Djibouti Francolin Francolinus ochropectus
Despite its small size, approximately 23,000 km2, and very limited amount of ornithological study, Djibouti boasts an impressive bird list, with 361 species identified to February 2001. The key to this variety is Djibouti’s location at the mouth of the African Rift Valley, the narrowest point along the Red Sea (the Bab el Mandeb straits) and close to the Arabian peninsula. The country therefore supports an interesting mix of African and Middle Eastern species and is on a major migration flyway for birds breeding in Eastern Europe, Russia and Western Asia and wintering in Eastern and Southern Africa.
For visiting birdwatchers, the main attractions are the endemic Djibouti Francolin Francolinus ochropectus, the spectacular passage, principally in autumn, of birds of prey with almost 250,000 recorded in 5 weeks in autumn 1987, and the variety of African and Middle Eastern species. Djibouti is the only sub-Saharan country with breeding Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus and probably breeding Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githaginea. It also boasts an impressive list of Palearctic migrants including several which are scarce in Eastern Africa, for example Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta and Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola. The country however presents a variety of difficulties for the visitor, mostly the high cost of living, and especially hire of 4 wheel drive vehicles which are essential for getting almost anywhere. The majority of the more interesting sites are difficult to access but the ornithological rewards can be well worth the effort, and much still remains to be discovered.
The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of Djibouti 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 [email protected].