Speedboat Birdwatching: Unique Bird Species in Zadar Archipelago | Zadar Archipelago
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Speedboat Birdwatching: Unique Bird Species in Zadar Archipelago

Mar 07, 2023

Birdwatching near Zadar

Zadar Archipelago speedboat tours offer a unique and exciting combination of activities for nature enthusiasts: speedboat birdwatching. This is possible because of the diverse and indented Croatian coastline that provides a natural habitat for many of interesting and unique bird species.

Speedboating is a thrilling way to explore more than 300 islands and islets of the Zadar archipelago and our powerful boats allow ornithology enthusiasts to cover a large area in a short amount of time, while also providing access to remote and otherwise inaccessible areas. This is the best way to experience the wide variety of bird species that call this archipelago home.

The diverse habitats of the islands, including salt marshes, lagoons, and rocky cliffs, provide a home for a broad spectrum of bird species, particularly large colonies of seabirds. But, speedboat birdwatching in the Zadar archipelago is not just limited to seabirds; the islands also host a variety of terrestrial birds, which are sure to capture the onlooker`s imaginations.

Here are some of the most prevalent bird species that occupy the Zadar archipelago, but more can be seen during the autumn migration period, so book a trip with Zadar Archipelago speedboat tours and cross these names from your bird-spotting list:

The European Roller

The European roller (Coracias garrulus) is a species of bird found in the Zadar archipelago, as well as some parts of Europe and Asia. It is a member of the roller family of birds, which are known for their bright colours and acrobatic flying abilities.

European Roller in flight
To witness this charming bird mid-air is a majestic sight

The European roller has a striking appearance, with a blue head, wings, and tail, and a chestnut-colored body. It is a migratory species, and during the breeding season, it can be found in open woodlands, grasslands, and agricultural areas. In the non-breeding season, it can be found in more arid regions, such as deserts and savannas.

These birds are insectivorous and will also take small reptiles, and fruits. Ask your Zadar Archipelago tour guide to point out some of the best locations where you can spot this bird during your trip.

The Short-Toed Eagle

The Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) is a species of bird of prey found in the central Adriatic sea, as it migrates from Europe to Asia Minor and Africa. They are a member of the Accipitridae family, which also includes other eagles, hawks, and kites. The Short-toed Eagle is a medium-sized bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters.

It has a distinctive white head and tail, with a dark brown body. These birds are found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands, and they are known to hunt small mammals and reptiles. The species is considered as near threatened due to habitat loss and human persecution, particularly by Croatian people inhabiting smaller islands.

They are protected by law and conservation efforts are underway to protect their population.

The European Bee-Eater

The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a colorful and striking bird species that can sometimes be spotted around the Zadar archipelago area, as well as some parts of northern Africa and Asia. They are a member of the Meropidae family, which also includes other bee-eaters.

The European Bee-eater is a medium-sized bird, with a bright green and yellow plumage, a long tail, and a curved beak. These birds can be found in the same area where there are bees, wasps, and other flying insects.

They are migratory birds, breeding in Europe and migrating to Africa for the winter, forming colonies during the breeding season, and nesting in sandy banks. This means that you can ask your Zadar Archipelago tour guide to point out the best sandy banks and islands in the area, where chances of spotting this bird are higher.

Griffon Vulture

The White-headed Vulture (Gyps africanus), also known as the Griffon Vulture, is a large bird of prey found just outside the northernmost point of the Zadar archipelago, on the island of Cres. They are a member of the Accipitridae family, which also includes eagles, hawks, and kites.

Griffon vulture in flight
With less than a hundred Griffon Vulture families left in Croatia, speedboat birdwatching is the perfect way to observe these animals in their natural habitat

The White-headed Vulture is a large bird, with a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters and a distinctive white head, neck, and breast. They are found in a variety of habitats, including savannas, mountains, and deserts, and they are known to feed mainly on carrion. They are considered to be a threatened species due to habitat loss and human persecution.

European Shag

The European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) is a species of cormorant that can be found in Croatia along the coast and on some of the islands in the Zadar archipelago area. The European Shag is a medium-sized bird, with a glossy black plumage and a hooked bill.

