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23250 Pag, Croatia

Call - Nazovi

+385 98 168 8409

Call - Nazovi

+385 98 739 296


Birds of the Northern Velebit National Park

Birds of Velebit

The National Park and its surrounds are home to a large number of birds. About a hundred bird species have been identified so far, 85 of which are commonly or occasionally nesting in the Park. Over 90 species are protected, with some thirty nesting bird species included in the Red List of Threatened Birds of Croatia. Some of the most interesting bird species include: Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), Western Bonelli’s Warbler (Phyloscopus bonelli), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum), Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funerus), Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), Ural Owl (Strix uralensis), Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana), White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), Raven (Corvus corax), Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) and others.


Golden eagle head
Owls head

During recent field research within the National Park, significant findings were made of threatened birds of prey which are listed in Annex I to the EU Birds Directive and the Red Book of Threatened Birds of Croatia including: European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata, syn: Hieraeetus pennatus) and Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni).




Woodpeckers are an extremely important group of birds in many ecosystems. During the day they hop from one tree to the next in search of food which they find on or underneath the tree bark. They are able to do so owing to their short and strong legs, with their hard and stiff tail feathers serving as support. To declare their territory, they drum on trees, selecting for this purpose trees with good resonance. Woodpeckers nestle and spend the night in hollows of trees. They dig out holes with their powerful, chisel-shaped beak in places where the tree has become soft due to decay. They need about 10 to 25 days to drill a hole. Since they mostly nestle in decaying older trees or even in dead upright trees, woodpeckers do no damage to commercially viable parts of trees. Woodpecker holes are extremely important for the survival of a large number of other bird species, mammals (especially bats) and other animals which use old woodpecker holes for nesting and shelter. This is why the woodpeckers are considered key species in the ecosystem, being species that, though not necessarily present in large number, have an exceptionally important impact on the structure and functioning of ecosystems. The Park is home to a number of woodpecker species: Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) and Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius). They are strictly protected and all, except the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Black Woodpecker, are included in the Red List of Threatened Birds of Croatia.

Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)

The largest wood grouse in Croatia, Capercaillie resides at altitudes above 1000 meters in high mountain forests of beech, fir and spruce. In winter it feeds on beech buds and fir and spruce shoots and needles, and in summer eats seeds, forest fruits, insects, caterpillars and snails. Due to habitat disturbance, the population of Capercaillie has significantly decreased in the past decades. Its greatest enemy is man, but is also threatened by predators such as the fox, the European pine marten, the wild boar, the owl, the eagle and the buzzard. In Croatia, capercaillie is today found only in the mountain regions of Lika, Gorski Kotar, and the north and central Velebit. The Northern Velebit National Park is one of the few refuges for these rare birds in Croatia. They can mostly be encountered on forest paths where they collect stones or along mountain trails when forest fruits they feed on are in season. Capercaillie is a strictly protected species in Croatia and is included in the Red List of Threatened Birds of Croatia under the Endangered category.

Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra

Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

Common Crossbill inhabits fir and spruce forests in Velebit. The name Crossbill explains the unusual, strong and twisted beak with overlapping tips. It mainly feeds on conifer seeds, but may also eat beech and maple seeds. It hangs from branches or clings to the bark while feeding, holding the cone with both legs or pressing it against a branch. Crossbills insert their bill into the cone from the side, pry open the cone bract and extract the seed with their tongue. Common Crossbill is a strictly protected species.

Tengmalms Owl Aegolius funereus

Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus)

Tengmalm’s owl is commonly found in fir, spruce and beech forests. It is not sociable and normally spends the time alone. Its prey are mostly smaller mammals, but it also eats insects and some smaller birds. It uses its acute hearing to hunt, and can track mice under shrubs and snow. The enemies of this bird are the European Pine Marten, Tawny Owl and Eurasian Eagle Owl. Tengmalm’s Owl is a strictly protected species and is included in the Red List of Threatened Birds of Croatia under the Least Concern category.

Ural Owl Strix uralensis

Ural Owl (Strix uralensis)

In mixed beech and fir forest Ural owl is the most common owl species. It has quite a long tail and grayish-white feathers with wide dark brown streaking, which makes it look like a hawk when flying, hence its Croatian name (Jastrebača, jastreb = hawk). It nests in hollows in trees or old nests of other large birds. It is mostly active at dusk or dawn, but often also during the day. The Ural Owl feeds on small rodents, but may also hunt smaller birds and other mammals. In Croatia, Ural Owl is a strictly protected, species and is included in the Red List of Threatened Birds of Croatia under the Least Concern category.

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