Arab Republic of Egypt

Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus ©Steve Arlow Website
Birding Egypt

Egypt is situated at the juncture of Africa and Asia. Due to its unique location, it is considered part of North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin and shares much in the way of history, culture and nature with all of these three geographic realms. Considered a developing nation, Egypt is one of the most advanced and politically stable countries on the African continent. With a population of over 65 million, Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world. The majority are Moslem, but around 15% are Coptic [Christians]. Most of the population is confined to the Nile Valley and Delta, with the deserts having some of the lowest population densities in the world. Cairo is Egypt’s capital and one of the world’s largest cities with some 17 million inhabitants. A land of contrasts, traditional cultures are juxtaposed with modern communities and technology.

Egypt is best known for its antiquities. The country possesses a wealth of prehistoric, Pharonic, Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic sites. One can encounter antiquities almost anywhere, but the most visited sites are those in Cairo and Upper Egypt. The Pharonic sites are truly extraordinary and have marvelled travellers since ancient times. However, the country is also blessed with a wide range of habitats each with its own unique plant and animal life. Egypt’s natural heritage is as rich as her cultural heritage. Egypt is blessed with a wide range of habitats each with its own unique plant and animal life. There are substantial marine and coastal resources (Mediterranean, Red Sea); vast desert wilderness (Western Desert, Eastern Desert, the Sinai); expansive wetlands (Nile River, lakes) and fertile agricultural lands.

As for birds, over 470 species have been recorded. Two-thirds of these are migrants, only one third are resident and found in Egypt year round. Resident birds of interest are Shaharo-Sindian species, African species not found elsewhere in the Western Palaearctic and Red Sea birds. As the only land bridge between Europe and Asia, Egypt is situated on major migration routes, particularly for soaring birds. Egyptian wetlands are internationally important wintering grounds for water birds. Some African species, such as Sooty Falcon come north to breed in Egypt during the summer months. Birding in Egypt is good throughout the year; in a two week period between 160 to over 200 species can be expected. Target species and weather tend to be the main considerations in deciding when to come. The spring and autumn migration are the best times to see the greatest numbers and diversity of birds and the weather tends to be warm. Summer is very hot, but is a good season to see residents and Red Sea and Abu Simbel specialties. During winter the Nile and associated wetlands teem with wintering water birds and the weather is warm to cold depending upon where you are in the country.

The average trip to Egypt is 10 days to two weeks; most people combine birding with history. Fortunately, the major antiquities tend to be good locations for birding. The standard organised itinerary includes Cairo (Pyramids and Sphinx, Egyptian Museum) and African residents (Painted Snipe, Senegal Coucal); Hurghada (sun and beach) and Red Sea birds (White-eyed Gull, White-cheeked Tern); Luxor (Karnak Temple, the tombs of Kings and Queens) and Upper Egypt resident (Nile Valley Sunbird): Aswan (Temple of Philae) and herons (Green-backed Heron); Abu Simbel (Ramsis Temple) and African summer visitors (Yellow-billed Stork, Pink-backed Pelican); and the Sinai (St Katherine Monastery, spectacular coral reefs) and specialties found no where in the country (Sinai Rosefinch, Palestine Sunbird). Egypt has a fledgling nature tourism industry. The largest sector is Red Sea diving, followed by desert safari tours and trekking in the high altitude mountains of South Sinai. In Egypt there is little by way of eco-lodges, camping grounds or other eco-tourism facilities. There are 21 Protected Areas scattered around the country, many of which are good locations to see birds.

Egypt offers visitors much more to see and do, such as photography, shopping and relaxing on the beach. There is something for everyone so it is an ideal place for a family vacation or for couples where one individual is a non-birder. With an advanced tourism infrastructure and some of the most affordable prices in the Mediterranean, Egypt is a popular tourist destination. Hotels of all standards and prices can be found. A wide variety of food is served from oriental specialties to international cuisine, including fast food chains like McDonald’s. (As a fairly liberal Moslem country, beer and wine is widely sold). There are all kinds of transportation between major cities(bus, train, plane and ferry). Although car hire is available, driving in Egypt is very challenging so chauffeured driven vehicles and other transport is recommended. One of the nicest ways to see Upper Egypt is by Nile Cruise. What makes Egypt special are the people. Egyptians are among the world’s friendliest people, always wanting to help and chat with foreigners. While Arabic is the national language, in tourist areas a wide variety of languages are spoken. Most know some English, which is commonly used on signs. Egypt is an extremely safe country to travel; there is very little crime. Security has been tight since the terrorist problems in the 90s.

