on a dedicated bird watching trip or want to see birds as part of your family holiday, a visit to a bird park or sanctuary is a great opportunity to see birds up close.

A number of bird parks include free-flying aviaries so you can view birds as they swoop above you in an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible. Other bird parks are involved in conservation and breeding programmes so you can be sure that your entrance fee is being put to good use to care for wildlife and the environment.

A bird sanctuary offers an even better opportunity to view birds in their natural habitats and if you book an excursion you will be helped by local guides to know which birds to look out for. Many bird sanctuaries offer protection to some of the world's most critically endangered birds and tourism is essential to continue these conservation efforts.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kumarakom, India 1. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kumarakom, India
Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom bird sanctuary is spread across 14 acres of lush woodland. It is an ornithologists’ paradise and a favourite haunt of migratory birds such as the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal.
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Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, Anchorage, Alaska 2. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, Anchorage, United States
A wooden boardwalk winds 1,550 feet through marsh and across watery openings and sedges, perfect habitat for a rich variety of birds including gulls, Arctic terns, eagles, red-necked phalaropes, ducks and grebes.
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Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, Wiltshire, Jamaica 3. Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, Wiltshire, Jamaica
Home to thousands of birds from Jamaica and migrant birds who have flown thousands of miles to feed here. The red-billed streamertail and Jamaica mango are so tame that you will be able to hand-feed them with sugar water.
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Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Kamataka, India 4. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Kamataka, India
Although, Ranganathittu covers an area of less than 1sq km, the bird population density is very high and you will spot painted storks, spoon bills, white ibises, egrets, herons and partridges that live on tiny islands within the sanctuary
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Birdpark Malta, Salina, Malta 5. Birdpark Malta, Salina, Malta
Home to over 200 species of birds and animals. Flamingos, pelicans, swans, storks owls, cranes, parrots and many other amazing birds from around the world thrive happily with a variety of friendly mammals and reptiles.
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Bali Bird Park, Gianyar, Indonesia 6. Bali Bird Park, Gianyar, Indonesia
Located at the Gianyar Regency, the bird park is home to over 5,000 birds across 250 species from the Indonesia archipelago, South America, and South Africa, including the endangered Bali mynar. Other attractions include interactive feeding and a free flight bird show.
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Birds Of Eden, The Crags, South Africa 7. Birds Of Eden, The Crags, South Africa
The world's largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary is built over indigenous forest and includes a natural gorge with a waterfall. It is home to 3,500 birds including cranes, flamingos, Golden pheasants and the shy but colourful Tauraco species.
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Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Caroni, Trinidad 8. Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Caroni, Trinidad
The Caroni Swamp includes fifteen thousand acres of marshland, tidal lagoons, and mangrove trees and houses a variety of wild birds including osprey, herons, white flamingos, ployers and egrets as well as Trinidad’s national bird, the scarlet ibis.
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Jurong Bird Park, Singapore 9. Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Charming visitors the world over since 1971, Jurong Bird Park is one of the most renowned bird sanctuaries with some of the largest free-flying aviaries in the world. In habitats that mirror their naturalistic environments, it is home to a collection of more than 5,000 birds across 400 species.
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Sultanpur National Park Bird Sanctuary, Gurgaon, India 10. Sultanpur National Park Bird Sanctuary, Gurgaon, India
Every year more than 100 migratory bird species arrive at Sultanpur in search of feeding grounds and to pass the winter including Siberian cranes, greater flamingo, ruff, black winged stilt, common teal, yellow wagtail and rosy pelican.
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Kiwi Birdlife Park, Queenstown, New Zealand 11. Kiwi Birdlife Park, Queenstown, New Zealand
A wildlife sanctuary found in the heart of Queenstown. The park holds and display over 20 species of native NZ wildlife in our 5 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, all of which are part of nationally managed programmes.
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Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve 12. Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve, Copan, Honduras
An innovative tropical bird reserve in western Honduras that cares for rescued and endangered birds of the American tropics. The park also includes a high altitude coffee farm and tropical garden.
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Lake Nakuru National Park, Rift Valley, Kenya 13. Lake Nakuru National Park, Rift Valley, Kenya
On the floor of the Great Rift Valley, surrounded by wooded and bushy grassland, lies the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park. Visitors can enjoy the wide ecological diversity and varied habitats that range from Lake Nakuru itself to the surrounding escarpment and picturesque ridges.
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Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, Kuala Lumper, Malaysia 14. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, Kuala Lumper, Malaysia
Located in the serene and scenic famous Lake Gardens, the KL Bird Park offers 20.9 acres of verdant valley terrain to be explored. See hornbills, peacocks, lorikeets and storks perching and flying about freely in natural and beautifully landscaped surroundings.
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George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Vancouver, Canada 15. George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Vancouver, Canada
One of Canada's top bird-watching sites in the heart of the Fraser River estuary. Over 280 species of birds have been recorded at the sanctuary including plentiful mallards, Canada geese and snow geese, to the more uncommon species such as the black-crowned night heron and gyrfalcon.
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Loro Parque, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife 16. Loro Parque, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
The park is famous for its many parrots, but it's also a sanctuary for a wide selection of endangered species from around the world. You can find the largest population of penguins in the world at Loro Parque - outside the Arctic regions, of course!
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Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, North Carolina 17. Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, North Carolina
Sylvan Heights Bird Park is home to the worlds largest collection of waterfowl. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation, education, research and breeding projects.
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Umgeni River Bird Park, Durban South Africa 18. Umgeni River Bird Park, Durban South Africa
The park is situated in 3.5 hectares of lush tropical landscaping and houses an ever-increasing collection of more than 800 birds from 200 species. Some species are the only representatives of their kind in Africa whilst others are commonly kept as pets.
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Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida 19. Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida
Over 140 species of birds have been spotted at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands including grebes, shrikes, kingfishers, cuckoos and woodpeckers. These species thrive in the various wetland zones that have been developed for a mixture of habitat types.
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Bird World Kuranda, Queensland, Australia 20. Bird World Kuranda, Queensland, Australia
Immerse yourself in one of the most unique wildlife attractions of Tropical North Queensland. There are brilliant Amazonian macaws, the endangered and stately cassowary, cheeky rainbow lorikeets, galahs, cockatoos and many more. Don't be surprised to find a feathered friend taking a ride on your shoulder!
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Monte Casino Bird Park, Johannesburg, South Africa 21. Monte Casino Bird Park, Johannesburg, South Africa
Wander along enchanted walkways within magnificent gardens and marvel at a variety of colourful birds, mammals, reptiles and unusual animals from around the world. Over 60 species of birds include scarlet Ibises, and nicobar pigeons.
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Phuket Bird Park, Phuket, Thailand 22. Phuket Bird Park, Phuket, Thailand
Located across 12 acres, Phuket Bird Park is the only private bird park on the island. The park has over 1,000 birds of more than 100 species from Asia, Africa and South America. By nestling them within a beautiful garden with a natural waterfall, they are close to their natural habitats.
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Parque Das Aves, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 23. Parque Das Aves, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil
A unique and unforgettable experience in which you will find amazing birds from all four corners of Brazil and from various parts of the world, many of them endangered. Enter the immersive aviaries to feel the beat of wings from vibrant macaws and look into the eyes of a toucan.
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Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Noida, India 24. Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Noida, India
Situated at the Okhla barrage over Yamuna River and known as a haven for over 300 bird species, especially waterbirds including crticially endangered and threatened species.
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World Bird Sanctuary, Valley Park, Missouri 25. World Bird Sanctuary, Valley Park, Missouri
The World Bird Sanctuary’s mission is to preserve the earth’s biological diversity and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. We work to fulfill that mission through education, captive breeding, field studies and rehabilitation.
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Whether you’re visiting New York for a short city break or swinging by The Big Apple as part of a longer American holiday, Central Park is one of the best bird watching spots in the United States, attracting birders from all around the world.

