Top 10 Birds In Spain

Too many classes of animals share the land; some share both land and aquatic habitats, but birds are in the class of their own. They own exclusive access to the air, making them a fascinating species (of the animal kingdom) for me. I love birds, and it has been a long time coming for me to study these beauties. If you are a bird enthusiast like me and want exposure to a wide variety of bird species, one of the right choices of the location you can make is Spain.

Hence, the reason for compiling this material on the top 10 birds in Spain for you to look forward to. Amongst other European countries, such as Russia, Turkey, Columbia, etc., Spain has a large variety of bird species with over 600 recorded species currently in the Spanish bird fauna. They breed, migrate, and winter across the country regularly.

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Five Tags of Spain's Birds Community to Explain Their Occurrence

Spain’s bird community have been divided into five tags to explain their occurrence:

Accidental (A) species: is a term used for any species that occurs accidentally or rarely in Spain.

Accidental to a limited area (A – xxx): this term is commonly used for a species that has its primary base in mainland Spain but for some reason is found accidentally in the North African enclaves or the Canary Islands.

Introduced (I) species: are those species introduced to Spain. This introduction is a result of either direct or indirect human actions.

Category D (D) species: this category of occurrence depicts species whose wild origin per Birdlife cannot be precisely ascertained.

Endemic (E – xxx) species: is a term used for species only found in Spain. They are often written with an appended location.

(Note that “xxx” refers to the location appended)

Bird Sighting in Spain

One of the reasons Spain has such a wide diversity of bird species is its geographical location. One may consider Spain as a bridge (between Europe and Africa) with different routes through which birds migrate from Central and Western Europe to Western Africa.

Catalonia, East Andalusia, Valencia, Murcia are spots upon which coastal routes for migration are located while inland routes, which are the birds’ favorite stopping and resting places, include Southwest of Andalusia, Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha.

Other locations are the Pyrenees (which is at the north of Spain and an exit to Europe) and the Gibraltar Strait, which is the route to Morocco, the tropical and rich zones of Western Africa, and the Sahara Desert.

Other factors that have contributed to the vast biodiversity of bird species in Spain are a wide range of microclimates in the regions and considerable variation in topography and local geography. The latter means that there are varying environmental support systems for different species’ needs. These habitats lie on the routes are on the corridors of the birds’ migrating paths; hence, the rich mixture of diverse species in the country.

Of all the hundreds of species of birds you can find in Spain, a few are very striking and worth mention. Below are the top ten birds in Spain.

Top 10 Birds In Spain

Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species, formerly known as the National Catalogue of Endangered Species, was created by the Public Administration’s Law 4 / 89 in its Article 30.1 for species subspecies, or populations that require special measures for their preservation.

Below is the category of bird species that are covered by the law and included the number of taxa:

Endangered: 21
Special interest: 250
Sensitive: 3
Vulnerable: 12
Total: 286

We have included few examples of these endangered bird species in our top ten birds in Spain, but I’ll begin this list with high-flying birds that have gotten bird watchers and ornithologists going wild, especially in Andalusia.

1. European roller (Coracias garrulous)

This bird has striking mixed colors; however, it is appropriately described as a blue and orange-brown bird. You will find the European roller across Southern Europe during warm weather, but it migrates south to Sub-Saharan Africa as winter approaches. 

Its Spanish name is from its distinctive raspy sound – it is translated as ‘ratchet.’ Its high-flying aerobatic maneuvers define its English name.

2. Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)

Because of its perfect camouflage due to its golden-brown plumage in grassland habitat, you may need excellent eyesight to spot this bird. Should you find it, you can distinguish the mature male by black-and-white bands on its neck. However, don’t expect to see it in flight; even when scared, it rarely flies.

3. Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti)

This Spanish Eagle is a large raptor and, undoubtedly, the most notorious bird native only to the Iberian peninsula. Hence, it is an endemic species. Although some reports have also placed some sightings in Northern Morocco, these are unconfirmed reports.

So endemic is the species that it was almost declared extinct in the 1970s but has since recovered to a slightly higher status – threatened species. As the name suggests, the Spanish Eagle is as majestic, and Andalusia is one of the favorite areas to find and watch this royal bird.

About 150 couples live in the country, breeding in Madrid, Montes de Toledo, Donana, Sierra Morena, and Extremadura. More specifically, in these places, you will find them habitats such as hills with plenty of scrub and woodlands of cork, alluvial plains and dunes, and mountains where Resinera and Scots pine are the dominant vegetation.

4. Pardela pichoneta balear (Puffinus mauretanicus)

These species are endemic to the Balearic Islands. According to estimations, they are not more than 4,000 couples across all the four main islands, especially in Formentera.

 In other areas like La Palma and Tenerife’s deep wallsTenerife’s deep walls, where they dig nests in the ground, and the Pinochet nests in the Canary Islands, their population is not more than 2,000 pairs.

5. Cerceta pardilla (Marmaronetta angustirostris)

In recent times, this particular threatened bird species have continually declined in population across the globe. Its only breeding space in Europe is Spain, which is due to its abundance of rain. 80% of the bird’s population (specifically in Europe) is located in the Parque Natural Hondo (Alicante).

