French Republic

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus ©Ashley Beolens Website
Birding France

Although not as exotic as Spain or Greece, France has a lot to offer to the travelling birder, its central position in Western Europe means that there is a wide variety of habitats including the Guarrigues and Maquis of the Mediterranean coast, a choice of montane habitats, mature oak forests of central and eastern France. As Birding is still a connoisseur hobby in France, there are plenty of opportunities to find your own birds. But this also means that nature reserve are rare and not very user friendly (don’t expect the sort of facilities you get at Minsmere).

If visiting France between September and March you will encounter the famous Chasseurs (Hunters). They are very numerous (1.5 million) and vociferous and in some area (Sud Ouest, Nord) can be extremely aggressive to what they call Les Ecologistes (anybody with an interest in Nature/Ecology/Conservation). But its still worth the trouble and the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) is doing a very good job of beginning to counter the influence of this noisy (& large) minority.

Main areas of interest for the (British) birder in France: No need to go the best birding places to see some nice birds. Species like Black Redstart, Serin, Cirl Bunting are common in most of France… A few nice hedges and the chances are that Great Grey and Red Back shrikes will be present, a Poplar plantation should have a several pairs of Golden Orioles. France has the most forestation in Europe so you are never more that 50km from a decent sized Forest which, depending of the area, will hold Middle spotted, Grey-headed or Black Woodpecker… Birds of prey are common; on a drive across France over 10 species can be seen in a day from the motorway!

This page is sponsored by Birding France

Top Sites
  • North Eastern France

    Mature oak forests in Ardennes, Loraine and Alsace: 6 species of Woodpecker, Collared Flycatcher etc.
  • Mountains - Le Massif Central

    With highest mountains of only 2000m, very few high altitude species breed, but Citril Finch and Alpine Accentor are regular winter visitors, Snowfinch and Wallcreeper are also present. Several good visible migration spots for the autumn Montagne de la Serre and Prat de Bouc in fact any pass with a North South orientation can be good for visible migration. Larger forests will have Black Woodpecker and Crested Tits, Crossbills are quite widespread and Tengmalm`s Owl is present in most pine forests over 1000m. Mountains - Les C
  • Mountains - Les Alpes

    It is hard to give good areas for the Alps as most of the mountains are really good. Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipits and Alpine Chough are all very easy to see, especially in winter when they can be seen from any ski resort
  • Mountains - Les Pyr

    Although most of the high altitude speciality are present (Gavarnie and the Col du Tourmalet being the best places to see Snowfinches, Alpine Accentor etc.) the Pyr
  • The Mediterranean Coast - La Camargue

    is brilliant & not to be missed. Breeding birds include Collared Pratincole, 8 species of Heron, Gull-billed Tern, Slender-billed Gull (Oh yes, and Flamingos) etc. Huge numbers of wildfowl overwinter as well as Spotted Eagle. Migration time is the best with Sandpipers and Plovers in the saltpans (South of Salin de Giraud, Phare de la Gachole); freshwater waders (including good numbers of Marsh Sandpiper); Marsh Terns and Herons in the north (Basse M
  • Western France - Brittany - Ille-et-Vilaine - For

    6 Woodpeckers species (Grey-headed, Green, Black,Great, Middle and Lesser Spotted, all common); 6 Titsspecies, lots of Warblers among whom Bonelli`s andMelodious, 2 Creepers (all widespread); Nightjar,Golden Oriole
  • Western France - Ouessant

    is a typical vagrant trap, known as the French Scilly isles (recent megas have included Nighthawk, Slender-billed Curlew etc.) a small island with a bird observatory. No cars are allowed on the island so cycle around. L`ile de Sein is near and has also attracted a decent number of vagrants
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 573