Central Park

Covering 843 acres, it is home to approximately 230 species of birds that reside in its meadows, rocky crags, woodlands, streams, ponds and lakes. In 1998 the park was designated an Important Bird Area in New York by the National Audobon Society due to the number of important man-made avian habitats. Some birds are year round residents while others fly through on their spring and autumn migrations on the Atlantic Flyway.

In 1890 Eugene Schieffelin, an eccentric drug manufacturer, released 60 non-native European starlings into Central Park followed by another 40 a year later, in a misguided attempt to introduce all the birds mentioned by William Shakespeare to North America. It has been estimated that there are now approximately 200 million starlings inhabiting North America descended from these birds. They are considered an invasive species and have had a negative impact on a number of native North American birds.

There are a number guided bird walks around that you can take part in led by some colourful denizens of New York whose knowledge will help you find some of the rare avian residents of Central Park; ask your hotel for details. Alternatively you could grab a field guide and a pair of binoculars and see what flies your way.
5 birds to look out for on your visit

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

The magnolia warbler was discovered by American ornithologist Alexander Wilson in a magnolia tree near Fort Adams, Mississippi, hence its name. It is a small and active bird but not as difficult to spot as some warblers, as it stays low in shrubs and trees. Magnolia warblers migrate to the south in winter, so you’ll only find them during the summer in Central Park.
Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

One of North America’s most iconic birds, the Northern cardinal is hard to miss with its bright red plumage and distinctive crest, although the female is much browner. Both sexes get their colouring from their diet of seeds which contain carotenoid pigments. It is a mascot of seven American states – more than any other bird - as well as many professional and college athletic teams including the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Despite their name, eastern screech owls do not screech but make calls that sound a bit like a horse’s neigh. Eastern screech owls are small measuring up to just 25 cm in length with grey and rust plumage. They can be difficult to spot due to their strictly nocturnal habitats, but during the day you may see one roosting in the cavity of a tree trunk. They are ferocious hunters and in the past earned the nickname “feathered wildcats” .
Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue jays are another well known American bird with distinctive blue crests and upperparts. Sometimes known as jaybirds, they are brilliant mimics and emit loud warning screams when disturbed. Autumn is one of the best times to look out for them when they form large flocks collecting and burying thousands of beechnuts, acorns and hickory nuts. They will return during winter to retrieve and eat the nuts.
Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Like Bohemian waxwings, cedar waxwings are named after the wax-like feathers on their wing tips. They are slightly smaller than Bohemian waxwings and have quite different plumage that makes them easy to identify. They feed on berries, particular from eastern red cedars, a type of juniper, as well as dogwood, hawthorn and winterberry. Cedar waxwings have been known to get drunk from eating overripe berries that have fermented.
Where to stay

Hudson
Waldorf Astoria
Pod 51
The Hudson
Waldorf Astoria
Pod 51


Whether you are planning for an organized bird watching tour, or just hoping to do some bird watching on holiday some preparation beforehand will ensure you make the most of your time and see all the birds you hope to see.

Passports

Before you travel take some time to find out about the birds local to the area. A good field guide will help you identify which species will be present at the time of year you plan to go on holiday. There are also many online resources including bird checklists and information on what birds to see on local tourist information websites.

Remember you may be seeing birds that you are unfamiliar with so you will want to understand what plumage the birds will be wearing at the time of your trip and learn how to spot birds quickly by noting field marks, behaviours, songs and calls before you go.

If you are going to be visiting an area which could include rare sightings, manage your expectations by finding out whether there will be any restrictions on what you can do and how close you will be able to get to the birds.

Take some time to find out about the locality you are visiting. If you are going on an organized tour or trip then a local birder will probably be able to guide you; otherwise you will want to familiarize yourself with local maps and transport information to find out how to get from your hotel or other accommodation to the areas you wish to bird watch in.

Find out about the access and admission prices to nature reserves, bird parks and hiking trails as well as opening times during the different seasons. Some bird parks may require groups to purchase tickets in advance but you should be able to do this easily online.

If may be worth contacting a local bird watching or rambling or walking group before you travel who will be able to give you invaluable information and tips to help you make the most of your bird watching trips. They’ll probably be able to recommend the best pubs and restaurants in the area too.

It is important that you pack properly for your bird watching holiday. As well as clothes suitable for the local climate, you will want to take your binoculars, field guide and notebook as well as a hat, sunscreen, insect repellant and a basic first aid kit.

Hiking boots and wellington boots are heavy and will take up valuable room in your suitcase and although you can often hire them from local lodges, if you are worried about developing blisters then investing in a lightweight pair of trail shoes is a good alternative.

Don’t forget your passport, visas if required, travel insurance, travel itinerary plans and contact details of your host or tour operator. If you are unsure about anything before you go then speak to the organizer of your holiday so that you can fully enjoy your time when you arrive.

Jamaica is a tropical island with a wide range of habitats including lush jungle, majestic mountains and beautiful coastlines. It is a haven for birdlife with over 300 species recorded.

Jamaica

However, you won't have to venture very far from your hotel to have an amazing bird watching experience; many species can be found darting about hotel gardens. But if you want to go further afield the best way to do it is to join an organized tour with a local guide who will be able to point out some of the more unusual and elusive species

Tailor-make your dream bird watching holiday to Jamaica with our guide on where to stay, what to do and the bird species to look out for.
What To See

Jamaica is home to 28 endemic birds. If you plan to see them all then a trip of between 4 and 7 days should give you enough time to visit the different locations where they can be found. Here are 5 endemics to watch out for:
Red-Billed Streamertail
Image credit: Ron Knight
Red-Billed Streamertail
The national bird of Jamaica, the red-billed streamertail, is known locally as the Doctor Bird. It is mentioned in Ian Fleming's James Bond short story For Your Eyes Only. The opening line of the book describes it as "The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world." Red-billed streamertails can be found across all of Jamaica except the most eastern part of the island.
   
Jamaican Tody
Image Credit: Dominic Sherony
Jamaican Tody
Jamaican todies can be difficult to spot due to their small size. They are known locally as Rasta Birds or sometimes the Jesus Bird due to the patch of red on its breast which it is said it acquired from a drop of blood that fell onto it after pulling a nail from Jesus's hand after he was crucified. Once spotted, it is not a shy bird and happily sit for extended periods of time allowing for close observation.
   
Orangequit
Image credit: Mike's Birds
Orangequit
Orangequits are small finch-like birds that can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Jamaica particularly in the canopies of evergreen forests and shade coffee plantations. They travel in pairs or mixed flocks feeding mainly on nectar or fruits. The orangequit has a number of local nicknames including Blue Blaize, Blue Badas, Blue Gay, Long Mouth Quit, and Swee, after its thin, high-pitched call.
   
Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo
Image credit: Ron Knight
Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo
Chestnut-bellied cuckoos are more often heard than seen so you'll need to keep your eyes peeled to spot one of these relatively uncommon birds. They are resident throughout Jamaica in montane evergreen forest moving to lower altitudes during the winter months. They are surprisingly stealthy, running between vegetation or sitting still for long periods of time. Locally, they are known as Old Man Birds, Rain Birds, Hunters or May Birds.
   
Yellow-Billed Parrot
Image credit: Wayne Sutherland
Yellow-Billed Parrot
One of two species of parrot endemic to Jamaica, the yellow-billed parrot, otherwise known as the Jamaican amazon, is found up to 1200m on the island and is abundant in the John Crow Mountains, on Mount Diablo and in the Cockpit Country. Head to Hope Botanical Gardens to see flocks of these green birds chattering noisily in the trees overhead. Its local nickname is Yellowbill.

Where To Stay

Hotel Mockingbird Hill

Hotel Mockingbird Hill is set on a hilltop on Jamaica's northeast coast between the Blue Mountains and the Caribbean Sea. It is famous for the number of birds that inhabit its tropical gardens which are mentioned in the ornithologist James Bond's book, Birds of the West Indies.

