The Greek Islands: Naxos

Naxos (Central Cyclades)

This mountainous island, with the highest peak in the Cyclades, Mt. Zas (Zeus, Zefs) or Dias (all of which are names for Zeus) at 1008 meters (3306 feet), has many gorges and ravines between the various lower mountains that dot the island, all of which offer good habitat to birds of prey and wildlife in general. Naxos is also the biggest island of the Cyclades and at one time was its capital but has since been supplanted by Syros for this distinction.

The island has a lot of scrub land, but also plane trees along its several good streams, holm oak, cypress, and even some pine. Some of the birds of prey found in good numbers here are declining in many other places.

scrub landA colony of about a dozen griffon vultures has been recorded, as well as three or four pairs of long-legged buzzards, breeding peregrines, several pairs of Eleonora's falcons (which breed both on the cliffs and on offshore islands).

Bonelli's eagles also breed here, which is especially impressive given perhaps only 50 pairs of these birds recorded in all of Greece; two kinds of shearwaters also breed on the island. The Scops owl is also found here, and can be heard tooting in the villages at night. Migratory birds are also a spectacle on Naxos in spring and autumn. Flora is not exceptional, but there are quite a few kinds of orchids, including some rare species.