top of page

Search

40 items found for ""

  • Finches | Birds of Malta

    Finches Brambling Brambling Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually or in small groups. Can also be in groups with Common Chaffinches. ​ White rump and orange buff chest in all plumages. Breeding males with shiny black head and back. Females and winter plumage appears very speckled/mottled, especially in flight. Tail slightly shorter than Chaffinch, more deeply forked and almost black. Flight undulated and bouncing. ​ ​ Diet The main food is insects, caterpillars, seeds, berries and nuts. ​ Longevity record 14 years 9 months (Sweden, 2197911) Sponsun Selvaġġ Fringilla montifringilla Passeriformes Fringillidae Very scarce ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - December ​ Occasionally seen in January Click on the image to open slideshow 27-10-17 27-10-17 1/6 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 16 19 - 28 Common Chaffinch Common Chaffinch Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually or in small groups. ​ Distinguished in all plumages by double wing-bars and white outer tail feathers. Male easily recognized by slate grey crown and nape, and pinkish face and underparts. Female with greyish green upperparts and whitish underparts. A long-tailed finch with peaked head. Appears more elegant in flight than other finches. Tripping gait when on ground. ​ ​ Diet Seeds, fruit, buds and shoots, insects, spiders, earthworms and snails eggs. ​ Longevity record 16 years 4 months (Italy, L 442566) Sponsun Fringilla coelebs Passeriformes Fringillidae Fairly common Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - December ​ Occasionally seen in January - May, September Click on the image to open slideshow 11-4-19 11-4-19 1/13 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 16 16 - 30 Hawfinch Hawfinch Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually or in small groups but can be seen in larger flocks. ​ Very deep and heavy, conical bill. Large head and bull-neck, gives the bird a front-heavy appearance, especially in flight. The short tail adds to the impression. Wings with broad, white bars and tail with white terminal band. Bill grey in breeding plumage, and yellowish in winter. Largely unmistakable, but easily overlooked when hiding high in foliage. Often flies high, even for short distances. Flight heavily undulated. ​ ​ Diet Hard seeds from trees, together with fruit seeds which they can easily break with their tough beak. It can even break through the seeds of plums, cherries and even olive seeds. In winter, they commonly eat berries, pine seeds, sprouts and the occasional caterpillar. ​ Longevity record 12 years 7 months (Found dead in Germany, 7241335) Għasfur taż-Żebbuġ Coccothraustes coccothraustes Passeriformes Fringillidae Fairly common ​ Usually seen in March, October - November ​ Occasionally seen in December - February, April Click on the image to open slideshow 18-10-17 31-10-17 18-10-17 1/18 Length (cm): Weight (g): 16.5 - 18 50 - 55 Back to Glossary Common Rosefinch Common Rosefinch Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. ​ Adult male easily recognized by its red head, chest and rump. Females and juvenile males may be mistaken for House Sparrow or Corn Bunting, but are slimmer with shorter and deeper bill. Juvenile plumage olive-brown with dark streaking and buff double wing-bars. Posture often erect, but with short neck, making the bird seem long-tailed. Heavily undulated flight. ​ ​ Diet Feeds heavily on seeds but can also feed on fledglings insects, fresh buds, nectar, and small fruits. ​ Longevity record 8 years 11 months (Ring number read in the field in Finland, P-81988) Bumunqar Carpodacus erythrinus Passeriformes Fringillidae Very rare ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - November ​ Occasionally seen in March, June, September Click on the image to open slideshow 1/0 Length (cm): Weight (g): 13.5 - 15 21 - 26 Trumpeter Finch Trumpeter Finch Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. ​ Resident bird in Tunisia and West Africa. and occurs in semi-desert areas. The Trumpeter Finch is a small, long-winged bird. It has a large head and short, very thick bill. The summer male has a red bill, grey head and neck, and pale brown upper parts. The breast, rump and tail are pink, the last having dark terminal feathers. Winter males, females and young birds are a very washed-out version of the breeding male. The song of this bird is a buzzing nasal trill, like a tin trumpet. ​ ​ Diet They are mainly vegetarian and their diet consists of small seeds, shoots and buds of grasses and low ground-loving plants. They will eat some insects as well, mainly grasshoppers . ​ Longevity record - Trumbettier Bucanetes githagineus Passeriformes Fringillidae Rare Usually seen in Any month ​ Occasionally seen in - Click on the image to open slideshow 1/0 Length (cm): Weight (g): 11.5 - 13 20 - 23 Back to Glossary Greenfinch European Greenfinch Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups, larger flocks but can also be seen individually. ​ Plumage green, grey and yellow. Note bright, yellow base of primaries and sides of tail in all ages and plumages. Deep and heavy conical bill. Tail forked and quite short. Plump build. Female more grey than male, with back diffusely streaked in brown and underparts greyish. Juveniles similar to females, with even more drab colours and heavier streaking (also on underparts). Strongly undulated flight. Often appears somewhat clumsy when trying to perch on feeders etc. ​ ​ Diet Their primary food is seeds. In the breeding season insects, including beetles, are eaten and fed to the young birds. Buds and shoots are also eaten. ​ Longevity record 13 years 7 months (Czech Republic, Z 1852) Verdun Chloris chloris Passeriformes Fringillidae Fairly common ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - November ​ Occasionally seen in December - April Click on the image to open slideshow 1/5 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 16 25 - 35 Common Linnet Common Linnet Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups, larger flocks but can also be seen individually. ​ In all plumages: Brown, unstreaked (or faintly streaked) back, grey bill, only faint wing-bars (or none), distinct white base to primaries and streaked throat. Both sexes with pale eye-ring and pale cheek patch. Breeding male distinct with slate grey head, cinnamon back, red chest and red forehead. Females and juveniles easily confused with Twite or Redpoll (both vagrants to the Maltese Islands) but note back and face pattern. ​ ​ Diet Their primary food is seeds. In the breeding season insects, including beetles, are eaten and fed to the young birds. Buds and shoots are also eaten. ​ Longevity record 9 years 5 months (Found dead in France, 1192972) Ġojjin Linaria cannabina Passeriformes Fringillidae Fairly common Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - December ​ Occasionally seen in all other months Click on the image to open slideshow 1/9 Length (cm): Weight (g): 12.5 - 14 15 - 21 Red Crossbill Red Crossbill Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually, in groups but can be seen in larger flocks. In October 2018, a flock of more than 60 birds had been seen passing from the West of Malta. ​ As mentioned in the name, the upper and lower mandibles are crossed. The tip of the lower mandible protrudes from behind the upper (tips of mandibles visibly crossing). The chest is less deep, and birds are not so front heavy. Dark wings and tail. Males with rufous red head and body, females green. Juveniles greyish green with streaking. They have an erect posture especially when foraging on ground. ​ ​ Diet Red Crossbills eat seeds of spruce, pine, hemlock or larch. To obtain these seeds, they first grasp the cone with one foot (normally, the foot that is on the side opposite to which the lower mandible crosses). ​ Longevity record 14 years 3 months (Czech Republic, RX 2233) Kruċjat Loxia curvirostra Passeriformes Fringillidae Very rare ​ Usually seen in June - November ​ Occasionally seen in - Click on the image to open slideshow 1/0 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15 - 17 35 - 53 Back to Glossary Goldfinch European Goldfinch Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually and occasionally in small groups. ​ Plumage stunningly colourful. Adults easily recognized by red face boldly framed in black and white. In all plumages; black wings with broad yellow panels, forked tail with white patches, and flashing white rump. Bill fairly long and pointed. Juveniles lack the red, black and white head, and are best identified by the contrasting wing-panel and white rump/tail patches. Light and bouncing flight, with bursts of wing-beats and variable acceleration. ​ ​ Diet Their diet in the wild is small seeds such as thistles and teasels, but insects are also taken when feeding young. ​ Longevity record 14 years 1 month (Found dead in the Czech Republic, T 104726) Gardell Carduelis carduelis Passeriformes Fringillidae Very scarce Usually seen in October - November ​ Occasionally seen in all other months Click on the image to open slideshow 1/5 Length (cm): Weight (g): 12 - 13.5 15 - 19.5 Back to Glossary Serin European Serin Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually or in small parties. ​ Small and compact, green and yellow bird. Smaller than Linnet and Siskin, with heavily streaked flanks, and stubby, deep and grey bill. Rump yellow in adults, but immature birds lack yellow tones in plumage altogether. Wing-bars narrow and much less marked than in Siskin, forehead in males bright yellow. Fairly long-winged with deeply forked tail. Flight light and bouncing. Song-flight of male characteristic, with butterfly-like gliding and slow-motion wing-beats. ​ ​ Diet Their diet in the wild is small seeds but insects are also taken when feeding young. ​ Longevity record 13 years 4 months (Found dead in the Czech Republic, N 13903) Apparell Serinus serinus Passeriformes Fringillidae Scarce Usually seen in October - January ​ Occasionally seen in February - June Click on the image to open slideshow 1/1 Length (cm): Weight (g): 11 - 12 10 - 13 Back to Glossary Siskin Eurasian Siskin Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually, in small parties and occasionally in larger flocks. In 2019 there was a record passage of Eurasian Siskins. ​ Small green and yellow finch with contrasting dark wings and tail. Underparts whitish with grey streaking. Secondaries, inner primaries and outer tail feathers with yellow base. Relatively long and pointed bill as opposed to Serin. Male distinct with black crown and bib, bright yellow chest, throat and hind-cheeks. Female less contrasty, with more prominent streaking. Juveniles paler and duller than adults, with even heavier streaking than females. ​ ​ Diet Their diet in the wild is small seeds but insects are also taken when feeding young. ​ Longevity record 13 years 6 months (Russia, S 730968) Ekru Spinus spinus Passeriformes Fringillidae Fairly common Usually seen in October - January ​ Occasionally seen in September, February - March Click on the image to open slideshow 25-11-17 15-10-17 25-11-17 1/5 Length (cm): Weight (g): 11 - 12.5 10 - 15 Back to Glossary *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Kites | Birds of Malta

