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Birdwatching in Madeira

Madeira is considered as the paradise of people who are into bird watching. The lush greens, towering trees and rich fauna in this island makes it very attractive for numerous species of birds. They find their sanctuary within the protected areas of Madeira. Because the government exerts a lot of effort in conserving the natural environment within this island, even endemic bird species can be seen here.    

Government Protected Areas

Within this archipelago, there are four special protected areas, or locally referred to as, Zonas de Protecção Especial (ZPE). These are the Laurel Forest, Desert Island (Ilhas Desertas), Savage Island (Ilhas Selvagen) and the Central Mountainous Massif. These are areas are tightly secured and carefully watched so that the birds and other creatures which live here would not be disturbed.   


Aside from the ZPEs there are also the so-called IBAs or Important Bird Areas. These are the areas which are specifically declared as the safe haven of numerous bird species, including those which are already endangered. The 8 IBAs are Porto Santo Islets, Selvagen Islands, Desertas Islands, Western Porto Santo, Ponta de São Lourenço, Ponta do Pargo, Laurel Forest and Central Mountainous Massif.

Even though these are carefully protected areas, visiting these spots is still possible. Some areas would require proper permits before tourists are allowed to enter. On the other hand, there are those which can be easily accessed by joining bird watching tours. Several companies offer organized (day) tours for birdwatching and photographing. Nice to learn a lot about the birds in Madeira in their natural environment. For those who would like to explore this island for birdwatching, the important thing is to observe the regulations that are imposed by the government when it comes to preserving and caring for the habitat of these animals.  

Rare Bird Species

A lot of endemic species can be found within Madeira. These are the ones which really astound bird watching enthusiasts because they can no longer see some of them in other places. Among the endemic bird species include Trocaz Pigeon, Zino’s and Madeira Firecrest. Species such as the Fea’s Petrel, Canary, Plain Swift and Madeira Storm Petrel are quite rare too. Birdwatchers are attracted to this island too because this is where they can catch a glimpse of the bluish Chaffinch and darker variant of the Barn Owl.

This island is treated as paradise for the bird watchers because of the rare species that they are able to observe here. It is not just hobbyists who frequent the island because some scientists also spend time to observe the birds. For the record, there are 6 endemic bird species which can be seen only in Madeira. Aside from that, 13 endemic species which are seen only in Macronesia islands are also found in Madeira.


For people who have keen interest on seabirds, this island is a perfect destination too. The government gives much importance to protecting their breeding ground so rules are also implemented when it comes to accessing certain locations.

Among the types of rare seabirds which are found in Madeira are White-faced Storm Petrel, Madeiran Storm Petrel, Macronesian Shearwater and the rare Pterodromas (P. madeira and P. feae). For the birdwatchers, they would notice that the population of birds in this island is dominated by the more common seabirds such as he Cory’s Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel and Manx Shearwater. Some of the seabirds are confined only within Madeiras while others can still be found in other Macronesian Islands.  

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