Birds of Prey (also known as Raptors)

This is the bird family of fierce predators. All birds in this group share the family features of a hooked beak and sharp claws or “talons”. In fact, it is with these formidable weapons that these birds make their living – by hunting. Their food varies, depending on the size of the bird; one of the smallest members of the family the Hobby (Falco subbuteo) catches dragonflies on the wing, whereas the larger Eagles will kill and eat small deer!

The Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) shows the hooked beak, characteristic of the family that reveal this is a family of meat eaters!

Many thousands of birds of prey migrate through Lebanon each spring and autumn. As these are mostly large birds most are classified as soaring birds (see Migration). This means we tend to see them in large flocks spiraling over head. Indeed Lebanon is hugely important for the conservation of these magnificent birds as so many pass through. It is estimated that as many as 150,000 Lesser Spotted Eagles migrate through Lebanon annually, a very large proportion of the world’s population. Not only are they amazing to see but they also perform an important function in the environment – controlling pests such as rats, mice and rabbits.

Lebanon’s Birds of Prey

Everyone has heard of Eagles but this group also includes several other awesome predators. The more common members of the family that are worth keeping an eye out for include (with English, French, Arabic and scientific names) :


Scientific NameEnglish NameArabic NameFrench Name
Milvus migransBlack Kiteالحداة السوداءMilan noir

With its forked tail and “hunched look” the Black Kite appears sinister – in fact it is a very useful scavenger – only migrating through Lebanon


Scientific NameEnglish NameArabic NameFrench Name
Accipiter nisusSparrowhawkالباشق – باشق العصايرEpervier d’Europe
Accipiter brevipesLevant Sparrowhawkباشق ليانتEpervier a pieds courts

As their names suggest these small raptors hunt smaller birds. Both species migrate through Lebanon – flocks of the Levant Sparrow Hawk can number hundreds over the hills of the Shouf and Metn for example. Left: Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus)


Scientific NameEnglish NameArabic NameFrench Name
Buteo buteoCommon Buzzardالصقر الحوام – يضم حوام السهولBuse variable
Buteo rufinusLong-legged Buzzardالحوام طويل الساقBuse feroce
Pernis apivorusHoney Buzzardحوام النحل – صقر العسلBondree apivore


Scientific NameEnglish NameArabic NameFrench Name
Falco naumanniLesser KestrelعويسقFaucon crecerellette
Falco tinnunculusKestrelعوسق – صقر الجرادFaucon creecerelle
Falco vespertinusRed-Footed FalconاللزيقFaucon kobez
Falco subbuteoHobbyشويهين – البيدقFaucon hobereau
Falco eleonoraeEleonora’s Falconصقر اليونوراFaucon d’Eleonore
Falco peregrinusPeregrine FalconالشاهينFaucon pelerin


Scientific NameEnglish NameArabic NameFrench Name
Aquila pomarinaLesser Spotted Eagleعقاب اسع – ارقط – صغيرAigle pomarin
Aquila clangaGreater Spotted Eagleعقاب اسع – ارقط – كبير 
Aquila nipalensisSteppe Eagleعقاب السهول – الباديةAigle des steppes
Aquila heliacaImperial Eagleملك العقبانAigle imperial
Hieraaetus pennatusBooted Eagleالعقاب المسيرة – المنتعلةAigle botte
Hierraaetus fasciatusBonelli’s Eagleعقاب بونللي – مخططAigle de bonelli

Due to its position on a major migration route Lebanon is a great place to see Eagles. The most likely species to see are given above. However we should never forget that, internationally, many of these species are rare and endangered. Perhaps the equivalent of the breeding population of a whole country might fly over your house (if you are lucky) in a day!

Of course they do not only fly overhead, many will roost overnight in safe places (away from people) as this juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) was doing when it was photographed at Aammiq. Other good places to see Eagles are; Ehden, Shouf Cedar Reserve, Beirut River Valley –(see Migration)

The Best time and places to see Birds of Prey

As with other mainly migratory species the best months are mid March through to the end of May and August, (for Honey Buzzards) September and October. For a discussion of where to see birds of prey see Migration.