Sultanate of Oman

Little Owl Athene noctua ©Steve Arlow Website
Birding Oman

Oman is the easternmost country of the Arabian Peninsula and is ideally situated for getting a mix of African, Oriental and Palaearctic birds, with large numbers of seabirds also occurring. In total, nearly 450 species have been recorded. It covers 212,500 square km and has 2.5 million inhabitants, half of which are expatriates. The country opened up in 1970 when the current Sultan – Qaboos ibn Said took over and it has developed tremendously since then. The infrastructure is excellent with good roads and the scenery fantastic. The people are very friendly and relaxed and the country is absolutely hassle-free and clean. Oman also encompasses the peninsula known as the Musandam, bordering the important Straits of Hormuz and separated from the major part of the country by the UAE. There are also some small Omani enclaves in the eastern UAE. Travel to Musandam is possible via domestic flights, four-wheel drive car (slightly more complicated as it requires visas through UAE) or boat.

Habitats range from the steep fjords of mountainous Musandam in the north, through deserts and vast shores with stands of mangroves, and extensive tidal mudflats and islands (Masirah being the largest) in the east to the afro-tropical forests and brackish khors (lagoons) of the southern Dhofar province. The main part of the country has a dry, desert-type climate with high humidity near the coasts in summer while the monsoon affects Dhofar during July-September when the province receives considerable rainfall; a prerequisite for the lush vegetation on the mountain slopes there.

The mean temperature for Muscat, the capital, is 25C in January and 36C in July, days with up to near 50C occur during the summer period. Salalah, the main city in Dhofar, experiences much cooler summers when the monsoon sets in. The seas off Salalah are deep and there is considerable up-welling there during the monsoon, which makes it ideal for marine life, not only pelagic species of birds but also for whales, dolphins and turtles. Both Humpback and Sperm whales can be seen along most of the Omani coast and there is also a record of Southern Elephant Seal from Dhofar.

There are several good birding sites set out in Top Sites below. In addition to which more generally, the spectacular Dhofar province has numerous good birding sites. Sea-watching from the coast, or by chartered boat, can be very productive after the monsoon with Bridled Tern, skuas, Jouanin’s Petrel (anywhere off the coast); Audubon’s, Pale-footed and sometimes Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Red-necked Phalaropes in large numbers.

The mountain forests hold many afro-tropical species, such as African Paradise Flycatcher, Shining Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Green Pigeon, African Rock Bunting etc. Hume’s Tawny Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl, African Scops Owl and Verraux’s Eagle breed. Spotted, Steppe, Imperial and Bonelli’s and Booted Eagles are common during the migration/ winter season and rarities such as Tawny Eagle, Long-tailed Shrike and Lesser Spotted Eagle have also turned up. Of Arabian endemics, Yemen Serin, Golden-winged Grosbeak and Arabian Red-legged Partridge occur, with Yemen Linnet a vagrant.

The coastal khors are a haven for water birds and migrants, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Lesser Flamingo, African Spoonbill, Long-toed Stint being more or less regular, with migrant Herons, Little Bitterns, Pintail Snipes, Baillon’s Crakes and some years Pale Rock Sparrows. Yellow Bittern apparently has its sole breeding area in Aarabia here.

The local farms are also interesting with Singing Bush Larks, in some years Abdim’s Stork, Little Pratincole and Manchurian Red-footed Falcon as well. Cultivated areas in the desert on the road between Salalah and Muscat are excellent for drinking sandgrouse and raptors and rarities (e. g. Wattled Starling and Eye-browed Thrush) are often present.

Travel within the country is easy, in part thanks to the excellent infrastructure. Most international car hire firms are present, and there is accommodation in Salalah (although limited) and Muscat. Group trips for birders are more or less biannually arranged by the Swedish Ornithological Society’s Bird Tour [Operator – AviFauna]. The food is excellent, and if sticking to Arabic, Indian and Chinese, fairly cheap. Visas are required and in some cases, depending on which areas one needs to explore, a 4WD and camping equipment is necessary. The country is under-watched, even if a small local group of birders are very active, and there is much to discover.

