Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 18/01/2013 - 19:17 -- abc_admin

Madeiran Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla madeirensis Paul da Serra, Madeira

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Lying in the Atlantic Ocean some 1,000 km. to the south-west of Portugal, its mother country, and 700 km. off the coast of West Africa, Madeira is a major tourist destination. The islands are famous for their seabird colonies and possess a small number of interesting land birds. Few birders visit Madeira but those who do stay mostly on the main island, Madeira, the dimensions of which are about 55 km by 22 km. and which is dominated by a rugged coastline and mountainous interior.

The inhabitated island of Porto Santo is 40 km to the north-east of Madeira and is about 13 km by 5 km in size. The island is far more arid than Madeira and an 8 km beach stretches along its eastern flank. About 20 km south-east of Madeira are the Desertas Islands, which are barren and uninhabited but home to vast numbers of seabirds. The Salvage Islands, Ilhas Selvagens, also under Madeiran administration, lie 280 km to the south (165 km from the Canary Islands) and are extremely hard to visit. Although a visiting birder is unlikely to see a large number of different species, there is plenty to hold the interest including the endemic and critically endangered Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira as well as the endemic Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz and the possibility of finding vagrant species. In addition, there are endemic Madeiran races of Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii madeirensis, Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla madeirensis and Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis. Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae, Plain Swift Apus unicolor and Island Canary Serinus canaria can be found on Madeira and a small number of Atlantic islands only.


The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of Madeira and its birds for birders interested in the country and potentially planning a visit. The information has been put together from a number of sources and it is intended to add new information as it becomes available. As such, readers are welcome to submit contributions by e-mail to [email protected]. You should note that the names of birds used in this document are those of the African Bird Club checklist.

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