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A Brief Guide to Birdlife in the Indian Ocean

18 April 2024

Explore the vibrant birdlife of the Indian Ocean as we take a closer look at Mauritius and the Seychelles

From the iconic Pink Pigeon of Mauritius, once on the brink of extinction but now making a remarkable comeback, to the rare Seychelles Black Parrot found amidst the lush forests of Praslin, the Seychelles and Mauritius are home to a variety of endemic birdlife. With hotels home to dedicated on-site conservationists, and experienced guides on hand to hike through nature reserves in search of bird species, there's no shortage of opportunities for keen birdwatchers to embark on unforgettable adventures in Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Our Personal Favourite Birdlife Experiences

While we may not be experienced bird watchers, it is easy to appreciate the colourful tropical birds and impressive large colonies you find across the Indian Ocean. We have compiled a few of our favourite sightings from our past visits:

Sooty Terns at Bird Island: Every year a colony of around 1.5 million Sooty Terns descend on the island to nest in April and May. We were lucky enough to visit one April, and the vast number of birds gathering at the nesting site on the northern tip of the island is an impressive spectacle.

Village Weaver at Lakaz Chamarel: Lakaz Chamarel is a haven for birdlife but our favourite was seeing the little bright yellow Village Weaver, weaving his magic while building a nest. The bird's vibrant colour and elaborate nest building skills make them a joy to watch.

White Tailed Tropicbird in Mauritius: Around halfway through an early morning hike up Le Morne mountain, our guide excitedly pointed to the right and the distinctive Tropicbird with its long, white-feathered tail was soaring across the horizon.  

Seychelles Black Parrot in Praslin: While not the prettiest bird in the world, after a guided walk through Vallée de Mai in Praslin, finally spotting the well camouflaged Seychelles Black Parrot amongst the dense vegetation was particularly satisfying.

Highlights of the Indian Ocean Birdlife

Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques): The Echo Parakeet is one of the world's rarest parrot species and is native to Mauritius. Its vibrant green plumage and loud calls make it a unique sight and sound on the island. Conservation programs have helped stabilize its population.

Seychelles Magpie Robin (Copsychus sechellarum): The Seychelles Magpie Robin is a success story of conservation efforts, having been brought back from the brink of extinction. It's a small, charismatic bird with black and white plumage and can be found on several islands in the archipelago.

Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus): Once considered the world's rarest bird, the Mauritius Kestrel has made a remarkable recovery thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. These small falcons can be observed in certain protected areas.  

Seychelles Fody (Foudia sechellarum):The Seychelles Fody is a small bird with a bright red plumage, found primarily on the granitic islands. It's a member of the weaver family and is known for its intricate nest-building skills. 

Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri): The Pink Pigeon is one of the most iconic and endangered bird species in Mauritius. As the name suggests, it has a pinkish hue and is known for its distinctive appearance. Conservation efforts have helped increase their numbers, and they can be spotted in certain reserves.  

Seychelles Bul Bul (Hypsipetes crassirostris): This endemic bul bul species is known for its melodious song and can be found in the forests of the granitic islands. It has a distinctive yellow throat patch and is often seen foraging for fruits and insects.  

Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone bourbonnensis): With its long tail and striking appearance, this flycatcher is endemic to the Mascarene Islands, including Mauritius. It can be seen in forested areas. 

Sooty Tern (Onychoprion Fuscatus): This agile seabird with a pristine white underbelly and black plumage can be found nesting in staggeringly large colonies on remote islands. 

The Best Hotels for Birdlife in the Indian Ocean

Bird Island, Seychelles: As you would expect, Bird Island is a haven for birdlife.  Beyond the Sooty Tern colony, visitors can also see a wide variety of resident and migrant birds, including Noddies, Frigatebirds, Seychelles Blue Pigeons and Crab Plovers. 

Lakaz Chamarel, Mauritius: With established, tropical gardens and a secluded location, Lakaz Chamarel is a haven for birdlife. A morning chorus of birdsong is guaranteed and guests can enjoy Mauritian birdlife from within the extensive gardens. 

Alphonse, Seychelles: Explore Alphonse and the surrounding uninhabited islands on bird-watching excursions with knowledgeable guides. Alphonse Island itself has recorded sightings of over 100 different species of birds, while the sand flats and mangroves surrounding nearby St Francois Island are ideal habitats for a variety of waders. 

Heritage Telfair, Mauritius: Surrounded by the Bel Ombre Nature Reserve, the Heritage Le Telfair is set in a more rural area of Mauritius. Guests can explore the Nature Reserve with a guide, on the lookout for the Mauritian Pink Pigeon alongside other endemic birds. 

Denis Island, Seychelles:  Thanks to the work of NGO, The Green Islands Foundation, a number of the Seychelles' rarest endemic birds have been successfully translocated to Denis Island for conservation.  Guests can now enjoy spotting the Seychelles fody, magpie robin and the Seychelles warbler on the island, alongside a number of other species. 

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