Europe is the home to many different species of birds which makes it an ideal place for birdwatchers. From the large eagles and vultures that soar in the mountains to the large variety of seabirds found along the coast, Italy is one of the best places for those who love watching birds to visit.
While many may think of Italy for its remarkable history, great food, and spectacular locations such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. For birdwatchers, it is one of the best countries to find the many species of birds that migrate across the continent.
What Makes Italy Unique?
While many may think of Italy as having sunny beaches and open, rolling landscapes, the truth is the country has a wide variety of terrain that makes it suitable for many different species of birds. From the Alps in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south, Italy offers a wide, varying countryside combined with its natural location as a path for migrating birds from across Europe and Africa.
In addition, Italy has some of the most recognized nature reserves and sanctuaries on the continent. Birdwatching is a popular hobby in Italy, which means that going on tours to see the many different species of birds are available. Many such tours are located in historic towns and cities such as Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa, and even Rome itself.
What are the best bird watching Locations in Italy?
If you are a birdwatcher, then Italy should be on your list of places to visit. Being a large country, it can be difficult to narrow down the choices of where to go. What follows are just four of the many great birdwatching locations in the country.
1. Alps and Dolomites
These spectacular mountain ranges are not only incredible to see on their own, they are also one of the last areas of wilderness in all of Europe. With tall mountains, glaciers, forests, and open grasslands, these two mountain ranges are also home to many different species of birds.
Along the sheer cliffs and grasslands, you can find such species as the alpine chough, the black and three-toed woodpeckers, and the pygmy owls, goshawk, and the snow finch. If you go into the woods, the hazel grouse and capercaillie await you. Along the tree lines are the black grouse which are a sight to see.
Plus, for those who want to venture higher up, there are the rock partridge and rock ptarmigan that live near the cliffs. You can also find the wallcreeper, rufous-tailed rock-thrush, and the lammergeier. Reaching the mountain ranges is easy from places like Milan, Turin, or Venice.
2. Po Delta Regional Park
One of the most spectacular wetlands in all of Europe, the Po Delta is found along the northeastern coast of Italy. Offering sanctuary for a vast variety of over 300 bird species, the many marshlands, lagoons, pine woods, and coastal dunes is also quite diverse. This means that every year, particularly around migration you will see so many birds in the area.
From the pygmy cormorant to the collared pratincole, you’ll find a wide range of birds in the over 200 square miles of the park itself. The many great flamingos which also nest in the area will raise on average 2000 chicks per year. But for the dedicated birdwatcher, it is the sight of the red-footed falcons and lesser crested terns that makes this area so spectacular and unique.
You can reach the Po Delta Regional Park from Milan, Ravenna, Bologna, and Venice. Be sure to schedule your visit for the spring or early fall, although the area is home to many birds the year-round.
While most people associate Sicily with Mt. Edna, the largest volcano in all of Europe, it is also a beautiful place to find many different species of birds. This is because most of the coastline and interior are still in natural state with rolling hills, large fields of flowers, and orchard blossoms that help make it the perfect home for many different species of birds.
You can choose your spot in Sicily, mostly along the coastlines to find many different species of birds. The island itself is along the migration path from Africa to Scandinavia, so you will see birds as diverse as the rock sparrow, lanner falcon, the Egyptian vulture, and the blue rock thrush. The rock partridge and long-tailed tit are native to Sicily and stay the year round.
For those who want to make Sicily their destination for birdwatching you can choose any of the larger towns or cities to start such as Palermo, Syracuse, or Catania. From there, you can visit some of the many natural sites where the birds can be found.
4. Venice Lagoon
A large, 210 square mile wetland located along the Mediterranean Basin, this area of tidal shallows, salt marshes, and mud flats is the home to many different species of birds. You’ll find many nesting on the small islands that dot the area. The lagoon itself offers a home to over 100,000 birds in the winter, with the largest concentration of little and black terns you’ll find in all of Europe.
In the lagoon itself is over 100 species of birds, including the horned and red-neck grebes, red-throated loon, spotted redshank, short-eared owl, and many more. You may have to do some searching, although there are many observation points in the lagoon itself. The best time to visit is during their breeding season when many birds that live in the eastern Adriatic stay in this location.
This is one of the best places to see a mixture of large and small birds in their native habitat. You can reach the lagoon easily from Venice or from the nearby cities of Milan, Mestre, or Bologna.
There are many birdwatching locations in Italy, which allows you to combine this wonderful hobby with exploring some of the rich history of the region. For those who are planning on visiting Italy, the spring and fall months tend to be the best for your birdwatching adventure.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!