Karpathos Island, especially in the North is an exciting place for birdwatchers!
The protected area of Karpathos island which is a part of the Natura 2000 network, is an important place because many birds stop during their migration from Africa to Europe and back.
Depending on the season and the weather, you can normally see Bonelli eagles and long-legged buzzards soaring above the mountains and plateaus. Also larks, wheatears, swallows, ravens, and varieties of swifts.
We have kestrels, peregrines, and the occasional sparrow hawk. In the spring and autumn, many eagles and harriers pass through and also bee-eaters.
In the spring we have hoopoes, herons, orioles, and cuckoos, in the autumn kingfishers and wagtails.
At sea, you will recognize three varieties of gull, including the rare Adouine, shags, and shearwaters.
For many birdwatchers, the jewel in the crown is our very own Eleanora's falcon. These come to us every year from Madagascar, traveling up the African coast, crossing over the mountains, and following the river Nile. Two days from the Egyptian coasts and they are on the cliffs of North Karpathos.
The English name and the species name eleonorae commemorate Eleanor of Arborea, Queen or Lady-Judge (Juighissa) and national heroine of Sardinia, who in 1392, under the jurisdiction conferred by the Carta de Logu, became the first ruler in history to grant protection to hawk and falcon nests against illegal hunters.
According to Ornithologiki.gr, in Greece, the Eleonora's falcon arrives from April on, with the older individuals mating and occupying nesting places, thereby developing loose colonies as early as May. Owing to the low food availability in the nesting areas, however, Eleonora's falcon hunts at large distances from the nest, and only a few of the birds return to the colony at night. Indeed, the area in which the falcons of one colony are active during this specific period is considered to possibly exceed 1000 km2. Thus, and since the islands where the reproductive colonies are located cannot support all the birds with food, Eleonora's falcons can be spotted during the reproductive season on the mainland of Greece as well, even in high mountains far removed from the coasts, Indeed, mature individuals that roam through the mainland of Greece can be confused with other falcon species.
The diet of the Eleonora's falcon until the end of July, when the egg-laying has been completed, consists mainly of big insects, such as butterflies, flying ants, dragonflies, cicadas, and beetles that it catches in the air with its talons, above islands or the sea (Ristow and Wink 1994, Ristow 2001). During the following period and until October, it feeds exclusively on migratory birds, a food source that is, theoretically, infinite. After its breeding, between the end of October and the beginning of November, it flies to East Africa, especially to Madagascar, where it spends the winter, returning to a diet based on insects.
Join our Birdwatching Tour in Karpathos island with our Local Guides and we will be happy to take you to their grounds to see them flying over our heads, listen to their happy screaming, or hunting other small birds!