Enjoy a leisurely meal of slow cooked food with a Jamaican twist on the terrace as you watch hummingbirds, streamertails and parrots flying amongst the lush greenery. A number of bespoke bird watching tours can be arranged through the hotel.

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Forres Park Resort & Spa
Jamaica Palace Hotel
Green Castle Estate
Forres Park Resort & Spa Jamaica Palace Hotel Green Castle Estate

Things To Do
Rockland Bird Sanctuary Tour From Montego Bay Rockland Bird Sanctuary Tour From Montego Bay
Located in the hills of the community of Anchovy, the Rockland Bird Sanctuary offers inner peace and tranquility as you get up close and personal with Jamaica's national bird the red-billed streamertail, locally called the doctor bird. There is an optional add-on to the tour which includes a visit to Montego Bay's "Hip-Strip" for duty-free and craft shopping. FIND OUT MORE ...
   
Scenic Blue Mountain Tour From Kingston Scenic Blue Mountain Tour From Kingston
Explore the majestic Blue Mountains by taking a hike up Jamaica’s tallest peak. This area boasts many spectacular scenic views and diverse flora and fauna and an abundance of bird species including the national bird of Jamaica, the doctor bird. This trip is a must-do for anyone who loves nature and is visiting Jamaica. FIND OUT MORE ...
   
Mayfield Falls Mayfield Falls Tour in Jamaica
Immerse yourself in the energizing waters of Jamaica's Mayfield Falls on this half-day adventure tour. Depart from either Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay or Falmouth toward this spectacular waterfall complex comprised of two gushing falls and 21 natural pools. Hike through a Rasta village and along the Mayfield River to reach your destination. Along the way, learn about the history of the river and the many varieties of plant species and birds, butterflies and indigenous wildlife found in the area. FIND OUT MORE ...
   
Negril Flora and Fauna Of Jamaica Safari From Negril
Get close to native Jamaican culture in this fun filled trip through the wildlife preserve. Explore the unique habitats of three natural flora and fauna environments: the wetlands, rainforest and grassland. From the boardwalks, see native crocodiles, iguanas, tortoises, snakes and plenty more animals. Visit the natural lakes and spring ponds and watch wading birds in their natural habitats. FIND OUT MORE ...
   

Essential Reading

A Photographic Guide To The Birds Of Jamaica
A Field Guide To Birds Of The West Indies
A Birdwatchers' Guide To Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico And The Caymans



We have partnered with Sykes Cottages to offer you a range of holiday cottages in areas well known for their bird watching opportunities.

Staying in a self-catering holiday cottage can give you so much more flexibility than staying in a hotel. Without meals at designated times, you can eat breakfast when it suits you, whether you are up with the lark or fancy a lie-in. It’s then up to you to decide whether to cook up something delicious yourself or head out to a local café for a leisurely brunch.

If you’re after proper rest and relaxation, self-catering holiday cottages will give you some much-needed peace and quiet that a hotel may not. You won’t be disturbed by noisy hotel guests coming in late at night and many of our selected cottages are in secluded areas of the countryside which means you’ll be able to get a great night’s sleep ready to wake up feeling refreshed for the day ahead.

Our featured cottages all have fully equipped kitchens, comfy living areas and cosy bedrooms and many come with other facilities such as swimming pools, hot tubs, log fires and four-poster beds. Others have their own private gardens and terraces or are close by open fields and woodland, so you won’t have to travel far to enjoy a spot of bird watching.

England Bird Watching Holidays
Birdwatching Holidays Scotland
Bird Watching Holidays Wales
Bird Watching Holidays In England Bird Watching Holidays In Scotland Bird Watching Holidays In Wales

If you've never been on an organised bird watching holiday or tour then here are 10 great reasons to do so:

Bird Watching Tour

1. A bird watching tour is a a great way of meeting like minded people If you're worried about travelling on your own then joining a tour is the ideal alternative and you may meet fellow birders who become friends for life.

2. A tour may work out cheaper than organising the holiday yourself as the tour operator may be able to get group discounts. Remember though, you are also paying for the convenience of a tour, something which money generally can't buy.

3. If you're visiting a country for the first time then going on a bird watching tour is efficient. The tour will have a planned itinerary and visits to bird parks, nature reserves and other attractions will all have been pre-booked saving you more time for bird watching.

4. A bird watching tour makes budgeting easier. There's nothing worse than budgeting a set amount for a holiday to find you run out of money half way through. With a tour everything is paid for upfront so you know that you will be able to enjoy everything you planned to do.

5. On a bird watching tour you will be led by a local guide which smoothes out any language difficulties as he or she will also act as your translator.

6. If you opt for a small group bird watching tour then the trip can often be customised. Ask your tour operator before you go about the various options and they will usually be more than willing to accommodate your requests.

7. The tour operator and guide will know the area well and make sure that you see highlights that you may otherwise miss. The guide will have knowledge of the local wildlife habitats which means you may be lucy enough to spot some rare birds.

8. If you're booking with a well-known tourist company then the operator will be bonded and fully insured which means if they go bust you'll not have to make your own way home. However, do check your travel insurance and the credentials of the tour operator before travelling.

9. Your tour operator will take care of everything so you won't need to deal with unscrupulous taxi drivers, corrupt customs officials or irate hoteliers who refuse to move you from a room with no view to one with a sea view.

10. On a bird watching tour you may get access to locations and venues that you would not be able to if you were travelling solo. Many tour operators have built up good relationships with local tourist attractions and you can take advantage of this.

If you're still not convinced then take a look at our bird watching holidays and tours for more inspiration.

Even if you’re not going on an organized bird watching holiday or tour, a getaway with family and friends is still a great opportunity to watch birds.

Birds At The Beach

Whether you’re going on a weekend city break or a two-week sunshine holiday you may be lucky enough to spot some new species in unfamiliar environments. New York’s Central Park, for example, is home to over 150 species of birds, many of which are not native to the UK, including cardinals, warblers and tanagers.

Some of the best places to watch birds when on holiday are:

Public gardens and parks
Canal and riverside walks
Coastlines and shores
Mountains and lakes

Before you go on holiday it is important to do some preparation to make the most of your time, particularly if you are going to have to sneak off for a few hours to go bird watching.

Take some time beforehand to familiarize yourself with the birds that inhabit the local area. A field guide will be able to give you advice on the species you are likely to see and the best time of year to spot them.

Try contacting a local birding organization before you go who should be able to advise you on places to watch birds. They may also have some organized days out such as guided walks you could join.

Pack a compact pair of binoculars and a digital camera as well as a notebook for jotting down field notes on any new species you observe. Photos and descriptions will help you with positive identification later if you are unable to do so at the time you see a new bird.

While you’re away why not spend a day visiting a bird park or sanctuary? As well as seeing local birds this may give you an opportunity to see exotic and endangered birds in free-flying aviaries for example, and many bird parks and sanctuaries are involved in conservation programmes so you can be sure that any entrance fees are going to a good cause. Check for activities and shows they put on that children can get involved with.

Staycations remain popular so even if you’re staying in the UK for your holiday choose somewhere with a wide variety of birdlife such as the highlands of Scotland where you will be able to see some magnificent birds of prey amongst beautiful scenery.

However you decide to spend your time, remember a holiday is a time to relax and enjoy the company of others so don’t stress too much if you don’t get a lot of time to bird watch and don’t worry if you don’t see any of the birds you planned to. There is always next year after all.

The Penguin Parade is a nightly ritual of hundreds of tiny fairy penguins waddling home to their burrows from the ocean across the sandy beaches of Phillip Island, Australia. Watch them as they feed their young with a catch of anchovies and other fish.

Penguin Parade, Phillip Island

Phillip Island is home to one of the world’s largest colonies of the world’s smallest penguins and this fascinating site is not one to be missed.

The evening tour will begin with a scenic drive through Melbourne and the countryside on the outskirts of the city in an air-conditioned coach.

You will then have the opportunity to visit the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre and learn about the local wildlife including koalas and the large fur seal colony that lives just offshore.

