Behaviors and reproduction of wild animals
What could be more fascinating to observe birds and mammals in the middle of nature. Very often, these encounters are fleeting; a moment later the animal has already fled. But how good it is to live this short moment that connects us with the wild, the surprise of life, establishes a bond with nature, with a being that we never meet. Imagine being able to enjoy a longer time together and observe their natural behavior. It’s possible! By spying on their reproductive behavior, the period when animals are most exposed to our gaze.
Let’s discover the most fascinating shows of the great wild fauna in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Find a list of wildlife documentaries in Andalusia.
Red deer roar in Andalusian forests
Alberto Herrero (Youtube)
Autumn rains signal the new hydrological year and a certain rebirth of ecosystems. Dominant Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) utter guttural, hoarse and loud calls that are very easy to hear from a distance. When they face each other, two individuals confront each other by violently clashing their antlers. These appendages are actually bones (not horns) that fall off and grow back every year, growing bigger. An incredible expenditure of energy invests in order to access reproduction.
Typical year: October.
The birth of spotted salamanders
Rainy and mild autumn nights (>14ºC) are ideal for observing the activity of Fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) in the forests of Andalusia, a very discreet species in other circumstances. It is much easier to discover the larvae in the spawning grounds. The females give birth directly to larvae (the eggs hatch in the uterus and the young larva is already developing in the body of the adult), even exceptionally juveniles (i.e. individuals metamorphosed in the body of their mother who will not experience the larval stage in the ponds).
Typical year: October – February.
Duel of the Spanish ibexes in the Betic Cordillera
Jose Manuel Hiniesto (Youtube)
The Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) rut is spectacular with particularly violent shocks between males. Remember that these ritual fights select the most powerful individuals (weighing almost double the females), more apt to transmit their descendants. Females in heat run errands to attract the attention of males. Otherwise, the rest of the year, the species is gregarious and shy.
Typical year: late November – early December.
Heronries on the river islands of the Guadalquivir
Carlos de Hita (Youtube)
Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) and Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) like to find refuge in riverine forest and congregate in communal roosts in winter and breeding colonies in spring, mainly on river islands , protected lagoons or even near landfills (in winter). These mixed colonies are regularly enriched with Great Egrets (Ardea alba), Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), Squacco Herons (Ardeola ralloides) and greater marsh birds, Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) and Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). That is to say if these “pajareras” are full of movements, reproductive activities and social interactions.
Typical year: December – April.
Lynx pardelle rut in the Sierra Morena
Cesar Gil (Youtube)
Winter is undoubtedly the best season to observe the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in the wild, the most classic spot being the Sierra de Andújar. During this period, individuals become more gregarious and interactions between individuals increase. You can even hear the of these big wild cats.
Typical year: late December – January.
Crane roosts and migration
Fundación Aquae (Youtube)
Nowadays, common cranes (Grus grus) no longer breed in Spain. However, they continue to visit our region during the winter in families (couples accompanied or not by their youngsters). Large flocks congregate in the early evening and form large communal roosts in inaccessible wetlands. We should also point out the greylag geese (Anser anser) also wintering in Andalusia (Doñana) in large groups.
Typical year: all winter, departures in February.
Nuptial displays of large resident raptors in the Iberian mountains
Alberto Alvarez Lopez (Youtube)
Imperial eagles (Aquila adalbertii), Golden eagles (A. chrysaetos), Bonelli’s eagles (A. fasciata) and Black vultures (Aegypius monachus), large raptors that spend the winter in the Iberian Peninsula and begin their nuptial processions very early in the season before the explosion of spring life. Austere wedding processions in full flight in the silence of winter nature.
Typical year: January – March.
Reproduction of amphibians in Mediterranean temporary pools
Manuel Gracia (Youtube)
The Mediterranean temporary pools welcome the reproduction of amphibians since all the larvae of European species are aquatic. They are noticed from a distance in the cold winter night because the males are not very discreet and vocalize loudly to attract the females. Natterjack Toads (Bufo calamita) and Southern Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis) are certainly the loudest singers and rub shoulders with active nocturnal birds of prey.
Typical year: February – April.
The white storks on the steeples of the white villages
The crackle of white storks (Ciconia ciconia) resounds like a metronome and announces the approaching spring. The species appreciates the proximity with human beings and builds large nests in inaccessible places, previously the bell towers of villages, today high modern buildings, electricity pylons along 4 lanes, etc. Let us point out some natural colonies in dehesas (Dehesa Abajo, Los Pedroches).
Typical year: March.
Sociability in Spanish warrens
European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are social and gregarious animals living close to their warrens (burrows), visible all year round and very active in spring when herbaceous vegetation is abundant. This key species of the Spanish Mediterranean landscapes is the favorite prey of the vast majority of predators (carnivorous mammals and raptors).
Leks of Great Bustards in the cereal farmlands
Wildlife & photo (Youtube)
The males of the Great bustard (Otis tarda) are very imposing, weighing more than double the females, and gather in small groups (lek) on high and visible points in the cereal plains. The dominant male occupies the best position while carrying out his nuptial procession in a “foam bath” visible from several kilometers away. Crazier: the male conceals his head and “parade upside down” showing off the puffy white plumage of the back of the body.
Typical year: March.
The migration of freshwater fish
Luis Guerrero (Youtube)
River fish move around a lot and very often make migrations, some species going to the sea to spend several years there, while others are limited to local movements. Two species moving in groups are easier to observe in the large southern rivers of the Iberian Peninsula: the Andalusian/Gypsy Barbel (Luciobarbus sclateri) and the Guadiana Chondrostom (Pseudochondrostoma willkommii).
Typical year: April?
Leaps of little bustards in the Iberian pseudo-steppes
The courtship display of the Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) is remarkable: small jumps followed by a backfiring vocalization. Increasingly rare species throughout Spain.
The large colony of flamingos at Laguna Fuente de Piedra
Juan C. Díaz (Youtube)
Depending on the year, the colony of Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus phoenicopterus) in Fuente de Piedra can reach 20,000 adults and 8,000 pairs. An unforgettable sight. In recent years, the Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) has also frequented the lagoon in small numbers.
The European bald ibis colony
Grâce à un programme de réintroduction, l’ibis chauve (Geronticus eremita), une des espèces d’oiseaux les plus menacées au monde, s’est installé définitivement en Andalousie et a installé une petite colonie à proximité de Barbate (Cadix). Attraction ornithologique d’intérêt mondial. L’espèce est résidente et visible toute l’année en Andalousie.
Thanks to a reintroduction program, the northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), one of the most endangered bird species in the world, has settled permanently in Andalusia and established a small colony near Barbate (Cadiz). Ornithological attraction of world interest. The species is resident and visible all year round in Andalusia.