They are found in coastal areas, and along rocky cliffs, islands, and inlets, so you can expect to definitely spot at least one European Shag during your speedboat tour with Zadar Archipelago. Also, European Shags are known to feed primarily on fish and crustaceans, diving from the surface of the water to catch their prey, so there is a chance to observe them while they hunt, if you use the snorkeling gear provided on the speedboat.

They breed colonially, nesting on cliffs or on the ground. They are quite a common sight along the coast of Croatia and can be observed in large numbers in some places.

The Cormorant

The Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) can be found in along the mainland coastline in Zadar, in freshwater habitats, and on some of the islands. They are a member of the Phalacrocoracidae family, which also includes other cormorants and shags. The Cormorant is a large bird, with a glossy black plumage, long tail, and a hooked bill.

Audouin`s Gull

The Audouin’s Gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii) is a species of seagull that can be found in Croatia along the coast, particularly on the islands and in the Adriatic sea. They are a member of the Laridae family, which also includes other gulls and terns. The Audouin’s Gull is a medium-sized bird, with a distinctive black hood and white body.

They are migratory birds, breeding on Mediterranean islands such as Croatia and migrating to Africa for the winter. They are considered as a rare sight in Croatia, and can be observed in small numbers in some places. While on your speedboat tour, pay attention to the difference between the Audouin`s gull and the Mediterranean gull, which is a common sight during a trip with Zadar Archipelago.

Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is a widespread bird of prey that can be found in a variety of habitats in Croatia including coastal regions, mountains, forests, and urban areas. They are a member of the Falconidae family, which also includes other falcons. The Peregrine Falcon is a large bird, with a distinctive blue-grey plumage and long pointed wings.

Peregrine Falcon spotted during a speedboat birdwatching tour
Do not let the size of the Peregrine Falcon fool you; they are fast, agile and deadly

They are quite common sight near Zadar, and can be observed in good numbers in some places.

Mediterranean Gull

The Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) is a species of seagull that can be found all around Croatia and alongside the entire length of the coast, particularly on the islands of the Zadar archipelago area. They are a member of the Laridae family, which also includes other gulls and terns.

The Mediterranean Gull is a medium-sized bird, with a distinctive white head and body, which can be spotted in coastal areas, particularly along rocky cliffs, islands, and inlets. They are considered as a common sight in Croatia, and can be observed in good numbers in some places.

Sandwich Tern

The Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) is a species of tern that can sometimes be spotted in some specific places in the Zadar archipelago area. They are a member of the Laridae family, which also includes other gulls and terns. The Sandwich Tern is a medium-sized bird, with a distinctive black cap, white body and orange bill.

Try to spot this bird near coastal areas, particularly along sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, islands, and inlets. Since every speedboat tour with Zadar Archipelago takes you near a potential breeding ground of the Sandwich Tern They are migratory birds, breeding in Northern Europe and Northern Africa and migrating to Croatia for the summer.

Sandwich Terns dancing with one another
The Sandwich Tern is a charming sight, especially when in pairs

They are known to feed primarily on small fish, crustaceans, and insects. They breed colonially, nesting on sandy beaches or on the ground and are considered as a common sight in Croatia, particularly during the breeding season, and can be observed in good numbers in some places, such as the Adriatic coast and its islands.

Why ornithology enthusiasts should book a speedboat birdwatching tour with  Zadar Archipelago

The combination of speedboat birdwatching in the Zadar archipelago is a unique and exciting way to experience the natural beauty of the region. Visitors can travel quickly and efficiently to remote areas, while also getting up close and personal with a wide variety of bird species.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or just looking for a new and exciting way to explore the outdoors, the Zadar archipelago is the perfect destination for birdwatchers; from seabirds to terrestrial birds, the Zadar area is home to a diverse array of avian fauna.

The best time to visit the Zadar archipelago for speedboat birdwatching is during the spring and fall migration seasons when many bird species pass through the area. During these seasons, the islands are teeming with a diverse array of bird species, making for an unforgettable speedboat birdwatching experience.

Additionally, our local tour operators and guides are well-equipped and knowledgeable about the best locations and times for speedboat birdwatching and speedboating, ensuring that visitors make the most of their time in the archipelago.

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