Birding Factoids

467 species
in 52 families

3 of the 5 European
endemics are 
represented here. 
One national endemic
10 speciality species
7 endangered species

Checklist of French BirdsTours and GuidesRare Bird AlertsSpeciality BirdsMap and General Country Information
Check out Herve Michel's Album de Photographies d'oiseaux d'Europe
Ben van den Broek's Birds of France - Cevenne and Christian Kerhuel's Numeriscopages
France's Specialities
(Pause your cursor on the photo to see the species name. Click on the birds for more info... )
Corncrake - ENDANGERED - Photo copyright Alfred Limbrunner
Photo copyright Alfred Limbrunner
Gray Heron - Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Black Woodpecker - Photo copyright David Lingard
Photo copyright David Lingard
Greater Flamingo - Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Photo copyright Don DesJardin
European Bee-eater - Photo copyright Ivan Steenkiste
Photo copyright Ivan Steenkiste
Black Redstart - Photo copyright David Lingard
Photo copyright David Lingard
Common Pochard - Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Great Spotted Cuckoo (juv) - Photo copyright Cliff Buckton
Photo copyright Cliff Buckton
Montague's Harrier - Photo copyright Jean-Sébastien Rousseau-Piot
Photo copyright Jean-Sébastien Rousseau-Piot
Red-crested Pochard - Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Photo copyright Don DesJardin
European Roller - Photo copyright Safaricamlive
Photo copyright Safaricamlive
Common Gull - Photo copyright Jeremy Barker
Photo copyright Jeremy Barker
Baillon's Crake - Photo copyright Kibbutz Lotan Birdwatching Center
Photo copyright Kibbutz Lotan Birdwatching Center
Pied Wagtail - Photo copyright Erik Kleyheeg
Photo copyright Erik Kleyheeg
Woodchat Shrike - Photo copyright Peter Jones
Photo copyright Peter Jones
Jack Snipe - Photo copyright John Parr
Photo copyright John Parr
Griffon Vulture - Photo copyright David Lingard
Photo copyright David Lingard
    ....The FatBirder's Guide to French Hotspots - Although not as exotic as
      Spain or Greece, France has a lot to offer to the travelling birder, its central position in Western Europe means that there is a wide variety of habitats including the "Guarrigues" and "Maquis" of the Mediterranean coast, 0a choice of montane habitats, mature oak forests of central and eastern France. As Birding is still a "connoisseur" hobby in France, there are plenty of opportunities to find your own birds. But this also means that nature reserve are rare and not very user friendly. 
    ....Birding France - by Martin Tribe. This extensive report identifies the 
      best birding sites in Provence, identifying a multitude of specific sites inside and surrounding the Parc Regional de Camargue. 
    ....Where to watch birds in France (Où observer les oiseaux en France
      [sites ornithos avec cartes]) - although this site is in French, the maps are readable in any language!
    ....L'ouiseau libre - here's another great website for those of you who 
      read French. Includes checklists for both Europe and France, and a list of reserves.
    ....Audubon Marsh - The estuary's bird-life is one of the richest in 
      Europe with over 230 species. The marsh is home to thousands of birds such as ducks and other protected species.
    ....Marquenterre Ornithological Park - although this site is in French, 
      it does provide a map to get to the park.
    ....Where to watch birds in Touraine - this site (in French) provides
      a map with the best birding sites in the area marked. Each site has a description of the location and the birds to be found there. 
    ....Where to see birds on the French Northern Coast - by Gregory
      Lepoutre. This bilingual website contains a brief list of key birding locations between Boulogne and the Belgian border as well as information on recent sightings and photos of common birds of the coastal area.
    ....Birds in the natural reserve of the Seine estuary - The Seine estuary
      is one of the most interesting bird watching place of our country, especially for swamp and palearctic species. 
    ....Birding Sites in the Charante Maritime Area - Brief site descriptions
      are provided by John Girdley. Follow the Europe, then France, then Charante Maritime link on the main page. Click on the map or titles for detailed maps of area. 
    ....Birding France - by Martin Adlam. On the west coast of France lies the
      Gironde, an area renowned for its local speciality of Oysters, particularly from the famous beds at Marennes. It's also an excellent area for birdwatching especially within the Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park, just north of La Rochelle. These low-lying grazing marshes are typical for this area and are home to many breeding species such as Black-winged Stilt, Purple Heron and Marsh and Montagu's Harrier.
    ....Camargue, Beyond the French Riviera - The Camargue is like 
      its own little country. Once you're a few minutes south of Arles, you enter the atmosphere of  the area, with its series of long, level roads criss-crossing the marshes and farmlands. Eagles, hawks and harriers soar in the blue skies and muskrats swim along the little canals, often making unsuccessful attempts to cross the roads.
    ....Côte d'Armor: Cap Fréhel, Sept Iles, Sillon de Talber, Abbaye de
