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Sea Birds of Madeira

Birds of Madeira: Storm Petrel

The birds of Madeira hold particular interest to bird watchers as the islands' ecosystems support a wide variety of land and sea birds, including endemic, unusual and endangered species such as Zino's Petrel or the Madeira Firecrest. There are 42 breeding species or subspecies of birds in Madeira.

Our Bird Watching Tours

We offer a wide variety of tours lasting from half a day to 6 days both on land and at sea. Experienced guides will accompany you on all the tours to help you spot and identify the birds. We work with SPEA Madeira, Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds to learn more about and protect the birds of Madeira.

On this page you can find out more about our pelagic bird watching tours. There is more information on watching the land birds of Madeira here

Bird Watching Tours at Sea

Bird and Marine Life Evening trip
The evening boat trip explores the sea, to a distance of 4 nautical miles, between Ponta do Garajau and Ponta da Cruz, taking in an area renowned for Madeiran Storm Petrels. The aim of the trip is to watch the birds travelling to and from their breeding grounds on Desertas. We'd hope to see many Bulwer's Petrels Bulweria bulwerii and a few Fea's/Zino's Petrels Pterodroma feae/ Pterodroma madeira and whales and dolphins including the Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis, the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Stenella frontalis, the Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates, and the Bryde's Whale Balaenoptera edeni. During our last season these trips proved very successful and our experienced pelagic tour leader is always on hand to help you spot and identify the mammals and birds of Madeira. As sunset falls we will head inland arriving back in Funchal harbour by 9.00 pm.

This tour runs once or twice a week between May and September from 18.30 to 21.00. The price per person is €40 and includes a guide and insurance. The trip runs with a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 20 people.
Please contact us for more information about the birds of Madeira or to book your trip

Birds of Madeira: Storm Petrel

Desertas Islands trips
We offer one day and two day trips to the Ilhas Desertas (Deserted islands). The highlights of these trips include species such as the Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis, the Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, the Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae deserta, the Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira, and the company of the Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis, the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Stenella frontalis, the Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus, the Pilot Whale Globicephala machrorhynchus and the Bryde's Whale Balaenoptera edeni. Our skilled pelagic guide will help you spot and identify and spot the species.

The islands are a nature reserve as they are a breeding site for marine birds and monk seals and our trips offer you the opportunity to observe some extraordinary marine birds and mammals in their natural habitat. The boat trip lasts 3 ½ hours each way with spectacular views across the archipelago. We then anchor in a sheltered bay on the island of Deserta Grande where you can swim in the cyrstal clear water. On the one day trips a traditional lunch will be served on board followed by a guided tour of the island. You'll then start the return journey. As you are travelling at different times of the day each journey offers you new and interesting sights.

If you are on a two day trip you can enjoy a longer guided tour of the island followed by dinner on board. In the early evening a two hour boat trip lets you watch the marine birds return to their nesting sites. At sunset we'll return to the bay to spend the night and listen out for the calls of the Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro. After breakfast the boat returns to Madeira arriving in Funchal at approximately 4:00 pm. On this tour is essential to bring your own sleeping bag and lunch for the first day.

The one day tours take place on Fridays all year round, and on Wednesdays and Sundays from June to October or another day by request for groups of 10 people or more. They last from 9.00 am to 7.30 pm. The price per person is €80 including a guide, insurance, lunch, drinks, and a €3 donation for the Monk seals Conservation Programme. The tour is for a minimum of 6 people and a maximum of 20 people. The two day trips run every week between May and September on either Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Saturdays and Sundays from 10.30am to 4.00pm on the 2nd day. The price per person is €135 and includes the guide, insurance, dinner, breakfast, and a €3 donation to the Monk Seals Conservation Programme. You can bring your own lunch or buy onboard (€9). We recommend bringing your own sleeping bag, we provide matresses. The tour runs with a minimum of 6 people.
Please contact us for more information about the birds of Madeira or to book your trip

Birds of Madeira: Cory's Shearwater
Ilhas Desertas, Madeira

Zino's Petrel Pelagic Expedition
Three days of specialist pelagic bird watching expedition focused on Petrels, Storm petrels, Shearwaters and any other bird species that might be around the North Atlantic Ocean. Run by birdwatchers for birdwatchers! On the first two afternoons we will search for different bird species at different hot spots, one day for Zino's Petrels and Madeiran Storm Petrels and the second day looking for Fea's Petrels and White-faced Storm Petrels. The third afternoon at sea is reserved for trying to track down any species you have not yet seen and to enjoy more sightings of others. Everyday we will also look for cetaceans and if we spot whales or dolphins we will pause to watch them. This package includes 3 full afternoons of birdwatching, approximately 8 hours per day. It runs with a maximum of 8 people and costs €575.

Birds of Madeira: Common Tern

Selvagens Island Bird Watching Holiday
A 6 day sailing trip to Selvagens Islands to observe and photograph wildlife with particular emphasis on watching the sea life and birds of Madeira.
Thhe Selvagen Islands lie about 165 nautical mile south of Madeira Island and are classified as nature reserves under Net Natura 2000. True to their name the islands are still wild and free- two Madeira Natural Park wardens are the only permanent human inhabitants. Known as the Seabirds Sanctuary their isolated location has ensured that humans have had little impact on them so the Selvagens Islands remain a haven for marine life, flora and fauna. Jacques Costeau declared these islands one of the best spots in the world for diving with crystal clear waters, high visibility and abundant fish life and you will have the opportunity to snorkel during your trip.

There are at least 10 bird species that breed regularly on the islands including one land bird Berthelot's Pipit. Seabird numbers are quite high, with an estimated (annual number of breeding pairs) 19000 Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis, 2000 Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis baroli, 5000 Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, 60000 White Faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina, 1500 Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro, and some Yellow Legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis, Roseate Tern Sterna dougalii and Common Tern Sterna hirundo. Many other vagrant birds have been also recorded on these islands.

One of the trip's most unforgettable moments is to be at the Baía da Cagarras (which translates as Cory's Bay) in Selvagem Grande at sunset amidst thousands of Corys whose calls echo through the night air. As you sail around the islands you'll have lots of opportunities to watch turtles, dolphins and whales in their natural habitat.

On land there are two particularly interesting reptiles to look out for the Madeiran Wall Lizard Podarcis dugesii and the endemic Selvagens Gecko Tarentola boettgeri bischoffi.

The islands support 150 plant species of which ten are endemic. Some of these plants play an essential role in the islands' ecosystem, like the Ice Plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum and Egyptian Fig Marigold Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum which help fix the soil onto the islands' sandy plateaux allowing seabirds (especially the White-faced Storm-petrel) to dig their nest holes there. Throughout the trip our experienced local guides will be on hand to help you spot and identify different species and answer any questions you may have.

This is a 6 day tour for a maximum of 7 people. The price per person is €990 and includes meals, drinks, insurance, licenses, taxes, fuel, dinghy (to disembark), snorkelling equipment, the use of a selection of detailed bird and cetaceans guidebooks and all other expenses related to the boat.

Please contact us for more information about the birds of Madeira or to book any of our trips

Cory Shearwaters
Zino's Petrel

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Thank-you for your interest in the birds of Madeira. We hope to see you soon.

Find out more about..
The land birds of Madeira
our whale watching tours
Sailing in Madeira
Feeling adventurous? Try canyoning in Madeira
other fun things to do in Madeira

birds of Madeira photographs copyrighted

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Zino's Petrel

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