    (As at May 2019)
  • Number of endemics: 1

    Corsican Nuthatch Sitta whiteheadi
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatching Guide To France South Of The Loire

    | By Jacquie Crozier | Arlequin Press | 2000 | Paperback | 288 pages, colour photos, illustrations, maps, tables | ISBN: 9781905268023 Buy this book from
  • Birds of France

    | By James Lowen & Aurélien Audevard | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2018 | Paperback | 144 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9781472949011 Buy this book from
  • Birdwatching Guide to France North of the Loire

    | By Jacquie Crozier | Arlequin Press | 2003| Paperback | 266 pages, colour photos, maps | ISBN: 9781900159760 Buy this book from
  • Finding Birds in Mid France

    | By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2019 | Paperback | 40 pages, 27 b/w maps | ISBN: 9781907316579 Buy this book from
  • Finding Birds in Northern France

    | By Dave Gosney | Gostours | 1994 | paperback | 28 pages, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781907316043 Buy this book from
  • Finding Birds in Southern France

    | By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 1994 | paperback | 30 pages, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781907316135 Buy this book from
  • Les Oiseaux de Nos R?gions

    | By J Gooders | Editions Nathan | 2001 | Paperback | 288 pages, Colour photos | French | ISBN: 9782092608401 Buy this book from
  • Nouvel Inventaire des Oiseaux de France

    | By P-J Dubois, P Le Maréchal, G Olioso a& P Yésou | Delachaux et Niestle | 2008 | Hardback | 559 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | French | ISBN: 9782603015674 Buy this book from
  • Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

    | By Roger Tory Peterson, Guy Mountfort & PAD Hollom | E Delachaux et Niestle | 2013 | Hardback | 534 pages, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | French | ISBN: 9782603019467 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in France

    | By Jean-Yves Barnagaud, Nidal Issa, Sébastien Dalloyau & Jean-Philippe | Pelagic Publishing | 2019 | Paperback | 336 pages, colour photos, 300+ colour maps | ISBN: 9781784271541 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in France

    | By Philippe Dubois | Christopher Helm | 2006 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 272 pages, 25 illustrations,120 maps | ISBN: 9780713669800 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • France Travel Guide Usefl general travel info
  • OCL Organdexka Col Libre

    Organbidexka Col Libre 11, rue Bourgneuf 64100 BAYONNE France Email :
  • Want a Guide? One Fatbirder surfer found a guide through our contacts - an American visitor wanted an English speaking guide in the south of France. With the help of our contributor he tracked down Frederic Bouvet in Saint Remy. His email is and he also can include the historic sights, good food, wine and vineyards, etc. His English is excellent as he studied in UK and has worked in England.
  • LPO

    French equivalent of the RSPBLigue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, La Corderie Royale - BP 263 -17305 Rochefort cedex, Tel: 05 46 82 12 34 - Fax: 05 46 82 12 50
  • LPO UK

    For an introduction to the activities of the LPO this UK site will supply a useful way in as the other sites tend to be in French. You could also use the nine European language translator in the miscellany section of the Fatbirder links.

Abbreviations Key

  • French National Parcs

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Very attractive site - in French only with good background information on the parks, access etc.
  • French Regional Parks

    WebsiteSatellite View
    If this has an English version why hasn`t our neighbour offered translation of the above (but then why don`t we offer other language versions of our tourist sites?) France has huge areas of rural land with a stunning range of natural and cultural heritages. The rural areas are, however, faced with serious problems including a massive rural exodus, and pressures from urbanisation, tourism and large infrastructure projects, which in only several years could destroy landscapes that nature and man have painstakingly crafted over the centuries. Local governments have joined with the national government in an innovative, determined contractual process to halt and reverse the process. It now integrates heritage preservation considerations in local development plans. The concept of the Regional Nature Park was born in 1967 of this marriage of love and reason.
  • Reserves Naturelles

    WebsiteSatellite View
    List of reserves across France
Sightings, News & Forums
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding France

    A new birding website with terrific guides to French Regional Parks... all you need to know to plan a trip
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [01 January] - Phil Bentley - Southern France

    PDF Report
    ….I had a nominal list of some 10 target species I was particularly keen to see: of these Great Spotted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Eagle Owl, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Wallcreeper, Moustached Warbler and Alpine Accentor were the pick of the crop. In the end I saw about 3/4 of my target species which, on balance, was a reasonable return on effort. Frustratingly my two most sought-after species – Bonelli's Eagle and Moustached Warbler – continue to elude me. I've lost count of the number of days and hours I've spent looking for both species…
  • 2014 [04 April] - Bob & Dora Swann

