The world’s 9 best birding destinations
As a bird enthusiast and photographer, I have to say that Costa Rica is one of the most amazing destinations for birdwatching. This small Central American country is known worldwide for its stunning variety of birds, with hundreds of species inhabiting its numerous nature reserves and parks.
Costa Rica is a true paradise for birdwatchers, offering a unique blend of tropical climates and diverse habitats that make it an ideal environment for birds. From cloud forests to mangrove swamps, Costa Rica’s varied landscapes support a vast array of bird life, making it a perfect destination for those seeking to explore the natural world.
One of the best things about birdwatching in Costa Rica is the ease with which one can find beautiful bird life. With dozens of nature reserves and protected areas scattered throughout the country, bird enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to locations to explore.
In these reserves, one can encounter a range of winged beasts, from the iconic toucans to the brightly-colored macaws and parrots. With so many different species, each with its unique beauty, it’s hard not to be captivated by the sheer diversity of bird life in Costa Rica.
And it’s not just about the birds themselves. The country’s verdant forests and stunning scenery provide a stunning backdrop for birdwatching. Whether hiking through lush jungle trails or paddling through tranquil waterways, one can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Costa Rica while discovering its incredible bird life.
In short, if you’re a bird lover, Costa Rica is a destination that you simply cannot miss. With its stunning landscapes, diverse habitats, and incredible bird life, it’s a true paradise for those who want to experience the wonder of nature.
Additionally, birdwatching in Costa Rica is a vibrant and colorful experience, with a wide variety of birds that display a dazzling array of hues. From the colorful parrots and toucans to the striking quetzals and hummingbirds, the feathered inhabitants of Costa Rica are a veritable explosion of rainbow shades.
If you’re a twitcher looking to explore the rich bird life of Costa Rica, there are a few places that you simply cannot miss. Two of the best locations for birdwatching in the country are the Wilson Botanical Gardens and the Curi-Cancha Reserve, both of which offer fantastic opportunities to spot a wide variety of bird species.
Located in the south of the country, the Wilson Botanical Gardens are home to more than 300 different bird species, making it one of the most diverse birdwatching locations in all of Costa Rica. From the vibrantly-colored parrots and toucans to the elusive quetzals, there’s always something new and exciting to see in these beautiful gardens.
Similarly, the Curi-Cancha Reserve is another must-visit destination for birdwatchers. The reserve is home to a variety of motmots and trogons, as well as numerous other bird species that can be seen while walking the seven kilometers of pathways that wind through the forest.
Both the Wilson Botanical Gardens and the Curi-Cancha Reserve offer an immersive and unforgettable birdwatching experience, with expert guides available to help you spot the many different species that call these locations home. So whether you’re an experienced twitcher or just starting out, make sure to include these incredible locations in your Costa Rican birdwatching itinerary.
2. South Georgia
As a wildlife enthusiast and photographer, I have to say that one of the most awe-inspiring sights I’ve ever witnessed was a massive colony of King penguins in South Georgia. These majestic creatures, with their striking orange plumage and regal stature, are a true marvel of the animal kingdom, and seeing them in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience.
The colony I had the pleasure of witnessing was simply massive, with thousands upon thousands of penguins dotting the rocky coastline of South Georgia. Watching them waddle along the shore and interact with each other in their unique and endearing way was truly a sight to behold.
But it wasn’t just their numbers that were impressive. The King penguins themselves are truly stunning creatures, with a dignified and almost regal presence that is unmatched in the animal kingdom. From their bright orange plumage to their stately upright posture, they exude an air of elegance and grace that is impossible to ignore.
And while seeing a King penguin colony of this size is certainly a highlight of any wildlife trip to South Georgia, it’s just one of the many incredible experiences that this remote and rugged region has to offer. From majestic albatrosses and soaring petrels to playful elephant seals and majestic whales, South Georgia is a true paradise for those who love the natural world.
So if you’re a wildlife enthusiast looking for an unforgettable experience, make sure to add South Georgia and its incredible King penguin colony to your travel bucket list. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
While penguin colonies can be found in various regions around the world, few places can match the sheer number of these captivating creatures that call South Georgia home.
One of the most iconic and unforgettable sights (and smells!) in the southern hemisphere can be found in South Georgia, where hundreds of thousands of King penguins can be seen congregating, especially around St Andrews Bay. Walking amidst these majestic creatures or simply sitting in their midst is a magical and unique wildlife experience that is truly once-in-a-lifetime.
If you’re a birdwatcher looking for a truly exceptional experience, then South Georgia should definitely be on your radar. While the King penguins are the main draw in this remote and beautiful corner of the world, they are far from the only feathered inhabitants that you can expect to encounter during your visit.
In fact, South Georgia is home to millions of birds, including a variety of penguin species such as the macaroni, chinstrap, and Gentoo penguins. These charismatic and charming birds can be seen waddling and swimming around the island, providing plenty of opportunities for observation and photography.
