The following species are listed in the Appendix I of the Birds Directive:

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Migratory raptor of medium size, nesting in the summer in all the principal wooded areas of the district.   Predator specialised in hunting hymenoptera, heavy-winged insects such as wasps, bees and ants.   In nineteen seventy-seven, the presence of twenty nesting pairs were identified in the district.  By the year two-thousand, fifty regularly-nesting pairs were surveyed.

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

This medium sized migratory raptor nests throughout the area in the summer.  The species is uniformly distributed throughout the district’s principal wooded areas and competes for nesting sites with the Red Kite.   In nineteen seventy-seven fifteen to twenty Black Kite pairs of nested in the Tolfa Mountains.  According to the most recent research in the Special Protection Area, the number of nesting pairs was noticeably augmented (more than fifty pairs), thanks above all to the copious availability of food to be found in the Bracciano and Civitavecchia landfill sites.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

This medium-sized raptor, is sedentary and winters in the Tolfa Mountains, but in other regions is regarded as migrates, nesting in the woods of this district.   The species is in danger of extinction.   There is a current population of 100-120 individuals present during the winter in the Tolfa Mountains.   In nineteen-seventy, three nesting pairs were surveyed .  Successively the species has shown a tendency to increase until thirteen nesting pairs were certified in 2010.

Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)

This raptor of medium dimension,  a member of the Kite family, in Italian is known as the Great White one, and has many similarities to the genus Aquila (true eagles) which is why in English it is known as the Short-Toed Eagle.  A specialised migrator, which nests in the summer, it preys specifically on snakes, for which, in Italy it has earned the nickname “l’aquila dei serpenti” or the Snake Eagle.  In particular, it’s preferred diet is comprised of the Green Whip Snake.   In nineteen seventy-seven, there were between five and nine nesting pairs in the Tolfa Mountains region.  According to the most recent data collected, the population of Short-Toed Eagles in the Special Protection Area is around twenty pairs.

Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)

This medium sized raptor, migrates and nests during the summer in cultivated fields of cereals and fodder.   The nesting population is  vulnerable and has halved in the course of the last fifteen years.  The current population is no greater than seven nesting pairs distributed across the north of the region.

Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)

This medium sized raptor has a typical falcon silhouette.  The non-migratory species nests in tufaceous rock.   In nineteen seventy-seven, the species nested in at least two sites in the region.  Successively the species did not nest here until two thousand and seven, when one pair successfully reproduced bringing three young into the world.   In the region of the Tolfa Mountains, the single pair present is strongly endangered.

Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius Minor)

This  small bird migrates regularly and nests in trees and bushes in sites mostly used for pasture with a low density of this type of vegetation.   Considered an endangered species, it is successfully breeding in this area with a population of fifteen to thirty nesting pairs.

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

This is a regularly migrating small bird, nesting in the area.   In the Tolfa Mountains, the species nests at the edges of the woods on isolated copses and sometimes in hedges.  The nesting population in the Tolfa Mountains is three to four hundred pairs.

Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)

This  small bird, is the largest of the Common Lark family.  The species is non-migratory and nests on the ground in the local pastures.  This Lark has an unfavourable conservation status, recent years have seen the species become rarer due to the progressive development of pastures for cultivation.

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)

This  small bird, looks like a small Lark and is a trans-Saharan migratory nesting in the area.  The population is in constant decline.  In the meadows and the pastures of the area, five to ten nesting pairs were identified nesting in the summer period.

Tawny Pipit (Anthus Campestris)

This small bird nests in open, arid and sunny places which face towards the sea, above all in the Boroughs of Santa Marinella and Allumiere.   It is estimated that there is a population of thirty to fifty nesting pairs.

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

This  great wader regularly migrates, but is rare and vunerable with an unfavourable conservation status.  In the Tolfa mountains, it has been reported attempting to nest in high in cliffs or in woodland trees.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Small, brightly coloured bird with a short tail and a large head is a sedentary species which nests in the area.  It has blue upperparts, orange underparts and a long bill. It feeds mainly on fish, caught by diving, and has special visual adaptions to enable it to see prey under water.

The presence of the Kingfisher is an indicator  of the good state of conservation of a source of water.  The population in the Special Protection Area is ten nesting pairs.

European Roller (Coracias garrulous)

A bird with a robust body similar to a small raven has extremely bright plumage.  The species migrates regularly and nests in the area in both natural and artificial caves.  The European Roller has an unfavourable conservation status.   In the Special Protection Area, the estimated size of the population is 40 nesting pairs.

Eurasian Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)

A rather large wader with a big head and long legs, migrates and nests regularly with partially sedentary populations in Lazio.    Nesting in pastures and meadows  in arid zones and alongside rivers.  The population is incrementing, and currently counts thirty nesting pairs.

Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana)

A small songbird, the Ortolan is migratory and nests in this area in the summer months.  In the Tolfa mountains the species is localised and rare.   It nests in cultivated fields, in hedges, trees and in isolated shrubs.  The overall nesting population is in decline and there are few breeding pairs.

European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)

An elongated bird with a large head and crepuscular and nocturnal habits.  A regular migrator, it nests on the ground in the woods, in open heathland and on bracken-covered slopes.  The Nightjar has a non-favourable conservation status and in the Tolfa Mountains area, 15-40 nesting couples can be counted.

Woodlark (Lullula arborea)

Small songbird with a rounded shape similar to a lark.   The Tolfa Mountains population is not migratory but European Individuals also pass through and winter in the zone.   The population is in decline.   It nests on steep heath land and wide grassy clearings.   Currently there are between thirty and fifty nesting pairs.

