Australia Raptor TourDownload as PDF

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Australia is the sixth largest country on Earth. It is 11 times the size of Texas, and 31 times the UK, but it is sparsely populated by only 23 million people. Australia has been geographically isolated for so long (c. 80 million years) from other land masses that it has evolved a highly specialized, unique endemic fauna. This is also reflected in its bird life, and raptors are no exception.

Many Endemic Raptors

Nineteen of the 24 diurnal raptor species that occur there are endemic or nearly so. Many of them are widespread and fairly common, so finding raptors in Australia is fairly easy, especially if one goes to the right locations. We will try to see every one of the endemic raptors and will see most of the others as well. We will have several local expert co-leaders for a few days each and will see many other birds and members of the charismatic native fauna as well.

A Relaxing Birding Vacation

This trip will not involve long walks or any other strenuous activities; we do have a few long-drive days, but always stopping to see most raptors. Most raptor and bird watching will be done from the vehicle or on short walks. The tour will be conducted at a leisurely pace, with lots of time to observe each raptor, and other birds and animals, too.

Make a difference!

Hawk Mountain logoRaptours®, L.L.C. will make a financial contribution to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for every member that signs up for this tour. Join us and make a lasting contribution to raptor conservation.

Day-by-Day Itinerary | Main Tour

Dates apply to the 2016 edition

Day 1

Sunday, October 2

Arrive in Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (IATA code: SYD). Meet with Raptours' staff and transfer to hotel near the airport. Personal introductions in the evening at dinner. Overnight in Sydney.

Day 2

Monday, October 3

All-day excursion with stops and short walks in the Upper Hawkesbury River to target many common raptors, including Black-shouldered Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, White-bellied Sea Eagle, and Brown Falcon, with a chance for Grey Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, and Australian Hobby, and maybe Square-tailed Kite, Pacific Baza, and Spotted Harrier, among others. Dinner and overnight in Sydney.

Day 3

Tuesday, October 4

Visit different scenic areas west of Sydney to target a similar list as the day before. Dinner and overnight in Sydney.

Day 4

Wednesday, October 5

Drive to Tamworth for most of the morning. Meet with Stephen Debus for lunch. Visit Black Falcon breeding territory in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Armidale.

Day 5

Thursday, October 6

Visit several raptor breeding areas with Stephen. We will target Black-shouldered Kite, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, and Australian Hobby. Dinner and overnight in Armidale.

Day 6

Friday, October 7

In the morning we will drive slowly toward Grafton stopping to look for duck-billed platypus on the way. Then drive to the coast to target Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, and hopefully Pacific Baza. Dinner and overnight in Grafton.

Day 7

Saturday, October 8

Another chance to target less common species such as Square-tailed Kite, and Pacific Baza. Dinner and overnight in Grafton.

Day 8

Sunday, October 9

By now we have probably covered most or all of the raptor species in the wetter east coast. Time for us to head far west inland to target species that belong in drier parts. So today is mostly a driving day (380 mi, 8 h) but we are stopping for raptors we have not seen yet. Dinner and overnight in St. George.

Day 9

Monday, October 10

Drive to Cunnamulla in the morning stopping to watch raptors on the way. Lunch upon arrival. Explore Bowra Wildlife Refuge in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Cunnamulla.

Days 10–11

Tuesday & Wednesday, October 11-12

Lots of raptors to be seen here. Best chance for Black-breasted Buzzard, and Grey Falcon. Dinner and overnight in Cunnamulla.

Day 12

Thursday, October 13

Bowra in the morning. Lunch. Drive to Bourke in the afternoon stopping to watch raptors along the way. Dinner and overnight in Bourke.

Day 13

Friday, October 14

Drive to Dubbo stopping to watch raptors along the way. Lunch en route. Dinner and overnight in Dubbo.

Day 14

Saturday, October 15

Drive to Sydney stopping to watch raptors along the way. Dinner and overnight near the airport in Sydney.

Day 15

Sunday, October 16

Catch flights home or continue on the Top End Extension.

Day-by-Day Itinerary | Top End Extension

Dates apply to the 2016 edition

Day 1

Sunday, October 16

Flight to Darwin in the morning. Local Darwin in the afternoon. Grey Goshawk likely in the city. We will check out a local park for roosting owls. Dinner and overnight in Darwin.

Day 2

Monday, October 17

Drive to Kakadu Park. We will be stopping at several areas good for raptors. We should see Australian Hobby, Osprey, Black Kite, and others. Dinner and overnight in Kakadu Park.

Day 3

Tuesday, October 18

Drive to Pine Creek targeting Red Goshawk and other raptors all day. Dinner and overnight in Pine Creek.

Day 4

Wednesday, October 19

Visit a breeding territory of Red Goshawk. This is an extremely rare raptor. Dinner and overnight in Pine Creek.

Day 5

Thursday, October 20

Drive to Darwin in the morning. Fly to Sydney in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Sydney.