You can select the standard viewing option or the Penguin Plus Viewing Platform for a better vantage point to watch the little penguins as they return home for the night.

There is also the opportunity to spot migratory birds such as shearwaters, Royal spooonbills, straw-necked ibis and the spectacle of over a million mutton birds returning to their colony at sunset.


Throughout the tour you will be led by a friendly and knowledgeable guide who will provide informative commentary throughout.

The price of your admission tickets also contributes to some of the conservation work that takes place on Phillip Island.

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This A-Z guide features 26 species of beautiful, elusive, iconic, rare or unusual birds that can be found in some of the best holiday destinations in the world. Pick a species and plan your next trip around it!
A – Atlantic Puffin
The Atlantic puffin is also known as the common puffin and is the only species of puffin found in the Atlantic Ocean. Its big colourful bill and striking piebald plumage gives it a quirky appearance and it has a number of nicknames including the “clown of the ocean” and “sea parrot.

Atlantic Puffins

Where to see them
The Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland are famous for their large colonies of Atlantic puffins. As well as many other seabirds such as guillemots, kittiwakes, shags and razorbills you can also see thousands of grey seals and their pups.
B – Blue-Footed Booby
Famous for its mating dance, the blue-footed booby has a rather comical appearance. In fact the blue-footed booby derives its name from the Spanish word “bobo” which means silly or stupid and was probably because of its clumsy walk on land.

Blue-Footed Boobies

Where to see them
Blue-footed boobies are found in the Pacific Ocean but most of them live on the Galapagos Islands where you will also have the opportunity to see the vast number of endemic species that inhabit the islands including Darwin’s finches and giant tortoises.
C – Cactus Wren
Although, cactus wrens will venture into urban backyards they are true desert birds and will rarely drink from free-standing water, instead getting their liquids from food. It nests in cactus plants where it is protected by the prickly spines of the plant.

Cactus Wren

Where to see them
The Sonoran Desert in Arizona is home to a number of desert birds including woodpeckers, roadrunners, mockingbirds and thrashers. Also look out for the wonderfully named desert bighorn and the banded Gila monster, a species of venomous lizard.
D – Dalmatian Pelican
The Dalmatian pelican is the largest species of pelican weighing up to 15 kg with a 3 m wingspan. There were once thought to be millions of Dalmatian pelicans in Romania alone but numbers have dwindled to between just 10,000 and 20,000. Unfortunately they are still poached and in markets in Mongolia you may find pelican bills for sale.

Dalmatian Pelicans

Where to see them
The Danube Delta is one of the most important breeding grounds for Dalmatian pelicans. It is also one of the largest wetlands in the world and home to a diverse number of birds including collared pratincoles, paddyfield warblers, somber tits and levant sparrowhawks.
E – Egyptian Vulture
The Egyptian vulture is a small Old World Vulture that breeds in southern Europe and northern Africa as well as east, west and southern Asia. They are usually seen on their own or in pairs soaring on thermals with other scavengers and birds of prey.

Egyptian Vulture

Where to see them
In September, the Strait of Gibraltar is a major thoroughfare for migration as up to 400,000 birds leave Europe for wintering in southern Africa. As well as Egyptian vultures you can see honey buzzards, sparrowhawks, short-toed eagles and black and white storks soaring overhead.
F – Fairy Penguin
Also known as the little penguin and in New Zealand as blue penguins , the fairy penguin is the smallest species of penguin standing just 33 cm height. Like all penguins, fairy penguins can’t fly and spend most of the day swimming and foraging at sea for small fish and crustaceans.

Fairy Penguin

Where to see them
Fairy penguins are seen all along the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand but one of the best places to view them is at Phillip Island where the evening parade of penguins across Summerland beach has become a major tourist attraction.
G – Giant ibis
The giant ibis is the largest of the world’s ibises standing a metre tall and weighing over 4 kg. It is incredibly rare with just 100 pairs remaining in the wild and is a shy bird feeding far from villages in secluded pools. It is therefore a bird watcher’s dream sighting.

Where to see them
Giant ibis are confined to the wetlands of Cambodia’s Northen Plains and for a realistic change of spotting one you will need to take a bird watching tour to Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. Other rare species that can be spotted here include Alexandrine parakeets, white-rumped falcons, woolly-necked storks, and green peafowl.

H – Helmeted Hornbill
As one of the world’s weirdest looking birds, the helmeted hornbill is a must-see on any serious birder’s bucket list. They are known as are known as the "farmers of the rainforest" due to their role in spreading seeds, and the reduction in its numbers could have a devastating impact on the local ecosystem.

Where to see them

Helmeted hornbills are critically endangered but in the pristine forest within Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia, they are thriving. There are over 300 recorded bird species in the forest including pheasants, pittas, woodpeckers and other hornbills

I – Icelandic Falcon
Otherwise known as the gyrfalcon, this is the largest member of the falcon family and some would argue, the most beautiful. Its plumage, which can vary from all-white to dark brown depends on its located – it breeds on Arctic coasts and tundra and the islands of North America, Europe and Asia.

Where to see them

Go to Iceland to see its national bird. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery you can also see reindeer, whales, Arctic foxes and puffins Visit between September and April and you may be lucky enough to see the northern lights and take some time to chill out in a hot spring.

J – Jamaican Tody
The Jamaican tody is a tiny, colourful bird with a bright green body and long, red bill. It is a difficult bird to spot due to its size and colour but once seen it is not shy and will stay still allowing it to be observed for some time. Like many birds, it has acquired a nickname from and is known locally as the Rasta Bird

Where to see them

The Jamaican tody is endemic to Jamaica and a visit to this Caribbean island will not disappoint. Be sure to visit the lush, tropical gardens of the Hotel Mockingbird Hill. It is teeming with beautiful birdlife including streamertails, cuckoos, parrots and owls.

K – Keel-Billed Toucan
The keel-billed toucan is a Latin American toucan also known as the rainbow-billed toucan. It has one of the most colourful beaks in the bird world with a mix of green, red, yellow and orange. The keel-billed toucan is native to the jungles of South America where it lives in holes in trees and travelling in flocks of between 6 and 15 birds.

Keel-Billed Toucan

Where to see them
Stay at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in Panama, and be woken by the sound of birdsong and howler monkeys. Venture into the dense undergrowth of the rainforest to see keel-billed toucans, as well as manakins, parrots, flycatchers, tanagers and woodpeckers and spend an evening hunting for owls, nightjars and nocturnal mammals such as sloths.
L – Lady Amherst’s Pheasant
Although they have been introduced elsewhere Lady Amherst’s pheasants are native to south-western China and Burma. The male bird is very colourful with a long tail and red, yellow, blue and green plumage. Despite its showy appearance it is quite difficult to spot in the wild as they tend to inhabit dense undergrowth.

Where to see them

The variety of habitat in China offers spectacular bird watching opportunities. Although it is possible to get on a plane and do-it-yourself, due, to the sheer size of the country it is advisable to join an organized bird watching tour. Wawu Montain in Sichuan is particularly rich with wildlife where not only could you see Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, but also Temminck’s tragopan and a red panda.
M – Magnificent Frigatebird
Male magnificent frigatebirds are noted for their large red throat pouches that they inflate during breeding season to attract a mate. It is the largest species of frigatebird measuring up to a 100 cm in length. It is found over tropical and subtropical waters off America and there are small populations on the Galapagos Islands and the Cape Verde Islands.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Where to see them:
In North America, magnificent frigatebirds are most commonly seen in Florida. They nest on the Dry Tortugas, a small group of islands at the end of the Florida Keys accessible only by boat or seaplane. The National Park has an official list of nearly 300 species but the best time to go is spring when dozens of migratory birds can pass through in a single day including common yellowthroats, ovenbirds and Cape May warblers.
N – Nicobar Pigeon
The Nicobar pigeon is a fancy looking bird found only on islands throughout the Pacific. It has metallic green plumage with long hackles. Unlike other pigeons, they tend to fly in single file rather than loose flocks and nest in dense forest on offshore islets, often in large colonies.

