What Birds Can You See In France?

France is quite rich when thinking about bird life. There are various birdwatching associations that operate all around the year and most of them have a huge history, some of over 100 years. Just in metropolitan France alone you can expect 460 bird species. Nobody can accurately estimate how many birds can be seen in France in terms of sheer population but it is estimated that it is over 165 million, although at a steady decline from the start of the twenty first century, mostly in the southwest and Mediterranean areas.


Brittany is a great region in France that has an extensive coastline with rugged cliffs. This means it is perfect for seabirds. However, the region between the Garonne and the Loire is also a very good area that features numerous sea and even coastal birds. Do be sure that you also consider Picardy and Normandy coasts for high numbers of seabirds present.

Waterfowl And Waders

There are numerous migrating waders, sedentary birds and waterfowl attracted to France’s Baie de Somme. Other beautiful wetland regions should be considered because of the interesting birdlife, notably Camargue and Nantes’ South Lac de Grandlieu. Inland wetlands and lakes can also be considered, including Lac du Der, Bresse and Brenne. In the last 30 years we saw two water bird species that showed a high numbers increase: cormorants and grey herons. Both were really rare in the past and now are quite common around rivers and lakes. Some are actually threatening the local ecosystem because of how many birds of the species are present in one area.

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Birds Of Prey in France

Rural France is quite rich in prey birds. You can often see kites and buzzards. France’s upland areas that are sparsely-inhabited welcome numerous raptors, with the eagle being the most worthy. Griffon vultures are now reintroduced in Massif Central and the Alps. Around 1000 birds of prey can be seen in southern central France, eventually migrating towards Auvergne.

Another vulture type, the lammergeirs, is found in different parts of Pyrenees, being reintroduced in Massif Central and the Alps. Although numbers are quite low, they are constantly increasing now. To make matters even more interesting in France you can find close to 40% of all Western Europe’s short-toed eagles, especially in Massif Central. Then, you can always look for other raptors like marsh harriers, hen harriers and Montagu’s harriers.

Other Birds To See In France

There are 2 birds that are now emblematic of France:

  • Pink flamingoes – Camargue area
  • Storks – Alsace

There are close to 50,000 pink flamingoes living in Camargue. Most are migrating during winter but not all. Alsace now houses around 600 nesting storks couples, most migrating towards the south during winter.

We should also mention Capercaillies as they are often noticed in France massifs, usually in the Pyrenees, Jura and Cevennes. However, many other birds are calling the country home. This includes shrikes, woodpeckers, hoopoes, egrets, buntings, finches and numerous beautiful small birds.

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Adrian Cruce

I just love to travel, write about travel and so much more! :D Hope you enjoy my articles and Travel Tips. Feel free to comment below and get in touch with me on my blog and on Twitter!