List of birds of Afghanistan
This is a list of the bird species recorded in Afghanistan. The avifauna of Afghanistan includes a total of 131 species, of which 1 is endemic, 1 has been introduced by humans, and 2 are rare or accidental. 17 species are globally threatened.
This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Afghanistan.
The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. The commonly occurring, native, species do not fall into any of these categories.
- (A) Accidental A species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Afghanistan.
- (E) Endemic A species that occurs in Afghanistan and nowhere else
- (I) Introduced A species introduced to Afghanistan as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions.
Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
- Red-necked grebe Podiceps grisegena
- Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus
- Slavonian grebe Podiceps auritus
- Black-necked grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are 8 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
- Spot-billed pelican Pelecanus philippensis
- Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus
The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
- Little cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
- Pygmy cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds suck as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Grey heron Ardea cinerea
- Purple heron Ardea purpurea
- Great egret Ardea alba
- Little egret Egretta garzetta
- Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides
- Indian pond heron Ardeola grayii
- Black-crowned night heron Nycticorax nycticorax
- Great bittern Botaurus stellaris
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Ibises and spoonbills
The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Ducks, geese and swans
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 29 species which occur in Afghanistan .
- Mute swan Cygnus olor
- Whooper swan Cygnus cygnus
- Greater white-fronted goose Anser albifrons
- Greylag goose Anser anser
- Bar-headed goose Anser indicus
- Ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
- Common shelduck Tadorna tadorna
- Cotton pygmy goose Nettapus coromandelianus
- Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope
- Falcated duck Anas falcata
- Gadwall Anas strepera
- Baikal teal Anas formosa
- Common teal Anas crecca
- Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
- Northern pintail Anas acuta
- Garganey Anas querquedula
- Northern shoveler Anas clypeata
- Marbled teal Marmaronetta angustirostris
- Red-crested pochard Netta rufina
- Common pochard Aythya ferina
- Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca
- Tufted duck Aythya fuligula
- Greater scaup Aythya marila
- Velvet scoter Melanitta fusca
- Common goldeneye Bucephala clangula
- Smew Mergellus albellus
- Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator
- Goosander Mergus merganser
- White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala
The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the Osprey. The Osprey is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.
- Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Eagles, kites and allies
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 30 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- European honey buzzard Pernis apivorus
- Black-shouldered kite Elanus caeruleus
- Red kite Milvus milvus
- Black kite Milvus migrans
- Pallas's fish eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus
- White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
- Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus
- Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus
- White-rumped vulture Gyps bengalensis
- Himalayan vulture Gyps himalayensis
- Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus
- Cinereous vulture Aegypius monachus
- Short-toed snake eagle Circaetus gallicus
- Western marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus
- Hen harrier Circus cyaneus
- Pallid harrier Circus macrourus
- Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus
- Shikra Accipiter badius
- Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
- Northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis
- White-eyed buzzard Butastur teesa
- Common buzzard Buteo buteo
- Long-legged buzzard Buteo rufinus
- Rough-legged buzzard Buteo lagopus
- Greater spotted eagle Aquila clanga
- Bald eagle Aquila nipalensis
- Imperial eagle Aquila heliaca
- Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos
- Bonelli's eagle Aquila fasciatus
- Booted eagle Aquila pennatus
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni
- Common kestrel Falco tinnunculus
- Red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus
- Amur falcon Falco amurensis
- Merlin Falco columbarius
- Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo
- Laggar falcon Falco jugger
- Saker falcon Falco cherrug
- Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus
- Barbary falcon Falco pelegrinoides
- Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus
Pheasants and partridges
The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they may vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings. There are 156 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Tibetan snowcock Tetraogallus tibetanus
