When is the best time for birdwatching in Madeira?
Madeira archipelago only has 47 breeding species of birds and 20% of them are seabirds which only come to land during their breeding season and at night, to nest. So, if you are an avid birdwatcher and would like to see all the breeding petrels, storm-petrels and shearwaters we recommend you to visit between end of May and August and to watch and photograph these seabird species you must join the Zino’s Petrel Pelagic Expedition.
If you are not a good sailor to spend up to 7 hours at sea for 3 consecutive afternoons, then between June and September you can join a Bird, dolphin & whale watching trip, a two hour trip where we normally watch Desertas’ Petrel, Bulwer’s Petrel and Cory’s shearwater.
For the land endemic birds, as these do not migrate, it is possible to watch them on a Full-day birdwatching tour all year around. Regarding Plain swifts, part of the population does not migrate anymore and so during winter months it is still possible to watch them at low altitude and close to some river mouths.
Other bird species of interest are the Pallid Swifts which are only present in Madeira between April and September and Roseate Terns which are normally observed between March and August; both species are regularly watched during these periods on a Full-day birdwatching tour.
So, in general we would say that the best time to visit Madeira for birdwatching is between May and August, when most of the breeding birds are around! But if you wish to increase the species list maybe you should target to end of May/ early June to get some migratory birds that accidentally visit Madeira or, if you like seawatching between mid-August and September when seabirds’ migration passes by.