Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 01/18/2013 - 15:06 -- abc_admin

Temple of Zeus, Cyrene, Jebel Akhdar, Libya

Image Credit: 
Rob Tovey

Bird prints in the Sahara Desert, Fezzan, Libya

Image Credit: 
Jon Bradbeer

With direct flights from many European and African capitals and an improving political situation, Libya may offer opportunities for the enterprising birder. The most recent formal review of the Birds of Libya is that of Bundy (1976). He listed 317 species of which 92 were known to breed. However, little ornithological work was done for some 30 years and much of Libya is still to be explored. The situation is beginning to change and new records, papers and trip reports are being published.

We have been able to revise and improve these pages in July 2010 as a result of a major contribution of text and photographs from African Bird Club member Rob Tovey who is at present living and working in Libya. We have restructured several of the pages around the three key geographic areas of Tripolitania in the north-west, Cyrenaica in the north-east, and the Fezzan, the desert areas which cover some 90% of the land area of this vast country. Each of these geographic entities has climate, habitat and hence ornithological differences.

Tripolitania is centred on the capital city of Tripoli and there are many good bird watching areas within a short drive of the capital. Interesting land birds and passerines include Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara, Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor, Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti, Black Wheatear O. leucura, Red-rumped Wheatear O. moesta, Moussier’s Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri and Marmora’s Warbler Sylvia sarda in winter, Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta, Fulvous Babbler Turdoides fulvus, Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis and Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus. Particularly in winter many species of water birds can be found including Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Slender-billed Gull Larus genei, Little Tern Sterna albifrons and Lesser Crested Tern S. bengalensis.

Cyrenaica also has a number of Important Bird Areas and other hotspots. Interesting birds include Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus (ruber) roseus, Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis, Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida, Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, and Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrela rufescens.

Fezzan holds many desert species and considerable unexplored territory. Desert Sparrow Passer simplex, White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga and Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura are widespread residents.

Further details of the birds, geography, important bird areas, hotspots, news and useful information for visitors can be found in the following pages.

The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of Libya and its birds for birders interested in the country and potentially planning a visit. The information has been put together from a number of sources and it is intended to add new information as it becomes available. As such, readers are welcome to submit contributions by e-mail to You should note that the names of birds used in this document are those of the African Bird Club checklist.

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