Join us as we take a closer look at 14 different species of birds of prey that you can spot in Spain.
Spain’s diverse and vibrant landscapes provide an array of habitats for a wide variety of birds of prey. From the soaring peaks of the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa to the rolling plains of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha, these contrasting environments cater to the needs of many raptor species.
Let’s take a look at the list of 15 different birds of prey in Spain!
1. Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata)
Bonelli’s Eagle is a medium-sized raptor with a dark grey back and a pale, streaked underside. They can be found in hilly and mountainous areas throughout Spain, often near rocky outcrops or cliffs. Their diet consists of birds, rabbits, and other small mammals. Keep an eye out for them in Andalusia, Catalonia, and Valencia, where their populations are more concentrated.
2. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The Golden Eagle, with its golden-brown plumage and sharp eyes, is an iconic bird of prey found in Spain’s mountainous regions. The Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, and Picos de Europa are ideal locations to catch a glimpse of these mighty hunters. Golden Eagles primarily prey on mammals such as rabbits, hares, and marmots, but they have also been known to take down larger prey like deer.
3. Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti)
The Spanish Imperial Eagle is an emblematic species native to the Iberian Peninsula. With its striking dark brown plumage, white shoulders, and powerful build, this magnificent bird is a sight to behold. The best chance to spot them is in central and southwestern Spain, particularly in protected areas like Doñana National Park and Monfragüe National Park. They primarily hunt rabbits and other small mammals, playing a crucial role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
4. Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)
The Griffon Vulture is a massive bird with a wingspan of up to 2.8 meters. They have a characteristic pale head and neck, contrasting with their dark brown body. These birds can be seen throughout Spain, especially in mountainous areas such as the Pyrenees, where they gather in large colonies. As scavengers, they feed on carrion and play an essential role in maintaining a clean environment.
5. Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
The Egyptian Vulture is a distinctive bird of prey, with its yellow face, white plumage, and black wingtips. They can be found in Spain’s open countryside, feeding on carrion and even using rocks to break open eggs. Visit the Pyrenees, Cantabrian Mountains, or Extremadura for a chance to see these unique birds.
6. Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus)
The Eurasian Black Vulture is the largest bird of prey in Europe, with an impressive wingspan of up to 3 meters. These massive birds have dark brown to black plumage and a featherless, bluish-grey head. They inhabit forested areas, primarily in central and southwestern Spain, including Extremadura and the Sierra de Guadarrama. As scavengers, they rely on carrion for sustenance, making them essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems.
7. Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
The elegant Red Kite is easily recognized by its reddish-brown plumage and deeply forked tail. They inhabit open areas such as grasslands, farmland, and wetlands across Spain. With a varied diet of small mammals, birds, and carrion, the Red Kite is a versatile predator. Visit the Cantabrian Mountains or the Pyrenees to witness these graceful birds soaring overhead.
8. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Similar in size and shape to the Red Kite, the Black Kite has darker plumage and a less pronounced forked tail. These adaptable birds can be found throughout Spain, often near water, where they hunt for fish, carrion, and smaller prey. The Ebro Delta and Doñana National Park are great locations to spot these agile raptors.
9. Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
The Osprey is a unique bird of prey, specialized in fishing. With its white head, dark eyestripe, and brown wings, the Osprey is easy to identify. They can be found near large bodies of water in Spain, such as the Guadalquivir River and the coastal regions of Andalusia. 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 is a swift and agile hunter, known for its incredible speeds of over 240 km/h (150 mph) during its hunting stoop. These 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 Spain, from cliffs and mountains to cities, where they’ve adapted to nesting on tall buildings.
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 Spain. Areas like the Ebro Delta and the Cantabrian Mountains are prime locations for spotting these swift hunters.
12. Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
The Lesser Kestrel is a small falcon, similar in appearance to the Common Kestrel but with a lighter, more uniform plumage. They inhabit open areas like grasslands and farmland, where they hunt insects and small mammals. The steppes of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha are excellent places to observe these charming birds.
13. Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
The Short-toed Snake Eagle is a medium-sized bird of prey with a taste for reptiles, especially snakes. This raptor features 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 Spain, they can be found in regions such as Andalusia, Extremadura, and Catalonia, particularly during the breeding season from April to September.
14. Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
The Marsh Harrier is a medium-sized bird of prey with a sleek build and a striking appearance. Males have a gray head, a brown body with black wingtips, and a white rump, while females are predominantly brown with a cream-colored head. These harriers inhabit wetlands and marshes, where they hunt small mammals, birds, and amphibians. Prime locations to observe Marsh Harriers in Spain include the Ebro Delta, Doñana National Park, and the wetlands of Castilla-La Mancha.