Islas Canarias | Canary Islands

SUB-REGION
Macaronesia

SIZE
The Canary Islands are an archipelago of seven main islands – Tenerife (T), Fuerteventura (F), Gran Canaria (GC), Lanzarote (L), La Palma (P), La Gomera (G) and El Hierro (H) – and six islets in the North Atlantic Ocean, with a total land area of 7,493 km²

BIRDS AND BIRDING

SPECIES
Diversity
A blend of Palaearctic and Afrotropical species
Approximately 375 recorded species, including breeding seabirds, endemic landbirds and many vagrants

Tenerife Blue Chaffinch (John Caddick)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (John Caddick)

Endemics (E)
Bolle’s Pigeon (P, G, T & H) (LC)
Laurel Pigeon (P, G, T & H) (NT)
Canary Islands Chiffchaff (P, H, G, T & GC) (LC)
Canary Islands Stonechat (F) (NT)
Tenerife Blue Chaffinch (T) (NT)
Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch (GC) (EN)

Canary Islands Stonechat (John Caddick)

Birds occurring in only two territories of the ABC region but not near-endemics (1/2)
Plain Swift
Berthelot’s Pipit

Berthelot’s Pipit (John Caddick)
African Blue Tit (John Caddick)
Atlantic Canary (John Caddick)

Birds best found in two territories but occurring in more (B2), including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Houbara Bustard (ESS fuertaventurae)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse
Great Grey Shrike (ESS koenigi)
African Blue Tit (ESS palmensis + degener + ombriosus + teneriffae + hedwigae)
Atlantic Canary

Proposed splits not yet accepted by IOC
La Palma Blue Tit (E)
Canary Islands Blue Tit (E)
Tenerife Goldcrest (E)
Tenerife Robin (E)
Gran Canaria Robin (E)
Canary Islands Chaffinch (E)

Spectacled Warbler (John Caddick)
Trumpeter Finch (John Caddick)

Other taxa of interest, including more ESS
Barbary Partridge (koenigi)
Cory’s Shearwater
Barolo Shearwater
White-faced Storm Petrel (hypoleuca)
Egyptian Vulture (ESS majorensis)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (granti)
Common Buzzard (ESS insularum)
Eurasian Stone-curlew | Eurasian Thick-knee (ESS distinctus + insularum)
Cream-coloured Courser
Yellow-legged Gull (atlantis)
Western Barn Owl (ESS gracilirostris)
Long-eared Owl (ESS canariensis)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (ESS canariensis + thanneri)
Common Kestrel (ESS dacotiae; canariensis)
Red-billed Chough (barbarus)
Northern Raven | Common Raven (ESS canariensis)
Mediterranean Short-toed Lark (ESS rufescens)
Eurasian Blackcap (heineken)
Spectacled Warbler (orbitalis)
Sardinian Warbler (ESS leucogastra)
Goldcrest (ESS teneriffae + ellenthalerae)
Common Blackbird (cabrerae)
European Robin (ESS superbus + marionae)
Common Chaffinch (ESS canariensis + ombriosa + palmae)
Trumpeter Finch (ESS amantum)
Common Linnet (ESS meadewaldoi + harterti)

Barbary Partridge (John Caddick)

MAIN HABITATS
Laurel forest, coastal desert, saltpans

BIRD AREAS
Madeira and the Canary Islands Endemic Bird Area
65 Important Bird Areas

BIRDING SITES
Los Molinos Reservoir and Costa Calma on Fuerteventura for arid country species
Monte del Agua and El Teide National Park on Tenerife for forest species
Inagua Natural Reserve on Gran Canaria for Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch

TIMING (Mar– May)
The best time is spring, after the rains and when most birds breed (Mar–Jun)
Avoid the hottest, driest time of the year (Jul–Sep)

RESOURCES
Apps
Collins Bird Guide
Macaronesian Birds

Field guides
Birds of the Canary Islands by Eduardo García-del-Rey (2018)
Birds of the Atlantic Islands: Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde by Tony Clarke (2006)
Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia: Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde by Eduardo García-del-Rey (2011), which is also available in Spanish as Aves de Macaronesia: Azores, Madeira, Islas Canarias, Cabo Verde
Guia de las Aves de las Islas Canarias by José Manuel Moreno (1988)
Aves de España by Eduardo de Juana & Juan M Varela (2016), which is also available in English as Birds of Spain, also treats species occurring in the Canary Islands
Pelagic Birds of the North Atlantic: an Identification Guide by Andy Paterson (2012)
Seabirds of Spain and Portugal/Las Aves Marinas de España y Portugal – Península Ibérica, Islas Baleares, Canarias, Azores y Madeira by Andrew M Paterson (1997)
Wildlife of Madeira and the Canary Islands by John Bowler (2018) is a photographic guide to the birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies most likely to be seen on these islands

