Transparent utfyllnad Landbirds – a selective species list

About 300 bird species have been recorded in the Madeiran archipelago. Slightly more than 40 of these are breeders, although some are rare by nature or very shy and therefore hard to find. There are two endemic full species among the landbirds (Trocaz Pigeon and Madeira Firecrest), but many more subspecies and endemic species which are confined to the Macaronesian islands are also dealt with in the list below.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus granti
Resident breeder, but rare and localised in the forests at higher altitude. With luck you will see one to three birds during a one week stay travelling around Madeira. Missing on Porto Santo.
   This subspecies is confined to Madeira and the Canary islands.

Buzzard Buteo buteo harterti
Resident breeder and widespread from the coast to areas in the high mountains. A few will be seen daily when travelling around the island and on Porto Santo. Reminiscent of a dark phase of the nominate race, but the call is quite different.
   This subspecies is cofined to Madeira and sometimes lumped with the nominate.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus canariensis
Resident breeder and widespread. The commonest raptor in the archipelago, especially along the coast and near villages. It is slightly smaller and somewhat darker than the nominate race.
   This subspecies is confined to Madeira and the western Canary islands.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
An introduced species found on Madeira and Porto Santo. Much easier to see on Porto Santo compared to Madeira, where it is rarely seen or heard, but Ponta do Pargo and the north-western part have produced several sightings.

Quail Coturnix coturnix
Resident breeder, but rare and localised on Madeira. Ponta do Pargo and surroundings seem to be a reliable site. The species is probably easier to hear (or see) on Porto Santo, but in no way a bird to be expected.

Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
Resident and a scarce localised breeder. Very hard to see or hear and not many trip reports mention sightings of this specie.

Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz
Endemic to Madeira and the population have increased steadily the last years with a estimated population upto 7.000 birds in year 2003 and approximately lesser then 10.000 in 2004. During this year many pigeons have been regular in new habitats and therefore being a great problem for local farmers. For the history this species declined during the 19th century, when they were hunted excessively by man. Today the serious problem it faces are the wall-climbing Black Rat, which rob nests. The most famous area is at Ribeiro Frio (road ER103 north of Funchal) and its viewpoint Balcões, but Fajã da Nogueira, down in the valley, is much better! Another good area is the Valley of Ribeira da Janela, located west of the high plateau Paúl da Serra. Best areas (and easiest to reach) is Rabaçal or where the Levada start close to Porto Moniz. The best time to see them seems to be in early morning.

Barn Owl Tyto alba schmitzi
Resident and a scarce breeder. This bird is difficult to find, but with luck you can see it at dusk or dawn near its breeding places. The easiest way to find it is by its call. One well known area (whilst listening for Cory's at night) is around the high cliff Ponta do Garajau, northeast of Funchal, Seixal and Paul do Mar. Another good breeding spot in recent years is the rocky cliffs down to the sea at Ponta da Cruz (be there before sunrise or at dawn).
   This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago.

Plain Swift Apus unicolor
Fairly common and widespread during its breeding season. Large number are seen over the Funchal area, often very close views can be had at Ponta da Cruz. It's a good idea to check the swifts from time to time if you wish to find a Pallid Swift. Largely absent in winter, but small flocks are always present.
   The species is confined to Macaronesia.

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Migrant breeder, but rare or very localised. It can be seen between February and October. Seen regularly in Funchal, Ponta do Garajau, Ribeira Brava and Ponta do Pargo.

Hoopoe Upupa epops
Resident breeder, but rare on Madeira and scarce on Porto Santo. On Madeira it could be seen around Ponta do Pargo and the northeastern part of the island. On Porto Santo you will most likely see a few birds in a day, especially at Tanque Pond or at the Golf course west of Vila Baleira (28 birds on 2nd September and 70 on 14th October 2004).

Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii madeirensis
Scarce and localised breeder in drier habitats. Fairly common on Porto Santo and in smaller numbers on Desertas. The most reliable sites on Madeira are located in the north-east, at places such as Caniçal with surroundings and Ponta de São Lourenço. Other good sites are Ponta do Pargo and on the high plateau Paúl de Serra.
   A Macaronesian endemic, but this subspecies is cofined to the Madeiran archipelago (except Salvages islands).

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea schmitzi
Resident and regular breeder. Fairly common and widespread. Easily seen daily with up to 10 or more birds, even green areas in central Funchal. It can be encountered from the coastline to the high mountains, wherever there is freshwater. Rarely seen on Porto Santo.
   This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago.

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Resident and regular breeder. Because of its shy habits this species is more difficult to find between late summer and late winter, often recognised by its call and seldom seen daily. In spring singing birds are fairly common in the right habitat. Birds seen on Porto Santo are probably wintering migrants.

