Birds of Tuscany
Tuscany is one of the most interesting region of Italy from many different points of view. Culture, arts, food make Tuscany famous all over the world. But nature as well!
Many kind of different environment allow many species of plants and animals to live in Tuscany. Mountains that goes up to 2000 m on the sea level, wide hilly landscape and about 500 km of coastline with both sandy coasts and cliffs allow you to find out many species of birds.
If you come from Europe and you like to stay still for minutes or hours watching and observing birds moving around you in your origin country, probably you know many species that you can find and watch in Tuscany.
But, if you come from Northern Europe, Britain or Scandinavian, probably many of the species below are accidental or impossible to be seen in you country.
Here we prepared a simple list of birds of Tuscany that are usually new for Northern Europe visitors.
Ferrugineus duck: It’s a species of duck that could be found during the migration season in some marshland of Tuscany like the Fucecchio Marshes, one of the largest of Europe. The italian name of this species is “Moretta tabaccata” that gives the name to the most important harbour of the Fucecchio mashes called “Le Morette”. You can easily visit Le Morette harbour along the main trail that lead you to homonymous natural reserve.
Night heron: It’s a beautiful heron that has crepuscular habits but that you can observe also during the daylight resting on branches of poplar or willows. Ask us if you want to see this bird in spring and summer.
Cattle egret: There are many cattle egret during the winter looking for food into soil of fields and grassland. During the spring they flight following tractors that plough the earth and eating worms and insects. It nests with little egret, night herons and spoonbill. Ask us if you want to see Cattle egret in Tuscany.
Squacco heron: It’s one of the most beautiful heron nesting in Tuscany. It’s shape is similar to the night heron but its plumage is brownish with many dark strips on the head and its beak has a long sky blu base and a black tip. Ask us if you want to see Squacco heron in Tuscany.
Little egret: It’s a common heron bought in winter and spring-summer. It’s latin name (Egretta garzetta) comes from the word “aigrettes” that are decorative feathers on head or hat. Indeet, in spring, adult little egret has two white feathers behind the head that indicate its sexual maturity. Ask us if you want to see this bird in Tuscany.
Purple heron: It’s similar to the grey heron but it has a brownish plumage that gives him the possibility to well camouflage himself into the reeds. It’s a quite rare species and difficult to see.
White stork: this species started again to nest in Tuscany in 2005. Since that year many couples nest in Tuscany. They prefer high voltage trellis that is, obviously, a danger place where to do a nest. Many times their nests has been moved on a special trellis close the original one in order to make the nesting safe. In Tuscany there are ten or so nest spread on the territory. Ask us if you want to see white stork in spring and summer.
Glossy Ibis: You can find it in the marshlands of Tuscany during the winter and also nesting in spring and summer. It’s a dark ibis, quite slim respect to the African sacred ibis. Recently its population is started to constantly increase. Ask us if you want to see this bird in Tuscany.
Spoonbill: This species started to nest in Tuscany in 2014. Before that year you could see spoonbills in marshlands during the winter and sometimes during the migratory season. Today you can find it quite easily near the nesting places or with the help of a guide. Contact us.
Flamingo: It a very beautiful species that has large population in wetland of northern Italy. You can find it also in Tuscany, bought in winter and sometimes also in the spring. Ask us if you want to see this bird in Tuscany.
Black winged stilt: It’s a widely distributed long-legged wader. The scientific name Himantopus comes from the Greek meaning “strap foot” or “thong foot” referring to the very tiny legs kept together during the flight. Ask us if you want to see this bird in Tuscany.
Scops owl: It’s a very small owl. It’s difficult to see, but you can hear its call during the right season. The song call is a single note repeated every 2-3 seconds.
Pallid swift: It’s very similar to the common swift that you can easily see in almost every town and cities of Tuscany and Europe, but it’s uncommon and lied to the coasts. The perfect time to see pallid swifts is September, when every common swift are migrated to southern Africa and only other swifts stay on the territory. Contact us if you what to see and hear the pallid swift.
Alpine swift: It’s a strong swift lied to the coasts. The name “alpine” doesn’t gives actual idea of where you can find this species. They breed in from southern Europe to the Himalaya. Like common swifts, they are migratory; the southern European population winters further south in southern Africa. It’s not strictly lied to the mountains but you can find it in different wild places. In Tuscany it lives along the southern wild rocky coast. It’s quite uncommon and difficult to see.
Hoopoe: It’s a very nice species that lives in the countryside, where fields are mixed to grassland and woodland. It arrive in Italy at the end of March. It’s constantly looking for warms into the ground to feed itself and its chicks. Its call is a very unmistakable sound very similar he its name: hooopooo.