Top Sites
  • Masarih Island

    Satellite View
    The island of Masarih (Musarih) is a very good area - 330 species.
  • Sawadi, Fahl and Daymaniyah

    Satellite View
    The islands off Muscat (Sawadi, Fahl and the restricted Daymaniyah) hold breeding Sooty Falcons and Red-billed Tropicbird, White-cheeked Tern, and the country's only breeding Sooty and Roseate Terns (Daymaniyah). Common Noddy is often present. Some years also good numbers of seabirds (Jouanin's and Wilson's Petrels, shearwaters, Masked Boobies) can be seen offshore.
  • Sohar Sun Farms

    Sohar Sun Farms is a vast farm complex with restricted access in the north. Good for farmland species and rarities. Small Skylark, Sociable Plover, Caspian Plover, bids of prey, large flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Black-crowned Finch Lark, Richard`s Pipit and rarities such as Long-billed Dowitcher and Blyth`s Pipit (possibly overlooked).
  • Sunub Rubbish Dump

    The Sunub rubbish dump near Muscat is a haven for close-ups of raptors. Large numbers of eagles (Imperial, Spotted, Steppe); Egyptian Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture are always present at this smelly place. Tawny Eagle is a vagrant.
  • Erik Hirschfeld


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 494

    As at July 2018
  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Birds of Oman

    | By Jens Eriksen & Richard Porter | Christopher Helm | 2017 | Paperback | 272 pages, 116 plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472937537 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 | Paperback | 384 pages, 176 colour plates, 636 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713676020 Buy this book from
  • Birdwatching Guide to Oman

    | By Dave Sargeant, Hanne Eriksen and Jens Eriksen | Al Roya Publishing | 2008 | Paperback | 256 pages, Col photos, line illus, maps, tabs | ISBN: 9789948036432 Buy this book from
  • Common Birds of Oman

    | (An Identification Guide) | By by Hanne & Jens Eriksen | Al Roya Publishing | 2010 | Paperback | 256 pages, Col photos, distrib maps | ISBN: 9789948153276 Buy this book from
  • Oman Bird List

    | (The Official List of Birds of the Sultanate of Oman) | by Jens Eriksen & Reginald Victor | Center for Environmental Studies and Research | 2013 | Paperback | 288 pages, 500 colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9789996902185 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Oman (Farsi)

    | By Michael D Gallagher & Martin Woodcock | Quartet Books | 1986 | Hardback | 310 pages, 121 plates with colour illustrations; 12 colour photos, 7 tables, 4 colour maps | ISBN: 9780704325821 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • Oman Bird Records Committee

    P O Box 246, Muscat 113, Oman
Museums & Universities
  • Oman's Museums

    (ONHM) P O Box 668, Muscat 113, Oman; Tel 968-605400
  • BirdLife

    A total of 424 bird species have been recorded in the Sultanate, a high number in relation to the country's land area. Oman, perhaps alone amongst all countries, can claim an avifauna composed from no less than four of the world's principal fauna! regions…

Abbreviations Key

  • Al-Ansab Lagoons

    WebpageSatellite View
    Al Ansab Wetland is one of the finest bird-watching sites in Oman. Nama Water Services, through the management of the wetland is committed to providing a nationally and internationally important showcase for some of Oman’s most important wildlife habitats...
  • NP As Saleel

    InformationSatellite View
  • NR Al-Dimaniyat Islands

    InformationSatellite View
    Al-Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve is located in Wilayat AlSeeb in the Muscat Governorate and Wilayat Barka in Al Batinah South Governorate , and lies about 18 kilometres off the coast of Barka (70 kilometres west of Muscat, the capital). Its total area is 100 hectares (247 acres) and is composed of nine islands.
  • NR Wadi Sireen

    InformationSatellite View
    The Reserve is located in the eastern AlHajar Mountains about 45 kilometres south of Muscat. There a large number of wild animals in the area, such as the Arabian Tahr and deer.
  • WS Jiddat al Harasis Oryx Sanctuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Jiddat al Harasis, is located within the central region of Oman. The nearest large settlement is Haima to the west. In the southwest are the Rima and Marmul centres of oil extraction. The eastern and southern borders of the property lie on the shoreline of the Arabian sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean.
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [01 January] - Henry Cook

    PDF Report
    …Leaving Muscat, we went to the coast at Seeb to scan through some gulls and terns. A gathering on the beach consisted of 160 Sooty Gull, 40 Slender-billed and 50 Steppe Gulls, a few Heuglin’s Gulls, plus a few good candidates for Caspian Gull seen….
  • 2014 [01 January] - Phil Gregory - Oman & the UAE: Birding Arabia