But the penguins are just the beginning. Albatrosses, with their majestic wingspans and soaring flight patterns, are also a common sight in South Georgia. Gulls and other seabirds can also be spotted wheeling and calling above the island’s rugged coastline, adding to the sense of wildness and adventure that pervades this incredible destination.
Whether you’re an experienced birder or simply someone who loves the natural world, South Georgia is a must-visit destination that offers an unforgettable and truly awe-inspiring wildlife experience. So pack your binoculars and head south to discover the incredible bird life that awaits you on this remote and beautiful island.
3. Colca Canyon, Peru
A picture of an Andean condor soaring in the Peruvian Andes near Arequipa, Peru can be found on Dreamstime.
With a wingspan measuring up to three meters in length, the Andean condor is one of the largest birds capable of taking flight in the world. This elusive and endangered species prefers to inhabit mountainous or coastal areas where it can harness the power of the wind to stay aloft.
Although Andean condors can be found in several South American countries, Peru is among the most popular destinations for spotting these majestic birds. Travellers flock to Colca Canyon, a vast chasm located north of Arequipa, with hopes of catching a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. The rocky areas of the canyon are known to be a prime nesting spot for these birds, and visitors are almost certain to witness them soaring through the valley, particularly around the famous Cruz del Condor viewing point.
4. Kruger National Park, South Africa Lappetfaced Vulture in South Africa (Dreamstime)
Kruger National Park in South Africa is undoubtedly one of the most popular wildlife destinations on the planet, drawing in travellers from across the globe. While it’s widely known as a hotspot for Africa’s Big Five, the park is also home to an incredibly diverse range of birdlife. During the months between October and March, when the rainfall starts and the plant life begins to flourish, around 200 migrant bird species arrive in the park. This makes for an incredible birdwatching experience, with the opportunity to spot a wide variety of winged creatures amidst the park’s stunning natural landscapes.
In Kruger National Park, avid birdwatchers should keep an eye out for the Big Six – a group of six highly sought-after bird sightings within the park. These include the Kori bustard, martial eagle, lappetfaced vulture, Pel’s fishing owl, saddle-billed stork, and southern ground hornbill.
Kruger National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and while most of the Big Six sightings are relatively easy to come by, spotting the Pel’s fishing owl can be a bit more challenging. This elusive creature is primarily nocturnal, making it more challenging to spot during the day. However, taking a tour around the Luvuvhu River or Olifants River area can provide some of the best opportunities for birdwatching in the park, including sightings of the Pel’s fishing owl. These tours are led by experienced guides who have a keen eye for spotting birds, and they will be able to point out all of the park’s incredible birdlife along the way.
Iceland is a stunning destination for wildlife enthusiasts, offering a unique opportunity to see some of the world’s most magnificent creatures up close. Among them are the adorable puffins, with their brightly colored beaks and distinctive markings, which have become an iconic symbol of the country’s wildlife.
Visitors to Iceland can find puffins nesting on the island’s coastal cliffs and rocky outcrops, particularly in the Westman Islands, where there is a large population of these charismatic birds. During the summer months, visitors can take boat tours to get an up-close view of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
But even if you can’t make it out to the islands, there are still plenty of opportunities to spot puffins around Iceland. Many visitors report sightings of these birds while driving along the coastline, particularly around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Overall, Iceland is a must-visit destination for any birdwatcher or wildlife enthusiast, and the chance to see these beloved puffins in their natural habitat is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Between April and September, the Atlantic puffins undertake a migration from sea to land to breed. During this time, Iceland becomes a preferred destination for over half of the world’s puffin population, making it a prime location for observing these charming birds with their distinctive orange beaks.
To catch a glimpse of puffins in Iceland, you’ll have to venture towards the country’s shores as these birds typically nest on cliffs. Some of the best places to spot these adorable creatures are Ísafjarðardjúp, located in the Westfjords, the Westman Islands, and Breiðafjörður.
To increase your chances of spotting a large group of puffins, consider joining a boat excursion to Iceland’s islands.
6. Yellowstone National Park, United States
Bald Eagle adding twigs to nest (Dreamstime)
The Bald Eagle is an iconic symbol of the United States and a well-known bird to birdwatchers in North America. This majestic bird of prey is easily recognized by its striking white head and tail, contrasting with its dark brown body. It is a large bird, with a wingspan of up to 7 feet, making it an impressive sight in flight.
The Bald Eagle is found throughout North America, from Alaska to the northern parts of Mexico, with the greatest concentration in Alaska and Canada. These birds prefer to live near large bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and coasts, where they can feed on fish and other aquatic prey.
While the Bald Eagle population was once in danger due to habitat destruction, hunting, and pollution, conservation efforts have been successful in helping this species recover. In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Bald Eagle population in the lower 48 states had fully recovered and was no longer considered an endangered species.
For birdwatchers, there are many opportunities to spot Bald Eagles in the wild, especially in areas with high concentrations of fish. Popular spots include the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Alaska, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Minnesota, and the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge in California and Oregon. Birdwatchers can also join guided tours or river cruises to increase their chances of spotting these majestic birds in their natural habitats.
