Birds of Boigu, Saibai and Dauan Islands (Torres Strait)

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Islands of Torres Strait

The Birds of Boigu, Saibai and Dauan Islands (the Top Western group of Torres Strait), are of particular interest to Australian birders because the islands are home to, and visited by, birds which are essentially New Guinea species not found, or only occasionally seen as vagrants, elsewhere on Australian territory. The islands lie only a few kilometres from the mainland of New Guinea, though they are politically part of the state of Queensland, Australia.

Boigu and Saibai are low-lying alluvial islands of swampland and mangroves, subject to periodic flooding, while Dauan is a smaller but higher granite island. From an Australian birder's perspective, local bird specialities include grey-headed goshawk, Gurney's eagle, rufous-bellied kookaburra, collared imperial-pigeon, orange-bellied fruit-dove, Papuan needletail, red-capped flowerpecker, streak-headed mannikin and singing starling.


Access to these islands is not easy. Permission to visit is required from the island councils. The few birders who visit, do so on pre-organised trips by chartered yacht or, occasionally, on day-trips by chartered light aircraft. Saibai and Boigu have airstrips.

List of birds[edit]

The following list is annotated with initials indicating which species have been recorded on the three islands. Because these islands have not been thoroughly surveyed or regularly monitored by birders, it is very likely that the list underestimates the number of species breeding on or visiting them.


  • Birding-Aus Mailing List Archives
  • Birds Australia Rarities Committee – decisions and case summaries
  • Clarke, Rohan H. (2004). The avifauna of northern Torres Strait: notes on a wet season visit. Australian Field Ornithology 21: 49-66.
  • Clarke, Rohan H. (2006). Papuan Spine-tailed Swifts Mearnsia novaeguineae on Boigu Island, Torres Strait, Queensland. Australian Field Ornithology 23: 125-129.
  • Clarke, Rohan H. (2007). An Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove, Ptilinopus iozonus, on Boigu Island, Torres Strait: The First Record for Australian Territory. Australian Field Ornithology 24: 44-48.
  • Draffan, R.D.W.; Garnett, S.T.; & Malone, G.J. (1983). Birds of the Torres Strait: an annotated list and biogeographical analysis. Emu 83: 207-234.
  • Morcombe, Michael. (2000). Field Guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing: Brisbane. ISBN 1-876282-10-X