    Kites Black kite page Black Kite Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* A raptor seen singly or in few individuals but sometimes can be seen in flocks. One of the largest flocks ever recorded over Malta was seen on the 7th September 2016 with 58 birds that have roosted over Buskett (see flock in slide show). ​ Diet It mostly feeds on small live prey like bats, rodents and birds but it can also hunt fish , scavenge household refuse and carrion. They have also been seen carrying nests of weavers for obtaining eggs or chicks. ​ Longevity record 23 years (A bird found dead on wires in Switzerland, 829312) Astun Iswed Milvus migrans Accipitriformes Accipitridae Scarce Back to Glossary Usually seen in March - April, August - October ​ Occasionally seen in February, May ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/20 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 54 - 60 130 - 150 630 - 950 Red kite page Red Kite Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* A raptor usually seen in single individuals. Red Kites are rufous with black streaks on the chest, have a yellow bill, a pale head and a distinctive deep forked tail. ​ ​ Diet It mostly feeds on small live prey like such as rodents and rabbits. They can also take down small birds, reptiles and amphibians while can also feed on earthworms. Red kites are also scavengers and can be seen on carrion. They have also been seen carrying nests of weavers for obtaining eggs or chicks. ​ Longevity record 25 years (A killed specimen in Germany, D 26437) ​ ​ Astun Aħmar Milvus milvus Accipitriformes Accipitridae Very rare Back to Glossary Usually seen in September - October ​ Occasionally seen in April - May, December ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/11 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 60 - 65 155 - 180 750 - 1300 *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Wagtails | Birds of Malta

    Wagtails Yellow wagtail Western Yellow Wagtail Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Seen individually, in groups or in larger flocks. ​ Head is mainly greenish with a yellow face, throat, breast and belly. Also a yellow supercilium in males. Females are paler with a greyish head paler supercilium and paler throats. Tail quite short compared to other wagtails, and the whole bird in profile is like a pipit. Hybrids are not uncommon. Differs from Grey Wagtail in dark legs, only pale yellow vent and narrow wing-bars. Juvenile White Wagtails and Yellow Wagtails can be confused, but White Wagtail is greyer, with big grey breast patch (Yellow Wagtail may show narrow breast band). Closest congener is Citrine Wagtail, which lacks dark lore, has broad wing-bars and grey back. ​ ​ Diet Insects and spiders, particularly flying insects in sparse vegetation and open ground. ​ Longevity record 8 years 10 months (Found dead in Sweden, 2407355) Isfar Motacilla flava Passeriformes Motacillidae Fairly common Usually seen in March - May, August - November ​ Occasionally seen in all other months Click on the image to open slideshow ssp. Motacilla flava 1/32 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15 - 16 15 - 23 Back to Glossary Eastern yellow wagtil Eastern Yellow Wagtail Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence Info* A vagrant seen twice in December, at (i) Salini salt pans in 2019 and (ii) M'Xlokk in 2022. It is very similar to a Blue-headed Wagtail (M.flava) i.e. a blueish/grey head with but it has a slightly paler grey forehead to nape, and mostly pale grey ear-coverts (sometimes blackish), blackish-grey lores and conspicuous white eyebrow. Crown and nape are bluish-grey. Call is very distinctive and different from its Western Yellow Wagtails species. Diet Insects and spiders, particularly flying insects in sparse vegetation and open ground. Longevity record - Isfar tal-Lvant Motacilla tschutschensis Passeriformes Motacillidae Vagrant ​ Usually seen in - ​ Occasionally seen in December Click on the image to open slideshow 14-03-20 14-03-20 1/12 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15 - 16 15 - 23 Back to Glossary Citrine Wagtail Citrine Wagtail Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Seen individually. ​ Adult male easily recognized with all yellow head with dark edges and grey back. Prominent white wing-bars and all dark bill, lacking the pale base of Yellow Wagtail. Females and adult winter lacks the dark lore-stripe of Yellow Wagtail, and the flanks are grey. The same applies to the juveniles. These also give a very grey impression, almost resembling a Pied Wagtail without the dark breast-pattern. Juvenile Yellow Wagtails have a less grey and more olive tone to their backs. The dark facial markings/ear coverts of females/winter/juveniles birds are usually framed by the continuation of the strong supercilium. Some Yellow Wagtails are very similar to Citrine, and call and tail length should be considered as well (tail longer in Citrine). ​ ​ Diet Insects and spiders, particularly flying insects in sparse vegetation and open ground. ​ Longevity record - Zakak Rasu Safra Motacilla citreola Passeriformes Motacillidae Rare Usually seen in - ​ Occasionally seen in August, September, November Click on the image to open slideshow 1/6 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15.5 - 17 15 - 24 Back to Glossary Grey Wagtail Grey Wagtail Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Seen individually. ​ Elegant and very long-tailed wagtail. Vent always bright yellow in all plumages. Legs pinkish flesh-coloured, not black as in Yellow Wagtails species. Wings with single white bar, visible both from below and above. Male with black throat in summer. Constantly wags tail, often in a more horizontal posture than congeners. Flight more attenuated and more bounding than in other wagtails. Attached to water and streams. ​ ​ Diet Insects and spiders, particularly flying insects in sparse vegetation, open ground and especially near water ponds and streams. ​ Longevity record 8 years 0 months (Germany, BO 87112) Zakak tad-Dell Motacilla cinerea Passeriformes Motacillidae Scarce Usually seen in March - April, September - October ​ Occasionally seen in February, May, August, November Click on the image to open slideshow 1/9 Length (cm): Weight (g): 17 - 20 17 - 23 Back to Glossary White Wagtail White Wagtail Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Seen individually, in small groups or larger flocks. ​ Grey and white wagtail with prominent black markings on head and breast. Different from the Pied Wagtail found within the British Isles which is now considered as a full species M. yarreli, that has a black back, whilst it is grey in the White Wagtail. Only faint black markings on head in juveniles and in winter plumage, but always shows big dark breast patch. Unmistakable in breeding plumage. Pale individuals of Yellow Wagtail and Citrine Wagtail, differs in lacking large breast patch, and in contact call. ​ ​ Diet Insects and spiders, particularly flying insects in sparse vegetation, open ground and especially near water ponds and streams. ​ Longevity record 13 years 8 months (Czech Republic, N 212046) Zakak Abjad Motacilla alba Passeriformes Motacillidae Fairly common Usually seen in October - February ​ Occasionally seen in all other months Click on the image to open slideshow Leucistic White Wagtail 1/8 Length (cm): Weight (g): 16.5 - 19 18 - 23 Back to Glossary *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Osprey | Birds of Malta

