The French Alps is renowned for it's rich diversity of birds and wildlife. To give you an idea of the importance of Alpine flora and fauna, there are ten national parks in France and three of them are in the French Alps; Ecrins National Park, Mercantour National Park and the Vanoise National Park, covering a total of 2853 square metres. National parks in France are natural zones protected from human activity with no farming or habitation except in exceptional circumstances permitted.
Thanks to the diversity of the natural terrain, climate and topography, as well as the many zones and levels of protection, the wildlife and birds of the Alps flourish and nature lovers will be absolutely in their element!
Popular animals to see:
- Chamois - members of the antelope family with characteristic white striped faces and short hooked horns,
- Ibex - wild goats, the male of which has enormous curved horns,
- Marmots - large furry and quite cute rodents with a piercing whistle
- Wolves - the top predators of the French Alps, wolves have re-established themselves in the last 20 years after being hunted out last century, bringing with them a complex controversy amongst ecologists, farmers and locals.
- Lynx - much more elusive predators than even the wolf, the lynx is the big cat of the Alps
- Mouflon - these wild sheep with large circular horns, are not natural to the Alps but were introduced from Corsica and now play an important role in the natural Alpine ecosystem.
You can have a look at our page about wildlife in the French Alps for more information about the most popular species. There are also deer, wild boar, foxes, hares, pine martens, wild cats, badgers, red squirrels and many more wild animals to get excited about on one of our wildlife watching activities.
For bird watchers, the number of rare species and must see birds attracts thousands of bird watchers to the area every year.
Popular birds to see:
- Black Grouse - with it's famous group mating dance, the lek that takes place in spring
- Golden Eagle - with many pairs making the Alps their home it is relatively easy to spot these impressive birds of prey
- Eagle Owl - with it's characteristic hairy ear tufts, this is one of the largest species of owl. The larger female can reach a wingspan of 188cm
- Alpine Wall Creeper - this amazing little bird with it's extraordinary crimson wings lives in hard to reach cliffs of the Alpine mountains between 1000m and 3000m
- Nutcracker - this amazing little bird has a reciprocal relationship with certain species of pine trees, the source of it's main food source, the seeds, which it stores in cachets around the forest stimulating the regrowth of new trees.
- Ptarmigan - a plump game bird that becomes completely white in winter to camouflage against the snow of the high Alps.
There are also many more birds to see including the snake eagle, kites, rock partridge, many types of the thrush and finch families... the list is endless!
With our local wildlife and bird experts, you can try a one off wildlife or bird watching experience on one of our customisable winter activity holidays or summer activity holidays. We also have trips dedicated to wildlife watching including our very popular wolf tracking trip which takes place in the winter.