When visiting the islands of Cabo Verde, make sure to look for birds. You can learn about the land and sea birds of this paradise.
Read more about bird conservation and threats to the birds. Then, plan your next vacation to Cabo Verde with the help of the island’s official tourism website.
What will I learn?
Listed below are the most common land and sea birds. Check out our interactive map to get a more in-depth look at the local birdlife.
Species of seabirds
Species of seabirds of Cabu Verde are a valuable part of the national fauna of the country, but their conservation has not received adequate attention.
Seabirds tend to be secretive in their breeding habits, nesting on steep cliffs or deserted islands. They often travel long distances out to sea and are not often spotted on land.
Nonetheless, the island has recently taken steps to protect and improve the breeding environment for these birds.
The study was based on field observations and traditional methods of identifying nondigestible parts of the feces of these creatures.
For example, morphological analysis of fecal materials has shown that a gecko can recognize fish scales and seabird feathers. Observations have also confirmed that geckos regurgitate food.
This technique has allowed scientists to identify species of seabirds such as the Cabo Verde shearwater and Bulwer’s petrels.
Despite the recent decline in global pelagic seabird populations, the island remains a haven for these birds. Their numbers in the Atlantic Ocean have declined considerably since European colonization.
However, information on their status and distribution in Cabo Verde is sparse and dispersed in grey literature. The study aimed to fill this gap by compiling the historical distribution of all seabird species in the archipelago and comparing it to other parts of the world.
It also sought to update the relative abundance of each species in the archipelago and assessed threats to these birds.
The study also aims to protect the red-billed tropicbirds, which breed in the islands of Sal in Cabo Verde.
Local rangers working for Project Biodiversity on the island are tagging and monitoring the birds, which is a valuable barometer of the health of the oceans.
This research will allow scientists to understand the behavior of these birds and better manage them in the future.
Red-billed tropicbirds are highly vulnerable to invasive alien species and bycatch. Both of these species can cause serious impact on the breeding success of native seabirds, and alien invasive predators can even lead to local extinctions.
Additionally, ocean pollution, light pollution, and littering are also threats to these birds. So, when it comes to the conservation of Cabo Verde’s seabirds, we need to take action now to preserve them!
Species of landbirds
There are several species of landbirds on the islands of Cabo Verde. The Cape Verde Shearwater, for example, is a large seabird with gray-brown upperparts and dark brown flight feathers.
Its bill is light pink with a dark ring near the hooked tip. The species is endemic to the Cape Verde archipelago. Chicks are commonly salted or dried and sold for food. Its main colonies are located on the islands of Brava and Branco.
The Cape Verde Islands are volcanic and rise up to 2800m out of the Atlantic. Few birders have visited the islands, so birdwatching is slowly gaining ground as a tourism industry.
Among the endemic species of landbirds are the Magnificent Frigatebird, Cape Verde Buzzard, Western Barn Owl, and Neglected Kestrel. The birdwatching industry in the islands is growing, and there are some excellent books available.
The islands are home to a large number of seabirds, including two endemic species: the Cape Verde Shearwater and the Raso Lark.
There are also a number of pairs of Western Osprey on the islands, and several species of gulls, including the Yellow-legged gull and Madeiran storm-petrel, have been seen here. Species of landbirds in Cabo Verde are also diverse, and a good chance to spot one of the islands’ rarest species is on Raso island, a small unpopulated islet west of Sao Nicolau.
The Rallidae are a large family of small to medium-sized birds. Most of these species live in wetlands and swamps near water and are difficult to observe.
Other members of this family are partridges, snowcocks, and quails. These birds are also found on the coast. However, they are rarely seen in the open country. Other members of the family, the Phasianidae, include tattlers, curlews, and francolins.
Santiago is the largest and most developed of the islands, and is home to the tiny capital city of Cabo Verde, Praia. While the population here is predominantly Portuguese, the African influences are more pronounced.
Although living standards in the islands are generally low, the climate is ideal for preserving the island’s unique wildlife and vegetation.
Santiago receives more rainfall than most other islands, so its valleys are better-watered and are home to many species of landbirds, including the endemic Cape Verde Warbler and Grey-headed Kingfisher.
Threats to birdlife
The threatened birdlife in Cabo Verde includes seabirds and migratory birds. Invasive alien species have adverse impacts on breeding success, while local extinctions are caused by alien predators.
Human harvesting, light pollution, and littering also cause loss of biodiversity and contribute to habitat destruction. However, some management measures have been taken to combat the threats to birdlife in Cabo Verde.
Loggerhead turtles nest in Cabo Verde, which is the second most important nesting site in the world. These turtles help maintain coral reef systems and marine ecosystems by providing habitat and food for other wildlife.
Their nests on Sal Island are threatened by illegal hunting for turtle meat and quick tourism development. The island’s turtle population is growing, but protection measures must be enforced to protect the species.
Invasive alien species, tourism, and climate change are major threats to Cabo Verde’s native species. Despite the threats, however, the island’s native birds have managed to survive despite these pressures.
In the past decade, the authorities have taken steps to protect the species that inhabit the islands. They have established a network of protected areas (PAs) in the country. This national PA network comprises 47 areas totaling 63 067 ha. Currently, there are four different categories of PA: lowland coastal regions, highlands, and marine areas.
The Raso Lark is another species with a high threat of extinction. The bird is highly dependent on rainy years to breed. The population of this bird was at a low of 60 birds in 2004 and has since been reintroduced to Santa Luzia. As a precautionary measure, biologists reintroduced thirty Raso larks to Santa Luzia island in 2018.
Some of the endemic species of the island are also threatened. There are 740 species of vascular plants in the archipelago, with 92 of them endemic to the island.
Approximately one-fourth of these species have been classified as CR. Those species are already endangered and need protection. However, there are other species that pose a risk to these birds. The enigma surrounding the species of Cabo Verde’s wildlife is how they were classified in the first place.
The project has already achieved many success stories in this country. Its efforts will be focused on the management of invasive alien species, better management of Marine Protected Areas, and addressing impacts of the energy industry on seabirds.
In addition, it will foster new environmental policies developed in collaboration with local partners. To help protect the birds of Cabo Verde, it will also support local NGOs to improve their management practices.
The endemic Red-footed Booby is a prime example of an endangered species in this region. It remains on the island for extended periods of time, perhaps moulting.
There are three endemic seabird species and subspecies of these birds that breed nowhere else. These species are classified as Near Threatened, as are the Cape Verde Petrel and the Cape Verde Shearwater.
With the launch of the Cabo Verde Seabirds project, NGOs have joined forces to promote the conservation of seabirds in the country.
The project has led to a national network of NGOs and organizations, which have achieved great successes in research, conservation and awareness-raising.
A recent workshop brought together representatives from all DNA delegations and experts from 15 organisations to clarify the best approaches for the project’s activities.
Seabird populations are one of the most endangered species on the planet. Threats to seabirds on land and at sea are accelerating, but the island offers an oasis for these birds.
The volcanic archipelago of Cabo Verde, situated 600 km off the coast of Senegal, is home to a rich mosaic of habitats and is considered a seabird hotspot. Currently, eight species breed on the islands.
The project is based in Santa Maria, a town famous for its beaches and water-sports. Volunteers stay in self-catering accommodations in Santa Maria, where they can participate in conservation activities.
By contributing to the project, volunteers help save these endangered sea turtles and directly affect their survival. This is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Cabo Verde while learning about its wildlife. These are just some of the benefits of joining the project.