List of birds of Palestine

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This is a list of the bird species recorded in Palestine. The avifauna of the Palestine region is unusually rich for so small an area. Henry B. Tristram, who identified much of the avifauna of Palestine in an 1885 study which denoted the geographical scope as covering an area of 5,600 square miles (15,000 km2), identified 348 species. Of those, 271 are Palearctic, 40 are Ethiopian (10 of which are also Indian), 7 Indian and 30 which are peculiar to Syria.[1][2] The number of species identified has grown considerably since then and is expected to grow further as the number of active ornithologists in the region grows.[3] Today, there are 470 species, classified in 206 genera, belonging to 67 families and grouped in 21 orders.[3]

Orders containing the largest numbers of species are: Passeriformes (songbirds) with 192 species, Charadriiformes (waders, plovers, gulls) with 88 species, Falconiformes (diurnal birds of prey) with 44 species and Anseriformes (swans, geese, ducks) with 33 species.[3] The largest families are: Sylviidae (warblers) with 43 species, Turdidae (thrushes, chats) and Anatidae (swans, geese, ducks), both with 33 species and Accipitridae (eagles, vultures, hawks) with 32 species.[3] The most populous genera are: Sylvia (warblers) with 15 species, Emberiza (buntings) with 14 and Larus (gulls) with 13, while Oenanthe (wheatears), Sterna (terns) and Falco (falcons) each comprise 11 species.[3]

The types of avifauna are not equally diffused over the whole area. The Palearctic species are found largely near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the highlands east and west of Jordan. The Ethiopian and Indian types are almost exclusively confined to the Dead Sea basin.[2] There are 30 species of migratory soaring birds that pass through Palestine annually.[4]

Buzzards, eagles, harriers, hawks, kites and vultures[edit]

The golden eagle appears of the crest of the Palestinian National Authority and is a winter visitor to Palestine.

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Accipitridae


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Gruidae

Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

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 appear to be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide.


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Otidae


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae


Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae


Order: Falconiformes   Family: Pandionidae

Quails and partridges[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

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.

Bittern, herons and egrets[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ardeidae

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. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of this family fly with their necks retracted.

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which comprises the ibises and spoonbills. Its members have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary flight feathers. They are strong fliers and, despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

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. There are 131 species worldwide.


The white stork is very common in Palestine.

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Phaethontidae


Order: Phoenicopteriformes   Family: Phoenicopteridae


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Meropidae

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, southern Asia, 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 down-turned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 species worldwide.

Typical rollers[edit]

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Coraciidae

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.


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Upupidae

Hoopoes have black, white and pink plumage and a large erectile crest on the head. There are two species worldwide.


Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

  • Syrian woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus); common resident.<ref=Safadi2>Al- Safadi, M.M. (2004). On the breeding biology of the Syrian woodpecker, Dendrocopos syriacus syriacus in the Gaza Strip. Zoology in the Middle East. 32: 5-10.</ref>
  • Eurasian wryneck (Jynx torquilla)[10]


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

Old World flycatchers[edit]

The bluethroat of the red-spotted race is a fairly common winter visitor to Palestine.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae

Old World warblers[edit]

An adult male blackcap. These are common winter visitors to Palestine and a few remain resident to breed.

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sylviidae

Cisticolas and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cisticolidae

Streaked scrub warbler[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Scotocercidae

Crows and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

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.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

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.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

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.

Swallows and martins[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

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.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Laniidae

Shrikes are passerine birds known for the habit of some species 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.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae

Finches are passerine birds known for their stout conical bills adapted for eating seeds and which often have colourful plumage. Some finches, particularly, the goldfinch, are known for their pleasant to cacophonous song, which changes in pitch and in tone, from trills into twitters.


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Pycnonotidae

Bulbuls are renowned for their melodious tunes, hence its name in Arabic: (بلبل),[17][18] meaning nightingale.

Avocets and stilts[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

The black-winged stilt

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 nine species worldwide


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Burhinidae

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 nine species worldwide.


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

Pratincoles and coursers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Glareolidae

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.


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the 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.


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

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 seven species worldwide.


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Sternidae

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.

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

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.

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.


Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Many Old World cuckoo species are brood parasites.


Order: Pterocliformes   Family: Pteroclidae

Barn owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

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.

Typical owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

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. There are 195 species worldwide.


Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized ground-nesting nocturnal birds with 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.


Order: Apodiformes   Family: Apodidae

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.



  1. ^ Hastings, 2004, p. 762.
  2. ^ a b H. B. Tristam (1885). "The survey of Western Palestine: The Fauna and Flora of Palestine". The Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak "Birds of Palestine". Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Migratory Soaring Birds". Palestine Wildlife Society. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g BirdLife International in partnership with Palestine Wildlife Society (PWLS); Globally threatened species in Palestinian Authority Territories
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac R. W. Sheppard (1933) Notes on The Birds of Jerusalem.
  7. ^ a b c d A Day in Wadi Qelt By Sami Backleh This week in Palestine
  8. ^ BirdLife Species Factsheet, Eastern Imperial Eagle
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg Harry Charles Luke; Edward Keith Roach, eds. (1922). "The Handbook of Palestine". MacMillan and Co. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw Birds of Gaza Strip and their threats Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b c d e Palestine Wildlife Society Archived 2009-08-25 at the Wayback Machine, Palestine Wildlife Society; Birds Archived 2009-01-31 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b PWLS Jerusalem Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b PWLS, Jerusalem Mountains Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b c PWLS Wadi Gaza Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b Palestine Wildlife Society Archived 2009-08-25 at the Wayback Machine and Palestine Wildlife Society; Birds Archived 2009-01-31 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ PWLS, Jordan valley Archived 2010-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Kordova, Shoshana (July 13, 2014). "Word of the Day / Bulbul: Just Don't Confuse the Bird With the Man". Haaretz. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  18. ^ Klein, Ernest (1987). "A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of Hebrew Language" (PDF). Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  19. ^ "Wadi Gaza one of the Important Bird areas in Gaza Strip". Palestine Wildlife Society. Archived from the original on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  20. ^ Al- Safadi, M.M. (1997). On the breeding biology of the Spur - winged Plover, Hoplopterus spinosus, in Gaza Strip. Zoology in the Middle East. 14:47-52


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