Tourist information  |  Routes  |  Organized activity: observation of vultures and other birds 

 Guara. Ornithology and routes for bird watching 

The extraordinary birdlife of Guara deserves a separate chapter. Its great diversity, with more than 150 identified species, responds to the different types of habitats and forests present in the Natural Park, but above all to the exceptional abundance of rocks and cliffs that favor the existence of bird populations that, in other places from Europe, are uncommon or infrequent. For this reason, as we have seen in the Nature section, the Sierra de Guara was declared a Special Protection Area for Birds in 1988, within the Natura 2000 Network of the European Union

In recent years ornithological tourism and bird watching has been on the rise in the mountains, forming one of the backbones of nature tourism. The Birding Aragón, Birding Aragón project has recently been presented, a cooperation project between the Government of Aragon and different rural territories that have opted for ornithological tourism. The project has the collaboration of the Sierra de Guara Entrepreneurs Association. 

The raptors, the queens of the rock and the sky 

Who has not ever been captivated by the imposing flight or by the showiness of the birds of prey? Raptors are probably the easiest birds to observe, a real pleasure for those who are new to ornithology or for those who deepen their knowledge of these majestic birds. 

 Guara is a paradise for bird watching. Some of these birds are hunters, they feed on live prey (eagles, hawks and white tailed kites) and others are scavengers (vultures, Egyptian vultures and bearded vultures). The star of the Natural Park is, without a doubt, the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), which is very rare throughout Europe and which has a fairly settled and stable population here – this species has had a Recovery Plan since 2003-. The griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) is the most abundant raptor in the sierra: with about 600 pairs, it has one of the most important populations in southern Europe. Also present in the skies of the mountains is the Egyptian vulture or “ballot” (Neophron percnopterus) that arrives every year in spring from Africa. The short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus) chooses the wooded areas of the south of the sierra to nest. More difficult to see or identify, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the very rare Bonelli’s eagle or Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) -which also has a Recovery Plan-, the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) that performs stings that they exceed 250 km / hour in the hunting of pigeons, the hawk and the goshawk -the forest hunters par excellence-. Somewhat more numerous and easier to recognize by their forked tails in flight, the migrating black kite (Milvus migrans) and the sedentary red kite (Milvus milvus). 

The bearded vulture

 Victims of the hostility of Human Beings, some of these magnificent birds have been-or, in fact, are still-on the verge of extinction. The great retreat of extensive livestock-flocks of sheep and goats-, or the crisis of mad cow has also meant a major hit for the conservation of scalp raptors, so that the commissioning of middens had to be planned-in the style of those that had once existed in the villages and which had been closed before due to possible health risks – in which were allowed in order to leave food for these birds. 

In this sense, the role played by some associations as the Friends of the Vulture for the Safeguard of the Necrophages birds http://fondoamigosdelbuitre.org/ founded in 1986, this association aims for the protection, conservation and disclosure of the scavenger birds and their habitat. They promote the Gypaetus-percnopterus project consisting of the creation and maintenance of supplementary feeding areas to replace the old rural middens. The Association serves five feeders at present: two in the Sierra de Guara (La Pedriza de Santa Cilia de Panzano and the Sardas de Bierge), a feeder in the Sierra de la Carrodilla (Estadillaa), one in the middle Cinca (Las Cucillas of Binaced) and another in Naval. 

The Museum “Casa de los Buitres” of Santa Cilia de Panzano, is a fundamental enclave for the knowledge and observation of the scalp raptors. In addition to the museum’s exhibition materials, a feeding takes place to the vultures at the nearby midden of La Pedriza. The activity has a maximum capacity of 30 people, so it is convenient to reserve a spot by calling 974343035 (Camping Cañones de Guara and Formiga), directly to the Friends of the Vulture 665873655 (Manuel Aguilera), or via email info@fondoamigosdelbuitre.org A webcam allows you to see the evolutions of vultures, griffon vultures and bearded vulture in the midden. .

Small birds of forest, rivers, pastures and peaks 

A great diversity of small birds will delight you. Their size or discretion make it more difficult to locate, but in many cases their behavior, form of flight, birdcalls or trills, will reveal their presence. And the attentive observer will experience great pleasure by identifying any of the following species. 