    PDF Report
    …The pools contained a few hundred Greater Flamingo, pairs of Shelduck, Mute Swan, Mallard, a few Shoveler and on one deeper one 12 Great-crested Grebes. There were lots of gulls, especially displaying Slender-billed Gulls, plus Black-headed Gulls, a Mediterranean Gull and a roost of Yellow-legged Gulls, which also contained two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Sandwich Terns flew between the lagoons and the bay, whilst Common Terns displayed over an island. Waders were mainly Avocets and Black-winged Stilts, plus on the muddier pools c70 Little Stint, with some Dunlin, 20 + Kentish Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 10 Common Redshank, a few Curlew, a flock of 19 roosting Oystercatcher and a Common Sandpiper….
  • 2015 [06 June] - Chris Durd

    PDF Report
    As we gathered outside the hotel, Chris spotted an Oberthur’s skipper on a downpipe. As we watched it sunning itself in the heat of a sunny Pyrenean morning, Oliver looked to the sky and to our surprise found a young lammergeier drifting overhead. This all-dark bird was then joined by a paler adult. Not a bad start and we hadn’t even got off the hotel drive yet. A few yards away one of the meadows runs alongside the road, giving a great introduction to some of the common flora – yellow rattle, bladder campion and small scabious.
  • 2016 [06 June] - Hungary Bird Tours

    PDF Report
    A female Stonechat was perched on wheat interlaced with poppy and cornflower. A group of about a dozen Black Kite languished in the bare branchs of a poplar and in the field below waiting for the morning air to warm before setting out for foraging. Throughout the morning Nightingale could be easily heard exercising their full repertoire without allowing themselves to be seen from their scrub cover. Moving on we soon encountered Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Starling, with House Sparrow being present around farm dwellings which scatter Le Rougier freely.
  • 2022 [08 August] - Willem Proesmans - Pyrenees

    PDF Report
    We went on a trip to the Pyrenees, to enjoy the landscapes, the food and the endemics. This report handles our day-to-day experiences and the species that were observed. For readability, species groups are colour-coded as Birds, Amphibians & Reptiles, Butterflies and Mammals the first time a species is mentioned. In particular for birds, we might not have written down some common species, so the species list is probably not exhaustive.
Other Links
  • L'annuaire des oiseaux

    L'annuaire des oiseaux est une r
  • La Plume

    Ornithology discovered through etymology, confusions to be avoided by beginners, and
  • Migraction

  • Oiseaux-nature

    Book Reviews, Where to watch birds, bird list etc. Much of it translated into English. Fatbirder recommended.
  • Organbidexka - Migration Watch

  • Ornithomedia

    Ornithomedia is a web site (mainly in French) concerning Birding in Southern Europe: it`s a complete site: news, best spots, bird identification, articles about rarities, Flash animations, etc. An on-line shop selling, for example, the Birding CDROM Sentiers Ornithologiques en France, en Espagne et au Portugal
  • Quelle est Belle Co.

    Des appeaux pour apprendre. Des appeaux pour la musique. Des appeaux pour le jeux. Bird Callers & Call Guides
  • Vivara

    Vivara est une entreprise en constante
  • De Bec Et De Plumes 2016

    Birding et bonne humeur!
Photographers & Artists
  • Oiseaux

    Very fine bird pictures from this French photographer
  • Photographer - Ingo Waschkies

    French Bird Photography - This site is my personal collection of record shots from my birding trips, mainly in the Asian region. Being mainly a birdwatcher, not all shots are of high quality, but they help me keep my memories alive. I'll try to put the better shots in the 'Favorite Shots' gallery
  • Photographer - Julien Daubignard

    Pictures of birds, plans and other animals
  • Photographer - Sylvain Hellio

    Sylvain Hellio is a French birdwatcher and a profesionnal nature photographer. He also organises workshop tours to photograph birds in Europe including Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, France etc

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