Balearic Islands

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus ©Joël Bruezière
Birding the Balearics

The Balearic Islands (Spanish: Islas Baleares) are an archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The four largest islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain, of which the capital city is Palma. The co-official languages in the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan (i.e. Mallorquí, Menorquí and Eivissenc, as Catalan is known by its speakers in this territory).

The Balearic Islands comprise Majorca and Minorca which are the Balearic Islands proper, and other smaller islands, which together constitute an autonomous community of Spain. The main islands of the autonomous community are Majorca (Mallorca in Catalan), Minorca (Menorca), Ibiza (Eivissa), and Formentera, all of which are popular tourist destinations. Among the minor islands is Cabrera, which is the location of the Parc Nacional de l’Arxipèlag de Cabrera. The islands can be further grouped, with Majorca, Minorca, and Cabrera as the Gymnesian Islands, and Ibiza and Formentera as the Pine Islands.The climate of islands is a Mediterranean Climate. With cold and mild, rainy winters and warm, sunny summers.

Majorca – the most frequently birded island – has two mountainous regions each about 70 km in length. These occupy the north-western (Serra de Tramuntana or Tramuntana range) and eastern thirds of the island. The highest peak on Majorca is Puig Major (1,445 m) in the Serra de Tramuntana. As this is a military zone, the neighbouring peak at Puig de Massanella is considered the highest accessible peak (1,364 m). The northeast coast comprises two sweeping bays: the Badia de Pollença and the larger Badia d’Alcúdia. Inland of here lie some of the best birding areas of the island with slat pans and the extensive reedbeds of S’Albufera d’Alcúdia nature reserve as well as the fame Boca Valley with its vultures and etc. The northern coast is generally rugged and has many cliffs. The central zone extending from Palma is generally flat fertile plain known as Es Pla. The climate is Mediterranean, with markedly higher precipitation in the Serra de Tramuntana. Summers are hot in the plains and winters mild to cool, getting colder in the Tramuntana range; in this part of the island brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual.The island is surrounded by two uninhabited small islands: Cabrera (southeast of Palma) and Dragonera (west of Palma).

Top Sites
  • IBA Salinas de Migjorn - South Mallorca

    Salinas de Migjorn is popular with local birdwatchers with a great number of prey species, attracts raptors, including marsh harriers, kestrels, and ospreys.
  • NP Parc Natural De S'Albufera De Mallorca

    InformationSatellite View
    The Albufera is a real model for reserves in Europe, not least because every Majorcan schoolchild has to visit at least once a year… a great policy we should all adopt.Basically the reserve is a large wetland with very extensive reedbeds, scrapes, canals and scrub and hosts many breeding birds such as the purple gallinule and is a magnet for passage migrants - almost anything can turn up! It is possible at the right time of the year to see literally dozens of Eleanora's falcons in the air over the marshes whilst surrounded by birdsong and delighted by everything from purple heron to great reed warblers. There is a supporting cast of hoopoes, roosting night herons and much more. What is more it is within walking distance (for the fit) of many hotels and allows vehicular access to blue badge holders. Visit! Fatbirder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 380

    Mallorca (As at August 2018)
  • Number of endemics: 1 Breeding Endemic

    Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus
Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatching Guide to Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera

    | By Graham Hearl & John Busby | Arlequin Press | 1996 | Paperback | 55 pages, 16 colour plates, illustrations, 13 maps | ISBN: 9781900159203 Buy this book from
  • Atles Ornitonímic de les Illes Balears [Atlas of Bird Names of the Balearic Islands]

    | By Cosme Aguiló Adrover & Antoni Mestre Vallbona | Institut d'Estudis Catalans | Paperback | 2017 | 468 pages, colour photos, 171 colour maps | ISBN: 9788499653549 Buy this book from
  • Cuándo y Dónde Ver Aves en Baleares [When and Where to See Birds in the Balearic Islands]

    | By Maties Rebassa | Tundra Ediciones | 2016 | Paperback | 172 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations | Spanish | ISBN: 9788416702220 Buy this book from
  • Finding Birds in Mallorca - The New Book

    | By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2012 | Edition: 3 | Paperback | 37 Pages | 19 Maps | ISBN: 9781907316388 Buy this book from
  • Guia de les Aus de Menorca [Guide to the Birds of Menorca]

