The Middle East

Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus ©Dubi Shapiro Website

The Middle-east is not a continent in the recognised sense of the term but more or less an area which seems not to be fully part of Europe, Asia or Africa, much of it, historically was known as ‘Asia Minor’. Moreover, no-one seems to agree on which nations make up the grouping. Some think Turkey and Cyprus are part of the Middle East whilst others place these countries in Europe. Some include Egypt, although it is clearly part of Africa. Fatbirder merely follows popular culture and political opinion  and includes all the countries sometimes referred to as the middle east, some of the links connect to pages that are located within other continents – such as Egypt and Armenia.

The governments of some middle-eastern countries are at the forefront of good conservation and have put much effort in to preserving bird life in the wild. Sadly, however, a web search is likely to come across many references to Falconry which has many devotees among the richest people the Middle East. This practice drives a trade in illegally taken birds rather than those bred in captivity and, in some places, is also responsible for the endangerment of other bird species such as bustards etc. Nevertheless, there is hope as more as more countries recognise the need to conserve wildlife and their wild places for the sake of humanity, if not truly for the sake of nature itself.

One must tread very lightly too for fear of treading on political sensitivities. The middle east has had wars and insurgencies have been rife, ever since the end of WW2. The State of Israel remains at the centre of many of these conflicts as some fight to protect its very existence and others seek to change its borders or abolish it altogether. Internecine strife has been tearing Syria apart for many years while the Lebanon has been through similar problems. The Yemen has been described as a rogue state and post-war Iraq houses divided and rival communities. Human rights are compromised in many places and personal freedoms subject to narrow confines.

Tuwaiq Escarpmenr, Saudi Arabia Dunwich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Leaving all politics aside one can decry all these conflicts as disasters for conservation which have included the almost total destruction of marshland in Iraq only now beginning to slowly re-build. Regardless of the delicate state of politics and the delicate local environments, the middle east is also a major migration route for millions of birds flying north or south from or to Africa or Europe and Asia proper. In a few places such as around the north of the Red Sea bird tourism is a regular industry. If there was political stability and consistent conservation this continental crossroads would surely attract many more green tourist visitors.

Birding the Middle East

Information about the birds of the area can be found on individual nation’s pages.

Useful Reading

  • A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Egypt and the Middle East

    | By Richard Hoath | John Beaufoy Publishing | 2022 | Paperback | 176 pages, colour photos, tables | ISBN: 9781913679026 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East

    | By Lars Jonsson | Christopher Helm | 2005 | Paperback | 559 pages, 140 col plates, col distribution maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713676006 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
  • Birds of the Bible

    | (A Guide for Bible Readers and Birdwatchers) | by Peter Goodfellow | John Beaufoy Books | 2013 | Paperback | 160 pages, 80 colour illustrations | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781909612143 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Middle East

    | By AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, Jens Eriksen & Richard Porter | Helm | 2022 | Paperback | 224 pages, 400 colour photos | ISBN: 9781472986757 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Middle East

    | By Richard Porter, Simon Aspinall, A Birch, John Gale, Mike Langman, Brian E Small | Helm | 2024 | Edition 3 | Paperback | 400 pages, 180 colour plates, 636 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781399401968 Buy this book from
  • Flight Identification of Raptors of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

    | By Dick Forsman | Bloomsbury | 2016 | Hardback | 544 pages, 1095 colour photos, 7 colour & b/w illustrations, 1 colour table | ISBN: 9781472913616 Buy this book from
Birding Aps
  • eGuide to Birds of the Middle East

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Paintings; 800+ species | | 214.9 MB | Requires iOS 9.3 or later |

    The eGuide to Birds of the Middle East is an interactive companion to the Birds of the Middle East field guide – the comprehensive guide for birdwatchers visiting the region. It covers Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, the Arabian peninsula and Socotra. This application has specific features that will enhance your birding experience.
  • BirdLife

    BirdLife International seeks to conserve all birds species on earth and their habitats and, through this, it works for the world`s biological diversity. It recognizes that the problems affecting birds, their habitat and our global environment are linked inseparably with social, economic and cultural factors and that these can only be resolved if human societies function in an ecologically sustainable manner and if the needs, welfare and aspirations of people form a part of all conservation action.
  • Ornithological Society of the Middle East

    The Ornithological Society of the Middle East was formed in April 1978 as a successor to the Ornithological Society of Turkey. Its aims are as follows: To collect, collate and publish ornithological data on birds of the Middle East. To encourage an interest in and conservation of birds of the Middle East. To assist environmental and conservation organisations and natural history societies in and concerned with ornithological studies and activities in the Middle East.
Trip Reports
  • Multiple

    OSME is pleased to present a wide range of trip reports relating to the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia and is grateful to the observers who have allowed them to be posted on the website. Click on the links below to access each individual report.

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content