Nicobar Pigeon

Where to see them
Take a speedboat out to the idyllic Similan Islands off the coast of southern Thailand to see Nicobar pigeon, which can be found everywhere, as well as white-bellied sea eagles and black kites. Ko Similan is the largest island surrounded with rock formations and coral reefs under crystal clear waters and there are opportunities for diving and snorkelling.
O – Ostrich
Ostriches are native to more than 25 countries in Africa living in nomadic groups of up to 50 birds. It has the fastest land speed of any bird and when threatened can attack with a powerful kick of its legs.

Ostrich

Where to see them
Although there are many ostrich farms around Oudtshoorn in South Africa, if you want to see ostriches in the wild then head to Karoo National Park. It’s also a sanctuary for springboks, zebras, buffalo, jackals and lions as well as number of species of eagle. Visit between October and December to see ostrich chicks.
P – Philippine Eagle

The magnificent Philippine eagle is also known as the monkey-eating eagle and is one of the rarest and most powerful birds in the world. It has long, shaggy crest feathers giving it the appearance of possessing a lion’s mane.

Where to see them
The Philippine eagle is endemic to the Philippines. The rainforests of Mount Kitanglad on Mindanao Island is the best place to spot one which also hosts many other rare and endemic species such as the giant scops owl, Apo sunbird and the montane racket-tail.
Q – Quetzal
The resplendent quetzal, sometimes simply referred to as a quetzal, is a bird known for its colourful plumage found from Southern Mexico to Panama. It was considered divine in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations and in several Mesoamerican languages the word quetzal can also mean precious or sacred.

Where to see them
Head to the cloud forest of Costa Rica to spot this beautiful bird. It offers some of the best canopy experiences in the world with the chance to see toucans, hummingbirds, kingfishers and parrots. Be brave and ‘fly’ through the dramatic scenery on a zip-wire if you dare.
R – Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia
The ribbon-tailed astrapia is a bird of paradise found in Papua New Guinea. It is the most recently discovered bird of paradise Although the metre long tails of the males, which are over three times the length of their body, put them at an advantage when selecting a mate, sometimes they have to untangle them before they are able to fly from predators.

Where to see them
Papua New Guinea is home to many stunning birds including 35 species of birds of paradise. You will also find bowerbirds, honeyeaters, flowerpeckers and orioles. And watch out for creepy crawlies – with over 25,000 species of beetle and 6,000 butterflies and moths , it has one of the richest insect fauna in the world.
S – Snowy Owl

Snowy owls are found in Artic regions in North America and Eurasia. They are easily recognisable with feline like faces and the adult male is almost pure white. Unlike many other owls they hunt during the day, preying on lemmings and other small rodents during breeding season.

Snowy Owl

Where to see them
Churchill in Canada is famous for the polar bears that will venture into the town in the autumn. It is a popular destination for bird watchers from May to August where you can see snowy owls, tundra swans and American golden plovers. During the summer thousands of beluga whales move into the warmer waters around Churchill to calf.
T – Titicaca Grebe
The Titicaca grebe is a flightless bird also known as the short-winged grebe. It is an excellent diver that feeds on fish and despite having few predators is endangered due to the introduction of monofilament line gill nets.

Where to see them

Titicaca grebes are found only on Lake Titicaca in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. The lake is home to over 500 aquatic species and including large populations of water birds. Expect to spot common miners, silver-eared grebes, yellow-winged blackbirds and puna ibises
U – Ultramarine Flycatcher
Male ultramarine flycatchers are very pretty blue and white birds that breed in the foothills of the Himalayas. They are small with a weak song so can be difficult to spot as they don’t often venture into the open, preferring to stay among foliage to feed.

Ultramarine Flycatcher

Where to see them
Bhutan is a bird watchers’ paradise and the Puna Tsang Chu Valley is no exception. Here you can see the ultramarine flycatcher as well as sapphire and verditer flycatchers. It is also home to the endangered white-bellied heron as well as Pallas’s fish eagle.
W – Wandering Albatross
Wandering albatrosses have the largest wingspans of all living birds measuring a massive 3.5 metres. They spend most of their life in the air only returning to land to breed and feed. During courtship they will put on impressive displays involving screams, grunts, whistles and bill clapping.

Wandering Albatross

Where to see them
Wandering albatrosses have a large range across the Southern Ocean but one of the best places to see them is the island of South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Take a cruise from the Falkland Islands to also see colonies of penguins, albatrosses, petrels, shags, gulls, terns, pintails and pipits.
X – Xantus’s Hummingbird
Xantu’s hummingbird, named after John Xantus de Vesey, a Hungarian zoologist, is a distinctive, glittering green hummingbird, endemic to Baja California. Similar to other hummingbirds they are fantastic flyers and catch insects on the wing as well as using their long tongue and curbed bill to drink nectar from flowers.

Xantus’s Hummingbird

Where to see them
As well as Xantu’s hummingbird, 4 other birds are endemic to Baja: the cape pygmy owl, Baird’s junco, the San Lucas robin, Belding’s yellowthroat and the gray thrasher. Baja has a range of habitats from forests and mountains, to beaches and deserts and is a beautiful area for bird watching enthusiasts.
Y – Yellow-Crowned Parrot
Yellow-crowned parrots are striking birds with bright green plumage and yellow at the top of their heads. They are native to tropical South America and Panama and can be found in a variety of habitats including tropical forests, woodland, mangroves and savannas.

Parrots At Claylick

Where to see them
Head to the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador to experience one of the most colourful sights of the avian world. Visit at dawn to see hundreds of parrots and macaws as they gather at the banks of the Napo River to lick clay. You will be treated to an incredible show as the birds swoop and call before settling on their favourite perches.
Z – Zebra Finch

Zebra finches are familiar to many as they are often the subject of research to investigate genetics, learning and memory. They are one of the most common finches of Central Australia, inhabiting grasslands and forests usually close to water.

Zebra Finch

Where to see them
The Larapinta Trail is one of Australia’s best bushwalking and trekking experiences through the Northern Territory. There is an abundance of native birdlife along the trail including zebra finches, honeyeaters, pied butcherbirds and, if you’re lucky, the elusive spinifexbird.

When you're on holiday it’s important that you consider the welfare of the animals and wildlife in the host country.

Lion

Born Free, an international wildlife charity working to prevent animal suffering and protect wildlife in the wild, have compiled a list of tips to help you have an animal friendly holiday.

Do not feed wild animals as this can have severe consequences for an animal's welfare and also place yourself at risk.

Do not touch wild animals as you can unwittingly pass on diseases to wildlife, as well as placing yourself at risk.

Do not cross safety barriers or touch animal enclosures.

Do not smoke when close to animals.

Do not tease or provoke animals.

Do not shout or make loud noises when close to animals.

Do not drop litter or cigarette ends - this can cause fires and litter can harm wildlife.

Do not pick flowers or handle or collect animals or plants from their natural habitat.

Do not support the use of animals as photographic props ie do not have your photograph taken with an animal used specifically for this purpose (lion and tiger cubs, chimps, snakes and exotic birds). Many of these animals are drugged when photographed and then killed once they become too large to handle.

Do not support dancing bears. Removed from the wild when young, teeth and claws are removed, and their noses pierced with a ring or rope inserted for control. Training involves standing on a hot metal plate, while music is played. The bear then associates the music with the pain and 'dances' to avoid it.

Do not visit any circus that has animals. Circus animals suffer a life of constant travelling, inadequare "beast wagons", deprivation and harsh training methods.

Avoid staying at hotels and eating at restaurants that display captive wild animals.

If the attraction allows controlled feeding/handling of animals ensure that your tour operator and the attraction makes you aware of the risks. These include:

  Potential disease transmission between animals and humans (and vice versa)
  Risk of injury
  Potential stress to animals

Do not interact in any way with dangerous wild animals (e.g. lions, tigers, chimpanzees, gorillas, etc.) as wild animals are unpredictable and you will place yourself at great risk.

