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Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary

Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary

The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is a bird enthusiast’s delight

Established in 2014, and stretching over 60kms of South Australia’s northern coastline, is the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary (AIBS), one of Adelaide’s longest coastal reserves. Home to 263 unique fauna and flora species, it is a natural safe haven for birdlife.

The sanctuary is part of the Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) and a crucial site for over 5 million migratory birds that make the journey each year through 22 countries from as far away as Russia and Alaska. There are thought to be 27,000 resident birds and 50 migratory species for which the park provides essential nesting grounds. Protected from urbanisation, the sanctuary also maintains important salt fields, mangroves, wetlands, and dunes that create supportive ecological habitats for the regeneration of vulnerable shorebirds like the sharp-tailed sandpiper, lesser knot, and the rare samphire hornbill. With all this in mind, it is unsurprising that the national park at the northern end of the sanctuary is known in Australia’s native Kaurna language as Winaityinaityi Pangkara: “a country for all birds and the country that surrounds these birds.” The Kaurna People are the recognised traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains whose deep spiritual connection to the sanctuary lands and waters stretches back thousands of years. Their understanding and knowledge are crucial to sanctuary maintenance, and their continued lead in its management and planning has the dual importance of keeping the sanctuary sustainable whilst preserving Kaurna culture.

Exploring the Sanctuary

Enter from the northern gateway and head toward Thompson Beach for pristine views of coastline delineated by samphire and intertidal mudflats, and the homes for many shorebirds. Grey plovers, red knots, and ruddy turnstones are best seen here.

Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary, bird watching[/caption] Explore from the southern gateway at the St Kilda foreshore to see sometimes thousands of shorebirds including foraging banded stilts and black swans in this food-abundant area. Royal spoonbills nest and feed in the mangroves and sooty oystercatchers patrol the flats. Kingfishers and superb fairywrens are often spotted here. Down the southern St Kilda end, experience other attractions, including St Kilda’s Adventure Playground, Tramway Museum, and Dolphin Sanctuary. There are also cafés, rest stops and accommodation options along the coast if you’d like to make a short getaway to explore the area.


The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is open all year round and visitors are able to enjoy an array of different sights and sounds along provided walking trails depending on the season. Sturdy, waterproof shoes are recommended for your visit as well as a hat, sun protection, your own snacks, and a bottle of water. Dogs are welcome on leads no longer than two metres on designated walking paths and walkers should bring supplies to clean up after their pets and dispose of rubbish outside as there are no bins in the park.


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