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Birdwatcher's Bucket List Guide To Ecopia

Date: December 15, 2022

Ecopia Retreat is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Kangaroo Island is home to more than 260 bird species, many of which are endemic to the island and can be seen right outside your door at Ecopia Retreat. The expansive native vegetation – much of which we have planted over the past decade as part of extensive conservation and revegetation projects - sprawling across our 150-acre registered wildlife sanctuary provides vital habitat for more than 25 native bird species, including the endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo.

From your luxurious, eco-friendly villa, wake up to the sound of bird song and follow their calls through tranquil native woodland. Completely immersed in nature, you’ll start to notice the little things. Superb Fairy Wrens weaving through bush thickets, Scarlet Robins foraging on the forest floor or even illusive bug-eyed Bush Stone-curlews darting between trees. In the canopies above, the vibrant colours of Crimson Rosellas and lorikeets are more breath-taking than any work of art, while soaring overhead, Wedge-tailed Eagles and Nankeen Kestrels eye off their next meal.

If you’ve been wondering where to see birds on Kangaroo Island, look no further. Southern Boobooks, Grey Fantails, Cape Barren Geese and Black Swans all flock to the native trees, lagoons and the Eleanor River which flows through the property. You can’t wander far without discovering another feathered friend, and the best part is there are no cages. Ecopia is a genuine wildlife in the wild experience.

Surrounded by bushland brimming with birdlife, Ecopia Retreat is the ultimate Kangaroo Island accommodation for twitchers (that’s serious birdwatchers, for the uninitiated). Pack your binoculars and sense of adventure. Here’s our bird watcher’s guide to the top birds to see at Ecopia Retreat.

1. Glossy Black Cockatoo

Now extinct on mainland Australia, the endangered Glossy Black-cockatoo has its last refuge on Kangaroo Island. And following the devastating 2019-20 bushfires which destroyed almost 75% of the cockatoos’ habitat, Ecopia Retreat has become one of the most important and closely monitored habitats on the island.

At Ecopia Retreat we’re not only committed to having a minimal impact on the environment, but taking active steps to improve it – including extensive native plantings around our sanctuary. For more than 10 years, large-scale conservation and habitat extension projects have ensured our pristine pocket of Kangaroo Island remains a haven for wildlife. The Glossy Black-cockatoo is a testament to this.

In 2020, 300 of the 500 species planted at Ecopia were drooping sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata), to further grow the local feeding ground for these endangered birds. Our sprawling native bushland has provided new breeding grounds and a vital lifeline for this rare cockatoo. In fact, the latest census carried out in September and October 2020 counted a total of 13 Glossy Black-cockatoos at Ecopia, and over 450 in 17 flocks throughout the island.

For the best chance to spot a Glossy for yourself, quietly wander among Ecopia's sheoak trees around dusk and dawn when the cockatoos are most active. You’ll know they’re nearby thanks to the signature clicking sound of their beaks as the crunch through sheoak cones, and the leftover debris, known as chewings.

2. Wedge-tailed Eagle

If you turn your eyes to the sky at Ecopia Retreat, chances are you’ll spot a Wedge-tailed Eagle circling above. These impressive but sadly endangered birds of prey frequent the skies over Ecopia thanks to the sanctuary’s abundant wildlife population. As the largest bird of prey species in Australia, Wedge-tailed Eagles are pretty easy to spot. Their wingspan can reach up to 2.3 metres and females can weigh 4kg. A diurnal (day-active) raptor species, Wedge-tails can be spotted throughout the day at Ecopia. We recommend taking one of the secluded bushland trails throughout Ecopia to find a shady patch of grass to throw down a picnic rug. Surrounded by bush, kick back and wait for a real-life nature documentary to unfold before your eyes.

3. Kestrels

Though smaller in stature, Nankeen Kestrels are just as majestic to behold soaring in the skies over Ecopia Retreat. The slender falcon’s diet consists of small mammals, birds, lizards and insects and Ecopia’s pristine and flourishing wilderness sanctuary offers up a veritable banquet. Incredibly, Kestrels use ultra violet light to help locate prey. Their impressive eye sight means they can spot scent and urine trails - invisible to humans - from the air, which leads them straight to their next meal.

4. Southern Boobook

The Southern Boobook is Australia’s smallest native owl species. Boobooks are nocturnal although on overcast days you may spot them feeding in the early hours of the morning and at twilight. With a wildlife spotting torch - specially designed to not disturb animals and supplied in your eco-friendly Kangaroo Island accommodation at Ecopia Retreat – venture down a starlit bushland path and observe these nature-born night owls in their element; flitting between trees on the hunt for insects and small animals. Keep your eye on taller tree branches with clear views to the ground and listen out for their signature call. Synonymous with the Australian bush, to trained ears the Boobook call sounds like a double-noted ‘boo-book’.

5. Superb Fairy Wren

Ecopia Retreat is a true Australian utopia. So much so that our sanctuary is even home to fairies. Well, Superb Fairy Wrens, which we think are even better. Sightings of the glorious blue plumage of these tiny but astoundingly beautiful birds is a daily occurrence here at Ecopia Retreat, where they can be observed darting between dense shrubbery and bush thickets. An endemic subspecies, the Kangaroo Island Superb Fairy Wren is slightly larger than its mainland relative while females are more uniformly grey.

4. White-eared Honeyeater

The population of endemic Kangaroo Island White-eared Honeyeater declined by an estimated 54% as a result of the bushfires of 2019-20. With their habitat taking a big hit, Ecopia is one of the few pockets of natural bushland remaining on the Island as a healthy habitat for these gorgeous little birds. Their population is estimated to be under 7,000 which has out them on the endangered species list. They tend to nest within shrubs and low trees, and there are plenty of those throughout the property.

Ecopia Retreat’s birdwatching bucket list

Take your time to truly experience our wildlife wonderland and discover our unique feathered residents. Here’s our top birds to see on Kangaroo Island, and they can all be found at Ecopia Retreat.

  1. Glossy Black Cockatoo
  2. Wedge-Tailed Eagle
  3. Black Swan
  4. Southern Boobook
  5. Kestrel
  6. Grey Fantail
  7. Superb Fairy Wren
  8. Scrub Wren
  9. Kangaroo Island Spotted Scrubwren
  10. Scarlet Robin
  11. Cape Barren Goose
  12. Bush Stone-Curlew
  13. Crimson Rosellas
  14. Crescent Honeyeater
  15. Kangaroo Island White-eared Honeyeater
  16. New Holland Honeyeater
  17. Kangaroo Island Red Wattlebird
  18. Australian Shelduck

** All the images displayed here were taken at Ecopia Retreat Wildlife Sanctuary.


Beyond our winged residents, Ecopia Retreat is also home to some of Australia’s most iconic and rare animals including Kangaroo Island kangaroos, koalas, Tammar wallabies and echidnas. Continue your nature adventure at Ecopia with our guide to where to see animals on Kangaroo Island.


Ready to book your nature-based escape? Check out our availability then book your Kangaroo Island accommodation at Ecopia Retreat.

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Ecopia Retreat acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, to the Elders past, present, and emerging.