birds in MoroccoIf you’re an avid birdwatcher, you might want to consider a trek to Morocco. The country’s mix of varied landscapes, including mountains, wetlands and deserts, offer travelers opportunities to see an eclectic mix of rare and endangered bird species. The country has developed a reputation as one of the major birdwatching centers of North Africa.

Morocco’s friendly attitude to tourism draws bird-lovers from around the globe seeking to catch a glimpse or snap a photo of one of the more than 480 species that make the country their home at least part of the year. Visitors should plan their trips during the prime birdwatching seasons, which will vary some with the different species and the regions across the country. The weather in Morocco is normally mild, so you can be assured of plenty of sunlight.

Travelers to Morocco can also hit a number of hotspots for birdwatching. The country’s numerous preserves, parks and other dedicated sites help to showcase the populations of species like wheatears, larks, raptors, warblers and large numbers of resident birds and migratory species.

Located 80 km south of Tangier, the Merja Zerga is one of biggest lagoons in Morocco. You can catch glimpses of winter flocks of waders, coots, flamingos and ducks. There is also sizable terrain of the Souss-Massa National Park, located 70 km south of Agadir. The park is bordered by two rivers, the Oued Massa and the Oued Souss. The confluence of these two bodies is a major hot spot for birdwatching in Morocco.

During the period of September through April, travelers may be treated to the sights of thousands of species that congregate in the region. Gulls, terns, avocets, oystercatchers, great cormorants, gray herons, egrets and the rare purple heron may also be found here. While out around the Oued Massa, you have the best chance at seeing the northern bald ibis, also known as the waldrapp, an endangered species that makes coastal cliffs in the region its breeding ground.

The valleys nestled in the western Atlas Mountains are home to other notable species including Levaillant’s woodpecker and the white-rumped swift. The habitats of the black wheatear, alpine swift, rofous bush robin and crimson-winged finch stretch from Marrakech to Oukaïmeden.

From the mountains, you can travel to the port city of Essaouira. A quick boat ride to the various islands located offshore brings you to the largest place in Morocco—in fact, the whole world—where the Eleonora’s falcon breeds. The species is migratory so you must plan your trip to coincide with the bird’s residency period between late April and October. You will only have a limited amount of access to the islands themselves but you can look for the birds all long the southern end of the bay at the mouth of the Oued Ksob.

Written by Shaun Kilgore.

Photo by Mait Juriado.