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Birds Despite their relative remoteness from the mainland, the volcanic islands of Madeira and the Canaries have been colonised by many species of birds since their formation . Migrating birds lost at sea would have found sanctuary on the islands, and some would have stayed, creating the distinctive avifauna that remains today . A total of 91 species currently breed more or less regularly on the islands, 45 species on the Madeiran islands and 85 on the Canaries, highlighting the smaller and more remote nature of the former group .The breeding birds include at least 10 species that are believed to have been deliberately or accidentally introduced by humans, of which four occur on Madeira and nine occur in the Canaries .The remoteness of the islands has allowed many of the birds to evolve in isolation into distinctive forms that differ from their mainland counterparts .Twelve extant species are endemic to these islands, occurring nowhere else on earth . Four species are endemic to Madeira, and seven are endemic to the Canaries, with one species (Plain Swift) breeding in both island groups . Endemics include such iconic species as the three laurel pigeons, Madeira Firecrest,Tenerife Blue Chaffinch and the Canary Islands Stonechat . Recent studies have revealed that the resident chiffchaff of theWestern and Central Canaries is a distinct species that differs consistently in structure, plumage and calls from the migratory forms that pass through the islands .The two island subspecies of blue chaffinches in the Central Canaries were split as distinct species in 2015 .There are a number of highly distinct island subspecies, some of which, such as Stone Curlew and Houbara Bustard on the Canaries, may prove from ongoing genetic work to be distinct species in their own right . An additional 72 species regularly visit the islands each year, passing through on spring and autumn migration or spending the northern winter in the more equitable climate . All 72 regular migrants and 91 breeding species that are likely to be seen are detailed here . A further 325 species had been recorded as rare visitors to the islands up to the end of 2017 .Whilst these are much less likely to be encountered than the birds illustrated in this book, the 109 species that occur as regular migrants are listed on page212 . Odd lost migratory birds will occur on all of the islands from time to time, so it is worth noting and ideally photographing any bird that does not match those in this book, as it is still quite possible to find new species for the islands! The African Blue Tit (page 110), with up to five distinct subspecies recognised in the Canary Islands, epitomises the concept of adaptive radiation, where new colonisers to a region diversify rapidly in terms of looks and preferred ecological niche. This process is particularly marked where a species colonises a cluster of islands. Famously, Charles Darwin studied this process on the Galápagos Islands but the Canaries show many similar examples. 30 Seabirds The common and familiar-looking‘seagull’of the islands is theYellow-legged Gull, which is the S European counterpart of the Herring Gull .This large and bold seagull is resident in large numbers around all coasts and regularly ventures inland to exploit food resources – even including picnic handouts on mountaintops!The Lesser Black-backed Gull represents an ID challenge, as it is very similar to theYellow-legged . Gulls are great wanderers, and other species do turn up from time to time, especially in winter . Search through large gull flocks, looking for the odd ones out, and take a photo if you find a bird that seems out of place . Black-headed Gulls are much smaller than the other two species and often occur in separate groups away from the larger gulls .There is a regular wintering flock in Funchal Harbour on Madeira and in similar places on the Canaries, and these are always worth checking through for other rarer small gulls . Only two species of tern occur commonly on the islands: CommonTern, which breeds in small numbers, and the larger SandwichTern, which is a regular passage migrant and winter visitor . RoseateTern breeds in very small numbers on islets off Porto Santo and is also seen in tiny numbers around Madeira in the summer . LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Page32 ADULT IMMATURE ADULT IMMATURE YELLOW-LEGGED GULL Page32 BLACK-HEADED GULL Page32 ADULTWINTER IMMATURE COMMONTERN SUMMER Page34 ROSEATETERN SUMMER Page34 SANDWICHTERN WINTER Page34 Seabirds 31 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull L 56cm |WS 134cm A regular...


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