    …Dhofar Governate is always a highlight in the far south of Oman and with much more African feel to it, and here we did well with Arabian Partridge, Arabian Warbler, Arabian Wheatear, Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak for those who went early, the newly split Arabian Scops Owl (albeit briefly!), and Yemen Serin at its only known site outside of Yemen. Three species of sea turtle off the spectacular sea cliffs near Mirbat included a huge Leatherback, and Ras Mirbat gave us Masked and Brown boobies and Socotra Cormorant….
  • 2014 [12 December] - Forrest Rowland - UAE & Oman

    PDF Report
    ...Our route began in Dubai. We birded the metropolitan hotspots thoroughly, as well as a recently renowned farming operation in the far North, before heading southeast, inland, to “The Garden City” of Al Ayn. Crossing into Oman, we birded the Sohar Coast of the Indian Ocean, before heading high into the Hajars Mountains, the only place where snow is known to fall on the Arabian Peninsula! After a visit to Masirah Island on the central coast of Oman, we headed west and south through the vast expanse of the Rub Al Khali (the Empty Quarter). Out tour ended at the Dhofar region of southern Oman among African Baobabs and Coconut Palms..
  • 2016 [01 January] - Phil Gregory - Oman & UAE

    This was the sixth Field Guides trip to Arabia (and my ninth), and was again an exciting and varied experience, despite it being unusually dry in Oman, with relatively few passerine migrants about. We began in the rather astonishing city of Dubai, where this year we had a much better and more convenient hotel as our base, albeit with beer at an eye-watering $15 per pint! We covered a number of desert sites with Mark, our excellent local guide, before going to Abu Dhabi with its extraordinary architecture and horribly distant Hypocolius roost...
  • 2016 [02 February] - Remco Hofland - Southern Oman & UAE

    PDF Report
    I’m pleased to say we saw all of my desired species well, and furthermore had a very pleasant stayin Salalah, enjoying the hundreds of eagles at Raysut rubbish dump (incl this winter’s vagrantPallas’s Fish Eagle), the many beautiful wadis of S Oman, the tasty local fruitjuices, the excellentswimmingpool, Indian Ocean views and great cooking at Beach Villas in Salalah and, surprisingly, agreat supporting cast of magnificent creatures like breaching Manta (or Devil) Rays, four ArabianChameleons, breaching False Killer Whale, dozens of dolphins feeding only meters away, greatviews of sea turtles, Baluch Ground Gecko and many beautiful dragonflies....
  • 2016 [07 July] - Erik Hirschfeld - Dhofar

    PDF Report
    Annotated list...
  • 2016 [11 November] - Mark Beevers

    PDF Report
    ...We then returned to the outskirts of Dubai,to a wetland known as Ra’s al Khor and althoughthe front of the hide was taken up byphotographers, we still managed to see a fewspecies, including an estimated 5,000 GreaterFlamingos, our first Greater-spotted Eagle and afew Gull-billed Terns. We didn’t hang aroundtoo long for we had one more site to visit and weneeded to be there just before dusk....
  • 2016 [12 December] - Alex Olie

    PDF Report
    The aim of this report is to show the surprisingly greatdiversity for a desert country such the Sultanate ofOman, where more than 200 species of birds may beeasily seen in a few days. Most of the species are veryinteresting for European ornithologists willing to acquireexperience in rare eastern species and subspecies of theWestern Palearctic...
  • 2016 [12 December] - Johan Elmberg & Erik Hirschfeld

    PDF Report
    Mazauyna (10.20) - water treatment pond in the desert. 19.905396, 56.507622 - We had difficulties finding it, but north of the village drive past the public water tap north of the road which is mentioned on Jens and Hanne’s site and pass a couple of hills (left and right) and there it is on your right (it is not visible from the main road). A huge dam which must be terrific for sandgrouse and migrants at the right time (we arrived midday). There is also a small rubbish dump at17.865116, 52.789433 with the usual eagles and Egyptian Vultures.
  • 2017 [01 January] - Pierrick Devoucoux

    PDF Report
    Oman is an exceptional country for tourists in Middle East: no political tension, high security level, very tolerant residents. Although mass tourism is growing, it remains confined to some large beach resorts near Mascate and Salalah. Infrastructure development is fast-growing, with very good roads everywhere and low gas prices. Locals are remarkably welcoming, especially in remote places with few tourists...
  • 2017 [02 February] - Graeme Wright

    PDF Report
    One week trip with wife gave a few opportunities to visit some of the sites in Birdwatching Guide to Oman. On the whole I got my target birds (biggest dip was Serin which I thought would be the easiest). However the two most unusual records where – White Fronted Goose (5) and Demoiselle Crane...
  • 2017 [02 February] - Tim Jones

