Working for birds in Africa

Important Bird Areas

Sat, 01/12/2013 - 23:54 -- abc_admin

Los Rodeos plains in the dry season, North East Tenerife

Image Credit: 
Rubén Barone Tosco

Las Mercedes, in Anaga massif, Tenerife

Image Credit: 
Rubén Barone Tosco

Famara cliffs and islets, north of Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Image Credit: 
Rubén Barone Tosco


The Canary Islands are part of the Madeira and Canary Islands endemic bird area. On the western and central Canary Islands, laurel forest occurs at 400-1,300 m, and montane pine forest at 800-1,900 m. The lower-lying and arid eastern Islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are vegetated with semi-desert scrub.

The islands hold five endemic species including two pigeons which are laurel forest specialists, Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii and Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae, and Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea which is restricted to pine forest. Tenerife has the greatest number of restricted-range species including those already mentioned plus Canary Islands Chiffchaff Phylloscopus canariensis. Fuerteventura has its own endemic bird Canary Islands Chat Saxicola dacotiae. The islands also hold many endemic subspecies of widespread birds, notably the distinctive race of Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae, Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus majorensis which are confined to the eastern islands, Tenerife Kinglet Regulus regulus teneriffae and and races of Blue Tit Parus caeruleus.

The Canary Islands have over 60 Important Bird Areas (IBAs).


This is the typical habitat of Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus granti, Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii, Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs canariensis and Goldcrest the local race sometimes known as Tenerife Kinglet Regulus regulus teneriffae.

Anaga, La Playa and Garachico are all rocky islets located off the north coast of Tenerife and are important for seabirds especially breeding Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii. Los Gigantes coastal cliff on the north-west side of the island is a significant site for cliff-nesting seabirds and raptors. A number of sites have laurel forests which are important for Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii and Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae and other forest passerines. These are Las Mercedes, Mina y Yedra, Aguirre, La Goleta, and Pedro Alvarez mountains; Las Vueltas, Aguas Negras and Quebradas mountains; Mountain of Agua gully of Los Cochinos and gully of Cuevas Negras which also holds the main Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus breeding colony on the island, San Andrés, Pijaral and Anaga mountains; and Tigaiga slope. There are several pine forests which are important sites for Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea. These are Tágara gully;  Vilaflor pine woodland and Arico pine woodland. Los Rodeos-La Esperanza is the only site for Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens rufescens and the best area on Tenerife for grassland species. Rasca lava fields-Guaza mountain-Las Mesas plain and Centinela mountain and La Esquina plain are important sites for steppe species including Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara. El Médano coast is also important for steppe species and the gullies support breeding raptors and wintering waders.


Punta de Jandía is a good site for seawatching, as it is the extreme south of the Fuerteventura. It is possible to see both wintering and breeding seabirds, as well as herons, spoonbills and shorebirds at low tide. This site is protected as Natural Park. Photo: Rubén Barone Tosco

Several sites are important for breeding Canary Islands Chat Saxicola dacotiae including Gully of Ajuí-Betancuria; Río Cabras gully and Peninsula of Jandía. Island of Lobos is very important for seabirds, raptors and some steppe species. A number of sites are important for Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata with the possibility of Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis and Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor including Isthmus of Jandía sandy plain; Lajares sandy plain-Cotillo-Ezquinzo and Los Molinos gully-Plain of La Laguna. Cuchillete de Buenavista-gully of La Torre-Los Alares is also the most important area on Fuerteventura for Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis and holds the largest number of breeding Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus. A number of coastal sites are important including Tarajalejo mountain range with an important population of Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea as well as Canary Islands Chat; Coast between Corralejo and Tostón is also important for wintering herons, waders and other waterbirds; Coast of Esquinzo-Puertito de Los Molinos holds breeding Plain Swift Apus unicolor and Common Raven Corvus coraxCory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea and Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus; Pozo Negro mountain-Vigán for breeding raptors and for Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea; Sandy plain of Corralejo supports breeding Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea and Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus.


Famara cliffs are of special interest for raptors, the islets north of Lanzarote for pelagic seabirds and raptors, and for some steppe birds like Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata (only on La Graciosa) and Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus. The islets of Montaña Clara, Alegranza and Roque del Este are the only breeding place for Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae in the Canary Islands, and Montaña Clara and Alegranza support small colonies of White-faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina, the only ones known in this archipelago. This area is protected as a Natural Park (Famara, La Graciosa and Alegranza) and Strict Natural Reserve (Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste), free access being forbidden to this last protected area.

Lanzarote islets hold some of the highest numbers of breeding seabirds including Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis and Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro.

Famara sandy plain; Plains of La Corona-Las Honduras is one of the best sites; Plains of Mareta-Hoya de la Yegua is also important for other steppe birds including Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor and Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis. Janubio saltpans comprises saltpans and lagoons and is one of the best sites in the Canary Islands for migrant waders; Haría-Tabayesco is important for breeding steppe species, seabirds and migrant passerines with feeding opportunities for raptors.


Garajonay National Park is the largest continuous expanse of laurel forest in the Canary Islands and holds the highest numbers of Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii. Step rocks of Hermigua and Agulo is adjacent to Garajonay National Park and is one of the most important areas for forest passerines. Vallehermoso coast along the northern coast is important due to the potential for recolonisation by Osprey Pandion haliaetus, numbers of which are increasing on the island. Majona coast along the north-east is important for breeding Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, and is also used by wintering and passage waders. South-west coast of La Gomera is one of the most important areas for breeding seabirds and holds the majority of the island's population of Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii as well as one of the main Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis colonies.

Gran Canaria

Coast between Arinaga and Castillo del Romeral is a stretch comprising mudflats, sandflats and shingle beaches and is the most important area for wintering and migrating birds, especially herons and waders with resident Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus. Several pine forest sites are important for conservation of Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea: Pajonales, Ojeda, Inagua and La Data pine woodlands; Tamadaba pine woodland; Tauro pine woodland and Tirajana pine woodland.

La Palma

El Canal y Los Tiles laurel forest support the most valuable laurel on La Palma and is one of the most important sites on the island for the endemic pigeons and other forest passerines. La Palma laurel forest is a large mountainous area in the north-east and is one of the most important areas for Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae and other endemic birds. La Caldera de Taburiente National Park is a mountainous area which supports both laurel and pine forests and is the most important area for breeding Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. El Roque coastal cliffs is a small stretch of coastal cliffs with breeding seabirds. Garafía rocky islets is a group of three small islets off the north-west coast which is important for breeding seabirds and resident Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. Negro rocky islet comprises a small offshore islet with an important Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii breeding colony.

El Hierro

Frontera laurel forest is the only area that supports Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii as well as a number of endemic subspecies of several forest passerines. Ventejís mountain is a mountainous area surrounded by plains in the north-east of the island with scrub, heath, grassland, pine forest and holds the most significant Common Raven Corvus corax population in the Canary Islands. La Dehesa grasslands in the north-west is important for steppe birds such as Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus and for migrating passerines. Nizdafe plains is an area of mainly grassland in the north-east which is also important for Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus and endemic subspecies of several steppe passerines as well as a feeding area for raptors. Naos Bay-Hoya de Tacorón is a stretch of south-west facing coastline with sea cliffs and rock stacks. The site is important for breeding seabirds and raptors. Salmor rocky islets is a number of small rocky islets located to the north that is important for breeding seabirds, and is the second most important site for European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus in the Canary Islands. Western coast of El Hierro are cliffs and rocky islets and a very important area for breeding seabirds and raptors including an important Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea colony.

Copyright © African Bird Club. All rights reserved.
UK registered charity 1184309


Web site designed and built by