Sounds
Cantos y Reclamos de las Aves de Canarias by José Manuel Moreno
African Bird Sounds/Oiseaux d’Afrique Vol 1: North-West Africa, Canaria and Cap-Verde Islands/Sahara, Maghreb, Madère, Canaries & Iles du Cap-Vert by Claude Chappuis

Site guides
Finding Birds in the Canaries by Dave Gosney (2013)
Canary Islands in The Good Bird Guide: a Species-by-Species Guide to Finding Europe’s Best Birds by Keith Marsh (2005)
Where to Watch Birds in Tenerife/Dónde Ver Aves en Tenerife by Eduardo García-del-Rey (2000)
A Birdwatchers’ Guide to the Canary Islands by Tony Clarke & David Collins (1996)
Crossbill Guides to the Canary Islands, I: Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and II: Tenerife and La Gomera by Dirk Hilbers & Kees Woutersen (2014 and 2015)
Tenerife Nature Walks and Birdwatching – Crossbill Guides

Atlases
European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: Distribution, Abundance and Change by Verena Keller, Sergi Herrando, Petr Voříšek, Martí Franch, Marina Kipson, Pietro Milanesi, David Martí, Marc Anton, Alena Klvaňová, Mikhail V.Kalyakin, Hans-Günther Bauer & Ruud P B Foppen (2020)
Atlas de las Aves Nidificantes en el Archipiélago Canario (1997-2003) by Juan Antonio Lorenzo (2007)

Further reading
Birds of the Canary Islands by Eduardo García-del-Rey (2015)
Aves del Archipiélago Canario by Aurelio Martín & Juan Antonio Lorenzo (2001)
Spain (including the Canary Islands) by Carlota Viada in Important Bird Areas in Europe: Priority Sites for Conservation, Volume 2: Southern Europe edited by Melanie F Heath & Michael I Evans with D G Hoccom, A J Payne & N B Peet (2000)
Checklist of the Birds of the Canary Islands/Lista de las Aves de las Islas Canarias by Eduardo García-del-Rey (2018)
Lista de las Aves de España Edición de 2019 by Miguel Rouco, José Luis Copete, Eduardo de Juana, Marcel Gil-Velasco, Juan Antonio Lorenzo, Marce Martín, Borja Milá, Blas Molina & David M Santos (2019)
Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East: an Annotated Checklist by Dominic Mitchell (2017)
European Red List of Birds compiled by BirdLife International (2021)
Los Vertebrados Terrestres de Teno: Catálogo Ilustrado y Comentado by Beneharo Rodríguez, Felipe Siverio, Manuel Siverio, Airam Rodríguez & Rubén Barone (2014)
Rare Birds of the Canary Islands/Aves Raras de las Islas Canarias by Eduardo García-del-Rey & Francisco Javier García Vargas (2013)
Catálogo y Bibliografía de la Avifauna Canaria by Keith Emmerson, Aurelio Martín, Juan José Bacallado & Juan Antonio Lorenzo (1994)
Articles in Ardeola, Vieraea, Revista de la Academia Canaria de Ciencias, Bull. ABC, etc.

Websites
Birding Canarias
UNESCO World Heritage List: Garajonay National Park and Teide National Park

Blogs
Canary Islands Birding News
Macaroaves Canarias
Aves en Canarias
La Palma Birds
Ornito Addiction
Birding in Lanzarote

Facebook groups
Birds of the Canary Islands is a public space for observers to share their sightings and photos of birds on the Canary Islands, focused on both common and rare species

ORGANISATIONS

SEO (Sociedad Española de Ornitología)/BirdLife en Canarias is the BirdLife Partner in the Canary Islands

The Spanish Rarities Committee/Comité de Rarezas of SEO is in charge of compiling, homologizing and publishing observations in the Canary Islands of species and subspecies included in the List of Rare Birds of Spain

Grupo Ibérico de Aves Marinas (GIAM) is a working group of SEO dedicated to the study and conservation of seabirds

Other bird or conservation organisations active in the Canary Islands include –
Sociedad Ornitológica Canaria (SOC)
Grupo de Ornitología e Historia Natural de las Islas Canarias (GOHNIC)
Colectivo Ornitológico de Gran Canaria
Asociación Tinerfeña Amigos de la Naturaleza (ATAN)
Amigos de las Pardelas

The Canary Islands Natural Inventory Bank/El Banco del Inventario Natural de Canarias (BIOCAN) is a platform that integrates and gives access to the different databases that bring together information on species of the archipelago, including its birds

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