    Osprey Osprey Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. Long, slender wings, dark brown upperparts and white underparts. Quite short tail. Distinct black carpal patches, finely barred flight-feathers and tail, and conspicuous broad dark eye-stripe. Soars with angled/bowed wings. Glides with wings bent at carpal joint. ​ ​ Diet It entirely feeds on fish but can occasionally prey on rodents , rabbits , hares , other birds , and small reptiles . ​ Longevity record 26 years (A bird found dead in Finland, M-17858) Arpa Pandion haliaetus Accipitriformes Pandionidae Scarce ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in April, August - October ​ Occasionally seen in March, May-June, November - January ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow alpa 5 alpa 5 1/21 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (kg): 50 - 55 150 - 170 1.3 - 2.1 *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Contact us | Birds of Malta

    Contact us This site is continuously being updated and any ideas or participation are welcome. Although we are trying to display pictures that are taken only in Malta, some species are difficult to photograph or rather very rare to sight. If you would like to display your photos of such missing and rare species or even if you have good quality photos, you can send them over via 'WeTransfer' on the following e-mail address*. E-mail: birdsofmalta @gmail.com Submit Thanks for submitting! *The author reserves the right to publish any photographs or otherwise. The photographer is consenting 'Birds of Malta' to display his photographs on this website. Photographs should be taken personally, be of a very good quality, possibly watermarked and information on when and where are taken is mandatory. Photos can be sent as '.jpg' or '.png'. Find us on Facebook

