List of birds of Iran
This is a list of the bird species recorded in Iran. The avifauna of Iran include a total of 527 species, of which two are endemic, three have been introduced by humans and fourteen are rare or accidental. One species listed is extirpated in Iran and is not included in the species count. Nineteen 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 The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Iran.
The following tags have been used to highlight several categories. The commonly occurring native species do not fall into any of these categories.
- (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Iran
- (E) Endemic - a species endemic to Iran
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Iran as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
- (Ex) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in Iran although populations exist elsewhere
- (X) Extinct - a species or subspecies that no longer exists
Loons, known as divers in Europe, are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Europe. They are the size of a large duck or small goose, which they somewhat resemble when swimming, but to which they are completely unrelated. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Iran.
Grebes are small to medium-large 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 Iran.
- Little grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis
- Red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena
- Great crested grebe, Podiceps cristatus
- Horned grebe, Podiceps auritus
- Eared grebe, Podiceps nigricollis
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.
- Scopoli's shearwater, Calonectris diomedea
- Flesh-footed shearwater, Ardenna carneipes
- Persian shearwater, Puffinus persicus
The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.
- Wilson's storm petrel, Oceanites oceanicus
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings.
- Red-billed tropicbird, Phaethon aethereus
Boobies and gannets
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.
- Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo
- Socotra cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis
- Pygmy cormorant, Microcarbo pygmeus
Darters are often called "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark-brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have much paler plumage especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving.
- African darter, Anhinga rufa
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.
- Great white pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus
- Spot-billed pelican, Pelecanus philippensis
- Dalmatian pelican, Pelecanus crispus
Bitterns, herons and egrets
The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills.
- Grey heron, Ardea cinerea
- Goliath heron, Ardea goliath
- Purple heron, Ardea purpurea
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Western reef heron, Egretta gularis
- Little egret, Egretta garzetta
- Squacco heron, Ardeola ralloides
- Indian pond heron, Ardeola grayii
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Striated heron, Butorides striata
- Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
- Great bittern, Botaurus stellaris
Ibises and spoonbills
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.
- Sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus
- Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus
- Eurasian spoonbill, Platalea leucorodia
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory.
Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) tall, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. 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, uniquely, are used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Iran.
Ducks, geese and swans
Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.
- Mute swan, Cygnus olor
- Whooper swan, Cygnus cygnus
- Tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus
- Bean goose, Anser fabalis
- Greater white-fronted goose, Anser albifrons
- Lesser white-fronted goose, Anser erythropus
- Greylag goose, Anser anser
- Red-breasted goose, Branta ruficollis
- Ruddy shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea
- Common shelduck, Tadorna tadorna
- Cotton pygmy-goose, Nettapus coromandelianus
- Eurasian wigeon, Anas penelope
- Falcated duck, Anas falcata
- Gadwall, Anas strepera
- Eurasian 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 pochard, Aythya nyroca
- Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula
- Greater scaup, Aythya marila
- Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis
- Black scoter, Melanitta nigra
- White-winged scoter, Melanitta fusca
- Common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
- Smew, Mergellus albellus
- Red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator
- Common merganser, 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
Hawks, kites and eagles
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes 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.
- European honey buzzard, Pernis apivorus
- Crested honey buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus
- Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus (A)
- Red kite, Milvus milvus
- Black kite, Milvus migrans
- Brahminy kite, Haliastur indus (A)
- Pallas's fish eagle, Haliaeetus leucoryphus
- White-tailed eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla
- Lammergeier, Gypaetus barbatus
- Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus
- White-rumped vulture, Gyps bengalensis
- Eurasian griffon, Gyps fulvus
- Cinereous vulture, Aegypius monachus
- Short-toed snake eagle, Circaetus gallicus
- Western marsh harrier, Circus aeruginosus
- Northern harrier, Circus cyaneus
- Pallid harrier, Circus macrourus
- Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus
- Shikra, Accipiter badius
- Levant sparrowhawk, Accipiter brevipes
- Eurasian sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus
- Northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
- White-eyed buzzard, Butastur teesa
- Eurasian buzzard, Buteo buteo
- Long-legged buzzard, Buteo rufinus
- Upland buzzard, Buteo hemilasius
- Rough-legged hawk, Buteo lagopus
- Lesser spotted eagle, Clanga pomarina
- Greater spotted eagle, Clanga clanga
- Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax
- Steppe eagle, Aquila nipalensis
- Imperial eagle, Aquila heliaca
- Gurney's eagle, Aquila gurneyi
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
- Bonelli's eagle, Aquila fasciata
- Booted eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus
Caracaras and falcons
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 talons. There are 62 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Iran.
