The Holy See, also known as Vatican City, is the world's smallest country. It is a city state occupying only 110 acres, about 0.17 square miles, and is wholly contained within the city of rome. It is home to roughly 800 people and is the base of the Catholic Church, and home to the Pope who is also the country's ruler.
Because the Holy See is an urban area, the wildlife there is limited as it would be in any urban environment. However, nearly a quarter of the Vatican City is dedicated to the Vatican Gardens, which provide habitat for some animals.
Formerly, the Vatican Gardens were home to animals collected from other countries and housed in cages. Ibexes, ostriches, and even lions were kept there. However, Pope Pius X banned all caged animals from the gardens as he could not bear to think of the animals deprived of their liberty.
Thus, today, the animals most likely to be observed in the Vatican are the varieties of birds found in the area.
The European Kestrel
, a brown falcon with a wingspan of up to three feet may be seen in the gardens. The Peregrine Falcon
, another bird of prey, is also fairly common to the area. Even Barn Owls may make an appearance in the Holy See.
Among the more beautiful and exotic species is the Hoopoe, a bright yellow and black bird with a crown of feathers along the top of its head. The Yellowhammer
is another brightly colored bird found here. Wryneck
woodpeckers can be found in the city. There are also several types of Old World birds including the Blue Rock Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher
, Cetti's Warbler, and Stonechat
. Other warblers like the Subalpine Warbler
, and Whitethroat. Not surprisingly, the Collared Dove, a relative of the pigeons so common in urban areas, is also present here.
During migration season, huge flocks of starlings may be seen over the Holy See and Rome. They form magnificent patterns in the sky as the flock moves together.