Urban birdwatching guide to Canberra

By Ellen Rykers 22 September 2017
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The woodlands, grasslands and backyards of Canberra are teeming with birdlife.

“Canberra is known as the ‘Bush Capital’ for good reason,” says local birder and photographer Tobias Hayashi. “Many reserves within and around the city attract lots of wildlife.” The annual Garden Bird Survey, running since 1981, has collected a treasure trove of observations for more than 200 species.

For a bird watching adventure close to the CBD, Tobias recommends Mount Ainslie. “The grassy woodland around the base of Mount Ainslie, in particular Campbell Park, is probably one of the best and most easily accessible places to see a wide range of bush birds,” he says. “In spring, many species can be found busily building nests, only a few kilometres from the city centre.”

The Australian National Botanic Gardens is another great spot to hang out with the local birds. Keep an eye out for two special residents. “There is a very large resident population of superb fairy-wrens, which have been part of an ongoing study by researchers looking at the promiscuous sexual behaviours of these iconic birds,” says Tobias. “There are many satin bowerbirds around the gardens as well, and if you look closely you may find a bower,” he adds.

Further afield, keen Canberra twitchers flock to Jerrabomberra Wetlands. According to Tobias, “The wetlands support a great range of birds including many waterbirds and birds of prey. Rare birds from other states turn up at the wetlands too.”

For a ‘wilderness’ birding experience, there’s always Namadgi National Park, which makes up more than 40% of the ACT. “In the wetter forests, you may find lyrebirds, rufous fantails and even the odd wonga pigeon, which has recently returned to the area after disappearing following the 2003 bushfires,” says Tobias.

Here are 20 Canberran residents you may encounter on your birding adventures. (See gallery above)

Related: Our urban birdwatching guides to every Australian capital city