Join us as we take a closer look at 15 different species of birds of prey that you can spot in Germany.
Germany offers a rich tapestry of habitats that support a diverse range of birds of prey. From the picturesque mountains of the Bavarian Alps to the vast wetlands and coastal regions along the North and Baltic Seas, these diverse landscapes provide ideal nesting, hunting, and breeding grounds for numerous raptor species.
Let’s take a look at the list of 15 different birds of prey in Germany!
1. White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
The regal White-tailed Eagle, also known as the “King of the Skies,” is a sight to behold. With its impressive wingspan of up to 2.4 meters, this bird soars majestically over Germany’s landscape.
Boasting a predominantly brown plumage and a distinctive white tail, they can be found near large bodies of water, where they feast on fish, water birds, and occasionally small mammals. Visit the Baltic Sea coastline or Müritz National Park for a chance to see these magnificent birds in action.
2. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Golden Eagles, another iconic species in Germany, are characterized by their golden-brown plumage and piercing eyes. Preferring mountainous regions and open areas, the Bavarian Alps provide an ideal setting for sightings.
These eagles primarily hunt mammals such as rabbits, hares, and marmots, but they have also been known to take down larger prey like deer! If you’re looking for a true apex predator, the Golden Eagle won’t disappoint.
3. European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
The European Honey Buzzard may have a sweet name, but its appetite for wasp and bee larvae is anything but! This bird of prey uses its specialized hooked beak to extract larvae with ease. Sporting brown and grey plumage, Honey Buzzards can be seen in wooded areas throughout Germany. Keep an eye out during their migration season in spring and autumn for the best chance of spotting one.
4. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is a small, agile hunter that preys on smaller birds, often ambushing them in mid-flight. They have a slate-grey back, barred white chest, and striking yellow eyes. Sparrowhawks can be found in forests and suburban areas across Germany, so you might even spot one in your own backyard!
5. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
As the name suggests, the Common Buzzard is one of the most widespread birds of prey in Germany. With a wide variety of habitats, you can spot them in forests, grasslands, and even urban areas.
These medium-sized raptors are primarily brown with a paler underside, often featuring a light band across the chest. They have a varied diet, including small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Keep an eye out when driving on the Autobahn – they often perch on fence posts and trees nearby!
6. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
The Northern Goshawk is a robust, powerful bird of prey with a steely gaze. They have blue-grey upperparts and a barred white underside, making them easily distinguishable from other raptors. Goshawks are masters of the woodland, where they hunt birds and small mammals, including squirrels and rabbits. Keep an eye out for them in the forests of Germany, particularly in the eastern and southern regions.
7. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
With its unmistakable forked tail and reddish-brown plumage, the Red Kite is an elegant presence in the skies.
This graceful bird can be spotted across Germany, particularly in the central and southern regions. They prefer open countryside, where they scavenge for carrion and hunt small mammals, birds, and even insects. The Rhön Biosphere Reserve is a particularly good place to see them gliding overhead.
8. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Similar in size and shape to the Red Kite, the Black Kite is differentiated by its darker plumage and less pronounced forked tail. This adaptable bird is found throughout Germany, often near water, where it feeds on fish, carrion, and smaller prey. Visit the wetlands and rivers in the north and east for your best chance to spot one.
9. Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
The Osprey is a unique bird of prey, specializing in fishing. With its white head, dark eyestripe, and brown wings, the Osprey is an easily identifiable raptor. They can be found near large bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers.
In Germany, the best places to see them are the Mecklenburg Lake District or along the Baltic Sea coast. Watch in awe as they dive feet-first to snatch fish from the water with their powerful talons!
10. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
The Peregrine Falcon, a true speed demon, can reach speeds of over 240 km/h (150 mph) during its hunting stoop. These sleek, medium-sized falcons have blue-grey backs, a barred white underside, and a distinctive black “mustache” marking.
They can be found in various habitats across Germany, from cliffs and mountains to cities, where they’ve adapted to nesting on tall buildings. Keep an eye on the skies and you might just catch a glimpse of these incredible hunters in action.
11. Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
The Eurasian Hobby is a small, agile falcon with a slate-grey back, a white throat, and a black “mustache” marking. They excel at hunting insects and small birds in mid-flight, making them a thrilling sight to watch.
Hobbies can be seen in open habitats, such as grasslands and wetlands, throughout Germany. The Elbe River Biosphere Reserve is a great place to spot them.
12. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
The Common Kestrel is a small, colorful falcon, with a chestnut back, grey head, and a barred tail. They are known for their distinctive hovering flight while hunting for small mammals and insects.
Kestrels can be found in various habitats, from farmland to urban areas, making them one of the most widespread birds of prey in Germany. You might even spot one perched on a telephone wire or fence post!
13. Merlin (Falco columbarius)
The Merlin is a compact, powerful falcon with a blue-grey back, a white throat, and a heavily streaked chest. Although relatively rare in Germany, these small raptors can be seen in open habitats, such as grasslands, heathlands, and coastal areas. They primarily hunt small birds, often pursuing their prey with impressive speed and agility. To spot a Merlin in Germany, try visiting the coastal regions of the North and Baltic Seas or the Lower Rhine region.
14. Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
The Short-toed Snake Eagle is a specialist hunter with a taste for reptiles, particularly snakes. This medium-sized bird of prey has a striking appearance, featuring a predominantly white underside with dark brown upperparts and a broad wingspan. They prefer open habitats, such as grasslands and wetlands, where they can easily spot their prey. In Germany, sightings are rare but possible, particularly in the southern regions close to the Alps.
15. Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus)
The Montagu’s Harrier is a slender, medium-sized bird of prey with a graceful flight. Males have a predominantly grey plumage with black wingtips, while females are brown with a streaked underside. These harriers hunt small mammals and birds, often gliding low over fields and marshes in search of prey. In Germany, they are most commonly found in the northeastern regions, such as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg. The best time to spot Montagu’s Harriers is during their breeding season, which typically occurs from May to August.