Top 10 Birds of Grazalema & Ronda Mountains
The Grazalema and Ronda Mountains are a complex of mountain ranges located in the north of the counties of Cádiz and Málaga. Most of this area is protected as a Natural Park, Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park in Málaga (20.163 ha) and Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in Cádiz (53.411 ha).
The main habitats are steep rocky areas and Mediterranean scrubland and forest. We must highlight also the “Pinsapar” or Spanih Fir forest, endemic from southern Spain.
Over 210 bird species have been registered here, a reasonable number for an area located inland and without outstanding wetlands. The most remarkable groups are the cliff raptors and the rock birds. Following, our personal top 10 of the birds of Grazalema & Ronda Mountains:
① Egyptian Vulture: Opposite to other Spanish vulture species, the Egyptian Vulture shows a negative trend, an it is declared at risk of extinction in Andalucia. Its main problems are the use of poison and the wind farms. It is extinct as nesting species in Ronda, but some pairs remain in Grazalema Mountains, traditionally one of its bastions in Andalucía.
② Eurasian Griffon Vulture: The Eurasian Griffon Vulture is one of the most abundant birds of prey in Grazalema & Ronda Mountains, as one of the largest Spanish colonies is found here, with more than 700 nesting pairs inside the Grazalema Mountains Natural Park.
③ Bonelli’s Eagle: The Grazalema & Ronda Mountains hold a good density of Bonelli’s Eagle, favoured by the profusion of cliffs where the eagles prefer to place their nests. For example, inside the protected area of Grazalema (53.400 ha) the number of nesting pairs is around 10.
④ Black Wheatear: The European distribution of this wheatear is restricted to Spain. Their main habitat are the rocky areas with patches of poorly vegetated soil. This is a common landscape in Grazalema and Ronda, where we can find a very good density of this bird.
⑤ Iberian Chiffchaff: The Iberian Chiffchaff is a nearly endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula, summer visitor of the Grazalema & Ronda Mountains. It inhabits the wet forests of different species of Quercus growing in this area. Despite its great resemblance to the Common Chiffchaff, its song is very helpful to its identification.
⑥ Red-billed Chough: In Spain their main habitat are the steep areas, where they place their nests in inaccessible cliffs, in close proximity to open areas where they feed. In Grazalema & Ronda Mountains it is a common bird, and records of flocks of over 100 birds are usual.
⑦ Southern Grey Shrike: The Southern Grey Shrike is a nearly endemic of the Iberian Peninsula, that can be found in Spain, Portugal and southern France. It is an inhabitant of open fields with trees and scrubland, with a widespread range in Grazalema & Ronda Mountains.
⑧ Rock Sparrow: Although in other Andalusian regions the Rock Sparrow inhabits open woodland or dehesas, in Grazalema and Ronda Mountains they honor their name and are associated with cliffs, where they place their nest, while to feed they prefer open areas. Easier to find during the spring and summer.
⑨ Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush: Unlike the Blue Rock Thrush, very common and widespread in Grazalema and Ronda, the Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (or Common Rock Thrush) is a very located summer bird in this area. Its main habitat are steep rocky areas at the higher elevations of these mountains.
⑩ Subalpine Warbler subsp. iberiae: In Spain we can find the subspecies iberiae. Following some authors, this subspecies, altogether with inornata from Northern Africa, are a different species (Western Subalpine Warbler) from other subspecies of Eastern Europe (Eastern Subalpine Warbler). Right now, only exist concensus about the split of moltoni (Moltoni’s Warbler), from the central Mediterranean. It is a common bird in some areas of Grazalema & Ronda Mountains.