Birding the Alps

The Alps are a scenic wonderland of rugged peaks, tranquil glacial lakes, and fragrant flower-filled meadows. These world-famous mountains are also a biodiversity hotspot, with many sites for excellent birding year-round. Forests of beech, larch, spruce, and pine harbor firecrests, coal tits, serins, citril finches, crossbills, and, with luck, Bonelli’s warblers and the elusive black woodpecker. Above treeline, alpine meadows are home to red-billed and alpine choughs, rock partridge, wheatears, ring ouzels, black redstarts, rock buntings, and water pipits; at the highest elevations, snowfinch and alpine accentor are also possible. The startlingly colorful wallcreeper can be seen on the high cliffs, while white-throated dippers defy the turbulent waters of streams far below. Raptors include lammergeiers and golden eagles.

Nestled among gentle green meadows and towering glacier-covered mountains, small villages welcome visitors in search of these birds, the alpine plant life, butterflies, and such mammals as ibex, chamois, and alpine marmots. Fields and pasture around those villages provide perfect habitat for Moltoni’s warbler, ortolan bunting, and red-backed shrike. Down in the valleys, wryneck, lesser whitethroat, tree pipit, linnet, rock bunting, and common redpoll can be found. And the Italian Alps are home to all of the uncommon and highly sought alpine gallinaceous birds: black grouse, rock partridge, western capercaillie, and rock ptarmigan.

National parks preserving vast areas of the Alps include Gran Paradiso, Val Grande, Stelvio National Parks.

The Alps are within easy reach of Milan, Turin, Aosta, Trento, and Bolzano.