    PDF Report
    This trip was created on the back of hearing Stephen Menzie drown on about the country whilst in Morocco and Western Sahara with him in 2015 and further research showing it tohave lots of waders and raptors with the potential for some cool vagrants and crazy residents.
  • 2017 [03 March] - Stig Jensen & Jon Lehmberg

    PDF Report
    After having been on our radar for several years, we finally decided that the time for a trip to Oman was now. Since we both had a couple of weeks to spend in late February and early March, the timing wasn’t much of an issue for us. Most birders visit Oman towards the end of the year, especially in November, but we didn’t regret our decision to go in spring instead
  • 2017 [08 August] - Sofia Broström - Dhofar

    PDF Report
    My son and I visited Dhofar during the monsoon, locally called khareef. It was our first visit toOman, and we came to enjoy the landscape during the wet season, and of course the birds.
  • 2017 [10 October] - David Marshall

    Oman is incredibly easy for the independent western birder to find his/her way around. The birding is wonderful and the local Omani people and the huge number of foreign nationals working in Oman and enjoying Oman’s wealth really are very friendly, honest and keen to help at all times.
  • 2017 [11 November] - Hannu Jannes

    PDF Report
    ...Birdquest’s tenth Oman & Bahrain tour proved yet again a success for many reasons. We recorded a respectable total of 238 taxa and 52 Birdquest ‘diamond’ species (regional specialities), saw some fantastic migrant s and interesting seabirds...
  • 2017 [11 November] - Stephen Menzie, Marc Illa, Martí Franch & Marcel Gil Velasco

    PDF Report
    ...We wanted to see some of the most sough-after Ara-bian specialties, but we mainly wanted to gather ex-perience with potential WP vagrants, not rushing to see widespread species such as Verreaux’s Eagle and spending a good time with, for instance, Sand Plovers’ side-by-side comparisons. In the end we managed a good mix although there’s that much to see that we all want to come back. Soon...
  • 2017 [12 December] - Louis Freeland - Haynes & Aron White

    PDF Report
    ...The two of us decided to head to Oman after seeing recent trip reports extolling the mix of Palearctic and Afro-tropical species, potential for exciting mammals and interesting culture. The trip reports we found most helpful for planning are listed at the end of the report. We intended to do a mix of birding and general tourist sites but other than a day in Muscat, an evening in Nizwa and a morning at Bahla Fort we actually ended up spending all our time birding...
  • 2018 [02 February] - Jonathan Lethbridge

    PDF Report
    OMAN, FEBRUARY 2018In late February 2018 Mick S I spent a four day long weekend in the north of Oman. I’d previouslyspent some time in the UAE, and whilst the birds and birding were not hugely different here, the country itself felt different –the people, buildings and food. And of course the Crab Plovers were different, as this time I did not dip them as I have done on all previous visits to the Middle East!
  • 2018 [11 November] - Hannu Jännes

    PDF Report
    This, Birdquest’s twelfth tour of Oman & Bahrain, proved yet again a great success for so many reasons. We recorded a respectable total of 220 taxa and 49 Birdquest ‘diamond’ species (regional specialities), and saw great migrants and interesting seabirds. O
  • 2021 [12 December] - Anders Bacher Nielsen

    PDF Report
    In short Oman is a very easy country to travel around, the Omanis are often very helpful, food is great, and roads are fine. The target birds however, proved sometimes to be rather tricky while other regional endemics very plentiful and easy to see.
  • 2022 [11 Novembere] - Henk Hendriks

    PDF Report
    We planned our trip end of Oktober/beginning of November as this period would give us, in our opinion, the best chances to find our targets. Personnally I had six target species which we all recorded although the Omani Owl was only heard.
  • 2022 [11 Novemner] - Dave Astins

    PDF Report
    Very hard to single any place or bird out, but Barr Al Hikman is just amazing, and you have to see Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak, it is simply mythical! Finally, the experience of Verreaux’s Eagle at Jabal Samhan is hard to convey, just an amazing bird at an amazing location.
  • 2023 [01 January] - Zoothera Birding

    ...And we enjoyed a gentle introduction into many of the commoner species of Dhofar such as Abyssinian White-eye, White-spectacled Bulbul, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, as well as few Bruce’s Green-Pigeons, and both Palestine and Arabian Sunbirds...
Other Links
  • Birds Oman

    The latest on birds and birdwatching in the Sultanate of Oman
  • Natural History of Oman

    Web and other Links

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