      Beauport- by J. P. Paris. All the coast is remarkable, like for example the "point of Mina". Bays allow to observe any species of waders as for example the "Cove of Yssiniac" near Saint Brieuc. Not very far from Perros-Guirec, you can make a small wlak around the swamp of Quelen.
    ....Cross-channel Birding - by John Cantelo. The Calais/Boulogne 
      area harbours some very interesting species and has superb birding sites (despite many areas being heavily shot over). For birders based in south-east England the area makes a very good day trip, but a long weekend is really needed to explore all the sites mentioned. For a bird list for the Calais area - see Didier Godreau's report on a short trip to Calais, January 25 - 26, 1999.
    ....Note from uk.rec.birdwatching - by Stephen Poley, Barendrecht,
      Holland. "Your main target should certainly be the Camargue. One of the best spots is Mas d'Agon, just north of the Etang du Vaccares (marked on the relevant Michelin road map). The Etang du Fangassier is where the flamingos breed but you can come across them anywhere in the Camargue. The Pont du Gard (W. of Avignon) is a good spot to combine woodland birds with a historic site. Get there early in the day. Blue rock thrush breeds around the interesting historic town of Les Baux de Provence. Spend at least one day high up in the mountains (eg Mont Ventoux) and look for things like alpine swift, alpine chough and rock thrush. If you fancy a few hours walking once you've seen the more common birds, try the Plaine de la Crau, just east of the Camargue. There's a reserve there called Peau et Meau. I can't remember exactly where it is - we came across it by chance - but you could ask locally. I think it was on the west side of the Crau. Not many birds here, but several specialities, such as woodchat and great grey shrikes (even lesser grey if you're very lucky), little bustard, tawny pipit and short-toed lark. None of them easy to find though." - August 5, 1998.
    ....Trip Report: Birding in the Béziers Area, Southern France
      11th July to 27th July 2003, by Mike Crawley.
    ....Trip Report: Provence and the Camargue, February - March 2003 - 
      by Rupert Higgins & Dawn Lawrence (with Matilda). The following are a few notes on a ten day trip to southern France. With a toddler on board proper attention couldn't be given to  birding, and we also fitted in a few cultural attractions, so we dipped on some fairly obvious species like little bustard,  pin-tailed sandgrouse, white-tailed eagle and eagle owl. More attention was given to the two species I needed - wallcreeper and greater spotted eagle.
    ....Southern France in winter: Alpilles, Camargue, Crau and Nice
      by Chris Batty. The trip potentially presented me with five new Western Palearctic birds: Wallcreeper, Greater Spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Yelkouan Shearwater and Indian Silverbill. All these were seen along with some other excellent birds. I was  accompanied by my tolerant non-birding girlfriend, a committed crew would probably have seen much more following a similar itinerary.
    ....Trip Report: Camargue France - April 4 - 8, 2001. By Ivan Steenkiste.
      Click on the Trip Report button to locate this lavishly illustrated trip report. My wife and I visited the Camargue (Regional Parc) located in the South of France at some 100 km west of the city of Marseille. Apart from being known for their white (wild ?) horses, the Camargue is also a real bird paradise. 
    ....Pyrenean National Park - this commercial site nevertheless provides
      a map, and a brief description of some key birding species within the park.
    ....Valley of Gavarnie and the Cirque de Gavarnie - this area is 
      considered a prime birding and hiking location. This website, although there is little mention of birds other than Griffon vultures, describes the area.
    ....Trip Report: Brenne, France - May 23 to 27, 2001. By Ivan Steenkiste.
      The Region of Brenne, also called "la Région des 1000 étangs / the Region of the 1000 Ponds" is little known by tourists but very liked by birds (and ornithologists) because of the quietness of the landscape, the multitude of biotopes (hedgerows, moorland, woods, fields) and the presence of about 600+ ponds / lakes.  The reserve has several hide facilities, such as La Chérine (there is a guide present in the morning from 10 to 12 except on Fridays, though this pond was completely dry during our visit), at Etang Massé in front of Le Blizon, and at the new place called Le Foucault (three hides). All these places have a car parking.  There are almost everywhere well indicated paths for hiking (randonnées).
    ....Regional Nature Parks in France - this site contains detailed 
      maps and informationon the French nature parks and is well worth browsing. A selection of some of the parks that would be of particular interest to the birder include:
      • The Boulonnais Regional Nature Park - The Cap Gris-Nez, less than 30 km from the coast of England, constitutes, with Dungeness, just across the Channel, the sides of a funnel for the entire British Channel. It is an ideal vantage point to watch seabirds.
      • The Brière Regional Nature Park - Dotted with inhabited islands, the Grande Brière marsh alone contains 7,000 ha of prairie land, reed beds and bodies of water. Located in the lowest part of this wetland region, the marsh is the most beautiful and least tamed portion. During periods of reproduction, the secretive reed beds hide a wide range of birds that have benefited from their expansion. Safely ensconced, the secretive rails, spotted crakes and bitterns will probably escape notice by the casual stroller. 