  • Hawks & Falcons | Birds of Malta

    Hawks & Falcons Levant Sparrowhawk Levant Sparrowhawk Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* The Levant Sparrowhawk is a small raptor with short broad wings and a longish tail, both adaptations to manoeuvring through trees. The adult male is blue-grey above and pale below, with underparts and leg feathers finely barred in rufous and white. His head is blue-grey as well, with a white throat bisected by a dark central stripe (sometimes quite faint). As with all raptors, the female is larger than the male. The female is similar, though her plumage is generally a darker brownish-grey. Both sexes have orangish-yellow legs and a yellow cere . The Levant Sparrowhawk has dark eyes as opposed by the yellow irises of Eurasian Sparrowhawks. ​ ​ Diet It hunts small birds, insects, rodents, and lizards in woodland or semi-desert areas, relying on surprise as it flies from a perch to catch its prey unaware. ​ Longevity record 15 years 6 months Sparvier tal-Lvant Accipiter brevipes Accipitriformes Accipitridae Very rare Usually seen in October ​ Occasionally seen in May, September Click on the image to open slideshow 1/5 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 31 - 36 69 - 75 140 - 290 Back to Glossary Sparrowhawk Eurasian Sparrowhawk Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* A small raptor with long tail and short, rounded wings. Upperparts grey in male, and brownish in female and juvenile. Underparts barred in buff in male, and brown barring in female and juveniles. Supercilium may be prominent in females. ​ Male regularly kill birds weighing up to 40 g and sometimes up to 120 g or more; females can tackle prey up to 500 g or more. The weight of food consumed by adult birds daily is estimated to be 40–50 g for males and 50–70 g for females. During one year, a pair of Eurasian sparrowhawks could take 2,200 house sparrows , 600 common blackbirds or 110 wood pigeons . ​ ​ Diet Males tend to take tits , finches , sparrows and buntings ; females often take thrushes and starlings . More than 120 bird species have been recorded as prey and individual Eurasian sparrowhawks may specialise in certain prey. The birds taken are usually adults or fledglings, though chicks in the nest and carrion are sometimes eaten. Small mammals, including bats and mice are sometimes caught but insects are eaten only very rarely. ​ Longevity record 20 years (Found dead in Denmark, 588073) Sparvier Accipiter nisus Accipitriformes Accipitridae Scarce ​ Usually seen in September - November ​ Occasionally seen in March - May, December ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/18 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 27 - 38 67 - 77 110 - 345 Back to Glossary Lesser Kestrel Lesser Kestrel Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups and occasionaly in large flocks but can also be seen individually. Easily confused with Kestrel, especially in female and immature plumage. Adult male with clean, grey cheeks, no moustache-stripe and no streaking on crown. Upper wing, greater coverts are grey, contrasting with brick red forewing and back without dark spots. Belly sparsely spotted. Underside of wings paler with less barring than Kestrel, and with more pronounced dark wing tips and trailing edge. This is also more or less visible in females and young birds. Female and young birds has a less stern look than Kestrel, due to more faint facial markings. Mask do not extend behind the eye. Tail slighty shorter than Kestrel, usually with central feathers slightly elongated (rare in Kestrel). Talons pale white, not black as in Kestrel. Flight light and fast, with shallow wing-beats. Hovers less than Kestrel, but soars on up-winds. Identification of female/immature birds requires a combination of plumage, structural and behavioural (flight action) characters. ​ ​ Diet Mainly insects but feeds also on small birds, reptiles and rodents. ​ Longevity record 10 years (Captured by bird ringer in Spain, 4019231) Spanjulett Sekond Falco naumanni Falconiformes Falconidae Fairly common ​ Usually seen in March - May, September - October ​ Occasionally seen in February, June - August, November ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/13 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 29 - 33 57 - 72 90 - 210 Back to Glossary Kestrel Common Kestrel Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but occasionally in small groups. Medium sized falcon with long tail and long wings. Upperparts brick-red, underparts pale buff with dark speckles. Male; light grey head and tail. Female; brick-red head and tail. Both sexes with broad, black terminal tail-band visible on both sides. Evident, but diffuse moustache-stripe. Hovers more frequently than other raptors. Tail and wings gives a more rounded impression when soaring. Very similar to Lesser Kestrel. ​ ​ Diet Mainly insects but feeds also on small birds, reptiles and rodents. They are able to see near ultraviolet light, allowing the birds to detect the urine trails around rodent burrows as they shine in an ultraviolet colour in the sunlight, catching mouse-sized mammals. ​ Longevity record 20 years (Found sick in Germany, GN 4735) Spanjulett / Seqer Aħmar Falco tinnunculus Falconiformes Falconidae Fairly common Usually seen in March - May, August - November ​ Occasionally seen in all the other months ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/17 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 32 - 38 67 - 83 165 - 290 Back to Glossary Red Footed Falcon Red-footed Falcon Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but occasionally in small groups. A small falcon recalling both Kestrel and Hobby at a distance, but most likely to be confused with latter. Adult male unmistakable with ashy grey plumage and rufous red "trousers". Colour of trousers not always obvious, but silvery upperwing often visible in flashes at distance. Adult female also distinct with almost unstreaked buff underparts and under wing-coverts, buff neck and crown, dark mask and white cheeks. Immature most likely to be confused with Hobby but differs in barred upper side of tail, pale forehead, white (half) collar, contrasting dark trailing edge to wing and more striking fringes to coverts. Underparts also less heavy streaked. Flight profile similar to Hobby but tail slightly longer and more rounded. Hunts insects in flight, but in contrast to Hobby, hovers frequently and with deeper wingbeats than Kestrel. ​ ​ Diet Diet consisting of a variety of insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and small birds. ​ Longevity record 13 years (France, GT 9477) Żumbrell Falco vespertinus Falconiformes Falconidae Scarce ​ Usually seen in April - May ​ Occasionally seen in June - October ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Ad. female Colourful orange underbody with black eye mask and a short black moustache. Upperwings are greyish with darker barring. Ad. female Colourful orange underbody with black eye mask and a short black moustache. Upperwings are greyish with darker barring. 2nd cycle male Bluish grey head and underbody with rusty red thighs and vent. In 2nd cycle males the underwings are still not fully dark and can have a mix of juvenile, transitional and adult plumage feathers. Ad. female Colourful orange underbody with black eye mask and a short black moustache. Upperwings are greyish with darker barring. 1/38 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 28 - 31 65 - 78 110 - 200 Back to Glossary Sooty Falcon Sooty Falcon Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* It is a vagrant sighting. The one in the pictures was taken by Patrick Spiteri on the 13th September 2022 over Buskett. A small elegant bird of prey, 32–37 cm long with a 78–90 cm wingspan. It is shaped like a large Hobby or a small Eleonora's Falcon, with its long pointed wings, long tail and slim body. The adults are blue-grey, and lack the black underwing coverts of the Eleonora’s Falcon. The young bird is like a large juvenile Hobby, or small juvenile Eleanora’s Falcon. Its dark trailing edge to the wings and tail distinguish it from the former species, and it lacks the underwing contrast caused by the dark coverts of the larger falcon. In adults, it distinct itself from the Red-footed male falcon by having yellowish legs and yellow orbital rings instead of more orange legs and orbital rings in Red-footed's. The Sooty falcon also does not have the red orange vent seen on male Red-footed and Amur falcons. ​ Diet Diet consisting of a variety of insects, bats, reptiles, mammals and small birds. ​ Longevity record --- Żumbrell Għarbi Falco concolor Falconiformes Falconidae Vagrant Usually seen in --- Occasionally seen in April, September -November Click on the image to open slideshow 1/3 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 32 - 37 78 - 90 220 - 350 Back to Glossary Eleonora's Falcon Eleonora's Falcon Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. This falcon is shaped like a Eurasian Hobby or a juvenile Red-footed falcon, with its long pointed wings, long tail and slim body. There are two colour morphs : The adult dark morph is all sooty brown, with black underwing coverts . The light morph is more like a juvenile Eurasian hobby, but has buff underparts, and also shows the contrast between the black underwing coverts and paler base to the flight feathers. Young birds are also like a large juvenile hobby, but the pale underparts contrast with darker wingtips and wing coverts. ​ Eleonora's falcons have greenish legs and a consistent pale patch on the face, which is indented and thus can be seen divided in a Eurasian Hobby. ​ ​ Diet Large insects, birds and bats. ​ Longevity record 11 years (Shot bird in Germany, 5265733) Bies Tar-Reġina Falco eleonorae Falconiformes Falconidae Scarce ​ Usually seen in August - October ​ Occasionally seen in February, April - July, November - December ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/18 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 40 - 43 86 - 102 330 - 450 Back to Glossary Merlin Merlin Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. This falcon is the smallest falcon visiting our islands. It is a very agile falcon which can be seen flying swiftly through tree branches. ​ The male has slate grey upperparts, and pinkish buff with speckled underparts. The female is dark brown above and heavily speckled below. Tail of female with dark broad bands, tail of male with broad black terminal band. Diffuse facial markings. Short wings. Acrobatic flight with sharp twist and turns when chasing prey. Alternating glides and bursts of wing-beats gives undulating flight. ​ ​ Diet Usually feeds on small birds but also large insects, rodents, reptiles and bats. ​ Longevity record 12 years (Found dead in the UK, EB 28714) Seqer ta' Denbu Falco columbarius Falconiformes Falconidae Very scarce ​ Usually seen in October - November ​ Occasionally seen in December - May, August - September ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/5 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 28 - 34 61 - 67 160 - 210 Back to Glossary Eurasian Hobby Eurasian Hobby Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. ​ The Eurasian Hobby is a small and elegant falcon, with white throat and rufous thighs (adults). Long, narrow wings and medium long tail. Dark grey above and heavily streaked below. Head dark, with marked facial pattern resembling Peregrine. Tail often looks slightly wedge-shaped. Impressive speed of flight, with acrobatic skills when hunting. Will glide, but seldom hovers. Perched birds shows wing-tips reaching end of tail. ​ Diet Feeds normally on swifts, martins, swallows, bats but also on insects. ​ Longevity record 14 years (Found dead in Germany, 5103443) Seqer tal-Ħannieqa Falco subbuteo Falconiformes Falconidae Fairly common ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in April, September - October ​ Occasionally seen in May - June, August ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/16 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 28 - 35 75 - 85 176 - 285 Saker Saker Falcon Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. A large, powerful, falcon with a pale head, a thin mustache, and dark "trousers"; tail extends beyond wingtips at rest. In flight the wings are broad, with dark underwing coverts. Found in open grasslands with rocky areas and cliffs or in gallery forests. Often nests in heronries. ​ ​ Diet Birds comprise 44% of the diet, mammals 47%, reptiles 8% and insects 1%. Our results suggest that this falcon is an opportunistic hunter and feeds on a wide range of animals throughout its habitat. ​ Longevity record 15 years (Hungary, 517363) Bies Rasu Bajda Falco cherrug Falconiformes Falconidae Very rare Back to Glossary Usually seen in April, October - November ​ Occasionally seen in August, Decemebr - January ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow © Darren Caruana 1/8 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 48 - 55 110 - 125 700 - 1300 Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but can be seen in pairs or in small groups during breeding. ​ The nominates 'peregrinus', 'calidus' and 'brookei' occur in Malta. The latter being the one that breeds in Malta. A large and athletic falcon. Adults slate-grey above. Underparts white with black barring. Head almost black. Juveniles with brown tone to plumage, coarse longitudinal streaking below and paler head. Differs from the smaller falcons by less pointed wings, heavier hips and short tail. Highly contrasting and broad moustache-stripe. Underside of wings evenly barred, without contrasting coverts. ​ ​ Diet Feral Pigeons (Columba livia) comprise one third of the diet by frequency and just over half of the diet when measured by mass. The remainder of the diet comprises a wealth of other species including wading birds, other doves and pigeons, ducks, gulls and terns, and rails. ​ Longevity record 17 years (Killed by a vehicle in Sweden, 9002638) Bies Falco peregrinus Falconiformes Falconidae Very scarce ​ Usually seen in March - May, September - November ​ Occasionally seen in January, June, August, December, all other months for resident birds ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/22 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 37 - 45 90 - 105 580 - 1100 Back to Glossary *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Pipits | Birds of Malta

