Tag Archives: Aves Fuerteventura

Birds: The Canarian Houbara, inhabitant of The Islet of Lobos, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote

The arid, wild and pristine islet of Lobos —which we passionately show to the visitors who join our day trips from Corralejo— is one of the few places along with Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Graciosa, where one of the most unique bird in the Spanish wildlife lives, the Canarian Houbara. Its habitat are the arid landscapes, “jables” and “malpaís” characterizing the eastern end of The Canary Islands.

The Houbara or Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) is a species of “gruiforme” birds from the Otididae family, fully adapted to living in dry and poor lands; It is an omnivore, a terrestrial and lonely bird found from Mauritania to Egypt and from Sinai to Mongolia, the small settlement in The Canary Islands being unique in Europe. The subspecies inhabiting our islands is fuerteventurae, which is endemic to The Canary Islands.

FuerteCharter excursions Fuerteventura | Birds: The Canarian Houbara
© AurelioMartín


Thin and elongated neck, grey and white shades, it features a comb or small bun of black and white feathers, usually flashier in the male. The chicks, more similar to males, have the duller plumage. Actually this bird seeks to go unnoticed, is easily scared and jealous of its privacy and it seeks to be relaxed for survival so its plumage usually blends in with the landscape except in the mating season. With 170 cm wingspan, it is the largest bird nesting in The Canary Islands. Their diet is varied both animal matter (beetles, grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars, snails and small lizards) and plants (flowers, sprouts, fruits and seeds).

Although the Canarian Houbara is sedentary it can act like the migratory birds, making journeys in search of similar habitats and even flying between islands.

FuerteCharter excursions Fuerteventura | Birds: The Canarian Houbara
© www.canariasmedioambiente.com

Reproduction, wooing and breeding

Regarding the breeding season, although variable, we can say that it normally starts between February and March and it begins with a wooing which is most interesting since the male performs solo shows, a real dance in which their plumage become more attractive so as to draw the females attention; they spread out the white feathers on their crest and neck, moving in circles and straight; from a distance a flashiest white ball, which changes colour, can be seen, a spectacular wooing dance.
Once the female is captivated , after copulation, the male ignores the upbringing and it’s the female that is in charge alone. It usually lays two or three eggs which she incubates for about 23 days, after which the eggs hatch and the chicks are able to move soon after being born and they will be raised by their mother for about 35 days; perhaps occasionally the male may cooperate, but not generally. The chicks usually remain with their mother until the autumn.
This endemic bird of the islands, so special and of which we may have about 800 specimens in the archipelago, is listed as an endangered species, threatened with losing their habitat, their peace and quiet, as a result of urban and tourism development and, particularly in Fuerteventura , by the new highway that goes through the quiet and sparsely populated areas that have become home to these peculiar and solitary birds. For the preservation and survival of the species it is essential to protect their habitat.

Threats and preservation

The preservation measures started in 1985 with the drafting of a recovery plan and management programs, education and awareness and implementation of a captive breeding plan. Since 1993, SEO / BirdLife is carrying out preservation projects in Fuerteventura, subsidized with funds from the EU LIFE program. In 2005, this NGO acquired a 200-acre farm, El Cercado de El Jarde, aimed to protect this species, where 18 specimens have been living along with several other species of the “majorera” wildlife.

It ‘s a bird that could be classified as difficult to see despite being a terrestrial animal since, as we previously said, it’s very jealous of its privacy, but let’s not lose hope because it is common to see it in very quiet areas running around elusively among the gorse. If you are a respectful traveller and concerned about respecting the peace and quiet in these arid areas they inhabit you are much more likely to enjoy them. As for us, on our trips to the Islet of Lobos from Corralejo, we are very attentive when we set foot on the islet because although it is not the most common bird sometimes we are lucky to see them running around in this little paradise that The Islet of Lobos is. 

FuerteCharter Team

Fuerteventura, paradise for birds: The Ruddy Shelduck

As you know every day we depart from Corralejo pier for our catamaran excursion to Isla de Lobos, a magnificent tour in which  we don’t only enjoy the wonders of the sea but also of the wonders of the sky, since they are many the birds flying over us in this beautiful island of Fuerteventura.

For several months we have been lucky to see, more and more often, some birds that look like geese; they even honk like them and we usually see them in couple. This is the Ruddy Shelduck or Tadorna ferruginea, which is a species of bird from the Anatidae family, fairly widespread in Asia and North Africa.
We can boast of  Fuerteventura currently having the largest population of Ruddy Shelduck in Spain. Although in the past they used to spend the winter in the peninsula and sometimes nest in Andalusia, they currently nest exclusively on our island.

FuerteCharter Excursiones Fuerteventura | birds: The Ruddy Shelduck

© Ricardo Herranz


Common name: Ruddy Shelduck
Scientific name: Tadorna ferruginea
Weight: 1.3-1.6 kg.
Size: 61-67 cm. long.
Wingspan: 110-135cm

As we have already discussed, The Ruddy Shelduck looks like the goose, with long neck and legs. Its head is cream whereas its tail is black with black wings except  at the front, which is white above and below; its body is reddish tan. The male has a narrow black necklace and the female stands out  because its face mask is more prominent.
Where do they live?
In Fuerteventura they live in the wetlands and the ponds inland, these shallow waters being their favourite breeding areas, so they can graze on their edges. It is really common to see couples in the ponds in Los Molinos, Catalina Garcia (Tuineje), and La Rosa del Taro (Puerto del Rosario) … these wetlands have become nurseries for the raising of chickens after the breeding season, which started between January and February.