- Lesser kestrel, Falco naumanni
- Eurasian kestrel, Falco tinnunculus
- Red-necked falcon, Falco chicquera
- Red-footed falcon, Falco vespertinus
- Sooty falcon, Falco concolor
- Merlin, Falco columbarius
- Eurasian hobby, Falco subbuteo
- Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus
- Laggar falcon, Falco jugger
- Saker falcon, Falco cherrug
- Barbary falcon, Falco pelegrinoides
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Grouse are game birds, similar to quails and partridges. There are 18 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Iran.
- Caucasian grouse, Tetrao mlokosiewiczi
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 vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings. There are 156 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Iran.
- Caspian snowcock, Tetraogallus caspius
- Chukar, Alectoris chukar
- See-see partridge, Ammoperdix griseogularis
- Black francolin, Francolinus francolinus
- Grey francolin, Francolinus pondicerianus
- Grey partridge, Perdix perdix
- Common quail, Coturnix coturnix
- Ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus
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 Iran.
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, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.
- Water rail, Rallus aquaticus
- Corn crake, Crex crex
- Little crake, Porzana parva
- Baillon's crake, Porzana pusilla
- Spotted crake, Porzana porzana
- Grey-headed swamphen, Porphyrio poliocephalus
- 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.
- Great bustard, Otis tarda
- Houbara bustard, Chlamydotis undulata
- Macqueen's bustard, Chlamydotis macqueenii
- Little bustard, Tetrax tetrax
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.
- Small buttonquail, Turnix sylvatica (A)
The crab-plover is related to the waders. It resembles a plover but with very long grey legs and a strong heavy black bill similar to a tern. It has black-and-white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet and a bill designed for eating crabs.
- Crab plover, Dromas ardeola
- Eurasian oystercatcher, Haematopus ostralegus
Avocets and stilts
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and 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 Iran.
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.
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 Iran.
- Cream-coloured courser, Cursorius cursor
- Collared pratincole, Glareola pratincola
- Black-winged pratincole, Glareola nordmanni
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. There are 66 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Iran.
- Northern lapwing, Vanellus vanellus
- Spur-winged plover, Vanellus spinosus
- Red-wattled lapwing, Vanellus indicus
- Sociable lapwing, Vanellus gregarius
- White-tailed lapwing, Vanellus leucurus
- Pacific golden-plover, Pluvialis fulva
- European golden-plover, Pluvialis apricaria
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula
- Little ringed plover, Charadrius dubius
- Snowy plover, Charadrius alexandrinus
- Lesser sandplover, Charadrius mongolus
- Greater sandplover, Charadrius leschenaultii
- Caspian plover, Charadrius asiaticus
- Eurasian dotterel, Charadrius morinellus
Sandpipers and allies
Scolopacidae is 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 these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 33 species which have been recorded in Iran.
- Eurasian woodcock, Scolopax rusticola
- Jack snipe, Lymnocryptes minimus
- Solitary snipe, Gallinago solitaria
- Pintail snipe, Gallinago stenura
- Great snipe, Gallinago media
- 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
- Far Eastern curlew, Numenius madagascariensis
- 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
- Great knot, Calidris tenuirostris (A)
- Red knot, Calidris canutus
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Little stint, Calidris minuta
- Temminck's stint, Calidris temminckii
- Long-toed stint, Calidris subminuta
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Dunlin, Calidris alpina
- Broad-billed sandpiper, Calidris falcinellus
- Ruff, Calidris pugnax
- Red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus
- Red phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius
Skuas and jaegers
The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are 7 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Iran.
- Pomarine jaeger, Stercorarius pomarinus
- Parasitic jaeger, Stercorarius parasiticus
- Long-tailed jaeger, Stercorarius longicaudus
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls, terns, and skimmers. Gulls are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally 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 known to live in excess of 30 years. Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish.
