The Middle East

Scops Owl Otus scops ©Mike Pope Website

Birding The Middle East

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. Moreover, no-one seems to agree on which nations make up the grouping. Some think Turkey and Cyprus are part of it whilst others place these countries in Europe. Some count Egypt in although it is clearly part of Africa… we do not pronounce an opinion, we just cover all the area I have seen referred to as the middle east and duplicate some entries which I cover in other continents.

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 their countries despite the lack of interest of many local people. Some of those nations could afford to create very interesting web-sites. Few do.

However, search the web and one is likely to come across many references to Falconry which has many devotees in the Middle East. It is sad that this 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 and more countries recognise the need to conserve wildlife and their wild places.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 some years while the Lebanon has been through similar problems. The Yemen has been described as a rogue state and both Iran and Iraq have had on-going insurgencies too. 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. 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.

Useful Reading

  • 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 | 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 | ISBN: 9781909612143 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Middle East

    | By Richard Porter, Simon Aspinall, A Birch, John Gale, Mike Langman, Brian E Small | Christopher Helm | 2010 | 384 pages, 176 colour plates, 636 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713676020 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
  • *Individual Country Bird Apps

    See Individual country pages for apps relating to that country

  • eGuide to Birds of the Middle East

    Apple iOS |
    | 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.

Abbreviations Key

  • Abbreviations used on Reserves section of Country pages

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    BR = Biosphere Reserve BiR = Bird Reserve BS = Bird Sanctuary CA = Conservation Area EBA = Endemic Bird Area ER = Ecological Reserve FP = Forest Park IBA = Important Bird Area IPP = Interprovincial Park LNR = Local Nature Reserve MBS = Migratory Bird Sanctuary MNM = Marine National Monument MP = Marine Park MWR = Migratory Waterfowl Refuge NA = Natural Area NAR = Natural Area Reserve NC = Nature Center NF = National Forest NNR = National Nature Reserve NP = National Park NPR = National Park Preserve NPr = Nature Preserve NR = Nature Reserve NS = Nature Sanctuary NWA = National Wildlife Area NWR = National Wildlife Refuge PA = Protected Area PP = Provincial Park RCS = RAMSAR Convention Site RNP = Regional Nature Park RSPB = Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Reserve SNR = Strict Nature Reserve SeNR = State Nature Reserve SP = State Park SPA = Special Protection Area SeR = Seabird Reserve SR = State Reserve SSS = State Seabird Sanctuary SWA = State Wildlife Area SWMA = State Wildlife Management Area SWR = State Wildlife Refuge SWS = State Wildlife Sanctuary WA = Wildlife Area WBR = World Biosphere Reserve WMA = Wildlife Management Area WRw = Wildfowl Reserve WRf = Wildlife Refuge WRs = Wildlife Reserve WP = Waterfowl Park WiP = Wilderness Park WiRv = Wilderness Reserve WeRv = Wetland Reserve WS = Wildlife Sanctuary WeS = Wetland Sanctuary WoS = Woodland Sanctuary WWT = Wildfowl & Wetlands Reserve
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2004 [04 April] - Christoph Haag & Cathy Liautard

    Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey…
Other Links
  • Birding in the Middle East

    A site dedicated to birdwatching, bird trip reports and related in the Middle East

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