Strait of Messina


The natural setting of the site

The Strait of Messina is located in Southern Italy, between the southernmost end of the Italian Peninsula and Sicily. The Sicilian side of the Strait is characterized by the Peloritani mountain chain, the highest relief is 1286 m a.s.l. Only the 30 % of the area is covered by woods and there are large open areas. The continental side of the Strait is characterized by a rough orography with marked river valleys. On this side, at lower altitudes urban areas and villages are frequent while on the upper side the Aspromonte mountain chain (max. altitude 1955 m a.s.l.) is covered by beech woods.

The migration survey

This site is the most important bottle-neck in the Central Mediterranean area. Observations started in late 80’s to attempt the stop the illegal hunting that, also if less than in the past, is still going on on the continental side. In spring it is possible to observe the migration from both side of the Strait, the most famous Sicilian watchsites are Mount Dinnamare and Mount Ciccia. While on the Calabrian side the best watchsites are on the Aspromonte mountain. 20-30 thousand raptors are counted every spring from March until the end of May, the commonest species are: Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Hobby, moreover storks and Bee-eaters also migrate at the site. In autumn the migration the main watchpoint is on the western slope of the Aspromonte mountain (approx. altitude 1100 m a.s.l.) between the villages of Gambarie and Delianuova. The monitoring began ten years ago and took place in an irregular way over the years. In autumn 2018 about 30000 birds of prey have been observed, most of them were European Honey Buzzards, Western Marsh Harriers and Black Kites.

Different associations and institutions are promoting activities related to raptor migration at the Strait. Since 2014 MEDRAPTORS, together with Ornis italica, is running the Strait of Messina Bird Observatory project by monitoring the migration both in spring and autumn and integrating visual observations with radar.

How to get there?

The closest airport is in Reggio Calabria, from that town there are trains and bus to reach the other towns and villages in the surrounding as well as boats to reach Sicily. To reach the village of Gambarie there is a bus leaving in front of the central train station of Reggio Calabria.



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