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Syrian Arab Republic

Dead Sea Sparrow
Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus ©Steve Arlow Website

Birding Syria

The Syrian Arab Republic is situated between 32 and 37 degrees longitude north and 35 to 42 degrees latitude to the east and in the heart of the Middle East – a crossroads region for three continents; Asia, Africa and Europe. It is bounded by Turkey to the north, Jordan to the south and Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Its area is about 185,180 square kilometres and its population amounts to more than 16 million with a population density of 56.7 per square kilometre.

Syria contains six natural regions as follows: 1 – The western region which is contiguous with the Mediterranean Sea.2 – The agrarian region in the north. 3 – The mountainous region with irrigated oases in the mid-west. 4 – The flint regions in the south. 5 – The region of rivers and agrarian plains in the north-east. 6 – The deserts and plains.

There are 22 IBAs (important birds areas) in Syria: Abu Zad; Baath Lake; Buhayrat Homs; Buhayrat al-Asad; Buhayrat al-Khatuiyah; Buhayrat al-aha; Euphrates Valley; Jabal Abdul Aziz; Jabal al-Bilas; Jabal al-Bishri; Jabal al-Shuh; Jabal Sis; Jabal Slenfeh; Ras al-Ayn; Sabkhat al-Jabbul; Tadmur and Sabkhat Muh; Tual al-Abba; Umm al-Tuyyur; Wadi al-Zib; Wadi al-Qam-Burqush; Wadi al-Radd & Yarmouk valley

The Syrian Arab Republic is considered one of the least studied countries within the Mediterranean region when it comes to its bird life. No zoologist has ever carried out a biological survey of the region. So it is very difficult to give an authentic overview of Syrian wildlife, especially its birds. The present structure of Syria’s non-governmental environmental organisations and their very newness makes it difficult for them to choose between limited possibilities for avian research which is currently very limited in its scope.

No scientific survey works have been made of the birds of the country for a long time; only very recently has it begun again. The available information until now was a summary given by Kumerloeve (1967-1969), and Macfarlane (1978) contributed more by gathering information covering 1974 to 1977, then Baumgart and Stephan gathered information about birds until the end of 1983. However, during the four years starting from 2000, Dr. Gian Luca Serra in cooperation with Messrs Ahmad Jaber, Mahmoud Abdullah and Ghazi Al-Qaiyem made a survey of the birds in Al-Talila in the Palmyra desert. The very endangered Bald Ibis Geronticus eremite was observed during the first survey.

Birdlife International reported (July 2002) that a new colony of critically endangered Northern Bald Ibises was discovered in an Al Badia (desertic steppe) area of central Syria. The small colony contained three pairs which were discovered incubating eggs, and a seventh adult. This was the first evidence of the continued breeding of Northern Bald Ibises in the Middle East since a colony at Birecek in Turkey became extinct (1989). Since then there have been sporadic sightings in Saudi Arabia and Eritrea, suggesting that a breeding population still existed somewhere in the region.

A vital survey of the birds in the Deraa area is considered the first such a survey at a general level of the country. The field information now gathered within the two projects for recording the birds of Deraa zone were done by private individuals whose morale was high by virtue of the great support made by BirdLife International represented by Mr. Mike Evans, and by OSME represented by Mr. Keith Button.

This vital survey covered a geographical area estimated by 3,730 square kilometres containing 27 seasonal dams located in the southern region of the Syrian Arab Republic adjacent to the boundaries of Jordan and Palestine and which include the following ecologies: 1 – Valleys and dams ecology, 2 – plains for growing cereals ecology, 3 – Woods and mountains ecology, 4 – Farm trees ecology, 5 – Pasturage ecology in the southern region, 6 – Stony land ecology

Yousef Ali Alzaoby started work in July 2005 and reported that there were great successes from the start. His survey was set to take 3 to 4 years but we do not know if this was the case.

