Of all the animal groups, birds are perhaps the easiest to see. They are all around us, they come out in the day time, some are colorful, many sing and they are found in all the different habitats of the country. It is little wonder that, for many nature watchers, birds are their favorite group to study and watch. Many bird watchers try to see as many species as possible and keep detailed records of what they see, where and when. Lebanon is a great place for this hobby as it is a very important place for birds. (see Importance of Lebanon for Biodiversity)
There are many different ways to study Lebanon’s birds, to help you understand them better and find them more easily. Here are some themes to get you started with many links to other sections of the web site.
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
1. By Bird families
The Syrian Serin (Serinus syriacus), above, left and European Serin (Serinus serinus) above middle, look very much alike and are closely related, both being found in the Finch family. The Woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) above, right, looks very different with its bright markings and hooked beak and it is found in the Shrike family. The Syrian Serin is a special bird for Lebanon as it is a regional endemic (i.e. it is only found in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) It is listed on the IUCN red list as Vulnerable (see Conservation)
Closely related bird species are grouped in families (see Classification). Birds in the same family look similar and often behave in similar ways. It is good to get to know the main bird families found in Lebanon to start to be able to identify what you see. These families of birds with Lebanese examples are explained in the following pages:
2. By when they are found in Lebanon
|Birds can be classified according to when they arrive and for how long they stay in Lebanon (see Migration). They can be called:|
|Resident: they live all year round and breed in country |
Breeding Summer Visitor: they arrive in the spring, breed and leave in the autumn
Winter Visitor: they arrive to spend the winter, leaving in the spring to breed somewhere else
Passage Migrant: they just travel though the country on their migration
Formerly bred or even Extinct: unfortunately the species used to breed but no only passes through or has been completely lost from the national treasure of birds
The Little Owl (Athena noctua) above left, is a resident bird as it spends all its time and breeds in Lebanon. The Black Eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) arrives in spring to breed and leaves in the autumn so it is a summer breeder.
The beautiful Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), above left, shown being held by a “bird ringer” who carefully measures the bird, places a ring on its leg with a unique number and releases it, is a winter visitor to Lebanon from far to the north. The Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) only migrates through Lebanon so is a passage migrant.
Unfortunately the European Roller (Coracias garrulous) is a former breeder as it no longer breeds in Lebanon having been heavily hunted. Now it only passes through on migration.
See Birds of Lebanon Checklist for a complete list of all Lebanon’s birds with their status.
3. By where they live
Different species are adapted (see Adaptation) for living in different habitats. Some birds live in many habitats – being common throughout the country, others are specialized for a particular habitat. One of the great things about a trip to a new part of the country is that there will be new birds, particularly if you visit one of the bird rich habitats like a wetland or the coast. (See Habitats for a complete description of Lebanon’s habitats and some of the birds and other animals found there).
The Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) is a special bird of rocky slopes and Wadis in the mountains, as above at Niha, Bekaa. Here it builds its mud nest and can be seen moving, sometimes head first down rocks and boulders. It is an excitable bird, its presence is often given away by its loud fluting calls that carry over the hillsides.