Their emphasized for being very unique – an ornithological luxury – and live in the southern distribution limit of the Pyrenees, the blue climber (Sitta europaea) and the black whistle or black picamadores (Dryocopus Martius), inhabitants of the North Hayedos and Abetales of the Sierra. In the Carrascales and Quejaggares of the Sierra it is very easy to see and hear the gay or jay (Garrulus Glandarius), whose scientific name already offers clues about its predilection for acorns. Frequent in the ravines are the strident piquirrox or galllass (Pyrrhocorax Pyrrhocorax), which nest in the rocks of the rocks and in some Caves or Sierra Suns called “Garlaceras”. On the riverbols of the streams the small white laundry or deceitstores (Motacilla Alba) and the Cascadeña Lavandress (cinerea motacilla) or the aquatic blackbird (Cinclus Cinclus). The presence of certain birds can also be considered very remarkable, case of the greenish uptarrisk (Tichodroma Muraria), a true climber and a balancer of the walls that flies as a butterfly, the alpine accent that seeks refuge in the penetic summits when the Pyreneanics. They are subject to very raw conditions, or the scarce partridge pardilla (Perdix Perdix Hispaniensis), relative of the common partridge -a very popular hunting species, which is usual in the seaside fields and Mediterranean bushes at the foot of the Sierra de Guara, – And also close to the Nival Perdiz or Alpine Lagop-Represent in the high Pyrenean mountain. La Tridilla lives in the place of the Fenales de Used, a beautiful mosaic of ancient crops and meadows located on the northern southern slope, at more than 1400 m altitude. 

The greenish uptarrisk

Ornithological routes

Ornithology lovers have various tools, guides and digital content to know the birds and travel the different habitats of the Sierra de Guara, with key points for their observation. 

In the following link: The Map of the Sierra de Guara presents and describes a series of ornithological routes from the Natural Park of the Sierra and Cannons de Guara, ranked according to the ornithological experience: novices, apprentices, amateurs and experts. The routes are developed in the most privileged places so you can enjoy an extraordinary experience:

  • Salto de Roldán
  • Nocito-Santa María de Belsué
  • Ruta del Barranco de San Martín de la Bal d’Onsera
  • Vadiello-San Cosme
  • Rodellar-El Real de Mascún
  • Río Alcanadre
  • Bierge-Fuente de la Tamara
  • Alquézar-Pasarelas del Vero
  • Loporzano-Vadiello
  • Bierge-Morrano

The following link from Tourism in Aragon can be downloaded for a vehicle route through the Natural Park of the Sierra and Guns of Guara  https://www.turismodearagon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/r5_parque_natural_sierra_y_canifones_de_guara.pdf, touring the different Habitats de la Sierra along an itinerary that will take you from Alquézar to the Salto de Roldán, passing through the towns of Bierge, Panzano, Loporzano, Santa Eulalia la Mayor, Vadiello, San Julián de Banzo and Apiés. 

In the same way, you also have information of great interest, made available by the regions of La Hoya de Huesca Bird Observation and Somontano de Barbastro https://issuu.com/guarasomontano/docs/observacion_de_aves

The tourist brand “Prepyrinean de Aragón” that encompasses entrepreneurs and the regions of Cinco Villas, Hoya de Huesca and Somontano de Barbastro, has also launched PrepyR365, with routes, experiences and travel proposals in the Aragonian Pre-Pirineo Ornithological Routes. Leonated vultures and raptors birds will fly near you. (PrePyR365.com). 

Special protection area for birds 

In 1998, the Sierra de Guara was declared as ZEPA Zone (area of special protection for birds). 

It is one of the most important bird reserves in Europe. Its steep rocky walls are the ideal home for numerous and varied rapacious species such as the real eagle, the Alimoche, the Royal Milan, the pilgrim falcon, the leoned vulture or the bearded vulture

There is also a varied autochthonous flora and fauna, among which raptors stand out, constituting one of the most important bird reserves in Europe. 

The entire territory is characterized by the beauty and spectacularity of its landscapes, the result of a complex geological structure and the erosion processes associated with the hydrographic network. Deep and narrow gorges of limestone traveled by rivers such as Flumen, Guatizalema, Vero, Mascún or Alcandre; Conglomerated stacks like Vadiello or Salto de Roldán; canyons, caves, valleys, etc. They make up an impressive natural architecture. 

Another protagonist of the landscape is water, which will shape the landscape forming the limestone rocks, sandstones, the conglomerates of the ravines. Its strength, its colors and its transparency represent a gift for the senses and the enjoyment of the landscape, which is vital for the crops from which some magnificent wines, vegetables, almonds, oils are obtained..

Activity: Observation of vultures and other birds 

In Santa Cilia de Panzano, on Saturdays, a feeding takes place to the vultures by Manuel Aguilera, President of the Friends of the Vulture. 

Manuel Aguilera with the bearded vulture

This activity has a maximum capacity of 30 people, so it is convenient to reserve a spot by calling +34974343035 (Camping Cañones de Guara and Formiga) or directly to the Friends of the Vulture +34665873655 (Manuel Aguilera) or through the email info@fondoamigosdelbuitre.org

The Midden of Santa Cilia “La Pedriza” of Santa Cilia de Panzano is a specific feeding area for the bearded vulture located in the area of special protection of the Natural Park of La Sierra and Los Cañones de Guara. 

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