    Pipits Yellow wagtail Richard's pipit Richard's Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually and sometimes in pairs. This is a large pipit , 17–20 cm in length and a wingspan of 29 to 33 cm. It is a slender bird which often stands very upright. It has long yellow-brown legs, a long tail with white outer-feathers and a long dark bill with a yellowish base to the lower mandible. The hindclaw is long and fairly straight. It is an undistinguished-looking species on the ground, mainly brown above and pale below. There are dark streaks on the upperparts and breast while the belly and flanks are plain. The face is strongly marked with pale lores and supercilium and dark eyestripe, moustachial stripe and malar stripe. There are two wingbars formed by pale tips to the wing-coverts. ​ The song is a repeated series of monotonous buzzy notes given in an undulating song-flight. ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record - Bilblun Prim Anthus richardi Passeriformes Motacillidae Rare Usually seen in --- Occasionally seen in September - May Click on the image to open slideshow 15-03-19 1/15 Length (cm): Weight (g): 17 - 20 27 - 37 Back to Glossary Tawny Pipit Tawny Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence Info* Usually seen individually and sometimes in pairs and in small groups. Large, but slender and long-legged pipit recalling wagtail in build. Easily confused with Richard's Pipit, but differs in dark lores, almost unstreaked breast, short hind-claw, slender body and thinner bill. The thin moustache-stripe combined with the dark lores stands out from the otherwise pale head. Greater coverts with dark centres and pale fringes are the most contrasting part of the body. Tertials are fringed warm brown. Tail with broad white edges. Immatures are more streaked above and on breast and sometimes flanks, but lore dark as in adults. Flight wagtail-like and less powerful than Richard's Pipit. Stance less upright, with wagtail-like gait. ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record - Bilblun Anthus campestris Passeriformes Motacillidae Fairly common Usually seen in April - May Occasionally seen in March, June - October Click on the image to open slideshow 08-05-19 1/11 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15.5 - 18 26 - 32 Back to Glossary Olive-backed Pipit Olive-backed Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. A fairly characteristic pipit due to the fresh plumage tones, defined facial pattern and marked breast streaking. Back olive-coloured with only faint streaking. Rump lacks streaking. Usually shows a pale and a black spot on rear cheeks. Legs pinkish, with short hind-claw, similar to Tree Pipit. Similar behaviour as Tree Pipit. Readily enters trees, and will also walk along branches. Flight also similar to Tree Pipit, lacking the stuttering motion of Meadow Pipit. ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record - Diżż tal-Lvant / Diżżu tal-Lvant Anthus hodgsoni Passeriformes Motacillidae Very rare Usually seen in October - November Occasionally seen in December - February Click on the image to open slideshow 1/7 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 15.5 21 - 24 Back to Glossary Tree Pipit Tree Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence Info* Usually seen individually, in small groups or in larger flocks. Very similar to Meadow Pipit, but streaking on flanks noticeably finer than on breast. Bill heavier, with pinkish base. Legs pinkish. Short and curved hind claw. Plain rump. Slightly more elongated shape than Meadow Pipit. ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record 8 years 9 months (Found dead in the Czech Republic, Z 347042) Diżż / Diżżu Anthus trivialis Passeriformes Motacillidae Fairly common Back to Glossary Usually seen in March - May Occasionally seen in August - November Click on the image to open slideshow 06/04/20 26/04/19 06/04/20 1/4 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 16 19 - 25 Meadow Pipit Meadow Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually, in small groups or in larger flocks. Streaking on flanks just as heavy as that on chest (see Tree Pipit). Legs pinkish. Hind toe long and almost straight. Bill slender with yellowish base. Rump unstreaked. Jerky flight pattern. Generally a featureless bird, and is easily confused with other pipits. Best identified by sound. ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record 13 years 1 month (Found dead in Poland, KX 21880) Pespus Anthus pratensis Passeriformes Motacillidae Fairly common Usually seen in October - March Occasionally seen in April - May, September Click on the image to open slideshow 1/4 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 15.5 15 - 23 Back to Glossary Red-throated pipit Red-throated Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually or in small groups. Pipit with distinctly streaked breast and flanks. Adults with rich rusty red coloured throat, breast and supercilium. Males usually more red than females. Easily confused with other pipits when in winter- and juvenile plumage. Characterised by two whitish stripes on back, heavily streaked rump and flight call. ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record - Diżż Aħmar / Diżżu Aħmar Anthus cervinus Passeriformes Motacillidae Fairly common Usually seen in March - May ​ Occasionally seen in October - January Click on the image to open slideshow 1/15 Length (cm): Weight (g): 14 - 15 19 - 23 Back to Glossary Water Pipit Water Pipit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. Contrasting, double wing-bars, unstreaked belly (and only modestly streaked flanks), brownish rump, broad supercilium, paler underwing and pure white outer tail feathers. Summer plumage with more strongly coloured buff or pinkish underparts and greyer upperparts, but difficult to identify when plumage wo ​ ​ Diet Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous . It mainly feeds on the ground and will also make short flights to catch flying insects. A few seeds are also eaten. ​ Longevity record - Back to Glossary Diżż tal-Ilma / Diżżu tal-Ilma Anthus spinoletta Passeriformes Motacillidae Very scarce ​ Usually seen in November - December ​ Occasionally seen in October, February - April Click on the image to open slideshow 1/5 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15.5 - 18 18 - 23 *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Wren, Tits, Accentors & allies | Birds of Malta

    Wrens, Tits & Accentors Eurasian Wren Eurasian Wren Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* A rare bird that is more heard than seen. It is very difficult to see this bird as it is usually hidden in dense vegetation. Unmistakable. Very small, mouselike bird with short rounded wings, short neck and upright tail. Upperparts chestnut brown and finely barred. Underparts light buff. Forages in thick undergrowth and low bushes, crevices and holes for insects. Easily overlooked, but betrays its presence by its big voice. One of the smallest bird in northern Europe. ​ Diet Eurasian Wren feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates, such as insects and spiders, but also small vertebrates such as fishes, tadpoles and young frogs. It also consumes berries and seeds. ​ Longevity record 6 years 10 months (Italy/Sweden, 1817973) Bumistur Troglodytes troglodytes Passeriformes Troglodytidae Rare ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in - ​ Occasionally seen in October - April Click on the image to open slideshow 1/8 Length (cm): Weight (g): 9 - 10.5 8 - 11.5 Great Tit Great Tit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. Combination of striking black and white head and yellow underparts makes it rather unmistakable. Back greenish, tail and wings bluish. Outer tail feathers white. Sexes alike except for wider black belly-stripe in males. Biggest tit. ​ ​ Diet Its main preference is insects, and, when feeding young, caterpillars are a key food. It will also eat spiders and small earthworms, then will switch to seeds, nuts, berries and buds as and when needed, and available. ​ Longevity record 15 years 5 months (Found dead in Germany, 9222933) Fjorentin Parus major Passeriformes Paridae Vagrant ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in - ​ Occasionally seen in October - March Click on the image to open slideshow 07-01-16 1/3 Length (cm): Weight (g): 13.5 - 15 15 - 23 Pendulin Tit Eurasian Penduline Tit Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. A small, tit-like passerine with brown back, grey head and diagnostic black mask. Plumage comparable to Red-backed Shrike, but build and behaviour very different. Male with broader mask than female. Juveniles with pale, uniform plumage, lacking mask altogether. Tit-like behaviour, but less inquisitive. ​ ​ Diet Insects form the larger part of the diet of the penduline tits, and they are active foragers. Their long conical bill is used to probe into cracks and prise open holes in order to obtain prey. Nectar, seeds and fruits may also be taken seasonally. ​ Longevity record 7 years 3 months (Hungary, M 392964) Pendulin Remiz pendulinus Passeriformes Remizidae Very rare Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - January ​ Occasionally seen in February - March Click on the image to open slideshow 1/0 Length (cm): Weight (g): 10 - 11.5 9 - 12 Alpine Accentor Alpine Accentor Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. A big accentor with rufous flanks, finely mottled throat, and blackish wing coverts with white tips. Latter often the most obvious character in poor light, and is visible both in flight, and when on ground. Bill black with yellow base. Build stocky and recalls larks or pipits. Tail dark with narrow, white tip. Flight powerful, undulating and thrush-like. Jumps and runs on the ground, with a more upright stance than Dunnock. Sociable, and small flocks can be seen even in breeding season. ​ ​ Diet Mostly insects and seeds. ​ Longevity record 7 years 8 months (Slovenia, K 69) Żiemel tal-Alpi Prunella collaris Passeriformes Prunellidae Very rare ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - November ​ Occasionally seen in December - January Click on the image to open slideshow 1/0 Length (cm): Weight (g): 15 - 17.5 36 - 45 Dunnock Dunnock Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but can be seen in small groups or roam within the same area. Sparrow-sized, brown and streaked passerine with slate-grey head and chest. Bill thin and warbler-like, head rounded. Narrow, pale wing-bars. Often forages on ground in a crouched manner, creeping or hopping with legs almost hidden. Flicks wings and tail when restless. Secretive behaviour, except when visiting feeders and when singing from tree tops. ​ ​ Diet Dunnocks feed on both small insects and small seeds, plus spiders and small worms. ​ Longevity record 20 years 10 months (Found dead in Denmark, 9A 59942) Żiemel Prunella modularis Passeriformes Prunellidae Fairly common ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in October - March ​ Occasionally seen in September, April Click on the image to open slideshow 19-11-17 1/7 Length (cm): Weight (g): 13 - 14.5 15 - 24 *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • Swifts, Swallows & Martins | Birds of Malta

