Birdwatching in Andalucia

Andalucía is a birdwatcher’s paradise throughout the year, although undoubtedly the best time is during spring as you see both wintering species and those arriving for the summer months.

Migrations north generally take place between mid-February and June and birds heading south will set off between late July and early November to make full use of the westerly wind.

The Straits of Gibraltar

The Straits of Gibraltar sees many raptors, storks and other birds migrating between Africa and Europe. The limestone cliffs of Gibraltar provide one of the finest vantage points for watching these migrations. The only Barbary Partridges in mainland Europe wander freely on the Upper Rock and, down by the sea, you might be lucky enough to see one of the few remaining Shags.

Soaring birds, such as Raptors and Storks, cross the Straits of Gibraltar, relying on thermals and updrafts which only occur over narrower expanses of water. It is sometimes possible to see migrating flocks of up to three thousand birds.


There are some 13 resident Raptor species in Andalucía, as well as several which migrate annually from Africa. The best place to observe them is in the hilly parts of the province where they hover or circle high in the sky.

One of the country’s rarest birds is the Black Vulture and the Sierra Morena region north of Sevilla is where you are most likely to find them. It is thought that just a few hundred pairs remain, with most to be found in the Paraje Natural Sierra Pelada y Rivera del Aserrador, south of Aroche in Huelva province.

Another rarity is the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle. Most are located in one place, within the Parque Nacional de Doñana.

Other large birds of prey which can be found in mountainous regions include the Golden Eagle, the Egyptian Vulture and Griffon Vulture. Smaller birds of prey, such as the Kestrel, Buzzard, various Harriers and Red Kite, can be found in lowland woods and forests.

Coto Donana National Park

The Coto Donana National Park comprises delta waters, flooding in winter and then dropping in the spring to leave rich deposits of silt, raised sandbanks and small islands. These conditions are perfect in winter for geese and ducks and in spring they attract hundreds of flocks of breeding birds.

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, north of Antequera, is a temporary lagoon and is the breeding ground for large numbers of Greater Flamingos and numerous Cranes. In years of normal rainfall and evaporation, February to July can see as many as 30,000 Flamingoes in residence. In wet years, August and September can see over 50,000 of these birds using the area as a breeding ground.

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra attracts a variety of aquatic birds, with both quantity and species being strongly influenced by the water level, salinity, duration of flooding and seasons. In dry years, when the water level is low, small beaches are formed and this favours waders, such as Stilt, Kentish Plover, Avocet, etc.

Wetter years usually sees an increased presence of dabbling ducks, such as Mallard, Shoveler and others. If the water level is very high, above one metre, diving species such as Pochard, Great Crested Grebe and White-headed Duck appear on the scene.

Guadiario Estuary

The Guadiario Estuary in Sotogrande has resident Osprey and, if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the otters. Gulls abound. Bluethroats and Penduline Tits are winter visitors and Flamingos and Spoonbills often pass through. Kingfishers, Plovers and Cormorants can also be seen.

Laguna de Medina

Laguna de Medina, near Cordoba, is where you might find the rare White-Headed Duck and the Purple Gallinule.

Desembocadura del Guadalhorce

This is a protected area in the south-east of Málaga city and is a great place to go birding. It is a 67 hectare area where the rio Guadalhorce splits to form a delta, with several lagoons, and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including turtles, otters, badgers, Osprey and countless other species.

There are things to see all year round and amongst the bird species I’ve spotted and photographed so far are: Cormorants, African Spoonbill, Flamingoes, Snipe, Avocet, Stilts, Stints, Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Red-rumped Swallow, Martins, Pochard, Coot, Northern Wheatear, Hoopoe, Whimbrel, Plovers, Herons, Osprey and many more.

Walking routes are well laid out and there are several good hides along the way. Well worth visiting on a regular basis.

See articles:
Somewhere new on a scorching summer day
Parque Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce – 1
Parque Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce – 2
Parque Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce – 3

Desembocadura del rio Vélez

Easily accessed a short distance from the end of the promenade in Torre del Mar, this is a very good area for birding, particularly for the smaller varieties such as finches and warblers. You will also find aquatic birds in the lagoons. However, be aware that this is also currently a popular gay ‘dogging’ area and not suitable for a family outing.

See: Desembocadura del rio Vélez

Jardín Botanico La Concepción – Málaga

The Jardín Botanico La Concepción is located on a hillside on the outskirts of Málaga and is a mixture of paved routes and hillside and forest tracks, with some of the areas quite wild.

Plenty of birds listed as being present at various times of the year (see below) and a very relaxing area.

See: Jardín Botanico La Concepción – Málaga


The large White Stork can be seen in the western region of Andalucía, nesting from spring to summer on electricity pylons, trees and towers.

Water birds are plentiful, particularly in the wetlands area along the Atlantic coast. These include Wild Ducks and Flamingoes. The latter can be seen in several other places including El Fuente de Piedre and Cabo de Gato.

The colourful Golden Oriole is to be found in orchards and woodlands, the male having a bright yellow body. The gold, brown and turquoise Bee Eater nests in sandy banks in summer and the orange, black and white Hoopoe is fairly common in open woodlands and golf courses. Various Woodpeckers and Owls can generally be seen in mountainous woodlands.