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Updated Checklist of the Birds of Lebanon

Since the previous published checklist of the birds of Lebanon in 2008, many significant changes to the status and distribution
of birds have been recorded. Checklists evolve and the one presented here uses the standardised taxonomic list for the OSME region.

Fig.1 Squacco Heron © G R-Jaradi

404 species recorded

Of the 404 species recorded in Lebanon, nine have been added since the 2008 list; 284 (70.3%)
are passage migrants or winter visitors (or both); 69 (17.1%) are vagrants; 73 (17.8%) are summer breeders
and 65 (16.1%) are breeding residents

Fig.7 Crested Grebe © G R-Jaradi

Uncertain Status

The remaining birds are of uncertain status (Leach’s Storm Petrel Hydrobates leucorhous, Western Brown Fish Owl Bubo (zeylonensis) semenowi, Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea, and White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis), have originated from escapes (Red Turtle Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica and Indian Silverbill Lonchura malabarica), were introduced (Mute Swan Cygnus olor, Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca and Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus), or disappeared from Lebanon for over 120 and 70 years respectively but recently reappearing as vagrants (Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis and Blue- cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus).

Passage migrants or winter visitors

Summer breeders


Breeding residents

first breeding records in Lebanon of four species

The paper also describes the first breeding records in Lebanon of four species (Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides [Figure 1], Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis [Figure 2], Little Egret Egretta garzetta [Figure 3] and Black- winged Kite Elanus caeruleus [Figure 4]) in spring 2020. The first three species were discovered at Mansoura by Maher Osta and documented by Ramadan-Jaradi et al. 2020. This paper documents and highlights the most recent changes in the status, distribution and occurrence of all bird species observed in Lebanon. It is based on the previously published checklist of the birds of Lebanon (Ramadan-Jaradi et al 2008), 14 published ornithological papers and two books on the birds of Lebanon between 2008 and 2019, additional published records up to Dec 2019 (from Around The Region in Sandgrouse), the results of intensive surveys that are conducted on a continual basis in the country and the reports published by the Raptor Count Lebanon [Figure 5] supported by OSME, BirdLife International and SPNL (the BirdLife Partner in Lebanon). In addition, casual observations by an increasing number of birdwatchers and (unfortunately) illegal hunting have provided some important records. Further observation has led to an increase in the number of bird species recorded in Lebanon from 395 in 2009 to 404 in 2019. The nine new species are: Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus, White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala, Black-eared Kite Milvus (migrans) lineatus, Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius [Figure 6], Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus, White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga, Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrhula, Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, and Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra. This paper, updated the information on around 70% of the species listed in Ramadan-Jaradi et al (2008), particularly nine that were proved to breed for the first time in the country (Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus [Figure 7], Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Eurasian Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus [Figure 8], Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus, Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, European Serin Serinus serinus [] and Goldcrest Regulus regulus), seven species previously considered to be vagrants that are now known to be regular winter visitors, passage migrants or both (Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus, Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax, Armenian Gull Larus armenicus, Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla), and three passage migrant species have been found also to regularly winter in the country (Greater Sand Plover Anarhynchus leschenaultia, Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis). Two species previously considered locally extinct have reappeared after 70 years (Blue- cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus) and 120 years (Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis). Some breeding species have shown a decline in numbers or occurrence and their status has changed from common to uncommon or scarce (Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciatus, European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur [Figure 10], Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes). The following recorded species in Lebanon are globally threatened: Critically Endangered: Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius; Endangered: White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala, Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis, Saker Falcon Falco cherrug; Vulnerable: Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan, Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus, Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga, Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Great Bustard Otis tarda, Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii, Black- legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus [Figure 11], Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica. Finally, for localised species, the paper listed the main locations where they have been recorded to help guide future assessment, to fill gaps, and provide a basis for follow-up and monitoring. For all species references are provided for their first occurrence and/or their first breeding record in Lebanon.
Fig.10 Turtle Dove © G R-Jaradi
Fig.2 Cattle Egret chicks at Mansoura © G R-Jaradi
Fig.8 Stone curlew juvenile © G R-Jaradi
Fig.3 Little Egret in nest © G R-Jaradi
Fig.6 Diederic Cuckoo © G R-Jaradi
Fig.9 European Serin © G R-Jaradi
Fig.4 Black winged Kite © G R-Jaradi

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