    Martins, Swallows & Swifts House Martin Common House Martin Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups or in flocks. A small, compact martin with short, forked tail and pure white rump. Underparts shiny white (including throat and vent). Upperparts dark with shiny metallic glow to head and back. Juveniles overall more dull, with white tips to tertials and dusky, brownish upperparts. Flight determined and steady. Glides more than Sand Martin, with less frequent change of direction. ​ ​ Diet Insects, including flies, beetles and aphids. ​ Longevity record 15 years 0 months (Sweden, 1519863) Ħawwiefa Delichon urbicum Passeriformes Hirundinidae Fairly common Back to Glossary Usually seen in March - May, September - October ​ Occasionally seen in all other months ​ ​ 1/7 Click on the image to open slideshow Red-rumped Red-rumped Swallow Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in small groups but can be seen singly. Differs from Barn Swallow in all plumages by pale throat and black under tail coverts, which are visible at greater distance than the red rump. Rufous cheeks and collar. Underparts finely streaked, giving the bird a slightly "dirty" look from a distance, with less contrast to the upperparts than in Barn Swallow. Immature birds with short streamers and buff cheeks and rump. Build more compact than Barn Swallow, with shorter bill, rounded wings and slightly shorter streamers. Flight slower and with more frequent gliding. ​ ​ Diet The Red-rumped Swallow feeds almost entirely on flying insects all year round. The diet includes a wide variety of species caught by aerial pursuit, sometimes up to 100 metres or more. ​ Longevity record 5 years Reġina tal-Ħuttaf Cecropis daurica rufula Passeriformes Hirundinidae Scarce ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in March - May ​ Occasionally seen in February, June, August - November ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 23-03-19 1/16 Barn Swallow Barn Swallow Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in small groups and larger flocks but occasionally can be seen singly. Dark blue metallic upperparts, deep red forehead and throat and light underparts. Long tail-streamers in adults and deeply forked tail. Both the metallic blue and the deep red appears black at a distance. Combination of dark throat/breast and light underparts and vent is diagnostic, and distinguishes it both from Red-rumped Swallow and the smaller martins. Juveniles are less brightly coloured with a dull red throat, and short streamers. ​ ​ Diet Feeds on a wide variety of flying insects, especially flies (including house flies and horse flies), beetles, wasps, wild bees, winged ants, and true bugs. Also eats some moths, damselflies, grasshoppers, and other insects, and a few spiders and snails. Only occasionally eats a few berries or seeds. ​ Longevity record 11 years 1 month (Found dead in the UK, LK 620) Ħuttafa Hirundo rustica Passeriformes Hirundinidae Fairly common Usually seen in February - June, August - November ​ Occasionally seen in December - January, all year for resident breeders ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/9 Back to Glossary Crag Martin Eurasian Crag Martin Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but can be seen in small groups. Stocky martin with broad (but pointed) wings, broad tail and broad head. Mostly dusky brown with paler underparts, except almost black under wing-coverts, and fairly dark vent. Most tail-feathers with small, white "window" visible from below. Immature similar to adults, but with pale fringes to coverts. Flight less acrobatic than other martins, with frequent, long glides. Strays less away from breeding grounds than congeners. ​ ​ Diet The Eurasian Crag Martin feeds mainly on insects caught in its beak in flight, although it will occasionally take prey items off rocks, the ground, or a water surface. When breeding, birds often fly back and forth near to a rock face hunting for insects, feeding both inside and outside the nesting territory. ​ Longevity record - Ħawwiefa tal-Blat Ptyonoprogne rupestris Passeriformes Hirundinidae Very rare Back to Glossary Usually seen in October ​ Occasionally seen in September, November - April ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/2 Sand Martin Sand Martin Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in small groups or larger flocks. Small martin with dark brown chest-band and white throat. Upperparts dark brown, underparts white. Underside of wings dark. Juveniles with light fringes to brown feathers, and buff throat. Flight more elegant than Barn Swallow and House Martin. Often changes direction but keeps altitude. More fluttering flight than House Martin, with less gliding. ​ The sand martin is sociable in its nesting habits; from a dozen to many hundred pairs will nest close together, according to available space. ​ Diet The food consists of small insects, mostly gnats and other flies whose early stages are aquatic. ​ Longevity record 10 years 1 month (Found dead through a car accident in Sweden, AR 45926) Ħawwiefa tax-Xtut Riparia riparia Passeriformes Hirundinidae Fairly common Back to Glossary Usually seen in March - June ​ Occasionally seen in all the other months ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/5 Alpine swift Alpine Swift Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in small groups or individually. Only swift in the region with white underparts divided by breast-band. Upperparts brown. Distinctly bigger than Swift, with robust build and powerful flight. Tail short with rather shallow fork. Wing-action slower than Swift, with each beat discernible. May give Hobby-like impression at a distance. ​ ​ Diet They are opportunistic feeders, and exploit swarms and hatchings wherever possible. They avoid stinging insects. Insects are collected in the back of the throat in a special food pouch and bound together with saliva into a ball called a bolus, which is periodically eaten or taken to the nest. These food balls can contain thousands of insects. ​ Longevity record 26 years 0 month (Found sick in Switzerland, 900438) Rundunu ta' Żaqqu Bajda / Rundunu Abjad Tachymarptis melba Apodiformes Apodidae Scarce ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in March - May ​ Occasionally seen in June - November ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 26-04-20 15-09-17 26-04-20 1/5 Little swift Little Swift Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually. Little swifts are readily identified by their small size. Their wingspan is only 33 cm compared to 42 cm in the case of Common Swift . Their plumage is black except for a white throat and rump, the white rump patch extending onto the flanks. They have a short square tail, with all rectrices round-tipped. The flight is fluttering like that of a House Martin , and the call is a high twittering. Like other swifts they are very short-legged. The legs are used for clinging to vertical surfaces only. ​ ​ Diet They are opportunistic feeders, and exploit swarms and hatchings wherever possible. They avoid stinging insects. Insects are collected in the back of the throat in a special food pouch and bound together with saliva into a ball called a bolus, which is periodically eaten or taken to the nest. These food balls can contain thousands of insects. ​ Longevity record - Rundunu Żgħir Apus affinis Apodiformes Apodidae Vagrant ​ Back to Glossary Usually seen in - ​ Occasionally seen in March - July, September, November, December ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/0 Pallid Swift Pallid Swift Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually, in small groups or small flocks. Very similar to Common Swift, and often difficult to identify in the field. Seeing the birds against a darker background, as opposed to the sky, brings out some of the characters more clearly. Generally paler and more sandy brown than Common Swift. Differs further from C. Swift by: Rounder wing tip (outermost primary shorter than the next), slightly broader wings, broader and flatter head. White throat patch bigger and more prominent. The face seems paler, which brings out the dark eye-mask. Back slightly darker than upper part of wings. More contrast between outer and inner primaries. Underparts with more pronounced scaly pattern. Flight less acrobatic, with slightly slower wing-beats, more frequent gliding and much less twinkling turns. ​ Diet They are opportunistic feeders, and exploit swarms and hatchings wherever possible. They avoid stinging insects. Insects are collected in the back of the throat in a special food pouch and bound together with saliva into a ball called a bolus, which is periodically eaten or taken to the nest. These food balls can contain thousands of insects. ​ Longevity record - Rundunu Kannelli Apus pallidus Apodiformes Apodidae Fairly common ​ Usually seen in May - August ​ Occasionally seen in April, September ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/2 Back to Glossary Common swift Common Swift Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually, in small groups or larger flocks. All black swift with small white throat patch. Very difficult to separate from Pallid swift. Pallid Swift; brownish plumage tone (best seen against darker background), bigger throat-patch than swift, scale pattern on body more prominent, wing-tips slightly rounded, "saddle" darker than wings, and more contrast between darker outer primaries and inner. ​ Diet They are opportunistic feeders, and exploit swarms and hatchings wherever possible. They avoid stinging insects. Insects are collected in the back of the throat in a special food pouch and bound together with saliva into a ball called a bolus, which is periodically eaten or taken to the nest. These food balls can contain thousands of insects. ​ Longevity record 21 years 1 month (Found sick in Sweden, ZB 84?) Rundunu Apus apus Apodiformes Apodidae Fairly common Back to Glossary Usually seen in May - September ​ Occasionally seen in February - April, October - December ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 07-05-19 07-05-19 07-05-19 07-05-19 1/5 *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University''.

