• Discover Basque Country
  • What to do
  • Birding
  • Highlights



A wide variety of birdlife can be seen on the shores and inland habitats of the Basque Country. Birders of all levels of experience will enjoy birdwatching in our forests, countryside, coast and mountains. The excellent public-use facilities created in natural areas promote environmental awareness and provide easy access to information. Maintained paths, wildlife observatories, guide services and information offices are just a few examples.

Among the various birding activities available in the Basque Country, five are HIGHLIGHTED below:

1. Looking for seabirds or cetaceans?

seabirds CC BY-3.0-ES 2012/EJGV/Irekia-Gobierno Vasco/Mikel Arrazola
Washed by the waters of the Cantabrian Sea, the Basque coast is right on the East Atlantic flyway, the migration route for billions of birds. In recent years, whale-watching and birdwatching have grown in popularity in towns and cities along the Basque coast. In fact, today there are scheduled boat tours staffed with experienced guides to help visitors spot whales and seabirds.

Enthusiasts from all over come to sail alongside razorbacks, dolphins, gannets and skuas. The chance to see the tiny Wilson's storm petrel, and various species of seagulls and shearwaters, is drawing a growing number of visitors to the area.

2. Picidae in the midst

Picidae CC BY-3.0-ES 2012/EJGV/Irekia-Gobierno Vasco/Mikel Arrazola
The Basque forests are home to a wide variety of woodpeckers. The middle spotted woodpecker, the star of Izki Natural Park, has become a local icon and a symbol for birdwatching both in the Basque country and elsewhere. Added to the list of common woodpecker sightings are the black woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, European green woodpecker and the Eurasian wryneck.

3. All types of wetlands

hezeguneak CC BY-3.0-ES 2012/EJGV/Irekia-Gobierno Vasco/Mikel Arrazola
From saltmarshes to inland freshwater marshes to artificial and natural lakes... a wide variety of wetlands attract large populations of aquatic birds every year. The seasonal dynamics of these birds keeps birdwatchers busy all year long.

The excellent public-use facilities made available in these areas offer easy access to birdwatchers of all ages. Visitors are invited to learn about the birdlife and see with their own eyes the various types of herons, ducks, geese, waders and other aquatic species.

4. Rock-breeding birds

Rock-breeding birds CC BY-3.0-ES 2012/EJGV/Irekia-Gobierno Vasco/Mikel Arrazola
While the Basque mountain ranges don't reach Alpine heights, the steep cliffs and jagged ridges make up for it. Escarpments, canyons and sea cliffs are typical land formations in the Basque Country, all of which are home to a number of rock-breeding birds.

Golden eagles, griffin vultures, Egyptian vultures and even the majestic bearded vulture soar and swoop among the cliffs and ridges. Other smaller but no less beautiful species accompany these giants in their flight: Alpine swifts, red-billed choughs and peregrine falcons are just a few examples.

The species more common to higher altitudes, such as the alpine accentor, yellow-billed chough, water pipit, ring ouzel and the wallcreeper, round out the 'most wanted list' in the peaks and rock walls.

5. A special place for Mediterranean birds

Mediterranean birds CC BY-3.0-ES 2012/EJGV/Irekia-Gobierno Vasco/Mikel Arrazola
Rioja Alavesa, in the southernmost part of the Basque Country, is a land of vineyards, lakes and mountains. This corner of the country offers birdwatchers a glimpse into an entire bioclimatic region: The Mediterranean. In the heart of the Ebro Valley, this picturesque region offers unique experiences for even the most demanding traveller – as well is a wonderful opportunity for birdwatching.

The most colourful Mediterranean birds find the perfect habitat here. Species include the night heron, purple heron, European bee-eater, hoopoe, short-toed lark, black-eared wheatear, subalpine warbler, Eurasian penduline tit, woodchat shrike and the ortolan bunting.