Do not buy souvenirs that are made out of wildlife products or other threatened natural materials eg coral, shells (marine or land), starfish, seahorses, wild animal skin/fur (handbags, belts, coats, drums etc), ivory, hard wood, bush meat, parts of wild animals (bones, feathers, quills, teeth, etc used in traditional medicines, good luck charms etc), tortoise shell, plant parts (seeds, roots, flower heads), orchids etc.

Specific to captive facilities

Please do not swim with captive dolphins. Although they may appear 'happy', captive dolphins suffer physically and psychologically. Injuries to humans are common and disease transmission is a risk.

Do not support animal performances where animals are trained to perform tasks that that have no basis in their natural behaviour eg humanised behaviour (riding bikes, smoking cigarettes, cleaning teeth etc), as these are unnatural, and involve substantially more training, which can have serious animal welfare implications.

Ask your tour operator/the attraction if any animals kept have been taken from the wild, as this places additional pressure on wild species.

Ask your tour operator/the attraction if there is an active education programme at the attraction, as responsible attractions provide this.

Ask your tour operator/the attraction if the attraction contributes to the conservation of animals in the wild, as responsible attractions take this seriously

Specific to animals in the wild

Do not encourage guides to move so close to wildlife that your presence disturbs it or interferes with its natural behaviour.

Do not encourage guides to pursue wildlife that is showing avoidance tactics e.g. displaying threatening/alarmed behaviour or is moving away.

Do not encourage guides to drive off-road in protected areas when this is prohibited in the protected area.

Speak quietly and do not make any sudden movements when close to wildlife so as not to alarm it.

When viewing primates (monkeys, gorillas, etc.) do not approach closer than 5 metres to help prevent the transmission of disease between humans and wildlife (and vice versa).

Do not approach breeding sites (nests, burrows, dens, etc.) as this can affect the breeding success of wildlife.

Try to avoid the use of flash photography to take photos of wildlife can alarm it leading to increased aggression.

For marine wildlife, when contact with animals is permitted and controlled e.g. in swim-with dolphin experiences, do not approach the animals but allow them instead to approach you if they so choose.

If you are able, put something back into the conservation of the area/wildlife you have visited by making a personal contribution to support conservation in the area.

A polar expedition cruise offers a truly unique bird watching experience and a once in a lifetime holiday.

Gentoo Penguins, Antarctic

Enjoy the spectacular scenery and explore the nature and wildlife of some of the worlds most stunning and pristine shorelines, both above and below the oceans, at sea and on land, with Oceanwide Expeditions, one of the pioneers in ship-based exploratory tourism.

Bird watching cruises are available to the Arctic and North Atlantic, as well as the Antarctic and Sub-Atlantic Islands and offer the opportunity to see birds you can’t reach any other way as well as scores of migratory birds you may be more familiar with.

Travelling north to Greenland you will find a wide variety of gulls, ducks, sandpipers and birds of prey. Svalbard and Franz Josef Land offers the opportunity to see geese, wigeon and guillemots.

In Antarctica you will be able to spot penguins, petrels and skuas, while the Falkland Islands are home to albatrosses, birds of prey and shearwaters. The birds of South Georgia include pintails, shags and skuas and Ascension Island houses boobies, terns and the Ascension frigatebird.

Many of the staff on the polar expedition cruises are ornithologists or keen birders who will be able to help you and point out different species and on-board lectures will help you gain knowledge of local birdlife.
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About Oceanwide Expeditions:

Oceanwide Expeditions own, manage and operate manage and operate five vessels: m/v Plancius (116 pax), m/v Ortelius (116 pax), s/v Rembrandt van Rijn (33 pax) and s/v Noorderlicht (20 pax).

The vessels comply with highest international safety standards and allow Oceanwide Expeditions's professional crew to navigate safely through pack-ice and remote narrow waterways.

The size, capacity and capability of their small ships have proven to be a successful formula for exploring the remote regions for many years. The vessels offer a comfortable, friendly, intimate and informal atmosphere.

Oceanwide is passionate about polar expedition cruising and distinguishes itself from other operators not only by setting its emphasis on educational lectures by experienced guides throughout the voyage but also by delivering an active shore program.

All voyages have been carefully prepared and developed (routing, regulations, provisioning, crewing, excursions etc.) and are empathic to the natural conditions of the areas concerned and therefore unique in their design.

1. Bhutan

Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas and is almost completely mountainous. Unlike many other countries in the Himalayas, which have undergone massive deforestation programmes, the kingdom of Bhutan has protected large areas of forest which means many species of birds thrive here that do not elsewhere.

Emerald Cuckoo

The forests of Bhutan are rich and diverse and range from the subtropical forests at the foot of the hills to the warm broadleaved forests higher up the mountains.

In these forests you will find birds such as the critically endangered rufous-necked hornbill, the beautiful nuthatch, emerald cuckoos and the mysterious chestnut-breasted partridge.

Higher up further still are the cool broadleaved forests, home to Blyth’s tragopan, Ward’s trogon and the hoary-throated barwing.

With a rich Buddhist culture, spectacular scenery and one of the most diverse ranges of birdlife on the planet including many species in danger of extinction such as the imperial heron and the black-necked crane, Bhutan truly is a bird watcher’s paradise.
2. The Gambia

The Gambia is just a short flight from the UK but its location between tropical rainforest to the south and desert to the north means that it has a large and varied number of birds with over 600 recorded species.

Village Weaver Bird

The Gambia River, which flows through the heart of the country, is lined with mangroves and within the brackish creeks you may spot pelicans and terns gathered on the muddy shoals or some of The Gambia’s more elusive species such as the African blue flycatcher or Pel’s fishing owl.

Abuko National Park, which lies just 25 km from the capital Banjul, was the country’s first designated nature reserve and offers a rich variety of birdlife. Among the estimated 300 species that inhabit the savannah and gallery forests are kingfishers, weaver birds, violet turacoes, yellow breasted apalis, purple glossy starlings and paradise flycatchers.

You won’t even need to venture far from your hotel to see birds in The Gambia. In the gardens of the hotel beach resorts you will find robin-chats, sunbirds and hornbills or take a stroll along the coastal strip to see rollers, raptors or even a pearl-spotted owlet perched in a tree.
3. Manu National Park

A biosphere reserve that is protected by the Peruvian government, Manu National Park boasts the highest biodiversity of any protected area in the world. There have been over 1,000 species of birds recorded, representing about 10% of the world’s species and more than the whole of the United States and Canada combined.

Andean Cock-Of-The Rock

Although much of the centre of the park is out of bounds there are still many opportunities for bird watching along the edges such as the wetlands of Huacarpay where almost 60 resident species reside including rusty fronted canasteros, violetears and yellow-winged blackbirds.

The cloud forest is home to the Andean cock-of-the rock. A visit to a lek is a must as up to 20 males compete for a female’s attention. Here too are quetzals, tanagers, honeycreepers and conebills. Further down the mountains you will find the Amazonian umbrellabird, and enter the jungle to be amazed by the sights and sounds as parakeets, cotingas and ovenbirds dart among shafts of sunlight.

Along the banks of the Manu River are white sandy beaches where hundreds of black skimmers, sand-coloured nightjars and yellow-billed terns build their nests. In late July and August, many migrating birds make use of these beaches including egrets, herons and spoonbills.

At sunrise watch a macaw lick as hundreds of macaws, parrots and parakeets gather to eat clay in a truly astonishing spectacle.
4. Florida Everglades

The tropical wetlands of the Everglades National Park comprises a mix of environments, including swamps, hardwood hammocks, cypress, rocklands, marl prairies and marshes, and are home to a vast variety of birdlife.

Brown Pelicans

Waders such as ibis, storks, egrets and herons gather on the flats of the estuaries to forage for food, while above, brown pelicans inelegantly dive for fish from the air, one of only two species of pelican to display this behaviour.

