About Bird Island Nature Reserve

The world’s most accessible Cape gannet colony can be found on Bird Island, linked to Lambert’s Bay by a breakwater wall.

Did you know? This island, linked to Lambert’s Bay by only a breakwater wall, hosts the world’s most accessible Cape gannet colony and gives shelter to cormorants and penguins. Its three hectares are important for breeding and roosting. The noise and smell are worth noting (be prepared) but the modern, glass bird hide helps disguise both.

Bird Island also gives shelter to thousands of cormorants and penguins, whilst Cape fur seals can still be found on the rocks on the sea side of the island.

The three hectare Bird Island Nature Reserve is an important breeding and roosting site for this cacophonous and, on the face of it, unruly bunch of birds that serves as both an environmental educational opportunity, and a tourist attraction of note.

Bird Island is one of only six sites where Cape gannets breed in the world. It is also the only breeding site that the public can so easily access, although, on the downside, the breakwater has also given domestic cats access to ripe pickings, particularly the chicks and eggs. One can also reach the island by ferry.

Bird Island has a fantastic modern bird hide that has transformed the island into something of an educational classroom on the life of these birds. One can unobtrusively witness unique mating dances of the gannet, between April and September, and the incredible vocalising of thousands of these birds on their nests.

It also means that visitors are less subject to the incredibly strong smell of guano, collected from the island between 1888 and 1990 for use in fertilisers and known as “white gold”. As a result of this regular collecting, the penguin community sharply declined, particularly because their eggs were regarded as a delicacy. Penguins are being encouraged back.

Visitors to the island can also explore an aquarium, auditorium, penguin pool, curio shop and coffee shop, and there is a video on the history of the island available in a number of different languages.

Entrance may be prohibited if rough seas make it too dangerous to cross the breakwater. Visitors are however warned to be very careful at all times.

Need to Know

WhereBird Island Nature Reserve, Lamberts Bay, Cape West Coast, Western Cape, South Africa


Visiting Hours:

Visiting hours are from 07h00 to 19h00 in summer, and until 17h00 in winter.

OvernightStay in Lamberts Bay Accommodation, Western Cape


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