  • BirdsofMalta | Maltese bird atlas | Bird records

    1/8 Birds of Malta Species list >>> Press the 'Ctrl' button and rotate the mouse wheel to adjust the webpage resolution to your monitor's size A passion for birds Contact us >>> Search table >>> Yearly sightings >>>

  • Who are we? | Birds of Malta

    Who are we? Birds of Malta We are a group of bird enthusiasts, mostly from the local hunting community, that have teamed up to collect, photograph and showcase the different species of birds that had visited and that visit the Maltese archipelago. ​ This web page classifies birds in categories and gives some more details of any specific species. Most of the photos used in this site are taken in Malta by our collaborators. Some photos that are taken abroad are marked and credited. ​

  • Bitterns, Herons & Egrets | Birds of Malta

    Bitterns, Herons & Egrets Eurasian Bittern Eurasian Bittern Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but can be seen in small groups. ​ Bulky, golden-brown heron with thick neck and short legs. Largely unmistakable but skulky behaviour makes it difficult to observe, as it generally forages hidden in reed-beds. Plumage mottled above, with coarse stripes below. Primaries and most secondaries with dark barring, in contrast to paler coverts. May recall Eagle Owl in flight with broad, rounded wings and retracted neck, but wings are bowed and legs trail behind tail. Crown and moustache stripe black in adult and brown in immature birds. Betrays its presence by it's far reaching song. ​ ​ Diet Fish, small mammals, amphibians and invertebrates along the reed margins in shallow water. ​ Longevity record 11 years (Found dead in the Netherlands, 302703) Kappun Botaurus stellaris Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Very scarce Usually seen in March - April, October - November ​ Occasionally seen in May, September, December ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Adult Dark brown moustache stripe as in adults. Adult Dark brown moustache stripe as in adults. 1/6 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 69 - 81 100 - 130 870 - 1940 Back to Glossary Little Bittern Little Bittern Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but can be seen in small groups. ​ Usually recognizable by size alone. Distinctly smaller than any congener. Pale wing-panel formed by inner coverts is striking in all plumages, especially in flight. Male with contrasting black and white/buff plumage. Female with dark, but pale fringed back and streaked throat. Immature with streaked, bittern-like plumage, and wing-panel is brown-spotted. Skulky behaviour, and most active at dusk or after dark. Mostly seen in flight when crossing open water. Flight action rapid and clipping, and landing is preceded by short glide. ​ ​ Diet The Little Bittern is a bird of dense marsh vegetation, in which it feeds and nests. It forages in the typical bittern manner of walking and Swtanding on marsh plants, old nests, or branches. It catches a diversity of prey, but primarily fish or insects, depending on the locality. ​ Longevity record 7 years (Found injured in Hungary, 426796) Russett tas-Siġar / Strinġis /Ħenxul Ixobrychus minutus Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Scarce Usually seen in April - May, August - October ​ Occasionally seen in November - January, March, June ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Female Brown face and neck, brown streaked back and buff brown patch in wings. Female Vertical stripes along neck and breast as in females rather than streaks as in juveniles or no stripes but an orange buff in males. Male Grey face and darker black crown. Stripes on chest are paler along an orange buff as in adult males. White buff on wings. Female Brown face and neck, brown streaked back and buff brown patch in wings. 1/6 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 33 - 38 49 - 58 59 - 150 Back to Glossary Night Heron Black-crowned Night Heron Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups and larger flocks but can occasionally be seen individually. ​ Small, crepuscular, stocky heron with short legs. Adults unmistakable with black cap, black back, grey wings and white underparts. Immature less distinct, and may be confused with immature Squacco Heron, Little Bittern or Bittern. Differs from all these in distinct white spots covering both wings and back. Belly and breast are more widely covered in coarse streaking, not just the sides or upper chest. Legs just barely protrudes behind tail in flight. ​ ​ Diet Diet quite variable; mostly fish, but also squid, crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, snakes, clams, mussels, rodents, carrion. Sometimes specializes on eggs and young birds and can cause problems in tern colonies. ​ Longevity record 17 years (A shot bird in Spain, SE 19959) Kwakka Nycticorax nycticorax Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Fairly common Usually seen in March - May, August - September ​ Occasionally seen in October - January ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Juvenile Brown body with pale spots on back and upperwings. Chest paler with darker brown streaks. Orange iris. No plumes. Adult Black crown, back saddle and upper mandible. Silvery grey body and wings. Red iris. White plumes. Juvenile Brown body with pale spots on back and upperwings. Chest paler with darker brown streaks. Orange iris. No plumes. 1/27 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 58 - 65 90 - 100 727 - 1014 Back to Glossary Squacco Squacco Heron Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups but can also be seen individually. In non-breeding plumage, it is dull brown with dark and light streaks. At rest, it has buff and brown upperparts and white underparts. When in flight, the white wings and tail are conspicuous. Head, nape and shoulders are streaked black. The bill is dark with yellow lower mandible. The eyes are yellow with greenish-yellow lores and narrow red eyering. Legs and feet are greenish-yellow. In breeding plumage, feathers are very long. The body is white with cinnamon back, nape and breast sides.The underparts are slightly washed cinnamon, especially on chest. We can see some black streaks on breast sides. Wings and tail are white.On the head, chin and throat are white, whereas crown, head sides and neck are cinnamon. During the breeding period, the adults develop an erectile black and white crest with long and bushy feathers. The bill is bright cobalt-blue with black tip. Lores are bright greenish-blue. Eyes are yellow. Legs and feet are brighter orange-yellow to reddish with black claws. ​ The female is similar, but in breeding plumage, she has less conspicuous crest than male. The juvenile has paler buff ground colour and is browner on head and back with dark streaks on throat and breast. Upperwing-coverts and primary tips are spotted brownish. The crest is shorter than in adults in non-breeding plumage. Bill, legs and feet are greenish-yellow. ​ ​ Diet The Squacco heron feeds on fish, crustaceans, frogs and aquatic insects. ​ Longevity record 5 years (A shot bird in Hungary, 844) Agrett Isfar Ardeola ralloides Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Scarce ​ Usually seen in March - April, October - November ​ Occasionally seen in May, September, December ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/28 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 40 - 49 71 - 86 230 - 370 Back to Glossary Grey Heron Grey Heron Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups or larger flocks but can also be seen individually. Very large, mostly unmistakable bird. Grey upperparts, white underparts and yellow/yellowish bill. Keeps neck retracted when flying (as opposed to crane). May be mistaken for Purple Heron, but back of neck grey, not brown. Bill heavy and dagger-shaped. Neck thicker and less angular than in Purple Heron. Unmarked cheeks. ​ ​ Diet Lots of fish, but also small birds such as ducklings, small mammals like voles and amphibians. After harvesting, grey herons can sometimes be seen in fields, looking for rodents. ​ Longevity record 37 years (Found dead in Denmark, 292796) Russett Griż Ardea cinerea Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Common ​ Usually seen in March - April, September - October ​ Occasionally seen in all other months ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Adult White crown, long plumes, white neck and a complete yellow bill. Immature Darker upper mandible, grey crown and grey hindneck indicating an immature. Adult White crown, long plumes, white neck and a complete yellow bill. 1/56 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (kg): 84 - 102 155 - 175 1.0 - 2.1 Back to Glossary Purple Heron Purple Heron Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups or larger flocks but can also be seen individually. Most similar to Grey Heron but leaves a much darker impression, has a slimmer body, neck and wings. The bill is markedly thinner and is almost level with the flat forehead. Adult birds have black longitudinal stripes along the rufous sides of the neck, and a black crown. Immature birds have more diffuse streaking, and are sandy brown instead of grey. Coverts are also brownish, and partially remains in first summer birds. In flight the dark underwings of adult birds are obvious. The folded neck creates a bigger and more angular bulge and the very long toes are often sprawled. More secretive behaviour than Grey Heron. ​ ​ Diet Fish, frogs, invertebrates, reptiles, small rodents and small birds. ​ Longevity record 25 years (Found dead in Germany, B 1495) Russett Aħmar Ardea purpurea Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Fairly common Usually seen in March - April, September - October ​ Occasionally seen in February, May, August, November ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Adult Two black head plumes up to 15 cm long. The sides of the head and neck are distinctively chestnut to orange buff to red buff. A black stripe runs across the ear to the black plumes. The chin and foreneck are white and a throat striping is elongated with black and white spotting. Adult Two black head plumes up to 15 cm long. The sides of the head and neck are distinctively chestnut to orange buff to red buff. A black stripe runs across the ear to the black plumes. The chin and foreneck are white and a throat striping is elongated with black and white spotting. Juveniles Juveniles are browner than adults, lacking crest and breast feathers, and showing duller and narrow steaks in neck and underparts. Adult Two black head plumes up to 15 cm long. The sides of the head and neck are distinctively chestnut to orange buff to red buff. A black stripe runs across the ear to the black plumes. The chin and foreneck are white and a throat striping is elongated with black and white spotting. 1/19 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 70 - 90 120 - 138 500 - 1361 Back to Glossary Western Great Egret Great Egret Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in small groups but can also be seen individually. Formerly known as the Great White Egret. A slender and elegant bird, about the same size as Grey Heron. Bill dark in breeding birds, otherwise yellow. Legs and feet dark, but tibia often with red tinge in breeding season. Long, S-shaped neck with sharp angle/bend. Erect posture, and less skulking, horizontal hunting behaviour than Little Egret. Almost twice the size of Little Egret, and wing-beats are considerably slower. Wings give the impression of being attached more upfront than in Little Egret. Feets protrude well beyond tail in flight. ​ ​ Diet Fish are a dietary staple, but great egrets use similar techniques to eat amphibians, reptiles, mice, and other small animals. ​ Longevity record 13 years, 9 months (Found dead electrocuted in Hungary, 516353) Russett Abjad Ardea alba Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Very scarce ​ Usually seen in March - April, October ​ Occasionally seen in all other months except June ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow 1/16 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 85 - 102 143 - 169 700 - 1530 Back to Glossary Western Cattle Egret Western Cattle Egret Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen individually but can also be seen in small groups. ​ Small, stocky, white heron with short bill and neck. Heavy jowl. Plumage all white, except in breeding birds which show varying amount of buff on back, crown and chest. Bill usually yellow, but turns orange-red in breeding birds, and is dark in immatures. Legs pale greyish green, but darker in young birds. May be confused with both Little Egret and Squacco Heron in flight. Differs from Little Egret in leg color and shorter, thicker neck and bill. Told from Squacco Heron by unstreaked body/head, and smaller bill. Generally leaves a less elegant impression than other small herons. ​ ​ Diet Mostly insects. When associating with grazing animals in fields, diet is mostly large insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, flies; also frogs, spiders, moths. Elsewhere may feed on crayfish, earthworms, snakes, nestling birds, eggs, sometimes fish. May scavenge for edible refuse in dumps. ​ Longevity record 18 years (A shot bird in Spain, E 10374) Agrett tal-Bhejjem Bubulcus ibis Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Scarce ​ Usually seen in October - December ​ Occasionally seen in April- May, all other months for resident birds ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Adult Yellow bill. The breast plumes, crest and back mantle plumes will also get yellow during breeding. Juveniles are completely white with dark legs and bill. Adult Note yellow bill and yellow buff breast moulting to a breeding plumage. The breast plumes, crest and back mantle plumes will also get yellow during breeding. Juveniles are completely white with dark legs and bill. Adult Yellow bill. The breast plumes, crest and back mantle plumes will also get yellow during breeding. Juveniles are completely white with dark legs and bill. Adult Yellow bill. The breast plumes, crest and back mantle plumes will also get yellow during breeding. Juveniles are completely white with dark legs and bill. 1/23 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 45 - 52 82 - 95 270 - 512 Back to Glossary Little Egret Little Egret Maltese name/s Scientific binomen Order Family Sighting occurrence ​ Info* Usually seen in groups or flocks but can also be seen individually. D iffers from other white herons by dark legs with contrasting yellow feet and toes. Bill always dark, and lores grey or reddish (breeding birds). Slender and elegant build, as opposed to Western Cattle Egret. Only roughly half the size of Western Great Egret. In flight, note much quicker wing-beats of Little Egret and that the wings of Great White seems to be positioned more at the front of the body. Skulking, foraging behaviour with less erect posture than Great White, also when moving about. Legs less protruding beyond tail in flight than in Western Great Egret. ​ Diet Little egrets hunt alone within loose flocks. They will use a variety of hunting techniques including stirring up the mud with their feet to disturb small aquatic insects. These birds will also eat crustaceans, small fish, amphibians, molluscs and worms. They will even take small birds. ​ Longevity record 22 years (A shot bird in France, CD 2346) Agrett Abjad Egretta garzetta Pelecaniformes Ardeidai Common Usually seen in March - May, August - October ​ Occasionally seen in June, November - December, all other months for resident birds ​ ​ Click on the image to open slideshow Adult in breeding plumage Note crown plumes, breast plumes and lax back plumes which form during the breeding cycle. During the height of the courtship the lores may turn bluish. Adults in breeding plumage Note crown plumes, breast plumes and lax back plumes which form during the breeding cycle. During the height of the courtship the lores may turn bluish. 1/21 Length (cm): Wingspan (cm): Weight (g): 55 - 65 88 - 106 350 - 550 Back to Glossary *Some information was sourced from ''BirdID Nord University'' & ''Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition''.

bottom of page