BIRDLIFE OFTEN SEEN ON AND
AROUND MONTAGUE ISLAND
Montague Island is a natural haven for birds. The island is snake-free
and there are no predatory mammals as found on the mainland. Birds
of prey (raptors) are the only animal threat to the island's bird population.
In addition, the rich waters of the East Australian current pass around
or near the island providing important feeding grounds for seabirds.
LITTLE PENGUINS (Eudyptula Minor)
Montague Island is home to up to 8000 pairs of Little Penguins, making it
NSW's largest colony, and one of the largest in Australia. Their
yearly routine involves times of peak activity during breeding and again
during moulting, interspersed with long periods foraging at sea. Evening
half-day tours are conducted during the peak seasons, and visitors gather
on our illuminated observation platform to enjoy watching them land, socialise
and then head up the tracks to their burrows which are found all over the
island. Overnight tours can often assist in counting birds at more remote
See how our Little Penguin Monitoring Program (graph & video) is progressing
Penguin Survey graph.
Download information about the kikuyu threat to little penguins - Kikuyu
At least 3 species of SHEARWATERS breed
on the island, having flown many thousands of kilometres from their northern
hemisphere feeding grounds. Nicknamed
"Mutton Birds" due to their oily flesh when eaten, these birds
arrive in late spring and don't leave until March or April. SOOTY SHEARWATERS
(Puffinus griseus) are in the minority, SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS (Puffinus
tenuirostris) are abundant, but the largest concentration is of WEDGE-TAILED
SHEARWATERS (Puffinus pacificus).
RAPTORS (birds of prey)
There are almost daliy sightings of WHITE BELLIED SEA EAGLES (Haliaeetus
leucogaster) on and around Montague. It is unusual to see these birds
share territories but there have been sightings of up to 9 birds at once
out there. They commute to and from their mainland territories daily.
Hovering as though on a wire, AUSTRALASIAN (NANKEEN) KESTRELS (Falco
cenchroides) are another constant presence, along with the BLACK-SHOULDERED
KITE (Elanus axillaris). These birds pair up and breed on the island
A pair of PEREGRINE FALCONS (Falco peregrinus - macropus) usually nest
on the northern end of the island and regularly prey on the other nesting
SWAMP HARRIERS (Circus approximans) also regularly nest on the island,
and can stay out there for long periods.
WHISTLING KITES (Haliastur sphenurus) with their distinctive wing tips
are often seen looking for food above the island.
CRESTED TERNS (Sterna bergii)
begin arriving at Montague in big numbers in springtime and will nest in
an exclusive colony, with each nest just out of pecking range of its neighbours.
A constant shuttle service of birds going out fishing and returning with
baitfish in their beaks will continue right through to January.
SILVER GULLS (Larus novaehollandiae)
arrive just before the terns and will breed in significant numbers. With
up to 4 chicks per pair, the island soon becomes noisy and dotted with
white as they proceed through their busy nesting season. Numbers drop
off dramatically after January.
OTHER BIRDS The island is permanently
home to several other species of songbirds and groundbirds, and is also
a resting place for many other species as they migrate past. Sometimes
a strong westerly will blow in unusal visitors such as owls, pigeons and
strong easterlies may blow in rarer seabirds.
See our Wildlife Calendar for approximate best
times for meeting them.