Visitors to Egypt do not have to worry about malaria, yellow-fever and other tropical diseases. The most common maladies are stomach ailments (Pharaoh’s revenge). Foreigners are advised to take the necessary precautions regarding what and where they eat and drink. Heat also has been known to take a toll on visitors so one should drink lots of water, wear a hat and apply plenty of sunscreen. Egypt has few local birders or companies geared to birding tourism. At present there is only one reliable local bird tour operator organizing tours for independent travellers and companies. A number of UK based birding tour companies offer trips to Egypt. While travelling on your own in Egypt is easy and safe, tours tend to be a much more convenient way to travel.

  • (The Late) Mindy Baha El Din

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 493

    (Asat September 2019)
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    Egypt (Asia)
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • iGoTerra Checklist - Eqypt

    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • iGoTerra Checklist of the Indian Ocean

    Egypt (Africa)
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

    | (An Annotated Checklist) | By Dominic Mitchell | Lynx Edicions | 2017 | Hardback | 335 pages, 1 b/w illustration, 1 b/w map | ISBN: 9788494189296 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East

    | (A Photographic Guide) | By Frédéric Jiguet & Aurélien Audevard | Princeton University Press | 2017 | Paperback | 447 pages, 2200 colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780691172439 Buy this book from
  • Common Birds of Egypt

    | By Bertel Bruun & Sherif Baha El Din | The American University in Cairo Press | 1994 | Paperback | 52 pages, Colour illustrations | ISBN: 9789774242397 Buy this book from
  • Finding Birds in Egypt

    | By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2011 | Paperback | 26 pages, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781907316050 Buy this book from
  • Pharaohs' Birds

    | ( A Guide to Ancient and Present-Day Birds in Egypt) | By John Miles | Miles and Miles of Countryside | 1998 | Papeback | 210 pages, 60 col plates, colour illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9789774244902 Buy this book from
  • African Bird Club

    With a good tourist infrastructure and many historical sites to visit, Egypt is a popular destination. Luckily for birdwatchers, tourist destinations such as the Pyramids, the Red Sea and the Upper Nile coincide with important locations for birdwatching. Its strategic position with a land bridge and short sea crossings between Africa and Asia ensures that Egypt is an important country for migrants and wintering species.
  • Nature Conservation Egypt [Birdlife Partner]

    Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE) is a non-government organization that is dedicated to the conservation of Egypt's natural heritage and the promotion of it's sustainable use for the benefit of the present and future generations. NCE also seeks to build partnerships with local and international bodies with similar interests. It achieves these aims through demonstration of practical conservation measures, awareness raising activities, studies and lobbying.For more information, contact us on:

Abbreviations Key

  • IBAs

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Nile supports most of the country's wetlands which are some of Egypt's most important habitats supporting the greatest diversity and density of bird species. The major inland wetland areas are as follows: the Bitter Lakes; Wadi El Natrun; Lake Qarun; Wadi El Rayan Lakes and Nile river and Lake Nasser. There are six major coastal lagoons on the Mediterranean: Bardawil; Malaha; Manzala; Burullus; Idku and Maryut. The Red Sea coastal habitats and wetlands include mudflats, reefs, mangroves and marine islands. Oases are the only source of water over much of the western desert, the principal ones being Maghra, Siwa, Wadi El Rayan, Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga, Kurkur and Dungul
  • NP Ras Muhammad

    InformationSatellite View
    A national park in Egypt at the southern extreme of the Sinai Peninsula, overlooking the Gulf of Suez on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east.
  • National Parks in Egypt

    InformationSatellite View
    To date, 28 protectorates have been declared, ranging from coastal, wetlands, geological and coastal protectorates.
  • PA Zaranik

    InformationSatellite View
    Some 270 bird species have been reported in Zaranik. Only 10 species are known to breed in the Protected Area, of which Sterna albifrons and Charadrius alexandrinus are the most numerous and prominent. Zaranik is also the only locality in Egypt where Recurvirostra avosetta is known to breed on a regular basis (five pairs in summer 1994), and large numbers also winter (up to 700, December 1998).
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Memphis Tours

