Tenerife birds and bird-watching in the Canary Islands

Tenerife's wild birds

The island of Tenerife has many different habitats, ranging from mountains and forests to semi-desert coastal plains and farmland. Not surprisingly it has a wide range of birds found in the Canary Islands and some of these are very rare endemic species.

All parts of the fabulous countryside of Tenerife have bird species that will interest naturalists and bird-spotters. Besides the resident species that live on the island all year round there are also many migratory birds that visit or pass through Tenerife.

Some of the types of bird found on Tenerife would be equally happy in a British garden or woodland.

Tenerife bird photos

Blue Chaffinch
Blue Chaffinch

Just like the British birds

A British garden songbird that is very common in Tenerife is the Blackbird (Turdus merula). The island also has Robins (Erithacus rubecula), Sparrows (Passer hispaniolensis) and Tits (Parus caeruleus teneriffae) that look very much like those found in the UK and have the same kind of habits.

Tenerife also has several finches, including the Chaffinch (Fringilla coeleps) and the Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), as well as the very rare endemic species of Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea), which only lives in some of the island's mountain forests.

The cosmopolitan Rock Pigeon or Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) is very common all over Tenerife and lives naturally on the many cliffs of the island, as well as breeding and roosting in and on buildings. Just like everywhere it has colonised in the world, it scavenges for scraps in towns and cities.

Ring-necked Doves (Streptopelia capicola) are frequently seen all over the island as well.

Tenerife is also home to the Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) that lives in the woods and pine forests of the island, as well as the unmistakeable Common Raven (Corvus corax) that can be spotted in the mountains and on cliffs.

The dainty little Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)is another bird that can be seen in Britain and in Tenerife. They are often found around the water-tanks and reservoirs on the island.

Tenerife has several birds of prey. Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and Buzzards (Buteo buteo) are the two most commonly seen predatory birds that live on the island.

There are also two types of owl found on Tenerife. The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and the Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) both hunt by night in many parts of the island, though neither species is as plentiful now as they once were.

The Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) feeds on lizards, mice and large insects, and because it often impales its victims on the spines of bushes, it has been known as the “Butcher Bird.” This species lives on scrubland and mountain sides and can be found high up on the slopes of Mt Teide.

More Tenerife birds

Little Egret
Little Egret

Sea birds and water birds of Tenerife

Although Tenerife doesn't have much in the way of naturally occurring fresh water it has plenty of sea all round it and has reservoirs and irrigation tanks inland.

The Coot (Fulica atra) and the Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) are two water birds that both breed on Tenerife. These species can often be seen on the freshwater pools in the village of Erjos in Tenerife's northwest.

Herons (Ardea cinerea) can be found on Tenerife as well, and they hunt for fish and frogs in reservoirs and ponds in gardens and parks, as well as along the coast.

The Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) is a wader that lives in the UK and can be also be seen in coastal areas of Tenerife.

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), with its white plumage, is a very distinctive bird that is often found hunting in pools on beaches as well as in inland where it catches small fish and frogs in reservoirs and water-tanks used for crop irrigation.

One curious-looking bird you might run into on Tenerife beaches is the Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). This wading bird has a very long bill that is used for probing among sand and rocks where it finds its food.

Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), just like the ones in the UK are happy to scavenge whatever they can find. They are to be seen along the coast, on beaches and around marinas.

Bolle's Pigeon

Bolle's Pigeon. Photo from Wikipedia and by Spot1972
Bolle's Pigeon. Photo from Wikipedia and by Spot1972

Rare birds and other Tenerife bird species

One of the most exotic looking birds that can be seen on Tenerife is the Hoopoe (Upupa epos) with its salmon-pink plumage, black and white striped wings, very long beak and a tufted crest on its head. It is a rare migrant to the UK but on Tenerife it lives in gardens, parks and farmland where it searches for its insect prey.

On the subject of rare birds of Tenerife, there are two species of dove that only live in the evergreen laurel ("laurisilva") forest. Bolle’s Pigeon (Columba bollii) and the Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae) are limited in their range because they need this specific type of woodland for their survival. This sort of forest was once plentiful but now there are only patches of it left in the islands of Tenerife, La Gomera and La Palma.

Of course, as you might expect in the Canary Islands, there would be Canaries. The Common Canary (Serinus canaria) is a bird that is frequently seen and heard on Tenerife, although it doesn’t have the bright yellow colouring of the the domestic version you would be more familiar with.

The Plain Swift (Apus unicolor) and the Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus) live in colonies on Tenerife and nest on the island's cliffs. They can often be seen flying low and high in the air as they seek the flying insects they live on.

There are many more types of birds that can be found in Tenerife and the bird-spotter should find plenty of enjoyment on the island.

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Comments 17 comments

Dame Scribe profile image

Dame Scribe 6 years ago from Canada

I love watching birds. That blue finch is gorgeous! truly have exotic and funky looking birds there, lol. Thank you for sharing. :)

parklife profile image

parklife 6 years ago from Destin, FL

The nature of Tenerife is truly beautiful!

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 6 years ago from Tenerife Author

Thank you for your comments, Dame Scribe and Parklife!

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Well, okay...since an airplane ticket is too costly, I'll be walking to the Canary Islands, ummm, this afternoon. Expect this bird lover withing the month, say, so I can spot a Hoopoe in particular.

Hope you will let me stay at your place.

Loved this Hub, by the way!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Tenerife Islander, really enjoyed this hub. Photographs great. this world would be a poorer place without birds.

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 6 years ago from Tenerife Author

You would be very welcome, Laurel! And with your miraculous ability of walking on the water we ought to be able to raise a lot of money! lol

Thank you for posting too, D.A.L!

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VivekSri 6 years ago

they are cute and the photographs make them so, nature calling... or what you say. Good job here.

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 6 years ago from Tenerife Author

Thank you, Vivek!

srsddn profile image

srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

tenerifeislander, I love birds. I am glad there are numerous fascinating birds in Canary Islands including Hoopoe which is my favourite as I have seen it since childhood. The sea birds and water birds are also cool. Thanks for sharing all this in your beautiful Hub.

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 3 years ago from Tenerife Author

Thank you for your comments and I am glad to hear you love birds too!

srsddn profile image

srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

tenerifeislander, Tenerife seems to have a good range of birds. Bolle’s and Laurel Pigeons need to be preserved. Nicely done Hub!

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 3 years ago from Tenerife Author

Thank you for commenting!

blondie131264 3 years ago

Just returned from Lanzarote and saw the most amazing bird whilst there - just identified it as a Hoopoe - amazing colour - was lovely to watch it every morning.

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 3 years ago from Tenerife Author

Thanks for commenting!

Mervyn 9 months ago

Whilst on holiday near Los Chrisianos two weeks ago on most evenings when dark we heard a rare call from a bird which flew near our hotel. It sounded just like a bazzuka call. We saw the bird its wingspan about the size of a pigeon. Does anyone know what the bird may be.

Chris 9 months ago

Try Googling the call of Cory's Shearwater - varies between didgeridoo, bazooka and witches' cackle!

Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 9 months ago from Tenerife Author

Thanks for answering this, Chris! I was thinking of the same bird.

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