- White-eyed gull, Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus
- Sooty gull, Ichthyaetus hemprichii
- Pallas's gull, Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
- Mediterranean gull, Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
- Brown-headed gull, Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus (A)
- Black-headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus
- Slender-billed gull, Chroicocephalus genei
- Little gull, Hydrocoloeus minutus
- Common gull, Larus canus
- Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus
- Herring gull, Larus argentatus
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Caspian gull, Larus cachinnans
- Armenian gull, Larus armenicus
- Black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia
- Lesser crested tern, Thalasseus bengalensis
- Sandwich tern, Thalasseus sandvicensis
- Great crested tern, Thalasseus bergii
- Black-naped tern, Sterna sumatrana
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- White-cheeked tern, Sterna repressa
- Little tern, Sternula albifrons
- Saunders's tern, Sternula saundersi
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus
- Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybrida
- White-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus
- Black tern, Chlidonias niger
- Indian skimmer, Rynchops albicollis
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 Iran.
- Pallas's sandgrouse, Syrrhaptes paradoxus
- Pin-tailed sandgrouse, Pterocles alchata
- Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, Pterocles exustus
- 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
- 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
- Red collared dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica (A)
- Laughing dove, Spilopelia senegalensis
Old World parrots
Cuckoos and anis
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The Old World cuckoos are brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Iran.
- Pied cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus
- Great spotted cuckoo, Clamator glandarius
- Common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus
- Asian koel, Eudynamys scolopacea
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Iran.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
The 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.
- Indian scops owl, Otus bakkamoena
- Pallid scops owl, Otus brucei
- European scops owl, Otus scops
- Eurasian eagle-owl, Bubo bubo
- Pharaoh eagle-owl, Bubo ascalaphus
- Brown fish owl, Ketupa zeylonensis
- Tawny owl, Strix aluco
- Desert owl, Strix hadorami
- Spotted owlet, Athene brama
- Little owl, Athene noctua
- Long-eared owl, Asio otus
- Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. 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 Iran.
- Eurasian nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus
- Egyptian nightjar, Caprimulgus aegyptius
- Sykes's nightjar, Caprimulgus mahrattensis
- Indian nightjar, Caprimulgus asiaticus
Swifts are small birds which spend 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 which resemble a crescent or boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Iran.
- Alpine swift, Tachymarptis melba
- Common swift, Apus apus
- Pallid swift, Apus pallidus
- Little swift, Apus affinis
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Iran.
- Common kingfisher, Alcedo atthis
- White-throated kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis
- 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 colourful 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 Iran.
- 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 Iran.
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 Iran.
- 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.
- Eurasian wryneck, Jynx torquilla
- Lesser spotted woodpecker, Dryobates minor
- Middle spotted woodpecker, Dendrocoptes medius
- Great spotted woodpecker, Dendrocopos major
- Syrian woodpecker, Dendrocopos syriacus
- White-winged woodpecker, Dendrocopos leucopterus
- Sind woodpecker, Dendrocopos assimilis
- Black woodpecker, Dryocopus martius
- Scaly-bellied woodpecker, Picus squamatus
- European green woodpecker, Picus viridis
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.
- Black-crowned sparrow-lark, Eremopterix nigriceps
- Bar-tailed lark, Ammomanes cincturus
- Desert lark, Ammomanes deserti
- Greater hoopoe-lark, Alaemon alaudipes
- Calandra lark, Melanocorypha calandra
- Bimaculated lark, Melanocorypha bimaculata
- Black lark, Melanocorypha yeltoniensis
- Greater short-toed lark, Calandrella brachydactyla
- Hume's lark, Calandrella acutirostris
- Lesser short-toed lark, Alaudala rufescens
- Sand lark, Alaudala raytal
- Crested lark, Galerida cristata
- Wood lark, Lullula arborea
- Eurasian skylark, Alauda arvensis
- Oriental skylark, Alauda gulgula
- White-winged lark, Alauda leucoptera
- Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris
Swallows and martins
The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Iran.
- Sand martin, Riparia riparia
- Pale martin, Riparia diluta
- Eurasian crag martin, Ptyonoprogne rupestris
- Pale crag martin, Ptyonoprogne obsoleta
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Red-rumped swallow, Cecropis daurica
- Common house martin, Delichon urbica
Wagtails and pipits
Motacillidae is 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 13 species which occur in Iran.
- White wagtail, Motacilla alba
- Citrine wagtail, Motacilla citreola
- Yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava
- Grey wagtail, Motacilla cinerea
- Richard's pipit, Anthus richardi
- African pipit, Anthus cinnamomeus (A)
- 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
- Water pipit, Anthus spinoletta
Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throats or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests. There are 130 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Iran.
