Frequently Asked Questions
Other birding information sources?
Bird Trails T.N.Q (facebook site of this website)
Cairns Birders (local bird club)
Birds of North Queensland
Eremaea (website reporting interesting sightings)
Queensland Rare Bird Alerts
North Queensland Natural History Group
How long to stay?
An ideal stay in the Cairns region is a week or more. Any visit should include staying with a few of the listed accommodations, and spending a day or two with any of our excellent guides. You should also consider a cruise on the Daintree River and a visit to Michaelmas Cay. Add further time if you wish to explore other areas further afield including Georgetown and Cape York.
When is the best time to visit?
In general, the more comfortable climatic conditions occur during the cooler Dry Season between May and the end of October. From November to April is the warmer, humid Wet Season that can be more challenging. However this is when our summer migrants are present and nesting including the exquisite Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher. Ideally, the timing of your trip should coincide with the presence or likelihood of seeing the particular birds you’re hoping to see. To get an idea of the seasonality of our birds see our Seasonal Changes page.
Do I need to hire a guide?
Guides are strongly recommended as they can help ensure you see the iconic birds and animals of the region. Use of a guide raises the likelihood of not only seeing the bird your hoping to see but seeing it well, with the added bonus that they may also be able to provide ecological and behavioural explanation of what your seeing. Use of a guide means you’ll be able to see more, quicker, with less chance of missing that critical species. Most guides are keen to view your ‘wishlist’ and are able to customise a tour to meet your viewing wishes.
Where can I see a Cassowary?
Main areas for viewing a Southern Cassowary are the Daintree Forest (between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation), Kuranda region (particularly Black Mountain Rd), Mission Beach and Etty Bay. See our BirdFinder page for more information on locations and other tips on finding any of our ‘Top 50’ most sought-after Wet Tropic birds.
Do I need to hire a four wheel drive?
All major roads are fully sealed and you can visit most sites on our Bird Trails brochure with a regular two-wheel drive vehicle. A possible exception is Mt. Lewis, which is accessed via a 10 km dirt road winding uphill through rainforest. In dry conditions, this road is good enough for transit in a regular car. In wet conditions, however, caution should be taken as the road may be more slippery. Also note that in wet and windy conditions, it is not uncommon for trees to fall blocking the road.
If you intend on visiting Cape York Peninsula or the Bloomfield Track then you should definitely consider a vehicle with high clearance. The roads in these area can be exceptionally rough with corrugations and are prone to flooding and wash-outs.
How far is it?
The Wet Tropics is a large area and care needs to be taken in regard to location of activities and accommodations. Visit the ‘Regions, Birds, Operators’ page to get a sense of the layout of the region. You can find a map of the region around Cairns there. Find below a guide to the distances between key locations within the region.
|Cairns to Daintree Village||112 kms, 1 hr 41 mins|
|Daintree Village to Cape Tribulation||50 kms, 1 hr 23 mins|
|Cairns to Cape Tribulation||141 kms, 2 hrs 43 mins|
|Cairns to Port Douglas||68 kms, 1 hr 7 mins|
|Port Douglas to Daintree Village||56 kms, 47 mins|
|Port Douglas to Julatten||31 kms, 31 mins|
|Cairns to Kuranda||35 kms, 44 mins|
|Cairns to Mareeba||62 kms, 1 hr 2 mins|
|Cairns to Mt Molloy||104 kms, 1 hr 31 mins|
|Mt Molloy to Mt Carbine||24 kms, 20 mins|
|Cairns to Atherton||80 kms, 1 hr 27 mins|
|Cairns to Yungaburra||67 kms, 1 hr 16 mins|
|Cairns to Mission Beach||140 kms, 1 hr 53 mins|
|Cairns to Georgetown||384 kms, 4 hrs 40 mins|
|Cairns to Cooktown||327 kms, 3 hrs 52 mins|
|Cairns to Musgrave Roadhouse||448 kms, 5 hrs 24 mins|
|Cairns to Lockhart River||766 kms, 10 hrs 8 mins|
|Cairns to Cape York Tip||1031 kms, 13 hrs 39 mins|
What other wildlife is there to see?
Not only is there a great diversity of birds in North Queensland but there is also a great range of iconic animals as well. Find below a list of some of the most sought-after or interesting wildlife species that you might wish to see during your visit. Our bird guides and accommodators can also assist you in finding these species (and others). Several of the listed guides provide night tours specifically to see nocturnal species. You might also consider a cruise on the Daintree River and a trip to the Great Barrier Reef to see some of these species.
Platypus, Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo, Bennett’sTree-kangaroo, Grey Kangaroo, Agile Wallaby, Red-legged Pademelon, Rufous Bettong, Northern Bettong, Mareeba Rock-wallaby, Coppery Brushtail Possum, Striped Possum, Lemuroid Possum, Daintree Ringtail, Herbert River Ringtail, Green Ringtail, Yellow-bellied Glider, Krefft’s Glider, Squirrel Glider, Feathertail Glider, Eastern Pygmy Possum, Dingo, Northern Quoll, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Long-nosed Bandicoot, Spectacled Fruit-bat, White-tailed Rat, Dugong, Dwarf Minke, Humpback Whale.
Saltwater Crocodile, Freshwater Crocodile, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Amethystine Python, Green Tree-snake, Brown Tree Snake, Red-bellied Black Snake, Coastal Taipan, Boyd’s Forest Dragon, Lace Monitor, Chameleon Gecko, Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko.
Anenomefish, Maori Wrasse, Green Tree-frog, White-lipped Tree-frog, Australian Lace-lid Frog, Peppermint Stick-insect, Cairns Birdwing, Ulysses Butterfly.
Which bird book should I get?
Australia is blessed with half a dozen bird guides. Each has pros and cons. You might also consider either of the bird apps listed below. Both include bird calls. Morcombe bird calls are possibly slightly better. Pizzey is generally regarded as having better illustrations and photographs of the birds as well.
Australia Wide Bird Guides
- The Australian Bird Guide, Menkhorst et al. Newest and possibly most comprehensive.
- The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Pizzey & Knight. Clear format, good illustrations.
- The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Slater et al. Smallest, most concise.
- Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Simpson & Day. Colourful, most available in America.
- Field Guide to Australian Birds, Michael Morcombe. More information than others re nesting.
North Queensland Bird Guides
- A Field Guide to Birds of Northern Queensland, Phil Gregory & Jun Matsui
- Birds of the Wet Tropics of Queensland & Great Barrier Reef, Lloyd Nielsen
- Birds of Australia, Pizzey & Knight
- Birds of Australia, Morcombe & Steward
Do local bird clubs provide any activities that I can join?
There are two local bird groups in the Cairns area that have regular birding activities. See the website of BirdLife Northern Queensland (www.birdlifenq.org) for more information. See the facebook site for Cairns Birders (www.facebook.com/groups/1119380191536812) for more information. Another way to connect with Cairns Birders is to wander down to the Cairns Esplanade (opposite the Cairns RSL) about 4pm; most days a group of birders meet to view shorebirds. They may be able to advise regarding upcoming activities and provide recent birding intel.
How do I get a listing on this website?
If you wish to get in contact you are welcome to contact any of the members who should be able to answer your enquiry about this group. Currently, Murray Hunt, Daintree Boatman Nature Tours, is the unofficial convenor of the group.