First of all, let me state that I am no expert in bird identification. I was quite adept at identifying a decent range of our feathered friends when I was eleven with the Observer Book of British Birds in hand scouring the countryside on the Scottish island where I grew up. But now my bird identification skills are sadly rusty and brittle.
This is something I was painfully aware of when one of the beautiful birds of prey who patrol the skies above our house landed on our gate. I hadn’t a clue whether it was a sparrowhawk, falcon or kestrel.
Our house is actually a decent ‘hide’ for spotting a quite wide range of Tenerife birds. A metal bowl filled with water – until enthusiastic blackbirds empty it – acts as a sort of watering hole. The birds queue for their twice or thrice daily bath whilst the roof tiles are a good vantage point for our birds of prey on the lookout for sunbathing lizards.
These are some of the Tenerife bird varieties we commonly see without leaving the house.
The House Visitors
The Canary Bird
As common as muck around our house, Canary birds wake us in the morning with their lively song and keep us amused with elegant displays of aerial ballet during breakfast before they greet the sun from the uppermost branches of the orchid tree.
African Blue Tit
Another common visitor and one of our favourites. Apart from being a beautiful little bird, the African blue tit is a bit of a rogue, vandalising the flowers and barging their way into the water bowl irrespective of whose turn it is.
Possibly our favourite bird in the garden as he’s such an industrious little soul, chirping happily as he hops from branch to branch inspecting the underside of leaves for insects. The chiff chaff is also less nervy than most others and doesn’t fly off as soon as we appear.
The most neurotic of the avian visitors, our pair of blackbirds make a right old racket at the least thing that spooks them. These are the most fun to watch in the water bowl as they are energetic and very messy bathers.
The blackcap’s Spanish name sounds much nicer so I prefer to use it. The bird with the sweetest song of all. It’s a sign of spring when the capirote’s melodic song joins the dawn chorus.
Another voice that’s added to the morning singalong in spring and summer is the unmistakeable ‘hoop, hoop, hoop, hoop’ of the appropriately named hoopoe. The most striking of our visitors and one who I’ve never managed to get a decent photo off as they never come close enough.
With a little help from my friends I managed to identify the striking gate sitter as a kestrel. There are always a few pairs around. Over the years they’ve become increasingly braver and sit quite happily on the roof surveying their kingdom.
Other birds which are less frequent visitors include the robin, osprey (maybe he would have stayed but the kestrels chased him away), swifts (heading south, then heading north) heron (whose night call can freak us out when we haven’t heard it for a while) and beautiful barn owls which we spot only briefly as they open their wings and fly past our window. We also often see barn owls sitting on telephone wires as we wend our weary way home from fiestas in the early hours.
As we take to the hills regulary to walk Tenerife’s network of trails, we spot a quite different selection of birds in the countryside. These are included in Bird Watching on Tenerife Part 2, Birds in the Wild.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+