The kinglets, also called 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 Iran.
- Goldcrest, Regulus regulus
The waxwings are a group of birds with 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 Iran.
- Bohemian waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus
The grey hypocolius is a small Middle Eastern bird with the shape and soft plumage of a waxwing. They are mainly a uniform grey colour except the males have a black triangular mask around their eyes.
- 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 1 species which occurs in Iran.
- White-throated dipper, Cinclus cinclus
The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous.
- 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 4 species which occur in Iran.
- Alpine accentor, Prunella collaris
- Radde's accentor, Prunella ocularis
- Black-throated accentor, Prunella atrogularis
- Dunnock, Prunella modularis
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 9 species which occur in Iran.
- Ring ouzel, Turdus torquatus
- Eurasian blackbird, Turdus merula
- Dark-throated thrush, Turdus ruficollis
- Fieldfare, Turdus pilaris
- Redwing, Turdus iliacus
- Song thrush, Turdus philomelos
- 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.
Streaked scrub warbler
- Streaked scrub warbler, Scotocerca inquieta
- Cetti's warbler, Cettia cetti
- Common grasshopper warbler, Locustella naevia
- Eurasian river warbler, Locustella fluviatilis
- Savi's warbler, Locustella luscinioides
- Moustached warbler, Acrocephalus melanopogon
- Aquatic warbler, Acrocephalus paludicola
- Sedge warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
- Paddyfield warbler, Acrocephalus agricola
- Eurasian reed warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus
- Blyth's reed warbler, Acrocephalus dumetorum
- Marsh warbler, Acrocephalus palustris
- Great reed warbler, Acrocephalus arundinaceus
- Clamorous reed warbler, Acrocephalus stentoreus
- Booted warbler, Iduna caligata
- Sykes's warbler, Iduna rama
- Eastern olivaceous warbler, Iduna pallida
- Upcher's warbler, Hippolais languida
- Olive-tree warbler, Hippolais olivetorum
- Icterine warbler, Hippolais icterina
- Willow warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus
- Common chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita
- Mountain chiffchaff, Phylloscopus sindianus
- Plain leaf warbler, Phylloscopus neglectus
- Western Bonelli's warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli
- Eastern Bonelli's warbler, Phylloscopus orientalis
- Wood warbler, Phylloscopus sibilatrix
- Yellow-browed warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus
- Greenish warbler, Phylloscopus trochiloides
Old World warblers
The family Sylviidae is a group of small insectivorous passerine birds. They 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.
- Eurasian blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla
- Garden warbler, Sylvia borin
- Greater whitethroat, Sylvia communis
- Lesser whitethroat, Sylvia curruca
- Small whitethroat, Sylvia minula
- Hume's whitethroat, Sylvia althaea
- Asian desert warbler, Sylvia nana
- African desert warbler, Sylvia deserti
- Barred warbler, Sylvia nisoria
- Eastern Orphean warbler, Sylvia crassirostris
- Rüppell's warbler, Sylvia ruppeli
- 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 highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.
- Common rock thrush, Monticola saxatilis
- Blue rock thrush, Monticola solitarius
- Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata
- European pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca
- Collared flycatcher, Ficedula albicollis
- Semicollared flycatcher, Ficedula semitorquata
- Red-breasted flycatcher, Ficedula parva
- European robin, Erithacus rubecula
- Thrush nightingale, Luscinia luscinia
- Common nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos
- Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica
- White-throated robin, Irania gutturalis
- Rufous-tailed scrub-robin, Cercotrichas galactotes
- Rufous-backed redstart, Phoenicurus erythronota
- Black redstart, Phoenicurus ochruros
- Common redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus
- White-winged redstart, Phoenicurus erythrogaster (A)
- Siberian stonechat, Saxicola maurus
- Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra
- European stonechat, Saxicola rubicola
- Pied bushchat, Saxicola caprata
- White-tailed wheatear, Oenanthe leucopyga
- Hooded wheatear, Oenanthe monacha
- Hume's wheatear, Oenanthe alboniger
- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
- Mourning wheatear, Oenanthe lugens
- Finsch's wheatear, Oenanthe finschii
- Variable wheatear, Oenanthe picata
- Pied wheatear, Oenanthe pleschanka
- Black-eared wheatear, Oenanthe hispanica
- Red-tailed wheatear, Oenanthe xanthoprymna
- Desert wheatear, Oenanthe deserti
- Isabelline wheatear, Oenanthe isabellina
- 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 which includes insects. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Iran.