    Tour Operator
    A wonderful exclusive tour for ‘Bird Watchers’ on this 3 hour Bird Watching Tour in Aswan with Mr Mohamed Arabi known as the Birdman of Aswan. Take a scenic ride in a felucca around the Cataract Islands to see up to many species of local birds and pretty flora and fauna in a most delightful environment.
  • True Dream Egypt

    Facebook Page
    We are tour operators in Egypt specialized in The Woman Tours, Protected Areas' Tours, Birds Watching Tours, bible tours, disabled (handicap) Tours, felucca tours, Golf tours and Diving Adventures’ Tours.
Trip Reports
  • 2016 [03 March] - Michael Southcott - Hurghada

    The morning of the 19th, before breakfast was a walk from the hotel to the lagoon this was c.2km open stretch of beach with a small fishing village right next to a Army base, we were warned here by one of the fishermen to be careful with the camera's ..Of note Caspian Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Kentish & Grey Plover and Northern Wheatear.
  • 2016 [05 May] - Bob Swann

    PDF Report
    ...We then started our long journey heading north up the Red Sea coast road to Ras Gharbh. Enroute a couple ofSteppe Buzzards, Black Kite and a group of 16 migrating Great White Pelicans. At Ras Garbh turned west tocross the desert. Very birdless apart from occasional Brown-necked Ravens and a single Hoopoe Lark. Weeventually arrived in the Nile Valley near Beni Mazar and started seeing lots of birds. We crossed the Nile over anew bridge at Beni Mazar and on the west side stopped at a roadside ‘café’ for some lunch. In the adjacent canal asingle bush contained a large colony of Cattle Egret, with a few Little Egret. Along the canal – Moorhen, WhiteBreastedKingfisher, Hoopoe, lots of House Sparrows, whilst Common Kestrel hunted over the adjacent fields...
  • 2016 [10 October] - Ray O'Reilly - El Gouna, Red Sea

    PDF Report
    ...El Gouna is a resort around 24 Kilometres, North of Hurghada on the Red Sea and is an oasis in a surrounding desert. It is South-west of Ras Muhammad on the main part of Egypt and not on the Sinai Peninsula. It looks ideally placed for migrant birds and one rarely needs to leave the resort...
  • 2017 [03 March] - Stefan Stürup - Hurghada

    PDF Report
    This report covers the bird sightings made during a week’s family vacation in Hurghada with a non-birding wife and little time was spend birding. This report just to show, that it is still possible to see some interesting and nice birds in the Hurghada area...
  • 2017 [05 May] - Erik Forsyth & Cuan Rush - Egypt & Petra

    PDF Report
    ...An early start birding around our hotel produced scope looks at a Chukar Partridge posing on a rock and a confiding pair of Palestine Sunbird in the garden. After breakfast we headed for the city of Petra. Petra in Jordan is one of the world’s most remarkable antiquities and regarded as the most astounding ancient c ity left in the modern world...
  • 2017 [09 September] - Martin Pitt - Luxor & the Nile

    PDF Report
    This was another trip that was focused as a family holiday and for the first time we stayed put in single location.
  • 2017 [09 September] - Valentin Moswer - Marsa Alam, Red Sea coast

    PDF Report
    We did a desert sunrise quad tour with Oscar safari (Has his stand outside the Three Corners Sea Beach resort). This turned out to be great birding! The best places anywhere in the desert are the isolated trees, often with 4+ species in a small tree. Our guide, Emil (make sure you get him) quickly got what I wanted and stopped at every tree and pointing out birds in general. He took us to a great little wadi full with desert larks (besides the usual migrants). Best of the quad tour however was a little group of Sand Partridge at the spot where we watched the sunrise.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Ray O'Reilly & Lyn Griffiths - El Gouna, Red Sea

    PDF Report
    El Gouna is a resort around 24 Kilometres, North of Hurghada on the Red Sea and is an oasis in a surrounding desert. It is Southwest of Ras Muhammad on the main part of Egypt and not on the Sinai Peninsula. It looks ideally placed for migrant birds and one rarely needs to leave the resort to find them.
  • 2019 [03 March] - Garry Rowe

    Decided on a last minute break at Hurghada staying south of the airport at Jasmine Palace resort. The trip included a cultural visit to Luxor where we over-nighted at the Lotus Hotel. This was a good move as there was an active pair of Senegal Thick-knees in the vacant plot next to the hotel and these were only visible from our 4th floor balcony.
Other Links
  • Birds of the Red Sea - Eilat

    Slide show
  • Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus

    Profile with image etc.

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