      • The Armorica Regional Nature Park - The Aulne, a coastal river, has its source in the Monts d'Arrée and flows to meet the ocean in a vast fjord-like estuary that opens into the port of Brest. The 20 km of the Aulne near the coast are bounded by marshes, reed beds, and mud flats that extend to the mouths of nearby creeks at low tide. The wetlands play host to rich and varied wildlife including herons, cormorants and otters to name but, a few species. 
      • The Audomarois Regional Nature Park - The Saint-Omer marsh is right in the middle of Audomarois. A nature reserve, le Romelaere, boasts a wide range of flora and avian wildlife (such as cormorants, herons, little bitterns, marsh-harriers, etc.). There are paths provided specially for the bird-watchers.
      • The Brenne Regional Nature park - The Brenne of 1,000 ponds - The Brenne dœs in fact have over one-thousand ponds just between Lancosme Forest to the east, La Claise and the Preuilly forest to the north, and the Creuse River to the south. The ponds are not natural, but they have created an exceptionally interesting and complementary natural environment that hosts an abundance of plant and animal life. Just 2 km from Saint-Michel-en-Brenne, the Chérine nature preserve, on 144 ha, of which 40 are covered by water, reproduces the diversity of the wildlife in the la Brenne including ponds, prairies, heaths, woods and willow bogs. Its ponds harbor several types of endangered herons as well as ducks, harriers, reeds, frogs, dragonflies, etc. Its copses and forests harbor boar and deer, sparrows and birds of prey. 
    ....Trip Report: Corsica May 4th - 11th 2002, by Peter Rueegg. 
      Corsica is the 4th largest Mediterranean island with a total surface area of 8722 km2. Most of the island is rugged and mountainous, cut by many gorges, ravines and valleys. The highest peak is Monte Cinto. It reaches 2710 m above sea level. In many parts Corsica is covered by the famous macchia. In the more remote parts, pine forests still occur. In flatter areas, heavy agriculture is predominant. It is not the sheer number of bird species that draws a birder's attention to Corsica. It is rather species poor, but it is blessed with many interesting endemic subspecies and one of the very few true European endemics, the Corsican Nuthatch. The prime target of this trip was to find the Nuthatch as well as Lammergeier and Marmora's Warbler.
    ....Trip Report: Corsica: May 1998 by J. P. Paris. I often have the 
      occasion to ring birds. In May 1998, I set 3 weeks to Corsica and I participated to a ring program on migration birds duriong 2 weeks. This program took place between April 15th still May 15th every year and allowed to ring a lot of species.
    ....Trip Report: France - Spring 2001. By Daryl Rymes. This was a short
      holiday to the Atlantic coast of France from 4th-12th May 2001. It was not a birding holiday as I was with my (non-birding) partner Laura, but nonetheless I did spend most early mornings out locally and we did drop in at other sites during the day. The area we stayed was near Les Matthes, about 20 minutes drive from Royan to the east. The area is definitely well worth a trip, probably at any time of the year and whether you are birding seriously or just casually. I did not really do much birding at all and the area is potentially very good for ‘finding your own stuff’ (actually that’s probably the only way to do it!). 
    ....Bonjour Nancy - A weekend in the French Lorraine. 13th to 16th 
      May, 1999. By Keith Martin. The French Lorraine is vaguely centred on the city of Nancy, some 100km south of the Luxembourg border. It is a region of rolling hills, tidy orchards, green fields, reed fringed lakes and scattered oak woodlands, not to mention a maze of small villages, with their sandy walls, peeling plasterwork, collapsing barns, barking dogs, blind corners, dusty pavements and rusting Renault vans. 
    ....Eclipse birding trip to N France August 1999 - by John van der
      Woude. Convinced that a 100 % sun eclipse is much and much more than the 97 % that would be possible in our home country Holland, we made a trip of a few days to Northern France for the total eclipse. We were curious not only to see this outstanding physical phenomenon on that 11th of August, but also to watch the reactions of the birds.
    ....Trip Report: Brittany "Chasing Woodpeckers" - 24th  -  26th  March,
      2000, by Steve Bird and Phil Edmonds. A Birdseekers Tour Report.
    ....Trip Report: Brittany. October 2000 - by Gerard Joannes. This area
      is famous among French birdwatchers so, although no rarities were seen there, I still thought my trip might interest foreign visitors. You will also get some touristic information there. See also Gerard's Causses Trip Report from August 2001. 
    ....Trip Report: Morbihan. April 2002 - by Gerard Joannes. I stayed 
      in the Gulf of Morbihan from 6 to 17 April 2002. Each day, half a day was dedicated to thalassotherapy, the other half to exploring the region and particularly its ornithological resources. I thoroughly enjoyed both activities. 
    ....France Trip Reports - Urs Geiser's trip report archive holds a 
      number of France trip reports. Click on Europe and then search for France in the left-hand frame. 
    ....France Trip Reports - you can also find French trip reports on 
      John Girdley's BirdTours website. 