Bee eater: Many people that don’t know birds very well often mistake it for a parrot due to its bright and colourful plumage and long beak. The English name is actually its main job, eating bees. Its number increased a lot last ten-fifteen hears. Its environment is the countryside close to woodland and sandy cliffs, where it nests. Ask us if you want to see this bird in Tuscany.
Roller: The European roller is a stocky bird that can be found in a wide variety of habitats. It winters primarily in southern Africa and it typically nests in tree holes. It usually look for the large insects, lizards, rodents and frogs that they eat. The diet of adult rollers is dominated by Coleoptera, whereas nestlings mostly eat Orthoptera, such as grasshoppers and bush crickets. Very rare in Tuscany.
Crag martin: It’s a species that you can find bought in winter and in summer, but in different places. During the winter it moves in the warmer valley and sometime into towns. In the spring it moves on the mountain villages. Some couple nest sometimes also at low altitude under bridges’s arch. Ask us if you want to see this bird in Tuscany.
Nightingale: It’s a strong brownish singer. This species arrive in Tuscany in the middle of April and it starts immediately to sing. Its call is very nice and strong. It has a very wide collection of calls and songs, but you can identify it for the timbre of its voice. It sings all the day and all the night for all the nesting time. Ask us if you want to listen this bird in Tuscany.
Blue rock thrush: It is no common and quite difficult to see. Sometime you can confuse it with blackbirds but with a few attention and with the right light you can see the darkblue colour of its plumage. The Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli composed the poetry called “THE LONELY SPARROW.” that is the wrong translation of the Italian name of this bird. Thees are some verses of the translation of the poetry of Pascoli where the “lonely sparrow” actually is the “Blue rock thrush”:
“Thou from the top of yonder antique tower,
O lonely sparrow, wandering, hast gone,
Thy song repeating till the day is done,
And through this valley strays the harmony.
How Spring rejoices in the fields around,
And fills the air with light,
So that the heart is melted at the sight!”
Sardinian warbler: This is a common species that lives in bushes and in the Mediterranean scrubs near the seaside and in the countryside as well. You can find it in olive grooves and also in gardens of towns. In the winter it prefer to stay in well exposed side of hills and warm places. Its red circle around the eye is a distinctive character of the species. Ask us if you want to listen this bird in Tuscany.
Cetti’s warbler: Its call is like a signpost that say you are in a wetland. You can hear its call along channel and stream of marshes and wetland and into the reed as well. The “song” of the Cetti’s Warbler is anything but a warble It’s quite difficult to see but it’s very easy to hear and it say: “Hey, listen! What’s my name? Cetti-Cetti-Cetti That’s it!” Ask us if you want to listen this bird in Tuscany.
Wallcreeper: Colorfull and bright. It has a flight similar to a butterfly. Usually you can find it near quarries and rocky faces.
Red billed chough: It’s the simbol of the Alpi Apuane Natural park together with the Vandenboschia speciosa, a rare fern living in few gorges of northern Tuscany. Red billed chough is a rare bird living on the rocky mountain of the Apennines.
Alpine chough: It’s very similar to the red billed chough but it has a yellow beak. You can often see it in groups of ten, forty individuals. Alpi Apuane Park is the best place where to see them. Ask us for a guided tour.
Golden oriole: It is a very beautiful bird, cleaver and with a nice voice. It usually answer you if you try to call him imitating his call by whistling. It’s environment is composed by old forests that are next to field, grassland or bushes. It’s easier to be recognised by its voice than see it. Ask us if you want to listen this bird in Tuscany.
Serin: It’s a small bird living in town gardens, countryside and woodland with some clearing. It’s not hard to see and to hear its song. Ask us if you want to watch and listen this bird in Tuscany.
Other species (allochthonous)
Red-billed leiothrix: It’s a small bird coming from China. It’s very colourful and nice to see. It was introduces to be sold as bird for cage. Some individuals accidentally escaped and since 2010 it can be founded along stream, rivers and dense forests. It’s very cleaver and curious and it’s call can be confused with black-caps or blackbirds.
Sacred ibis: It’s a white and black strong ibis. The first animales brought to Europe from Egypt to France in the mid-1700s. In the 1970s it became fashionable for many zoos in Europe and elsewhere to keep their birds in free-flying colonies, which were allowed to forage in the area but would return to roost in the zoo every day. Some individuals of this colonies became able to find food by themselves and started to move along Atlantic coast of France. About at the same time other colonies did the same in Italy, Spain, other countries of Europe and also Florida, Taiwan and United Arab Emirates.
Monk parakeet: There are colonies of this species of birds in many cities of Italy. They excaped from captivity since 1985. Since then the number of colonies increased in number and in cities envolved. There are colonies in Rome, Cagliari and Florence, in gardens, parks and along avenues.