George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

Location: Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

If I could only choose one spot in Darwin to bird, it would be the George Brown Botanic Gardens. As with most botanic gardens, the George Brown gardens have a bunch of different edge habitats that make for pretty easy birding. Of course, this place gains extra points by being one of the top places in Australia for finding the Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa). Now, I know what you’re thinking. Owls? It’s not easy to find an owl. Well, I’m here to tell you that it actually is easy here, for three reasons. First, we found it.

Rufous Owl – The most recent sighting on eBird at the time of this writing is August 18, 2019

Second, there is a big notebook in the visitor center where people write down where they last saw the owl. Some people even draw diagrams. So, go here to find the owl. (The visitor center also has a printed sheet of the most common birds you can find, and makes for a fun additional checklist to fill out.) Third, a more experienced birder than us just told us where it is. Haha.

Now, apparently, the Barking Owl is also frequently sighted here but we did not see that.

At the entrance near the carpark there are large fields with sparse trees, perfect for kingfishers.

Forest Kingfisher

There are also some picnic tables here perfect for eating lunch if you’re too cheap to eat at the cafeteria (like us). In this area there are usually Straw-necked and Australian White Ibises that are tame. They wait for people to leave their picnic tables and then eat up whatever they can find.

Australian White Ibis wants to eat your snacks

Another great place to go is the desert area in the north end of the park. It is also quite sparse and is a great place for finches.

Double-barred Finch

As you’re walking around, don’t be surprised if it’s easy to see Spangled Drongos, Orange-footed Scrubfowls, and Varied Trillers. Friarbirds are pretty easy to see too, but note all characteristic features you can, because Friarbirds are not the easiest birds to tell apart.

Look out for the Red-eyed Spangled Drongo!

Of course, the George Brown Garden is a garden after all. So there are lots of plants, and information on the different trees in the garden can be found in the visitor center. There is also this really cool fenced area right next to the visitor center that has some nice orchids.

Even if you’re there for the birds, don’t forget the beautiful orchids

For more information, check out the eBird bar charts for the last four years.

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