The Bird Hotel

March 26, 2013 / Places
Vendicari, Sicilia
vend spoonbill 300 x 323When cold winters in northern Europe send the hoards flocking southwards, many make a stopover at the Bird Hotel.

Vendicari, a protected coastal area in the southernmost corner of Sicily, has been dubbed the “Bird Hotel,” for its population of migratory birds.  From fall through spring, human visitors are rewarded with sightings of elegant flamingoes, grey and purple herons, red-legged stilts, black cormorants perched on rocks with their wings spread to the wind, avocets with their long curved beaks, black and white storks, little terns and snowy white egrets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen there are the foraging spoonbills swinging their long beaks through the water, glossy  ibis, hundreds of ducks including the plump shellduck that is the park’s symbol, and the gaudy bee-eater   – and that’s just to name a very few.  Every week during the migratory season the population of the Bird Hotel changes, and birdwatchers will rarely be disappointed.

Many birds stay in the marshes – some of which were once used for gathering sea salt – to rest and fatten up before flying on to winter in Africa, and then reverse their route in springtime.  A number of birds find that Vendicari’s mild climate is just fine, and stay the winter, flying back north in spring.

vend cormorano spread wings 242 x 209There is also a population of about 30 flamingoes that have made Vendicari their permanent home.  Since this corner of Sicily is roughly at the same latitude as Tunis, with the mildest winter weather in Europe, they find that the Bird Hotel is ideal as a full-time residence, too.

About one hour south of Syracuse, Vendicari is open every day from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm and there are bird blinds for viewing at the edge of 3 different pantani, the marshes where most birds are to be found.  Bring your binoculars and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, thanking environmentalists for saving this little piece of paradise from a developer’s bulldozers.

ve bee-eater gruccione damiano luchetti 600 x 293

vend flamingoes 606 x 310

vend pinky flamingo sunset 615 x 397

Anita Iaconangelo

by Anita Iaconangelo

An expert on walking and culinary tours in many areas of Italy, with a special focus on Sicily, Anita Iaconangelo is the founder of Italian Connection Tours and author of the blog Anita’s Italy. She is currently at work on a book entitled Savoring Sicily: A Culinary Quest. 

12 Responses to “The Bird Hotel”

  1. Peggy and Bob Corrao in Bermuda

    Fabulous! We will visit this beautiful place.

  2. Stunning pictures–my only wish is that I could see them enlarged, or better yet, visit and see the birds in person. Thank you for a great article, Anita!

  3. Sandra Spector

    Wonderful, charming article. Really makes me want to take a special trip back to Sicily just for the bird viewing.

  4. Mary Ellen Gadski

    Your byline really made me laugh: tour planner, writer, and plumber! Apparently you know something about food too from the title of your forthcoming book, which I will watch for. (Fred Plotkin’s book is becoming outdated.)
    I recall seeing Vendicari on the map when driving from Noto back to Siracusa. Now I know what we missed! It is a destination worth its own trip.

  5. Ms. Jimmie Ellis, HMC, USN Retired

    Anita, thank you so MUCH for this article! It is a sorrow that I did not get there during the two years I was stationed at Sigonella (near Catania), Sicily. Friends and I did spend many hours rambling around Siracusa. Missed this scenic corner. Hope to see it next time around.


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