Look up to see birds of prey swooping overhead, including the smallest U.S. bird of prey, the sharp-shinned hawk. Other raptors include the turkey vulture, America’s national bird, the bald eagle, and the snail kite, an endangered species that feeds almost exclusively on apple snails that live in the shallow fresh water.

Make a trip to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, where you can pick up a boat and navigate through Ten Thousand Islands, a labyrinth of mangroves and waterways where magnificent frigatebirds and loons join gulls and terns overhead.

On Nine Mile Pond you will find roseate spoonbills, white-crowned pigeons and limpkins while Snake Bight Trail is home to the mangrove cuckoo, yellow-throated warblers, catbirds, white-eyed vireos and flamingos that come to feed near the boardwalk at high tide.
5. Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s birding hotspots, home to over 900 species of birds, 23 of which are endemic including the blue-winged goose, Harwood’s francolin and the yellow-fronted parrot.

Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill

The Bale Mountains on the south-east Ethiopian plateau are formed of ancient volcanic rock dissected by rivers and streams that have cut dramatic gorges over millions of years, resulting in stunning waterfalls in some places.

The mountains are home to a number of species you will not find anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa, including the black-headed siskin and the Abyssinian longclaw. Birds of prey such as the eastern imperial eagle, kestrels and lanner falcons live in the northern highlands of the mountains.

Take a trip to Sof Omar Caves, a maze of limestone pillars, domes and chambers to see an abundance of starlings, swifts and swallows as well as the endemic Salvadori’s seedeater.

Situated in the south of the Bale Mountains National Park, is the Harenna forest, one of the few remaining forests in Ethiopia, where you will find the yellow-bellied swee, the collared sunbird, and the aptly named red-billed oxpecker that perch on the back of cattle to feed on blood from ticks or even directly from open wounds.

There are also wetlands in the park, home to the Egyptian goose, African black ducks and northern shovelers.

A trip to the Bale Mountains not only allows you to enjoy some of Ethiopia’s natural beauty but also its rich history and culture, such as a traditional coffee ceremony or a visit to a local market where you can buy food, handmade baskets, carved furniture or even a camel or donkey!
6. The Aleutian Islands

During the summer, approximately forty million birds nest throughout the Aleutian Islands, a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller ones off the coast of Alaska. Vast flocks of waterfowl arrive to the ice free coastal waters and during the migration seasons strays from Asia regularly arrive at the islands.

Horned Puffin

Unalaska is home to puffins, guillemots and kittiwakes in the summer as well as the tiny whiskered auklet. Songbirds are also resident here including redpolls, snow buntings and the American dipper.

An impressive number of vagrants have been spotted on Adak, such as grey-tailed tattlers, white wagtails and the common cuckoo. Resident species include loons, parakeets and an endemic rock ptarmigan.

Bogoslof Island is uninhabited by humans but is a breeding site for hundreds of species of marine birds. Tens of thousands of tufted puffins, guillemots, red-legged kittiwakes and gulls nest here.

Attu is the largest and most westerly island. It was an important location in the world of competitive bird watching with many species found on the island that aren’t found anywhere else in North America but since the closure of the coast guard station is now virtually inaccessible. Highlights that have been recorded include the solitary snipe, the red-flanked bluetail and oriental greenfinches.

Take a cruise through the sea around the islands for the opportunity to spot the very rare short-tailed albatross, red-faced cormorant and the mottled petrel.
7. Andalusia

Although Europe doesn’t have the variety of exotic and colourful bird species seen on other continents, such as Asia or South America, there are still plenty of fantastic locations to see a rich variety of birdlife and Andalusia in Southern Spain, where continents, landscapes and seas merge, is one of the best.

European Bee Eater

The Gibraltar Straits is an important passageway for thousands of birds as they migrate between Europe and Africa with impressive flocks of storks and raptors, including white storks and honey buzzards, soaring overhead.

In Coto Doñana National Park you will find some of Spain’s rarest birds, such as the endangered Spanish imperial eagle, crested coots and red-necked nightjars. The wetlands are home to many waterbirds including flamingos, herons and egrets, as well as thousands of ducks during the migratory season and winter months.

Sierra Morena to the north of Andalusia is where you will find black vultures and turkey vultures as well as warblers, chiffchaffs and the great-spotted cuckoo during the summer.

Some of the most colourful birds include golden orioles and hoopoes, that can be found in orchards and woodlands, and the beautiful turquoise bee-eater that nests in colonies in sandy banks along the shores of rivers.

A visit to Andalucía is not complete without visiting the Fuente De Piedra Salt Lagoon, famous for its colony of greater flamingos and the only inland site in Europe where they breed, as well as an important nesting spot for avocets, black-winged stilts and red-crested pochards.
8. Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea may not be an obvious choice for a bird watching holiday but there are many fascinating species to be found among the island’s coastal regions, rainforests, grasslands and lowland rivers.

Lesser Bird-of-Paradise

Due to its geographic isolation much of Papua New Guinea remains unspoiled and it is home to about 760 species of birds, almost half of which are endemic. It is particularly famous for its striking birds-of-paradise including the superb bird-of-paradise, Lawe’s parotia and the ribbon-tailed astrapia.

In the swamps and rainforest that surround the port town of Kiunga you will find a number of rare species including crowned pigeons, yellow-eyed starlings, flame bowerbirds and the large-fig parrot.

Varirata National Park covers an area of 1,000 hectares and is particularly rewarding for bird watchers with the chance to see a variety of kingfishers, dwarf cassowaries and Wallace's fairywren.

In the dense jungle of the foothills of the Star Mountains lies the town of Tabubil, which has one of the highest rainfalls in the world and is home to jewel babblers, lorikeets, cuckooshrikes and the rare obscure berrypecker. Due to its extreme weather conditions the plants in Tabubil are much larger than usual and grow faster than they do elsewhere. You will also find giant snakes, spiders and moths.

A canoe trip up the Fly and Eleva rivers takes you to one of the greatest wildernesses of Papua New Guinea and here you can see some of the most spectacular birds including cockatoos, Blyth’s hornbill and the twelve-wired bird-of-paradise.
9. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of picturesque islands situated in the Bay of Bengal. They are made up of 572 island, islets and rocks and are home to the Sentinelese people, the world’s only known Paleolithic population and who maintain no contact with any other people.

White-Bellied Sea Eagle

Due to their isolation the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a number of endemic bird species including the Nicobar jungle flycatcher and the Andaman bulbul. However, the Nicobar Islands and tribal areas are currently off limits to tourists so a bird watching trip would only take in some of the Andaman Islands.

Mount Harriet National Park, a tropical evergreen forest near Port Blair, the main hub of the Andaman Islands, is home to 7 threatened species including the Andaman wood pigeon, the Andaman crake and the Andaman drongo. There is also the chance to see kingfishers, parakeets, sunbirds and the beautiful dollarbird, so-called because of the distinctive blue coin-shaped spots on its wings.

To the south of Port Blair are the marshy wetlands of Sippighat where you will see many waders and water birds. The Oriental scops-owl, Andaman hawk owl and white-bellied sea eagle also live here as does the edible-nest swiflet whose nest made of solidified saliva is used to make bird’s nest soup.

Chidiya Tapu is a patch of moist evergreen forest located to the south of Port Blair and is one of the best places to see the sunset on the islands. Chidiya Tapu is also known as Bird Island with an abundance of avian life including the white-headed starling, the olive backed sunbird and the Andaman treepie.
10. Jamaica

The small Caribbean island of Jamaica has more endemic species of birds than any other West Indian country and despite its reputation, is one of the most accessible and safest places to go bird watching. It is home to a beautiful and distinctive variety of avifauna with over 300 recorded species.

Red-billed Streamertail

The Blue Mountains that sprawl across the east of the island are almost always shrouded in mist and the mountain forest is one of the largest migratory bird habitats in the Caribbean with hummingbirds, flycatchers, orioles to be found among the towering trees and lush vegetation.

