The Central Mediterranean and the Italian peninsula is an important migratory flyway for birds moving between Europe and Africa. Within this flyway, the Strait of Messina represents the main bottleneck, where more than 20.000 raptors and nocturnal migrants concentrate during their journey twice per year. With suitable weather conditions, tens of thousands of birds cross the short water surface between Sicily and continental Italy to reach their breeding grounds in central and eastern Europe in spring and return to Africa in the fall.
Honey buzzards are observed every year in large numbers and represent the most abundant migrating raptor species in the area. Black kites, marsh harriers, Montagu’s and pallid harriers, red-footed falcons, kestrels and lesser kestrels also concentrate at this watch site. White and black storks, cranes, bee-eaters and other non-raptor species can also be observed while nocturnal migration involves thousands of passerines undetected by observers.
The Strait of Messina is the only bottle-neck of international concern with more than 20.000 of migrating raptors in the Central Mediterranean area.
The Observatory is dedicated to Michele Panuccio (30/08/1976 – 16/06/2019). Michele started attending the Strait in the 1980s with the first volunteers to fight the poaching of Honey Buzzards. Since then he has pursued his passion for migration, in particular with reference to birds of prey, collaborating with many researchers, visiting the most important observatories in Europe and in the world, but never missing a migratory season from the Strait. The Strait Observatory owes Michele much of its origins.