They feed on stems and  alfalfa sprouts, seeds and typical dry-land insects, as well as worms in wetter soils. They usually eat at dusk and dawn.


They usually lay between 8 and 10 eggs which are incubated by the female about 28 days, while the male defends and doesn’t go too far  away. They lay an egg per day and they begin to incubate them once the clutch has finished. When they are born they are able to feed rapidly ; even so, the couple still protects them and devotes about 55 days of care, until they can fend for themselves.
The first couple to arrive  in Fuerteventura was in year 94 and experts believe they did  in a natural way; currently we are believed to have a population of over 300 specimens.
Although it is a migratory species and there were periods in which they totally disappeared from the island, probably because they went to the wetlands in North Africa, it is now common to see them throughout the year, probably because this island is not very crowded and has wetlands similar to the African ones.  Surely this year is more common to see them and its population has grown as this autumn has been rich in water.

Despite boasting of population we must not forget that men and their lifestyle are a major threat to this species as they are responsible for the destruction of their habitat and, specifically in Fuerteventura, the extraction of water from ponds for irrigation. Also poaching and the plundering of nests are circumstances that threaten this species.

The Ruddy Shelduck is included in “El libro Rojo de las Aves de España” as “critically endangered species”  and it is listed in the category “Of special interest” in “El Catálogo Nacional de Especies Amenazadas”.
From FuerteCharter we’ll keep enjoying these couples we see from our catamaran in our daily excursions from Corralejo to the wild and unspoiled islet of Lobos.

FuerteCharter Team

Discover the Cory’s Shearwater in our boat trips

In this adventure we have embarked, wanting to show the world the wonder of living in a paradise such as Fuerteventura, we feel compelled to talk about all those animal species that accompany us day after day in our boat trips around this area of the Atlantic.

In this occasion, to open this section about birds in Fuerteventura, we want to talk about the Cory’s Shearwater, which flies around our ships and makes its nest —to  breed— in one of our favourite tourist destinations, the island of Lobos.
Shearwaters are pelagic sea birds, which only leave the open sea in order to nest and breed. Their habitat, so, is the sea and they fly long distances to forage, picking up food from the sea surface while flying.

boat trips corys shearwater
© Xavier Martínez

The Cory’s Shearwater, typical of our islands, owes its name to its grey ash feathers. It flies and fishes in flocks, and it flies very well in strong winds. It’s able to cross the Atlantic and go back every year to the same breeding sites.
They are average size birds (40-45 cms), with long wings, and they can naturally live up to 30 years.

The Canry Islands, a breeding site.
Most part of the population of the Cory’s Shearwater is found in the Canary Islands, more than 30.000 couples, followed by the Balearic Islands, Chafarinas Islands and other Mediterranean islets.
They only come to land, the coast, in order to breed, and when they get to their nests, near their breeding area, they make very characteristic guttural and nasal sounds. In Fuerteventura it’s typical, in light-poor coastal areas, to hear the cawing of the Cory’s Shearwater coming near the coast, and they receive the answer from the ones that are already there. That way they announce their arrival in a very noisy way. Furthermore, when they come to land in order to breed, they wait for the night so as to easily go unnoticed.

They approach our coasts in March, in flocks from 300 to 400 specimens, a moment of really intense social activity in sea-bird breeding colonies. For this purpose they approach mainly islands and islets, although they also approach coastal cliffs.  They use natural hollows (caves, nest-holes, cracks…), or they just dig them, using lush bushes and rocks as shelter. It’s copulation time and it will be in May that their eggs will be laid.

They lay just one egg a year, which is never re-laid in case they lose it. Just half of the Cory’s Shearwaters starting to breed manage to fledge their offspring. The responsibility of egg incubation falls as much to the male as to the female bird, just one of them leaves the nest in order to bring food to their partner, which can stay from 3 to 9 days in the nest protecting the egg. The synchrony in the couple must be perfect, and so it must remain until the end of the breeding season.

boat trips corys shearwater
© Víctor Cubas

At the end of July the hatching takes place. The grey ash breeding chicken will never be alone in its nest-hole, one of its parents will always be beside it while the other goes foraging for the family. The adults feed their chicken with Iberian nases, squids and mackerels caught in the open sea and which they carry in their crop to the nest, already partially digested.
After being fed by their parents for 50 days, the chickens start to fly and try to get their own food on the surface of the huge ocean. They instinctively leave the coast in the middle of the night to make for the sea, though not all of them achieve their goal, as many of them are disorientated by light pollution.
For many years now, the coastal villages in Fuerteventura have been switching off their lights to help these young Cory’s Shearwaters so protected by their parents to reach the open sea.
In December, the breading season finishes, they start to migrate and it won’t be until February the following year that they will return to their nests to start breeding again. The young birds won’t go back to their birth places until reaching their sexual maturity, from two to nine years later. The birds that have been bred in the Atlantic Coast spread all over the coasts of Western Africa until South Africa.

If you are coming to Fuerteventura or you are one resident of this part of Macaronesia, don’t forget to listen to the Cory’s Shearwater’s cawing, look for them when travelling to Lobos with our boat trips, it’s one of those shows that nature gives us.

FuerteCharter Team