Avifauna of Crete

Birds

Crete is located at the crossroads of three continents, hosting thousands of migratory birds in its wetlands every year. However, there are also permanent residents, with the most important birds being the birds of prey, which nest in the rugged mountains and the wild gorges of Crete. Indeed, it is notable that Asterousia Mountains host the largest number of birds of prey in Europe. Moreover, more than 412 different bird species have been identified on Crete, most migratory, thus birding in Crete is one of the most common activities. Listing all these birds here would make this site very complicated, so we present a very small part of them.

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Griffon Vulture

The griffon vulture (scient. Gyps fulvus) or vulture is a large, heavy raptor with a wingspan of 260cm and a body length of 97-104cm. In Crete, it is found in large numbers in almost all areas of the island.

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Golden Eagle

The golden eagle (scient. Aquila chrysaetos) is the most dominant bird of prey in Europe, having a wingspan of 185-220cm and a body length of 75-90cm. Unfortunately, the species in Greece is endangered, with only a few pairs left, mostly in Crete.

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Bearded Vulture

The Lammergeier, Lammergeyer or bearded vulture (scient. Gypaetus barbatus) is the rarest species of vulture out of the four that exist in Europe, which’s population has declined dramatically in Greece and it’s in imminent danger of extinction. During the last decades the species was widespread throughout Greece, but today is limited only to the island of Crete. 

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Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon (scient Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the "Duck Hawk" in North America is one of the fastest birds in the world and the most powerful falcon in Greece. In Crete you will meet that mostly in wild and rocky areas, away from humans.

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Eleonora's Falcon

Eleonora’s Falcon (scient. Falco eleonorae) is one of the most important falcons of Greece with a wingspan of 84-103cm and a body length 36-40cm. It is a migratory species that nests in the spring in small barren islets, where they reproduce. They are also found in Crete, especially in the small islets surrounding Crete, while in winter they return to East Africa and Madagascar.

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Common Buzzard

The common buzzard (scient. Buteo buteo) is a raptor species of a quite large size, with a body length of 50-55cm and a wingspan of 118-140cm. It is the most commonly met raptor in Greece and a large population lives in the island of Crete.

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Bonelli's Eagle

The Bonelli's eagle (scient. Hieraaetus fasciatus) is a medium-sized bird of prey, with a wingspan of 145-165cm and a body length of 55-60cm. In Crete, it is met quite often, although its population has declined during the last years.

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Lesser kestrel

Lesser kestrel (scient. Falco naumanni) is one of the most known species of falcon in Crete, but today it is threatened with extinction. The locals call it “windfuc…r” because it has the ability to hover at a fixed point in the air, against the wind, so it seems like making love with the wind!

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