Blackbird Turdus merula cabrerae
Resident and regular breeder. Fairly common or widespread. This species is often easiest to see in Funchal, especially if you walk through the Lido area to Ponta da Cruz. Missing on Porto Santo. Besides a slightly longer bill and the females being somewhat darker, the Macaronesian subspecies are like the nominate race.
   This subspecies is confined to Madeira and the western Canary islands.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata bella
Resident, but rare and localised on Madeira. Scarce breeder, but often easier to find on Porto Santo. On Madeira many sightings are reported from Ponta do Pargo and bushy surroundings, as well as the slopes of Pico do Facho (north of Machico), but many birders leave Madeira without seeing it.
   This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago.

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla heineken
Resident and common breeder on lower altitudes. In spring singing birds are numerous in certain habitats. A few calling and singing birds can be heard almost daily even between late summer and late winter. Only in Funchal its possible to hear as many as 10 birds in a day even in the most visited period of July to September.
   This subspecies is confined to Western Iberia, NW Africa, Madeiran archipelago and Canary Islands.

Madeira Firecrest Regulus madeirensis
Resident and common breeder in forests from mid altitude and higher. At first often found by its high-pitched calls and also the song. With patience you will always get close views on this wonderful little bird, which is easily found in the Ribeiro Frio area and the valley of Ribeira de Janela when searching for Trocaz Pigeons.
   In 2003 this one (previous considered as a subspecies) become a endemic full species to Madeira!

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Resident on Madeira, but rare and very localised. When it was introduced about 80 years ago they displaced the Rock Sparrow, which originally inhabited the archipelago. However it has declined drastically in the last decades. The most reliable sites on Madeira are Caniçal and the Airport area. On Porto Santo it is a common breeder and therefore much easier to find around Vila Baleira, many settlements and even up in the mountains.

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia madeirensis
Resident and regular breeder, but rare and very localised on Madeira (e.g. the northeastern part) sites such as the area around Caniçal and along the walking path on the peninsula Ponta de Sâo Lourenço
. Small numbers is also seen regularly at Ponta do Pargo. This species is much easier to find on Porto Santo, especially up in the mountains near Ponta and Morenos and the stony fields close to the airport.
   This subspecies is confined to Macaronesia.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis
Resident and regular breeder only on Madeira. Fairly common in the both Pine and Laurel forests from mid to higher altitudes. Easily found in the Ribeiro Frio area, when searching for the endemic pigeon.
   This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago and most closely resembles the North African races.

Canary Serinus canaria
Resident and regular breeder all over the archipelago, but commonest on Madeira. Probably the most numerous landbird and could be seen almost everywhere. Beware of this species as it is a great vocalist and the variation of calls may resemble that of Greenfinch, Linnet and Goldfinch (and even Twite).
   In its wild state this species is confined to Macaronesia.

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis parva
Resident and regular breeder, although more common on Porto Santo than on the main island Madeira. Many sightings on Madeira are reported from Funchal (Santa Catarina Park), Ponta do Pargo, Machico and at Ribeiro Frio.
   This subspecies is found in South-West Europe.

Linnet Carduelis cannabina guentheri
Resident and regular breeder, but very rare and very localised in the archipelago. This species is sometimes difficult to find on both Madeira and Porto Santo, on the latter island high numbers can be seen occasionally. Ponta do Pargo seem to be the most reliable site for this species on the main island.
   This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago.

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
An introduced species, but with a small productive self sustaining population, which seems to favour certain coastal areas. The most reliable site is along the river bed at Machico (especially around the river mouth), sometimes with up to 100 birds on several occasions in 2004. The best time to see the species at Machico is early in the morning. Try to listen for its weak but electrical and nasal call, as the birds often hide in the lushy vegetation in the river bed. Also seen frequently in Funchal.

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Buzzard at Ribeiro Frio.
Photo: Göran Ekström, 2005.

Kestrel at Pico do Areeiro.
Photo: Ole Krogh, 2005.

Trocaz Pigeon, Fajã da Nogueira.
Photo: Niklas Holmström, 2005.

Plain Swift at Ponta do Pargo.
Photo: Göran Ekström, 2005.

Berthelot's Pipit, Ponta do Pargo.
Photo: Jukka J. Nurmi, 2005.

Female Grey Wagtail.
Photo: Jukka J. Nurmi, 2005.

Spectacled Warbler at Prazeres.
Photo: Jukka J. Nurmi, 2005.

Madeira Firecrest.
Photo: Göran Ekström, 2002.

Rock Sparrow at Caniçal.
Photo: Magnus Unger, 2003.

Male Chaffinch.
Photo: Anders Hammergart, 2005.

Canary at Ponta do Pargo.
Photo: Jukka J. Nurmi, 2005.

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