Day 6

Friday, October 21

Catch flights back home. Extra nights in Sydney can be arranged upon request.

Target SpeciesDownload as checklist in PDF format

common name

  1. Osprey
  2. Black-shouldered Kite
  3. Letter-winged Kite
  4. Square-tailed Kite
  5. Black-breasted Buzzard
  6. Pacific Baza
  7. Little Eagle
  8. Wedge-tailed Eagle
  9. Red Goshawk
  10. Grey Goshawk
  11. Brown Goshawk
  12. Collared Sparrowhawk
  13. Swamp Harrier
  14. Spotted Harrier
  15. Black Kite
  16. Whistling Kite
  17. Brahminy Kite
  18. White-bellied Sea Eagle
  19. Nankeen Kestrel
  20. Australian Hobby
  21. Brown Falcon
  22. Grey Falcon
  23. Black Falcon
  24. Peregrine Falcon

latin name

  1. Pandion haliaetus
  2. Elanus axillaris
  3. Elanus scriptus
  4. Lophoictinia isura
  5. Hamirostra melanosternon
  6. Aviceda subcristata
  7. Hieraaetus morphnoides
  8. Aquila audax
  9. Erythrotriorchis radiatus
  10. Accipiter novaehollandiae
  11. Accipiter fasciatus
  12. Accipiter cirrocephalus
  13. Circus approximans
  14. Circus assimilis
  15. Milvus migrans
  16. Haliastur sphenurus
  17. Haliastur indus
  18. Haliaeetus leucogaster
  19. Falco cenchroides
  20. Falco longipennis
  21. Falco berigora
  22. Falco hypoleucos
  23. Falco subniger
  24. Falco peregrinus
Pandion haliaeetus Elanus axillaris Elanus scriptus Lophoictinia isura Hamirostra melanosternon Aviceda subcristata Hieraaetus morphnoides Aquila audax Erythrotriorchis radiatus Accipiter novaehollandiae Accipiter fasciatus Accipiter cirrocephalus Circus approximans Circus assimilis Milvus migrans Haliastur sphenurus Haliastur indus Haliaeetus leucogaster Falco cenchroides Falco longipennis Falco berigora Falco hypoleucos Falco subniger Falco peregrinus

Suggested Field Guides

Debus, S. 1998. The Birds of Prey of Australia. Oxford University Press.

Hollands, D. 1984. Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons of Australia. Thomas Nelson, Melbourne.

Cupper, J., and L. Cupper. 1981. Hawks in Focus. Jaclin Enterprises, Mildura, Australia.

Need To Know

Tour Dates & Availability

2016 Main Tour, 2–16 October | CLOSED


Booking Closes On

1 July

Group Size Limit

2016: 18 participants

Tour Price

Contact Us to request tour price

Raptor Species Expected


Country Entry Requirements

Visa required unless you hold an Australian or New Zealand passport




Good to Excellent

Weather & Clothing

Nice | Bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen


Travel medical insurance is recommended

Local Currency

Australian dollar

Tour Map

Australia Tour map
Click on the map to see more details

Tour Leader

Bill Clark
Bill Clark

Local Raptor Expert

Stephen Debus

Stephen Debus has had a life-long interest in raptors, beginning with an honours thesis on Little Eagle and a Masters on owls.

He has authored over 120 papers on raptors and is editor for several bird and raptor journals.

He has been doing studies on Australian raptors for many years and follows the nesting of many species.

Tour Co-Leader

Sergio Seipke
Sergio Seipke

Birds of Prey of Australia

Birds of Prey of Australia, Second Edition, Stephen Debus. 2012.
In 2012, the second edition of Stephen Debus’ thoroughly revised, and radically re-organized Birds of Prey of Australia was published.
Stephen will have copies for sale (and sign!) for those participants interested.

Tour Showcase

Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax), adult by Julian Robinson
There are no vultures in Australia. The large aerial scavenger is the Wedge-tailed Eagle.
© J. Robinson
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax), adult by Bill Clark.
Wedge-tailed Eagles have bare facial skin — an adaptation to their scavenging habits.
© B. Clark
Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata), by Bill Clark.
Pacific Baza
© B. Clark
Gray Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae), juvenile by Bill Clark
Grey Goshawk, juvenile
© B. Clark
Brown Falcon (Falco berigora), by Bill Clark.
Brown Falcon
© B. Clark
Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides), by Bill Clark
Little Eagle
© B. Clark


Raptours, L.L.C. reserves the right to alter this itinerary as necessary, or to cancel the tour prior to departure, with full refund to participants.

Raptours, L.L.C. or its agents may decline to accept or retain any person as a member of this tour at any time.

No smoking will be permitted while with the group, either when indoors or in the field.

Travel medical insurance is strongly recommended.

All passengers will be required to sign a hard copy of the Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk form upon meeting with the tour leader in Sydney.

No participants will be allowed in the group without a signed copy of the Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk form.

Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk Form
(including Terms)
Download as PDF