Fuerteventura has the best sample of Canary Island birds, with an important number of migratory and nesting species (many endemic)
The virgin coasts of Fuerteventura are the stop-over for these species, where a community concentrates which changes according to the seasons. In terms of sea birds, we should mention the shearwater, as an example of a nesting bird, and the ringed plover, the grey plover, and the egret, as examples of migratory birds.
The many caves of the La Arena Lavascape, and also the Isla de Lobos, are suitable places for the nesting of the Cory’s Shearwater, this sea bird can only be spotted between the months of April and September when it nests.
Birds in Sandy and muddy plains
On the sandy and muddy plains, the most common birds are: the houbary or great bustard, the kestrel, the cream-coloured courser, and the hoopoe, among others. The world distribution of the houbary or great bustard covers the area from North Africa to Asia.
The hills situated between La Oliva and Lajares are one of its main breeding areas. It feeds on coleoptera, gorse flowers, grasses, etc. It is probably one of the birds most in danger of extinction in Canary Islands due to the small size of its colonies, and consequently it has been included in a recovery programme in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
In the ravines, we can find the lesser short-toed lark, the Canary stonechat, the tit, the Spanish sparrow, etc. In mountainous areas, you can find a series of nesting birds such as the Egyptian vulture, the hawk, the fish hawk or sea eagle (on cliffs), the barn owl, etc.
In terms of sea fauna, there are about 390 species of fish, categorised into 117 families. As a result of the Canary Island sea currents, the waters have anomalies in salinity and temperature and this has had an influence on aquatic life, allowing the existence of fish which belong to different faunistic regions.
Wild mammals include the hedgehog, the bat, the rabbit, the brown squirrel, etc. The brown squirrel was recent introduced onto the island from Africa and has had a destructive effect on island agriculture.
Among the domestic animals, we should mention the bardino cattle dog, native to the island, the Fuerteventuran goat, the sheep, the pig, the horse, the dromedary, the donkey, the cat, etc. The distribution areas both of the island flora and fauna are protected within the designated areas of ecological interest.
Although there is ample data about the wealth of plants in Fuerteventura, they are not so visible on the landscape. Palm and tamarisk trees, almost the only examples of indigenous trees, can be found on the banks of the gulleys, in the bottoms of the valleys, and in particular, on the edges of the ‘gavias’: irrigated terraces which take full advantage of land and water, minimising the loss of extremely valuable resources.
Thicket stretches indifferently along south or north-facing slopes, indicating that this plant is easily able to adapt to island conditions. A plant which is similar to gorse but with a more restricted distribution is the bitter spurge. It is mainly found at the top of average height hills, both on damp and sunny slopes, although it prefers sunny.
The Jandía Thistle (Euphorbia handiensis) is a 80cm-1m high cactus bush, often with a lot of branches. It has small, red flowers at the ends of its branches. The fruit are brown or red capsules, which open violently when ripe. They can currently only be found in a small valley in the Jandía peninsula.
The saltmarsh consists mainly of chenopodiaceae shrubs such as thicket, shrubby seablite, tebete, saladillo, marine thyme, sea-grape, etc. The special soil conditions in the saltmarsh have lead to the appearance of a particular vegetation consisting of salt-tolerant plants.
Nauplius intermedius is endemic to Fuerteventura and grows in the higher parts of the island, preferably on the slopes which are most exposed to the prevailing winds.
False yellowhead is a plant which was introduced. It has yellow flowers and always grows on fresh slopes and roadsides.
The verol bush is endemic to the Canary Islands and very common in Fuerteventura where it can be found on rocky, sunny slopes.
The farroba, endemic to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, can be found in some fig cactus groves in Betancuria and Vega de Río Palmas.
As well as the naturally developed species, those introduced form an important part of the landscape of our island. In particular, it is worth mentioning the pine and acacia trees, the fig cacti, and the henequens.
And finally, the perfect way to enjoy the living nature of the island of Fuerteventura is to stay in the countryside in a rural house.
“Life is either an adventure or it is nothing.”