Yellowstone National Park is not only known for its impressive geothermal features and wildlife, but it is also home to the iconic Bald Eagle. These majestic birds of prey can be seen soaring through the skies, hunting for prey and guarding their nests.
The park is believed to have 18 Bald Eagle nests within its boundaries, making it a prime destination for birdwatchers hoping to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds. In Yellowstone, Bald Eagles can be found nesting near the park’s many rivers and lakes, where they can easily catch fish for their meals.
The best time to spot Bald Eagles in Yellowstone National Park is during the winter months when they tend to congregate around the park’s rivers and streams, which remain ice-free thanks to the hot springs and geysers that dot the park’s landscape. Visitors can also spot them perched high in the trees, scanning the surrounding area for prey.
While Bald Eagles are one of the main attractions for birdwatchers in Yellowstone, the park is also home to a wide variety of other bird species. Visitors can keep an eye out for ospreys, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, and many other bird species while exploring the park’s diverse landscapes.
Overall, Yellowstone National Park is a must-visit destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. With its stunning scenery and abundance of wildlife, it offers a unique opportunity to witness the beauty of nature up close, including the impressive Bald Eagle.
To spot bald eagles in Yellowstone, keep an eye near bodies of water as they typically feed on fish and stay around rivers and lakes. Adult bald eagles can be recognized by their dark brown bodies, white tails, and heads, which are not actually bald despite the name.
7: Norfolk, UK
A rephrased version of the text could be: “A photograph of a male bearded tit perched on a reed tassel.”
One of the top destinations for birdwatching in Britain is Norfolk, especially North Norfolk, which is renowned for its diverse range of habitats and considered one of the best birding regions in the area. This is not to be confused with the location of Alan Partridge’s radio station, which is also based in North Norfolk.
Throughout the year, a wide variety of species are attracted to the marshlands and dunes in North Norfolk, including rare birds like the marsh harrier.
Several prime reserves in Norfolk offer excellent birdwatching opportunities. Titchwell Marsh, managed by the RSPB, is a must-visit spot for bird enthusiasts. Here, you can observe migratory birds arriving from the Arctic, as well as bitterns and warblers or black-tailed godwits wading through the lagoons.
Another location in North Norfolk that is a must-visit for birdwatchers is Cley Marshes, which is managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. It is a popular destination to observe various species of birds including waders, bearded tits, and seabirds throughout the year.
8. Rift Valley, Kenya
A group of flamingos lifting off from the ground (Dreamstime)
Flamingos are undoubtedly one of the most iconic bird species in the world, and Kenya’s Rift Valley is one of the most important places to see them. Every year, millions of lesser flamingos flock to the area in search of food, making it the most significant foraging site for these birds globally.
If you are looking to witness this remarkable natural spectacle, head to Lake Nakuru National Park or Lake Bogoria National Reserve, two of the most popular spots in the region. Both sites offer excellent opportunities to see the flamingos up close and witness their characteristic pink plumage contrasting against the blue waters of the lakes.
In addition to flamingos, the Rift Valley is also home to a diverse range of other bird species, including eagles, vultures, and pelicans. Visitors can also enjoy the stunning natural landscapes and breathtaking views of the Great Rift Valley, which is home to numerous game reserves and national parks, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
The flamingos wander across the shallows of Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Elementaita in search of food. They migrate between these lakes and their presence is a remarkable sight when they take off in flocks. This scene is one of the most extraordinary bird displays in the world.
9. Papua New Guinea
A bird in the photo is the Raggiana bird (credit: Dreamstime).
Papua New Guinea is a remarkable birdwatching destination, known for being home to some of the world’s unique Bird-of-Paradise species. Although the best time to spot these colourful and intriguing creatures is during the dry season from June to October, bird enthusiasts can find interesting species all year round.
Papua New Guinea is a birdwatcher’s paradise, offering unique and breathtaking experiences for nature lovers. This country is home to a wide variety of bird species, with some of the most fascinating being the Birds-of-Paradise. Among these, the Raggiana stands out as the national bird of Papua New Guinea and one of the most renowned species in the region.
The Raggiana is a striking bird, with its male displaying bright red and orange plumes, a yellow beak, and a turquoise crown. The female is less showy, with mostly brown feathers, but still boasts the same elegant body shape and beak as the male. These birds have an impressive courtship dance, which is a unique experience to witness. During the dance, the male spreads his wings and tail, puffing up his chest and jumping around to attract a mate.
The Birds-of-Paradise are just a small part of the fascinating birding opportunities available in Papua New Guinea. This country is home to over 700 bird species, with many of them found only in this region. The best time to visit for birdwatching is during the dry season between June and October, but there are still plenty of opportunities for spotting unique bird species year-round.
For those seeking a unique birding experience, Papua New Guinea should be at the top of the list. With the Raggiana and many other unique and beautiful bird species, this country offers a one-of-a-kind adventure for any nature lover.