The gardens of the Hotel Mockingbird Hill are mentioned in James Bond's book, Birds of the West Indies, and are one of the best places to go bird watching in Jamaica. Enjoy a delicious breakfast of shrimps, callaloo, pancakes and plantain on the terrace and watch out for black-billed streamertail hummingbirds, yellow-billed parrots and rufous-tailed flycatchers as they dart amongst the beautiful flowers and plants of the gardens.

One of the most charming things about Jamaican culture is the imaginative names they have given to their birds such as the Old Man Bird (chestnut-bellied cuckoo), Little Tom Fool (sad flycatcher) and the national bird of Jamaica, the Doctor Bird (red-billed streamertail).

The Black River Morass is the island’s largest freshwater wetlands and home to herons, bitterns, rails, gulls and terns as well as the endangered West Indian whistling duck, while Yallahs Salt Ponds are an important spot for migratory birds including the greater flamingo and roseate spoonbill.

No trip to Singapore should be complete without a visit to the famous Jurong Bird Park, particularly if you are a nature or bird lover.

Jurong Bird Park

Jurong Bird Park is located on Singapore's model industrial estate and is home to over 8,000 birds specialising in species from South Asia. The idea for the park began in 1968 when the Minister for Finance requested a space where Singaporeans could escape their urban life and relax with nature. The park was opened in 1971 and refurbished in 2006.

The simplest way to travel around Jurong Bird Park is by Panorail, an air-conditioned monorail that gives spectacular views across the park. Tickets can be bought once you are inside the park or you may be able to purchase them at your hotel.

You will probably need to spend a whole day at the bird park to fully take in all the attractions. It is a good idea to plan the things you want to see before you go and remember some exhibits will get very busy at certain times of the day.

Some of the highlights of the Jurong Bird Park include:

Birds Of Prey Show: Learn about falconry and watch as eagles, hawks and falcons soar above the treetops.

The Lory Loft: The world's biggest lory aviary at 9 stories high which houses over 1000 lories.The Penguin Exhibit: You will be able to see over 200 penguins underwater. Five species of penguin - the Macaroni, Fairy, Humboldt, Rockhopper and King Penguin - will delight you as they 'fly' underwater.

The World Of Darkness: Asia's first nocturnal bird house has special reverse lighting that converts day to night and night to day. You will see 60 birds from 17 species including night herons and snowy owls. The bird house has been set up so you experience similar to a walk along a starlit jungle path and can observe birds in a near natural habitat.

Waterfall Aviary: The world's largest walk-in aviary also contains the world's largest man-made waterfall. It is home to over 1500 free-flying birds.

African Wetlands: Fascinating birds including pelicans, shoebills and storks in an award-winning exhibit.

The Birds 'n' Buddies Show: Formerly known as the All Star Bird Show you will be entertained and amazed by performing birds in colourful costumes.

Jurong Bird Park has won many awards since it opened and as well as the bird attractions you will also find restaurants, gift shops and a bird hospital.

Whether you buy your ticket before you get to Singapore or once you arrive make sure you use a reputable travel agent. It may also be worth taking out insurance in case your tickets get lost or you are unable to go.

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A bird watching holiday can be a trip of a lifetime but it can also be very expensive. However, with some careful planning it’s possible to get the best deals and save money.

Man With Binoculars

Before you book your bird watching holiday take some time to compare prices on flights and accommodation, rental cars and other essentials such as insurance. Some birding tour companies may include travel arrangements in the price of the holiday so check to see if it is cheaper to organize them yourself.

Check currency exchange rates and deals from different providers. Visiting somewhere with a relatively weaker local currency will keep the overall cost of the tour down.

Many tour companies charge extra for single room occupancy so if you are travelling alone and don’t mind, contact the company beforehand to let them know you are willing to share a room with another traveller.

Make sure your travel plans coincide with the best local birding seasons and you can take advantage of being able to see resident as well as migrant birds. Although it may be cheaper to travel out of season it can be a false economy and you don’t want to travel far and be disappointed by a lack of birds.

Take some time beforehand to familiarize yourself with the sort of birds you could see to save time once you are on location and to minimize the chance of missing sightings. Study local field guides or use bird watching apps and many relevant books will be available in your local library.

Understand what is and isn’t included in the price of a bird watching holiday and ensure you have budgeted to cover what isn’t. These could include tickets for entry to national parks and reserves, fees for expert guides, meals and drinks and transportation. Decide on a daily budget and stick to it and avoid any unnecessary extra expenses.

Use TripAdvisor to check reviews from previous travellers and find out whether they thought the trip was value for money.

Although you don't want to compromise on your bird watching holiday, these money saving tips will help you get the most out of your budget so you can buy the best you can afford.

With so much beautiful countryside around us it’s no wonder that more and more people are choosing to holiday in the UK. For bird watchers and anyone who loves the outdoors a holiday in the UK is a brilliant opportunity to relax and enjoy the amazing sites that nature has to offer.

UK Bird Watching Holidays

There are a number of social benefits to staying in the UK for your holiday. Air travel and long car journeys use fossil fuels and put a strain on the environment. And by holidaying at home you will also be helping support local businesses and the economy.

Before you choose where to go on your bird watching holiday take some time to decide on the types of birds you want to see so you don’t leave disappointed. If you want to see wading birds then somewhere near an estuary or the coast is ideal. There are many lovely unspoilt wetlands in the UK and organisations such as the RSPB are doing important work to ensure that you can see a large variety of waterfowl.

For birds of prey the rugged woodlands of Scotland and Wales are ideal locations and there are dedicated viewing centres and hides you can visit. There are also opportunities to watch whales, dolphins and even sharks off the coast of Scotland.

We have chosen a range of self-catering holiday cottages in England, Scotland and Wales that are all recommended because of their proximity to RSPB nature reserves or areas where there are an abundance of different species of birds. As well as birds you should also be able to see other wild animals in their natural environment as well as walk, hike, ride, cycle, fish, sail and take part in other outdoor pursuits.

Of course you may just want to spend time taking in the view from a beer garden of the village pub, in which case the manager of your holiday cottage will be able to advise you on local amenities including places to eat, shops and tourist attractions. Organised bird watching tours may also be available in the area and we would recommend that you check them out as local guides will have expert knowledge of where and when to see birds, particularly rarer species.

When you go out for a day be it for a picnic or some serious hiking please respect the environment and local people who live in the area. Make sure you are aware of the law and any local restrictions that govern the countryside and always follow the Bird Watchers Code so you don’t disturb that habitat that birds and plants live in.

We have partnered with Cottages,com, the UK's leading provider of self-catered holidays to offer you a great selection of cottages that are perfect if you are looking for a bird watching holiday in the UK.

England Bird Watching Holidays
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Bird Watching Holidays In England Bird Watching Holidays In Scotland Bird Watching Holidays In Wales

We have partnered with Expedia UK, the world's largest online travel directory, to provide you with a fantastic selection of bird watching holidays and tours around the world.

With Expedia you can choose from millions of package holidays or build your own custom holiday from a huge choice of hotels, flights, car hire and attractions. Expedia guarantees customer service 7 days a week and you can be sure that your security when booking your holiday online is paramount.

We have divided up the bird watching and wildlife tours into geographical sections by continent to make it easier for you to find a suitable holiday. If you want to go on a bird watching holiday abroad, but you're not sure of where you want to go, let us inspire you with some of the best places in the world to see birds.

Bird Watching Holidays In Africa
Bird Watching Holidays In Asia
Bird Watching Holidays In Australasia
Bird Watching Holidays In Africa
Bird Watching Holidays In Asia
Bird Watching Holidays In Australasia
Bird Watching Holidays In Europe
Bird Watching Holidays In North America
Bird Watching Holidays In South America
Bird Watching Holidays In Europe
Bird Watching Holidays In North America
Bird Watching Holidays In South America

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