- Long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus
Chickadees and titmice
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.
- Sombre tit, Poecile lugubris
- Caspian tit, Poecile hyrcana (E)
- Coal tit, Periparus ater
- Great tit, Parus major
- Eurasian blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus
- Azure tit, Cyanistes cyanus (A)
- 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 3 species which occur in Iran.
The wallcreeper is a small bird related to the nuthatch family, which has stunning crimson, grey and black plumage.
- 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 Iran.
- Eurasian treecreeper, Certhia familiaris
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 Iran.
- 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 Iran.
- Purple sunbird, Cinnyris asiaticus
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 Iran.
- Eurasian golden oriole, Oriolus oriolus
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.
- Red-backed shrike, Lanius collurio
- Isabelline shrike, Lanius isabellinus
- Red-tailed shrike, Lanius phoenicuroides
- Bay-backed shrike, Lanius vittatus
- Long-tailed shrike, Lanius schach
- Southern grey shrike, Lanius meridionalis
- Lesser grey shrike, Lanius minor
- Masked shrike, Lanius nubicus
- Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator
The drongos are mostly 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 when perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground. There are 24 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Iran.
- Black drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus (Ex)
Crows, jays, ravens and magpies
The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence. There are 120 species worldwide and 14 species which occur in Iran.
- Eurasian jay, Garrulus glandarius
- Eurasian magpie, Pica pica
- Iranian ground jay, Podoces pleskei (E)
- Eurasian nutcracker, Nucifraga caryocatactes
- Red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
- Yellow-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax graculus
- Eurasian jackdaw, Corvus monedula
- House crow, Corvus splendens
- Rook, Corvus frugilegus
- Large-billed crow, Corvus macrorhynchos
- Brown-necked raven, Corvus ruficollis
- Common raven, Corvus corax
- Hooded crow, Corvus cornix
- Azure-winged magpie, Cyanopica cyana (Vargant)
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 3 species which occur in Iran.
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 wide variation in plumage colours and patterns. There are 141 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Iran.
Buntings, sparrows, seedeaters and allies
The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called 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.
- Yellowhammer, Emberiza citrinella
- Pine bunting, Emberiza leucocephalos
- Cirl bunting, Emberiza cirlus (A)
- Rock bunting, Emberiza cia
- Grey-hooded bunting, Emberiza buchanani
- Cinereous bunting, Emberiza cineracea
- Ortolan bunting, Emberiza hortulana
- Chestnut-breasted bunting, Emberiza stewarti (A)
- Cretzschmar's bunting, Emberiza caesia
- Striolated bunting, Emberiza striolata
- Little bunting, Emberiza pusilla
- Rustic bunting, Emberiza rustica
- Yellow-breasted bunting, Emberiza aureola
- Black-headed bunting, Emberiza melanocephala
- Red-headed bunting, Emberiza bruniceps
- Reed bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus
- Corn bunting, Emberiza calandra
Siskins, crossbills and allies
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 twelve tail feathers and nine 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 18 species which occur in Iran.
- Common chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs
- Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla
- Common rosefinch, Carpodacus erythrinus
- Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
- European greenfinch, Chloris chloris
- Eurasian siskin, Spinus spinus
- European goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis
- Twite, Carduelis flavirostris
- Eurasian linnet, Carduelis cannabina
- Fire-fronted serin, Serinus pusillus
- European serin, Serinus serinus
- Eurasian bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula
- Hawfinch, Coccothraustes coccothraustes
- 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, but they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Iran.
- Saxaul sparrow, Passer ammodendri
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus
- Spanish sparrow, Passer hispaniolensis
- Sind sparrow, Passer pyrrhonotus
- Dead Sea sparrow, Passer moabiticus
- Desert sparrow, Passer simplex (A)
- Eurasian tree sparrow, Passer montanus
- Chestnut-shouldered petronia, Petronia xanthocollis
- Rock petronia, Petronia petronia
- Pale rockfinch, Carpospiza brachydactyla
- White-winged snowfinch, Montifringilla nivalis