Ornithological routes

Ornithological routes on the drovers’ roads of the Community of Madrid

These are routes that offer all sorts of birdwatching by going through different ecosystems; from high mountains in the steppe, and through pine-tree forests, hills, wetlands, grove, and rocky places of the Community of Madrid.

  • You can download the new App of self-guided Birding Routes (in Spanish) for free. It has been developed with Augmented Reality technology and consists of software that allows the virtual signaling of birdwatching routes designed by the Drovers’ road Network of the Community of Madrid, allowing users to go on tours all by themselves in a safe, easy, and intuitive way.

    If you want to download this app for free click the following link:

Forests, meadows, steppes, mountains, lakes, and even parks and gardens are some of the places where the nature aficionado can quite easily see a good number of different species.

So, let’s grab those binoculars, the camera, and start enjoying the ornithological richness of the Community of Madrid!

The Community of Madrid has some of the most ideal areas to lose yourself in nature, to close your eyes, listen to the birds singing, and to get away from everything for a moment. It is a region of contrasting landscapes, biodiversity, and natural areas of rich ecological interest, with the perfect conditions for practicing outdoors activities.

39.9% of its land is in protected areas thanks to a huge diversity of ecosystems and habitats (mountains, pine forests, fields, pastures, and river forests). Here there are almost 240 bird species (of the approximately 400 that live in Spain), and it boasts the presence of key species such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle or the cinereous vulture, and the Guadarrama National Park, an area with great potential as a quality ornithological destination.

The Mediterranean forest is one of the most representative ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula, host to many unique species in the European area.

In Madrid, this ecosystem can be experienced at its best in vast areas of the region. That is why one of the best imperial eagle populations in the world is living here. Despite being one the most threatened species of the world, there are couples nesting just a few kilometres away from the capital.

Besides the Spanish imperial eagle, Madrid also provides the opportunity to see other species that will make any birdwatcher happy: black storks, booted eagles, black kites and red kites, the red-necked nightjars, Eurasian eagle-owl, scops owls, red-rumped swallows, European bee-eaters, azure-winged magpies, and Sardinian warblers, amongst other many species, and all of them within a unique landscape setting.

Some of the places to enjoy the Mediterranean forest in Madrid are the Sierra Oeste, Monte del Pardo, and the Soto de Viñuelas.

The Mountains: Finding the Bluethroat

With elevations topping 2,000 metres, rocky summits, hillsides covered in vast scots pine trees and Quercus pyrenaica forests, the Sierra de Guadarrama and the Sierra Norte are considered to be landscapes of unique and rural beauty.

The beautiful Bluethroat can be found above the limits of the tree line, between bushes and mountainous grazing fields, especially in the springtime when the males begin to exhibit their singing competition and displays from above the bushes.

These mountainous areas are home to a large number of species. Some of them, such as the common rock thrush, the water pipit, or the Alpine citril finch prefer higher areas covered in grazing fields or rocky places, whereas other species such as the scops owl, the Eurasian golden oriole, the red crossbill, the European crested tit, or the Western Bonelli’s warbler prefer the hillside forest. The presence of predatory birds such as the cinereous vulture, and the griffon vulture, the golden and the booted eagles, or the red kite, amongst others, are also worth highlighting.

If you want to experience a day of birdwathing right in the middle of the high mountains, do not hesitate to come to the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Sierra Norte or the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares areas.

Steppes: Winged Giants of the Meadow

The steppes and cereal fields are one of the most common areas in Spain and that is why this country hosts the best groups of steppe birds in all of Western Europe.

Cereal crops and steppe bushes are located in Southern and Eastern Madrid. It is in these vast crop meadows where groups of great bustards have found their place to live. Watching the males perform their “foam-bath” display is one of the spectacular ornithological shows that must be seen at least once in lifetime.

Those same fields through which the great bustards pass by are also home to other species that have also adapted to life in the steppes. These are such birds as the montagu’s harrier, the lesser kestrel, the little bustard, the pin-tailed sandgrouse, the black-bellied sandgrouse, the chalk-browed mockingbird, and the crested lark.

Madrid gets en route

If you’ve already gotten into general birdwatching, visit some of the 28 Ornithological Routes designed around the Drovers’ Roads Network going through different ecosystems, from the mountains to the steppes, pine tree forests, Mediterranean mountains and deciduous forests, as well as the wetlands, groves, and rocky areas surrounding the Areas of Special Protection (ZEPAs for its Spanish initials) with the scientific supervision of SEO-BIRDLIFE.

In order to enjoy it in its fullest, download the Ornivias app (for both iPhone and Android) which has self-guided routes with Augmented Reality technology that virtually signals these 28 routes in the Community of Madrid. The app also offers a Geocaching game in which you can achieve different goals as well as an integrated notebook. This app won the FITUR 2013 prize for the best active tourism product.