- Himalayan snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis
- Chukar Alectoris chukar
- See-see partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis
- Black francolin Francolinus francolinus
- Grey francolin Francolinus pondicerianus
- Common quail Coturnix coturnix
- Rain quail Coturnix coromandelica
- Koklass pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha
- Himalayan monal Lophophorus impejanus
- Cheer pheasant Catreus wallichi
- Common pheasant Phasianus colchicus
The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes, and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Small buttonquail Turnix sylvatica
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or "dances". There are 15 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Rails, crakes, gallinules, and coots
Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Water rail Rallus aquaticus
- Corn crake Crex crex
- Little crake Porzana parva
- Baillon's crake Porzana pusilla
- Spotted crake Porzana porzana
- Purple swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
- Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus
- Eurasian coot Fulica atra
Bustards are large terrestrial birds mainly associated with dry open country and steppes in the Old World. They are omnivorous and nest on the ground. They walk steadily on strong legs and big toes, pecking for food as they go. They have long broad wings with "fingered" wingtips, and striking patterns in flight. Many have interesting mating displays. There are 26 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide in the Tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. There 8 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Pheasant-tailed jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
Painted snipe are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Greater painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis (A)
- Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Avocets and stilts
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus
Pratincoles and coursers
Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards. There are 17 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Cream-colored courser Cursorius cursor
- Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola
- Small pratincole Glareola lactea
Plovers and lapwings
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus
- Red-wattled lapwing Vanellus indicus
- Sociable lapwing Vanellus gregarius
- White-tailed lapwing Vanellus leucurus
- Pacific golden plover Pluvialis fulva
- Grey plover Pluvialis squatarola
- Ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula
- Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius
- Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus
- Lesser sand plover Charadrius mongolus
- Greater sand plover Charadrius leschenaultii
- Caspian plover Charadrius asiaticus
Sandpipers and allies
The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 27 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian woodcock Scolopax rusticola
- Jack snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
- Solitary snipe Gallinago solitaria
- Pintail snipe Gallinago stenura
- Common snipe Gallinago gallinago
- Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa
- Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica
- Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
- Slender-billed curlew Numenius tenuirostris
- Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata
- Spotted redshank Tringa erythropus
- Common redshank Tringa totanus
- Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
- Common greenshank Tringa nebularia
- Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus
- Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola
- Terek sandpiper Xenus cinereus
- Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres
- Sanderling Calidris alba
- Little stint Calidris minuta
- Temminck's stint Calidris temminckii
- Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
- Dunlin Calidris alpina
- Broad-billed sandpiper Limicola falcinellus
- Ruff Philomachus pugnax
- Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Common gull Larus canus
- Herring gull Larus argentatus
- Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus
- Caspian gull Larus cachinnans
- Great black-headed gull Larus ichthyaetus
- Brown-headed gull Larus brunnicephalus
- Black-headed gull Larus ridibundus
- Slender-billed gull Larus genei
Terns are a group of generally general medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Gull-billed tern Sterna nilotica
- Caspian tern Sterna caspia
- River tern Sterna aurantia
- Common tern Sterna hirundo
- Little tern Sterna albifrons
- Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybridus
- White-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus
- Black tern Chlidonias niger
Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Their legs are feathered down to the toes. There are 16 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Tibetan sandgrouse Syrrhaptes tibetanus
- Pallas's sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus
- Pin-tailed sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
- Spotted sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus
- Black-bellied sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis
- Crowned sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus
- Lichtenstein's sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon Columba livia
- Hill pigeon Columba rupestris
- Snow pigeon Columba leuconota
- Stock dove Columba oenas
- Yellow-eyed pigeon Columba eversmanni
- Common wood pigeon Columba palumbus
- European turtle dove Streptopelia turtur
- Oriental turtle dove Streptopelia orientalis
- Eurasian collared dove Streptopelia decaocto
- Spotted dove Streptopelia chinensis
- Laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Alexandrine parakeet Psittacula eupatria
- Rose-ringed parakeet Psittacula krameri
- Slaty-headed parakeet Psittacula himalayana
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Pallid scops owl Otus brucei
- European scops owl Otus scops
- Eurasian eagle owl Bubo bubo
- Brown fish owl Ketupa zeylonensis
- Tawny owl Strix aluco
- Collared owlet Glaucidium brodiei
- Spotted owlet Athene brama
- Little owl Athene noctua
- Long-eared owl Asio otus
- Short-eared owl Asio flammeus
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus
- Egyptian nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius
- Sykes's nightjar Caprimulgus mahrattensis
- Indian nightjar Caprimulgus asiaticus
Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis
- White-throated kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
- Crested kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris
- Pied kingfisher Ceryle rudis
The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colorful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Green bee-eater Merops orientalis
- Blue-cheeked bee-eater Merops persicus
- European bee-eater Merops apiaster
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not. There are 12 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head. There are 2 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Hoopoe Upupa epops
Woodpeckers and allies
Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian wryneck Jynx torquilla
- Brown-fronted woodpecker Dendrocopos auriceps
- White-winged woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus
- Himalayan woodpecker Dendrocopos himalayensis
- Scaly-bellied woodpecker Picus squamatus
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There are 91 species worldwide and 16 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Bar-tailed lark Ammomanes cincturus
- Desert lark Ammomanes deserti
- Greater hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes
- Calandra lark Melanocorypha calandra
- Bimaculated lark Melanocorypha bimaculata
- Greater short-toed lark Calandrella brachydactyla
- Hume's lark Calandrella acutirostris
- Lesser short-toed lark Calandrella rufescens
- Sand lark Calandrella raytal
- Crested lark Galerida cristata
- Wood lark Lullula arborea
- Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis
- Oriental skylark Alauda gulgula
- Horned lark Eremophila alpestris
- Temminck's lark Eremophila bilopha
Swallows and martins
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Sand martin Riparia riparia
- Pale martin Riparia diluta
- Grey-throated martin Riparia chinensis
- Eurasian crag martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
- Barn swallow Hirundo rustica
- Wire-tailed swallow Hirundo smithii
- Red-rumped swallow Cecropis daurica
- Streak-throated swallow Petrochelidon fluvicola
- Common house martin Delichon urbica
Wagtails and pipits
The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- White wagtail Motacilla alba
- White-browed wagtail Motacilla madaraspatensis
- Citrine wagtail Motacilla citreola
- Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava
- Grey wagtail Motacilla cinerea
- Oriental pipit Anthus rufulus
- Tawny pipit Anthus campestris
- Long-billed pipit Anthus similis
- Tree pipit Anthus trivialis
- Olive-backed pipit Anthus hodgsoni
- Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis
- Red-throated pipit Anthus cervinus
- Rosy pipit Anthus roseatus
- Water pipit Anthus spinoletta
- Upland pipit Anthus sylvanus
The cuckoo-shrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured. There are 82 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throat or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests. There are 130 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Common bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus (I)
- White-eared bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis
- White-cheeked bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys
- Red-vented bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
- Black bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
The kinglets or crests are a small group of birds often included in the Old World warblers, but frequently given family status because they also resemble the titmice. There are 7 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Goldcrest Regulus regulus
The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Bohemian waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
The grey hypocolius is a small Middle Eastern bird. They are mainly a uniform grey color, with males having a black triangular mask around the eyes, and with the shape and soft plumage of the waxwings.
- Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus
Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 80 species worldwide (of which all but one are New World species) and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian wren Troglodytes troglodytes
The accentors are in the only bird family, Prunellidae, which is completely endemic to the Palearctic. They are small, fairly drab species superficially similar to sparrows. There are 13 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Alpine accentor Prunella collaris
- Himalayan accentor Prunella himalayana
- Rufous-breasted accentor Prunella strophiata
- Brown accentor Prunella fulvescens
- Black-throated accentor Prunella atrogularis
Thrushes and allies
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Common rock thrush Monticola saxatilis
- Blue-capped rock thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus
- Blue rock thrush Monticola solitarius
- Blue whistling thrush Myophonus caeruleus
- Tickell's thrush Turdus unicolor
- Blackbird Turdus merula
- Chestnut thrush Turdus rubrocanus
- Dark-throated thrush Turdus ruficollis
- Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
- Redwing Turdus iliacus
- Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus
Cisticolas and allies
The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub. There are 111 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis
- Streaked scrub warbler Scotocerca inquieta
- Striated prinia Prinia criniger
- Graceful prinia Prinia gracilis
Old World warblers
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. The Sylviidae mainly occur as breeding species, as the common name implies, in Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent Africa. Most are of generally undistinguished appearance, but many have distinctive songs. There are 291 species worldwide and 35 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Cetti's warbler Cettia cetti
- Grasshopper warbler Locustella naevia
- Pallas's warbler Locustella certhiola
- Moustached warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon
- Paddyfield warbler Acrocephalus agricola
- Blunt-winged warbler Acrocephalus concinens
- Eurasian reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
- Blyth's reed warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum
- Great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
- Clamorous reed warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus
- Booted warbler Hippolais caligata
- Sykes's warbler Hippolais rama
- Eastern olivaceous warbler Hippolais pallida
- Upcher's warbler Hippolais languida
- Common chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
- Mountain chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus
- Plain leaf warbler Phylloscopus neglectus
- Sulphur-bellied warbler Phylloscopus griseolus
- Radde's warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
- Lemon-rumped warbler Phylloscopus proregulus
- Pale-rumped warbler Phylloscopus chloronotus
- Brooks's leaf warbler Phylloscopus subviridis
- Yellow-browed warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
- Hume's warbler Phylloscopus humei
- Greenish warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
- Large-billed leaf warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris
- Tytler's leaf warbler Phylloscopus tytleri
- Western crowned leaf warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis
- Greater whitethroat Sylvia communis
- Lesser whitethroat Sylvia curruca
- Hume's whitethroat Sylvia althaea
- Asian desert warbler Sylvia nana
- Barred warbler Sylvia nisoria
- Eastern Orphean warbler Sylvia crassirostris
- Menetries's warbler Sylvia mystacea
Old World flycatchers
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. There 274 species worldwide and 39 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata
- Siberian flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
- Rusty-tailed flycatcher Muscicapa ruficauda
- Red-breasted flycatcher Ficedula parva
- Ultramarine flycatcher Ficedula superciliaris
- European robin Erithacus rubecula
- Common nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
- White-tailed rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis
- Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
- Indian blue robin Luscinia brunnea
- Red-flanked bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
- White-throated robin Irania gutturalis
- Rufous-tailed scrub robin Cercotrichas galactotes
- Indian robin Saxicoloides fulicata
- Rufous-backed redstart Phoenicurus erythronota
- Blue-capped redstart Phoenicurus caeruleocephalus
- Black redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
- Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
- White-winged redstart Phoenicurus erythrogaster
- Blue-fronted redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
- White-capped redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
- Plumbeous water redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus
- Siberian stonechat Saxicola maura
- Little forktail Enicurus scouleri
- Spotted forktail Enicurus maculatus
- Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
- White-browed bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha
- Pied bushchat Saxicola caprata
- White-crowned wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga
- Hooded wheatear Oenanthe monacha
- Hume's wheatear Oenanthe alboniger
- Black wheatear Oenanthe leucura
- Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
- Finsch's wheatear Oenanthe finschii
- Variable wheatear Oenanthe picata
- Pied wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka
- Red-tailed wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna
- Desert wheatear Oenanthe deserti
- Isabelline wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines, which hunt by flycatching. There are 99 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Asian paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
The babblers or timaliids are somewhat diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. There are 270 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Streaked laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
- Variegated laughingthrush Garrulax variegatus
- Common babbler Turdoides caudatus
The parrotbills are a group of birds native to East and Southeast Asia, though feral populations are known from elsewhere. They are generally small, long-tailed birds which inhabit reedbeds and similar habitats. There are 20 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Bearded reedling Panurus biarmicus
Long-tailed tits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet that includes insects. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- White-cheeked tit Aegithalos leucogenys
The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are species 59 worldwide and 8 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Willow tit Poecile montana
- Black-breasted tit Periparus rufonuchalis
- Black-crested tit Periparus melanolophus
- Great tit Parus major
- Turkestan tit Parus bokharensis
- Eurasian blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus
- Azure tit Cyanistes cyanus
- Yellow-breasted tit Cyanistes flavipectus
Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 24 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea
- Kashmir nuthatch Sitta cashmirensis
- White-cheeked nuthatch Sitta leucopsis
- Persian nuthatch Sitta tephronota
The Wallcreeper is a small bird with stunning crimson, grey and black plumage, related to the nuthatch family.
- Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Bar-tailed treecreeper Certhia himalayana
The penduline tits are a group of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. They are insectivores. There are 13 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Eurasian penduline tit Remiz pendulinus
- Black-headed penduline tit Remiz macronyx
- White-crowned penduline tit Remiz coronatus
Sunbirds and spiderhunters
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed. There are 131 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Purple sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus
The white-eyes are small and are mostly of undistinguished appearance, the plumage above being generally either some dull color like greenish olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their name suggests many species have a white ring around the eyes. There are 96 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Oriental white-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
Old World orioles
The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles. There are 29 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- Indian golden oriole Oriolus kundoo
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 31 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio
- Isabelline shrike Lanius isabellinus
- Bay-backed shrike Lanius vittatus
- Long-tailed shrike Lanius schach
- Great grey shrike Lanius excubitor
- Lesser grey shrike Lanius minor
- Masked shrike Lanius nubicus
- Woodchat shrike Lanius senator
The drongos are mostly are black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright whilst perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground. There are 24 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Afghanistan.
Crows and allies
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learning behavior. There are 120 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Black-headed jay Garrulus lanceolatus
- Eurasian magpie Pica pica
- Eurasian nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
- Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
- Alpine chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
- Eurasian jackdaw Corvus monedula
- House crow Corvus splendens
- Rook Corvus frugilegus
- Carrion crow Corvus corone
- Large-billed crow Corvus macrorhynchos
- Brown-necked raven Corvus ruficollis
- Common raven Corvus corax
- Hooded crow Corvus cornix
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There are 125 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Bank myna Acridotheres ginginianus
- Common myna Acridotheres tristis
- Brahminy starling Temenuchus pagodarum
- Rosy starling Pastor roseus
- European starling Sturnus vulgaris
Waxbills and allies
The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed-eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have a wide variation in plumage colours and pattern. There are 141 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Afghanistan.
- White-throated munia Euodice malabarica
The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 275 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
- Pine bunting Emberiza leucocephalos
- Rock bunting Emberiza cia
- Grey-necked bunting Emberiza buchanani
- Cinereous bunting Emberiza cineracea
- Ortolan bunting Emberiza hortulana
- Chestnut-breasted bunting Emberiza stewarti
- House bunting Emberiza striolata
- Chestnut-eared bunting Emberiza fucata
- Little bunting Emberiza pusilla
- Rustic bunting Emberiza rustica
- Black-headed bunting Emberiza melanocephala
- Red-headed bunting Emberiza bruniceps
- Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
- Corn bunting Emberiza calandra
- Lapland longspur Calcarius lapponicus (A)
- Snow bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species worldwide and 24 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- Common chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
- Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
- Plain mountain finch Leucosticte nemoricola
- Black-headed mountain finch Leucosticte brandti
- Common rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
- Pale rosefinch Carpodacus synoicus
- White-browed rosefinch Carpodacus thura
- Red-mantled rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys
- Caucasian great rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla
- Red-fronted rosefinch Carpodacus puniceus
- Red crossbill Loxia curvirostra
- European greenfinch Carduelis chloris
- Eurasian siskin Carduelis spinus
- European goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
- Twite Carduelis flavirostris
- Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina
- Fire-fronted serin Serinus pusillus
- Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
- Black-and-yellow grosbeak Mycerobas icterioides
- White-winged grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes
- Crimson-winged finch Rhodopechys sanguinea
- Mongolian finch Rhodopechys mongolica
- Trumpeter finch Bucanetes githaginea
- Desert finch Rhodospiza obsoleta
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Afghanistan.
- House sparrow Passer domesticus
- Spanish sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
- Russet sparrow Passer rutilans
- Dead Sea sparrow Passer moabiticus
- Eurasian tree sparrow Passer montanus
- Chestnut-shouldered petronia Petronia xanthocollis
- Rock petronia Petronia petronia
- Pale rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla
- White-winged snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis
- Afghan snowfinch Montifringilla theresae (E)