    | By Félix de Pablo Pons | Institut Menorquí d'Estudis | 2015 | Paperback | 120 pages, colour photos, colour maps, colour tables | ISBN: 9788415291114 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • A Birding Tourist's Guide to Majorca In this Second Edition of the Guide all these, as well as other recent changes, are reflected. The opportunity has also been taken to update and improve the maps and itineraries, as well as including (26) new photographs of Majorcan geography and bird life. The result is an enhanced edition, which while conserving the initial format and number of pages, now presents both updated and more complete information.
  • Balearic Group of Ornithology Mallorca

    In existence for over 40 years, the GOB has become a very strong and prestigious conservation organisation and the lead in all matters relating to bird, nature conservation and environmental issues in the Balearic Islands.
  • Balearic Group of Ornithology Menorca

    The Balearic Group of Ornithology and Defence of Nature, known as G.O.B. - acronym of Grup Ornitologic Balear-, is a non-governmental, non-profit association dedicated to the study, the popularization and the defence of the environment in the Balearic Islands (Spain). It is sustained by the donation of members and sympathizers, the production of services related to environment and the sale of books and other promotional materials.
  • Institut Català d'Ornitologia

    L'Institut Català d'Ornitologia (ICO) és una entitat sense ànim de lucre, que des de la seva creació, l'any 1975, s'ha dedicat a estudiar la biologia i la migració dels ocells mitjançant l'anellament científic…

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Menorca Reserva de Biosfera

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Menorca is an island of 700 sq kilometre surface and a coast length of 200 km. It is divided into eight municipalities with a steady population of 85,000 inhabitants. Tourism has become over the past decades its main economic resource: this fact explains seasonal population variations with peaks as high as 160,000…
  • IBA Puerto Pollensa

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Puerto Pollensa is a well known base for bird watchers. Read the two reports below. Click on the bird links and you will see and hear them!
  • MP Freus Marine Reserve of Ibiza and Formentera

    InformationSatellite View
    The Freus Marine Reserve of Ibiza and Formentera was set up in May 1999 within the fisheries management policy of the Balearic Islands Government's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, with the aim of protecting ecosystems, stopping the degradation of habitats and recovering and repopulating with threatened species and areas….
  • NP Archipiélago de Cabrera

    InformationSatellite View
    Un 85% de la superficie de este Parque Nacional es mar. Unas aguas limpias y transparentes que reflejan la belleza de las islas y dan cobijo a una fauna absolutamente única y fascinante.
  • NP Parc Natural De S'Albufera De Mallorca

    InformationSatellite View
    Albufera Natural Parc is (+34) 971 89 22 50. S'Albufera is a famous, almost mythical place: its birds, eels, water and canals. It is also notorious for mosquitoes, strong smells and occasional and violent floods. S'Albufera has been used for many purposes: as a hunting-ground by privileged minority - as well as by poachers - and the origin of delicious eels. On a dry island like Majorca the contrast of a landscape of bridges and canals is especially attractive. S'Albufera offers a diverse and plentiful fauna; a particular flora of its own. S'Albufera is a unique place on the island and its natural value is appreciated as such. This recognition was confirmed with the declaration of the area as a natural park by the Balearic Government in 1988. It is one of the most valuable ecosystems of the Balearic islands and enjoys the strictest protection.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Kudu Travel

    Tour Operator
    ‘Poc a poc’, slowly, slowly, say Menorquins, describing the way of life on the quietest of the Balearic Islands. The wonderfully green landscape is a patchwork of dry stone-wall enclosed fields, open heaths, stands of umbrella pines, deep limestone gorges and deserted sandy coves. The lack of development has led to UNESCO declaring the whole island a Biosphere Reserve. As a result, flowers (including many orchids and endemics) are everywhere in spring, migrant birds pass through in large numbers and the resident birds include blue rock thrush, red kites, Egyptian vultures and Booted eagles.
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [10 October] - Pat Hayes - Mallorca

    Although many birding sites we used to visit in the past have disappeared under the developers shovel, there are still enough sites to make Mallorca a worthwhile birding destination, especially if you are new to birding abroad...
  • 2015 [10 October] - Tony Benton - Menorca

