The Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and its Peripheral Protection Zone host 133 avian species having a regular presence sometime in the year, whether they are summer, wintering or standing species. The preservation actions on this fauna group have been noticeable particularly from the approval of the 79/409/EEC Directive on the conservation of wild birds and their habitats. Without this directive, the wide diversity of species living in the National Park and its Peripheral Protection Zone would not have been acknowledged.
The Directive and its implementation in Spain have resulted in the creation of a number of “Birds Special Protection Areas” (SPAs), which sole aim is to preserve the classified bird populations and their habitats. In the National Park and its Peripheral Protection Zone; this status protects a surface over 52.589 ha; 44.723 ha belong to the Sierra de Guadarrama SPA -ES0000010, in the province of Segovia, and 7.866 ha belong to the Alto Lozoya SPA -ES0000057, in the province of Madrid.
The first striking topic is the existence of many avian species whose habitat is linked to mountain areas. They are species reproducing in mountain zones and nesting rarely in foothill areas, whether because of their northerly origin or because they need non-degraded habitats. We can mention the Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris), the Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis), the Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis), the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), the Ridgway’s Hawk (Buteo ridgwayi), the European Honey Buzzard (Perins apivorus), the White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus), the Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) or the Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella), as the most representative ones.
The so-called “umbrella species” are another noticeable protected bird class in the National Park area. These are the species whose protection indirectly protects the many other ones living in their habitat. They use to be easily monitored, since they have a large body size and need wide land extensions as to reach viable populations. The Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), the Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti), the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the Red Kite (Milvus milvus), or the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) are some of the most relevant. Monitoring these species can also help to assess the conservation status of their habitat.
Overall, it can be assumed the bird species nesting in the Sierra de Guadarrama widest variety is reached between 800m and 1.500m height.
Down below, a brief outline on the most relevant National Park bird species is shown:
Some birds living in the National Park
The Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) is the largest wingspan bird living in Europe (almost 3 m from wing end to end). It is particularly noticeable amongst the raptors birds group because of its abundant presence in the area, being one of the National Park species with greater protection needs, as a result of its threat status on a global scale. The National Park Black Vulture population is the greater nesting colony in the Peninsula central area and an important core for the species conservation. Despite last decades recovery, it remains a threatened specie, classified as extinction danger status at the Community of Madrid level, and country wide as vulnerable status. It is also mentioned in the Birds Directive Annex I.
This specie has some particular features, as a long reproductive cycle, which lasts from the end of December, when the mating season begins, until the end of September, when nesting period concludes. The Black Vulture colony living in the National Park, has increased significantly in recent years, further to management decisions and to the intensive monitoring activity held at both slopes of the Sierra.
The Iberian Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) is a great size raptor bird. The adult specimens are dark brown, with whitish shoulders. It is one of the endemism to the Iberian Peninsula living in the National Park, and one of the most threatened birds in our fauna, remaining under a country wide extinction danger status. Likewise, the specie is mentioned in the Birds Directive Annex I.
It lives in the peninsular center and south western areas, basically in mountains with great extensions of Mediterranean forest, though in the National Park, its habitat are the wild pine groves. There are nesting zones in both slopes of the Sierra, but there is just one breeding pair in the Madrid side.
The Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris), is a sturdy and compact bird, with a bigger size than the Hedge Accentor. It shows brown-blackish upper parts, with a red head, a slate grey breast and reddish white listed flanks and belly.
This bird is adapted to high mountain living conditions, and it is virtually the only which can be observed in winter time in the National Park summits. It uses approaching inhabited areas and it is very confident in human presence. The specie is classified under special interest status only at the Community of Madrid level.
The Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax): this species lives the rocky areas in the National Park summits, and can be observed in summer, in Peñalara, Los Claveles or La Maliciosa ridges.
It forms great groups with more than 200 specimens. The specie is classified as special interest status at the Community of Madrid level, and it is mentioned in the Birds Directive Annex I.