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Tours and Guides

...>> A Birding Pal is not a paid guide, but someone who likes to help out of town visitors. You can become a Birding Pal today! Help someone to enjoy your local birding spots and find a pal to help you when you travel. Click here for French Birding Pals, or join to be a Birding Pal!
Greenfinch - Photo copyright Eric Kleyheeg
Photo copyright Eric Kleyheeg
    **..BirdWatching in Northern France - Northern France offers amazing
      opportunities for birders. For beginner and expert alike a range of different sites can be visited. You will be picked up Calais so you do not need a car and there are a range of itineraries - anything from a day trip to a week. Participants are limited to six which is the maximum number that can be catered for in an ancient farmhouse. Rather than staying in a faceless hotel you can stay in the heart of rural France with like minded people who share your particular interest. Ancient trackways start yards from the house and are ideal for viewing the bird life of the area. Itineraries also include visits to internationally important sites like the Somme Bay, the Rommelaere Marshes, Cap Gris-Nez & Blanc Nez and trips further afield to see the migrating Cranes and White-tailed Eagles at Lac du der Chantecoq.

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Rare Bird Alert

Ring Ouzel - Photo copyright Arthur Grosset
Photo copyright Arthur Grosset

Southern Grey Shrike - Photo copyright Ronald Saldino

Photo copyright Ronald Saldino
         French Birdline 01 43 06 72 50 (331 4306 7250 from outside France)
         Regional Birdlines:
      • CORA / Rhône-Alpes / 04 76 00 04 47
      • CORIF / Ile-de-France / 01 49 84 07 90 
      • GNFC / Franche-Comté / 03 81 61 00 81 
      • LPO Alsace / Alsace / 03 89 81 05 34 
      • LPO Aquitaine / Aquitaine / 05 56 97 80 33 
      • LPO Champagne Ardenne / Aubois lakes / 03 25 80 45 61 
      • LPO-Maison de l'Oiseau et du Poisson / Champagne-Ardenne / 03 26 72 51 39 
      • LPO 44 / Loire Atlantique-Vendée / 02 51 62 07 93 
      • LPO Lorraine / Lorraine / 03 83 23 31 47 
      • SEPOL / Limousin / 05 55 34 12 48 

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European Endemics and Specialities

in France

Information on endemics and specialities is derived from Sibley & Monroe checklists and bird distribution lists in Thayer's Birder's Diary - Version 2.05. Speciality birds, while not endemic, are those that can only be found in three or less countries of Europe. Species printed in bold italic have only been sighted in France. Information on endangered birds is derived from the IUCN Red List, Birdlife International.  The endemic, endangered and speciality birds may be uncommon, extremely rare vagrants, may be extirpated in the country now or may only be present in migration. However, documented sightings of each species noted below have been made in France. 

European Endemics in France - One National Endemic

___ Corsican Nuthatch
___ Citril Finch  ___ Red-legged Partridge ___ Rock Partridge
Endangered Birds in France

Breeding Birds

Non-Breeding Birds

___ Audouin's Gull
___ Corn Crake
___ Kerguelan Tern 
___ Lesser Kestrel
___ Aquatic Warbler
___ Ferruginous Pochard
___ Greater Spotted Eagle

Other Speciality Birds in France

___ American Redstart
___ Antarctic Giant-Petrel
___ Blackpoll Warbler
___ Gray's Grasshopper-Warbler
___ Great Blue Heron
___ Lappet-faced Vulture
___ Northern Parula
___ Northern Waterthrush
___ White-crowned Sparrow
___ Willet

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Links checked November 28, 2000