They have been the most abundant bird species in the Guadalquivir marshes in the last century; they love to settle in water with shallow depth and permanent submerged, emergent vegetation.

6. House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus)

The House sparrow is one of the most common birds in Spain, but the rate at which its population is declining is alarming. It is noteworthy that it is the best passerine species that is known. The more spectacular gender in appearance is the male with its shiny black or brown head. The female and young ones, on the other hand, are homogenous brown.

Do you have any idea how common these birds are? If not, look out the window. You’ll most probably find one.

7. Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

Due to its peculiar (or unique, if you like) head and beak, the hoopoe is an unmistakable bird. Its beak is black and thin while its head is made of erectile feathers, which are never opened. 

The hoopoe has a plumage with a color that ranges from pink-brown to reddish cinnamon. Another noteworthy feature is its precision with habitats. Also, it is migratory, territorial, and diurnal. With its striking erratic flight, you can’t miss it when in sight.

8. Magpie (Pica pica)

This is another bird that is unmistakable because of its color of the black and white patterns. The Magpie’s chest and part of its wings are white in color; its wings and tail are metallic hues, although the density still depends on the incidence of light.

There is no difference between the genders except in the greater corpulence of males. Its rough chirping distinguishes it, and it’s attracted to bright and colorful objects.

9. Lammergeier

The Lammergeier is an example of a bird of prey. Spain boasts as the country in Europe with the largest bird population, which has also been named Bearded Vulture. You can easily find it in Cazorla – Andalusia and along the Pyrenees.

10. White-headed Duck

This bird is unique compared to its counterparts (that is, Spanish ducks). A prominent blue bill distinguishes the males. Although now raised to stability in the Southern and Central Spain, it almost ran into extinction in the 1970s.

Exciting Places to View the Top 10 Birds In Spain

To have a view of the top ten birds in Spain, exciting places you can visit are:

Balearic Islands

this region is an archipelago in the Western Mediterranean, consisting of four main islands, including Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera, and Mallorca. This region boasts of over 300 species. 

A great spot for birders to have their fun in this region could be in the Natural parks – the largest being the Parc Natural de S’Albufera on Mallorca. In the Balearic Islands region, you will find endemic, migratory, and inland species.

Donana National Park

Whether as an ornithologist or a birding enthusiast, here is a must-see place for you; there are over 500 000 visiting bird species in this region every year. This region is home to a variety of species, including over 500 endemic birds.

Extremadura

This region is known to be larger than some European countries but with low population density. Its natural habitat includes high mountains to extensive pastures with two big rivers and boasts of over 300 species of birds and 190 wintering bird species. The Important Bird Areas of Spain included 75% of this region in its verdict.

Castile-La Mancha

The major spots for bird watching in this area in the middle of Spain are the Tejera Negra Beech Forest, Tablas de Daimiel, the Alto Tajo region, and Cabaneros National Park.

Pyrenees

the spectacular topography and the sloping of the Pyrenees mountains located in the Northeastern space of Spain give bird enthusiasts the opportunity to watch endemic species – endemic to this region only. That is, they are E – Pyrenees.

Tarifa area and Gibraltar Strait

During autumn, millions of birds on their migration to Africa for the winter often rest in Tarifa – a small town in Andalusia, which faces the Strait of Gibraltar. In the same vein, spring birds migrate back to Nothern Europe for the winter, making Tarifa a prime resting destination for diverse bird species. You are sure to see migratory birds and birds of prey.

Ebro Delta

For sighting top birds in Spain, this region with a vast marshland in the Ebro River comprises more than thousands of fauna species yearly. The mix of different birds’ colors is so captivating that you are tempted to think you’re in another world.

FAQs

Yes, you can prey on common birds in Spain; however, you may need a hunting permit, which can be issued by the provincial or regional office of the Ministry of the Environment.

Seagulls are known to be no ordinary birds. However, they have been revealed to spend their winters in Spain. When they are away from preying chip eaters, they have been spotted as far as Portugal and Morocco inclusive.

According to the BirdLife Data Zone, there are currently 439 species in Spain, but there have been records that the Spanish bird fauna comprises of more than 500 bird species.

The best bird watching places in Spain are Donana National Park and Odiel Marshes Biosphere Reserve, Extremadura, the Ebro Delta in Catalonia, Pyrenees, Tarifa area, and Gibraltar Strait, and the Balearic Islands. These places boast of the wide biodiversity of bird species, including endemic species.

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Conclusion

Applicable to other European countries is the need to agree on a National Bird; this is the same in Spain. Although several Ornithologists – both local and visiting – have named the Spanish Imperial Eagle as the favorite option, other plausible birds fit into this category. Five remarkable birds can be honored with the title of Spain’s National bird; these rare Spanish Imperial Eagle itself, Bee-eater, Lammergeier, White-headed Duck, and Iberian Magpie.

Other possible birds near this category are Iberian Chiffchaff, Great Bustard, and Hoopoe, but the last two birds are already National Birds in Hungary and Israel. Let’s conclude this read by saying sighting my top ten birds in Spain is worth pictures of them. Take a trip and check them out yourself.

Ballachy
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