Bird Watching on the Azores Islands

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Birds of the Azores Islands

Raising from the Atlantic ocean, 1500 km from mainland Europe are a group of 9 magical islands known as the Azores. The seas surrounding these beautiful islands are home to an amazing variety of marine life, such as dolphins, whales and sea turtles while flocks of birds adorn the coastlines and enchanting forests of these unique islands. The Azores islands are home to one of the few regions still in Europe that has that native Laurel forests, that have been an existence since the time of dinosaurs and is considered the prehistoric forest. Overtime and through introduction of other trees and plants from other regions to the Azores, much of the Laurel forests were cut down, however there are still areas in the Azores where they exist. It is here that many of the unique and rare birds, native to the region still live. The local government has invested over the years a great deal of interest in ways to preserve and enhance current Laurel forests to preserve the endangered birds from extinction.

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Azorean Bullfinch in Sao Miguel Azores

The Azores bullfinch or otherwise known as the priolo bird is a rare bird that is only found to live on the island of Sao Miguel and most notably in the Special Protected Area of Pico de Vara in Nordeste. It is here, the last place on earth that these birds still exists. Once in danger of extinction due to the deforestation of the Laurisilva forests where they lived and feed on flowers and seeds that only grow in those forests. In 1993 the Azorean government as well as “SPEA” which is the Portuguese society for studying birds took great interest in these endangered birds which were at a few hundred left on the entire planet, now the number is over 1000 and is increasing due to the environmental protections taken over the last 2 decades.

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A Laursilva Forest on Sao Miguel Island 

The North part of the island in Nordeste and Povoacao are the best places to go for birdwatching since they have a large special protected area where the laurisilva forest exists. Here you can see many birds native only to this region. It is important to respect the forest when entering and try to leave everything as it was; minimizing the human footprint in this sensitive eco-system. The Special Protected Area covers just over 6,000 hectors that covers between Nordeste and Povoacao county.

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Grey Wagtail found on the Azores islands

The following is a list of birds that can be found on the Atlantic islands of the Azores:

  • Blackbird
  • Blackcap
  • Common Quail
  • European Robin
  • Rock Dove
  • Goldfinch
  • Goldcrest
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Long-Eared Owl
  • Common Waxbill
  • Chaffinch
  • Common Crossbill
  • Canary
  • Wood Piegon
  • Common Snipe
  • House Sparrow
  • Common Buzzard
  • Azorean Bullfinch
  • Starling
  • Woodcock
  • Snow Bunting
  • Yellow-legged Gull
  • Fieldfare
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The Long-eared Owl found in the Azores Islands

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