Stretching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees are an immense barrier and yet provide diverse habitats and protective enclaves. From wet, lush green forests to near-desert conditions, with plains bordering the high peaks, the Pyrenees offer a huge, fascinating variety of birds.
We have over 14 years experience of Nature Observation & Conservation in the Pyrenees, and can help you to spot many species from the list below. Which are on your watch list?
Lämmergeier/ Bearded Vulture
With a near 3m wingspan, this majestic bird is emblematic of the high mountains. Shy, discreet, last to eat but clever and highly evolved, the Bearded Vulture has many interesting & surprising characteristics, such as plumage painting, that set it apart from the other vulture species and the wider bird world. We can explain more and give you a high probability of seeing Bearded Vulture.
The Griffon Vultures have a broader, bulkier flying profile compared to the Bearded and are seen generally groups, usually of 4 to 8 but and sometimes up to 25 or more. Watch out for the occasional Black Vultures in amongst the Griffon groups.
There are some 26 breeding pairs in the Ariege. An adaptable, formidable bird that is both a hunter and scavenger, a fierce defender of a kill.
On the plains bordering the high peaks, the elegant and agile Montagu harrier is a summer breeder. In the winter, Hen harriers gather in 'dormitories'. This winter a dormitory of up to 24 Hen Harriers has been located with 2 or 3 Pallid Harriers present. Also dormitories of up to 20 Black-winged Kites and Merlins. Over 1000 red kites also form large winter dormitories.
Black kites are common in the summer
Some 60+ pairs in the Haute Garronne/Ariege/Aude departments
The Bee-eater is a successful breeder and summer resident. Rollers transit the eastern end of the Ariege-Pyrenees. Hoopoe breed and a frequently seen in gardens, again in the east. Grey cuckoos and Bonneli eagles are found at the Mediterranean Aude coastal areas.
There are immense forests in the Pyrenees. Woodpeckers are found throughout; the Black Woodpecker is often heard and sometimes seen. Wryneck and Golden Orioles are also heard but frustratingly difficult to see.
Golden Plover, Stone Curlews
Golden Plover, Stone Curlews are seen on the plains in winter.
Alpine Accentors can be found summer & winter.
Blue Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush nests in the higher, remoter areas.
Gravel pits offer home to ducks and waders. Flamingos are found on the salt flats adjacent to the Mediterranean.
Join our wildlife experience and join us amongst the birds
For a private and personal experience, take a look at our Roam into the Wild experience, where you can stay in a quiet, private apartment, and join us on trips out to remote locations on the look-out for some of these beautiful birds.
"Richard’s knowledge about the Ariège and his passion for birds, particularly raptors, made him an invaluable guide. On one birding trip, we had amazing views of bee-eaters at a nest site and clear views of booted and short-toed eagles. On another occasion, he took us up into the Pyrenees where we reached snow and saw a lammergeier fly across the valley and land on a ledge; we then watched it feeding through Richard’s telescope. We walked on a short distance and were treated to a stunning view of a golden eagle which glided slowly across a cirque. The richness and diversity of the region’s wildflowers added to the day’s enjoyment, especially seeing a bank of trumpet gentians in flower and a field of white asphodels."