Other species of community-wide interest which winter in the Special Protection Area or pass through are:  the Hen Harrier, the Merlin or Pidgeon Hawk (Falco columbarius), Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Lesser Kestrel,  Eleonora's falcon, the Booted Eagle and the Western Marsh Harrier.

Furthermore, until not long ago, the area was one of the last in central Italy to be often visited by the Egyptian Vulture whilst more recently the nesting of Peregrine Falcons was also verified here.

The following species are listed in the Appendices of the Habitats Directive:

The Insect

Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

This is the largest European coleopteran or Beetle, the male can reach eight centimetres long.  The female is smaller with head and jaws of smaller dimension.  The lava eats wood and reach maturity after between five and eight years.  Whilst the adult s feed on plant sap.  They actively fly in the twilight hours.  There is a good population in the Macchia di Manziana and in forests of oak, chestnut and beech in the region, but is diminishing across wider Europe and is therefore included in Annex II of the Habitats Directive.  The flying Beetle is threatened by the destruction of its habitat due to fires, chopping down old trees and the cleaning of stumps and dead trees from forests.

The great capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo)

This is one of the largest beetles in Europe reaching six centimetres in length.  The males, furthermore, have long antennaes of even ten centimetres long.  The lavæ feed on wood and reach maturity after three or four years.   The adults feed on leaves, flowers, fruit and sap.  It flies actively in twilight hours.  It’s a common species in the Macchia di Manziana and in the Oak forests of the district, but is in decline or extinct in several central European Countries.   For this region, it is included in Annex II and IV of the Habitats Directive.   The Species is threatened by the coppicing of oaks and the elimination of decrepit plants.

Rosalia longicorn (Rosalia alpina)

Beetle unmistakable by showy blue-grey to black spots that reaches about four centimetres in length.  The female has shorter antennae than the male.  The larvae feed on dead beech wood or detritus, and reach maturity after three years.  The species is present in the beach woods around Allumiere but is rare and vunerable and is included in Annex II and IV of the Habitats Directive.  The species is threatened by the destruction of old Beech trees, the removal of dead wood and the closure of clearings in the Beech forests.

Project actions will also have positive effects on the following species included in Annex II and IV of the Habitats Directive:

Anfibi e rettili

Spectacled Salamander (Salamandra perspicillata)

An amphibian that lives mostly in rivers and fresh-water marshes and is found only in Italy.  It has mainly nocturnal and crepuscular habits, but sometimes can be seen during the day after prolonged rainfall or in early spring during its mating period.  It lives near springs and fountains and wetlands hiding amongst rocks and under leaves and stumps.  In case of danger, the Salamander can feign death or sometimes turn over showing colourful belly and tail.  The species is threatened by river pollution and by the abandonment of the non-natural management of fountains.

Italian Crested Newt (Triturus carnifex)

This is the largest Italian Newt which reaches fourteen to eighteen centimetres in length including its tail.  In the breeding season, the males of this amphibious Salamander have a spinal ridge with serated margins as much as a centimetre high.  In this district it lives in waterways, ponds, pools, fountains where there is a rich aquatic vegetation.  The species is threatened by the destruction or the alteration of the breeding sites by the release into the waterways of aquatic predators.

Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina pachypus)

Small five-centimetre long amphibian of the toad family, endemic to Italy and very rare.  It presents a dark dorsal colouration whilst the ventral side is yellow-orange with blue stains.  It lives in small wetlands such as pools, ponds and fountains and the species is declining due to the destruction of these little areas and indiscriminate gathering by collectors.


European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis)

This is a reptile of twenty centimetres, rare and localised, it prefers slow or standing water such as ponds, or bends of rivers with lush vegetation.   Has mostly aquatic habits but also found on dry land.  Normally carnivorous, it eats invertebrates and small creatures.   It is in decline in the Special Protection Area with increasingly small and isolated populations.   In particular, along the river Mignone, the species is also threatened by the illegal release of the Red-eared Slider of American origin.

Four-lined Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)

A reptile that can reach a length of two metres, this can be considered Europe and Italy’s largest non-venomous snake.  Preferring open woods and thickets of the maquis shrubland with grasslands and bushes, grass pasture, stone walls and wetlands.  In the Special Protection Area the species is threatened by fire, alteration of grasslands (clearing of stones from fields) and the destruction of dry stone walls.


Bats are most useful animals because they eat large amounts of insects including mosquitoes and insects harmful to agriculture.  They are the only mammals able to fly long distances , suckle their young and have small bodies covered in fur.  Their wings are made from thin skin stretched between the bones of the hands and long fingers.   Bats have a unique system of echo location:  they emit high frequency sounds that bounce off the surrounding environment, returning to the big ears of the animal which is thus able to navigate and locate its prey.   It spends the winter hibernating in caves, cellars, mines, buildings, and cavities in trees.   In the summer, they live in colonies giving birth and nursing one pup for about a month.  Today the population of bats is dramatically reduced.  These precious mammals are threatened by degradation of their natural environments, by uncontrolled cutting of forests and the excessive removal of dead trees and detritus and the human disturbance of wintering and breeding sites.

All the Italian species are protected by the Habitats Directive 92/43/CEE.  The Tolfa Mountains host diverse bat species, amongst which we record the Lesser Horseshoe Bat, the Greater Horseshoe Bat, the Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat, the Lesser Mouse-eared Bat, the Common Bent-wing Bat, the Long-Fingered Bat, and the Greater mouse-eared bat.

Translated by Ted O’Neill


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