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Syrian Arab Republic

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala ©Nigel Blake Website

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 kilometers and its population amounts to more than 16 million with a population density of 56.7 per square kilometer.

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. They are:

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 studies countries within the Mediterranean region when it comes to its bird life. No one 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 organizations 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 between 1967 and 1969, and in 1978 Macfarlane contributed more by gathering information covering the period from 1974 until 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 8th July 2002 – A new colony of critically endangered Northern Bald Ibises has been discovered in an Al Badia (desertic steppe) area of central Syria. The small colony contains three pairs which were discovered incubating eggs, and a seventh adult. This is the first evidence of the continued breeding of Northern Bald Ibises in the Middle East since a colony at Birecek in Turkey became extinct in 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 experience of 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. Their morale has been high by virtue of the great support made (for which we express our thanks) by BirdLife International represented by Mr. Mike Evans, and by OSME represented by Mr. Keith Button.

This vital survey has already covered a geographical area estimated by 3,730 sq kms 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

I started work on 1st July 2005 and can report that there are great successes already; I welcome any bird observers who are willing to visit the area, especially the Yarmouk Valley. The current survey will take 3 to 4 years if we are going to be able know all we can about the proliferating kinds of birds and their nesting habits during egg laying and hatching. I am in need of support in any possible way.


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


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


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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




…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…


Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

Wetland of International Importance


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

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Trip Reports

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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.

2007 [08 August] - Sander Bot - Turkey & Syria


You don’t need a guide for the places we visited, except one spot: the desert of Syria. If you want to see the Bald Ibis and species like Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Bar-tailed Lark and maybe a Thick-billed or Dunn’s Lark you need a guide. We contacted Ahmed Abdallah (ahmedjaber72@hotmail.com) in advance and he was a perfect guide. He knows the desert and the species very well, so a day in the field with Ahmed is highly recommended!

2009 [04 April] - Chris Bradshaw


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


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


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

Report PDF

…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….

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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…