    I returned to Menorca in October, hoping to catch some late summer sun and autumnal migration. In reality, the migration of summer visitors had pretty much ended, while the arrival of Juvenile Greater Flamingos and a Kingfisher heralded the beginning of winter visitors. Menorca is always good for raptors, especially Red Kites and Booted Eagles which were seen on a daily basis.
  • 2016 [05 May] - David Karr - Mallorca

    PDF Report
    A weekend trip to the Balearic’s biggest island, Mallorca (Majorca) to find the endemic BalearicWarbler and two local specialties: Eurasian Black (Cinerous) Vulture and Eleonora’s Falcon. All werefound without too much difficulty, but a little patience was required to see the raptors...
  • 2016 [05 May] - Mike Neale

  • 2016 [10 October] - Chris Gibson - Menorca

    PDF Report
    Before our evening meal was one of the events of many Honeyguide holidays which makes it a truly unique experience – a visit from the recipient of the conservation contribution which is part of everyone’s holiday cost. Menorca is very fortunate to have GOB (Grup Balear d'Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa) working there – safeguarding the landscape by being alert to potential destructive development, offering rehabilitation to injured wildlife and educating school children in the wonders of their own island, among a host of other activities.
  • 2017 [10 October] - Bob Shiret

    PDF Report
    I was amazed on one day of the trip to see an Osprey hovering over the shallows right in front of our hotel and thirteen seconds later a Booted Eagle (lifer) was hovering over the rocks in the same location.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Ed O'Hara

    PDF Report
    Annotated list
  • 2018 [05 May] - Bob Shiret

    PDF Report
    This was our secondvisit to Menorca, last October we visited Punta Prima (see cloudbirders report) and on that visit we had a day trip to Cala Galdana and decided that this would be a good place to visit as there are lots of walks and unspoilt countryside just a few minutes from the hotel.
  • 2019 [04 April] - Zoothera Birding

    PDF Report
    The Balearic Islands in Spring are a real delight with a mixture of resident breeding birds and migrant birds flooding northwards. Our unique tour explored a variety of sites on underwatched Ibiza and included a visit to the migrant hotspot that is the island of Formentera. Ibiza is a very underrated island and at this time of year it is a great place to find migrants at a number of sites we have discovered over the years.
  • 2019 [05 May] - Ed O'Hara - Mallorca

    PDF Report
    Comghal and I spent our almost annual visit to Mallorca but this time two weeks later than 2018. It was clearly obvious after a few days that the number of birds were greatly down on 2018, the main migration period having already passed.
  • 2019 [05 May] - Ed O’Hara - Mallorca

    PDF Report
    Comghal and I spent our almost annual visit to Mallorca but this time two weeks later than 2018. It was clearly obvious after a few days that the number of birds were greatly down on 2018, the main migration period having already passed
  • 2019 [05 May] - Tony Benton - Menorca

    For the last 20 or so years, I have visited Menorca in the spring, usually for seven to 10 days and timed to coincide with visible migration over the Island. I’ve also often visited in September and October when the weather is very pleasant but the birding slow.
  • 2019 [06 June] - Richard Thomas - Mallorca

    PDF Report
    This is a brief report on a six day trip aimed primarily at seeing Balearic Warbler and a few other Balearic (sub)species and also some species I hadn’t clapped eyes on for decades.
  • 2023 [04 April] - Ed. O'Hara - Majorca

    PDF Report
    Annotated list
  • 2023 [05 May] - Bob Shiret - Menorca

    PDF Report
    ...In the hotel complex there were many House Martins nesting, alongside House Sparrows, Hoopoes, Blackbirds and surprisingly Audouin`s Gulls which seemed to have changed their lifestyle to become hotel scavengers! Morroccan Wall Lizards were common in the hotel grounds...
Places to Stay
  • Hotel Playa Esperanza - Mallorca

    S'Albufera Av., 4 - 07408 Platja de Muro, Mallorca - Phone: 971 890 568 / Fax: 971 890 938Special offers for Birdwatchers Sept/Oct & March/April
Other Links
  • Birding in Mallorca

    One of the best places to bird in the western Mediterranean is the S'Albufera marsh in NE Mallorca. Below are pictures of some of the birds that can be seen in this fantastic and easily accessible area

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