Obviously the civil war which started in 2012 and is still (July 2018) ongoing has disrupted normal civilian life in many areas especially the remoter more wild areas of the country and there is no opportunity to even assess the impact this is having on the wild world.

Contributor

Yousef Ali Alzaoby

Recording of birds of Daraa & Sweida area project –Freelance bird guide Syria – Daraa – Mousaifrh P.O.BOX 1 Mob: +963944798034 Tel&fax: +96315248387

Daraa, Syria

dqrz@hotmail.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 356

There are 13 species of threatened birds in Syria namely:

Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus Bald Ibis Geronticus ermita White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus Tawny Eagle Aquila helica Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina Lesser Kestrel Falca naumanni Saker Falcon Falco cherrug Great Bustard Otis tarda Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulate Sociable Plover Vanellus gregarious Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Birds of the Middle East

By Richard Porter, Simon Aspinall, A Birch, John Gale, Mike Langman, Brian E Small | Christopher Helm | 2010 | Paperback | 384 pages, 176 colour plates, 636 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780713676020

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

BirdLife

Website

…The number of bird species and their population densities are both relatively low. West Palearctic species predominate, and most of the species from this group which breed are confined to the Jibal al Nusayriyah and Jibal al-Sharqi ranges, the distribution of many extending down to the altitude of Damascus…

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

Wetland of International Importance

Website

The Syrian Arab Republic presently has just one site designated as a Wetland of International Importance, with a surface area of 10,000 hectares.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2009 [04 April] - Chris Bradshaw

Report

This was the second tour to Syria operated by Birdwatching Breaks following our ground-breaking tour of 2006. Once again the country demonstrated what excellent birding it can offer, with specialities including Northern Bald Ibis, Iraq Babbler, Syrian Serin, White-cheeked Bulbul and a wide selection of migrants and late wintering species all recorded during the course of the trip. In addition we included a visit to the magnificent Roman ruins at Palmyra and the crusader castle of Krak (Crac) des Chevaliers…

2010 [04 April] - John Bowler

Report

I spent 4 weeks in Syria on behalf of RSPB to assist in a bird monitoring programme in Protected Areas in the country set up and financed by UNDP/GEF. The initial plan was to spend 2 weeks bird surveying in Jebel Abdul Aziz PA in Al- Hasakeh Province in NE Syria. This worked well, but my return flight from Damascus was delayed by 11 days, thanks to the volcano in Iceland and thus I also spent a week surveying birds at Abu Qubies PA in Hama Province in Western Syria. I was greatly assisted throughout by the respective PA teams and by the UNDP staff in Damascus to whom I am most grateful…

2010 [04 April] - Mark Finn

Report

The tour was for the Highland Branch of the Scottish Ornithologists Club and proved to be a great success. Due to the relatively unknown status of birds and migration within Syria several interesting records were made plus many arriving and migrant species. Iraq Babbler and Syrian Serin were found fairly quickly in their relevant habitats. During our stay there was a significant passage of Steppe Buzzards and harriers plus an exceptionally early Levant Sparrowhawk and several Red-backed Shrikes…

2011 [03 March] - Göran Holm

PDF Report

…We saw several Bluethroats, loads of Chiffchaffs, one Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Caspian Stonechat, one Great Grey Shrike of the subsp. Homeyeri, some Lesser Short-Toed Larks, hundreds of Short-Toed Larks and Crested Larks, Field Pipits, Short-Toed Snake-Eagle, Long- Legged Buzzard and one Stone Curlew….

2011 [03 March] - Tomas Axén Haraldsson

PDF Report

The reason for the early Spring visit (mid-April has obviously more migrants and more species-rich birding) was my interest in seeing some of the late winter/early Spring species that might move through Syria at this time; Sociable Lapwing, Steppe Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Great Black-headed Gull, Cyprus Pied Wheatear to name some of the hoped-for highlights at this time.

Other Links

Checklist

Website

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Syria. The avifauna of Syria includes a total of 391 species, of which 11 are rare or accidental. 1 species listed is extirpated in Syria and is not included in the species count…