A Kingdom of Birds: Birding in Saudi Arabia

by Gregory Askew

السلام عليكم!

As-salaam 'alaikum!

The Birds of Saudi Arabia

At the crossroads of three biogeographical realms and three major flyways

  • Palearctic residents in the north with migrants throughout on passage

  • 10 breeding lark species

  • Afrotropical residents and summer breeders in the southwest

  • Bruce's Green-Pigeon, White-browed Coucal, African Gray Hornbill, Gray-headed Kingfisher, and African Paradise-Flycatcher

  • Indomalayan residents and vagrants in the east

  • Gray Francolin, Red-wattled Lapwing, and Indian Roller

  • Three major flyways pass through Saudi

  • Black Sea-Mediterranean flyway: Raptors, cranes, and passerines along the Red Sea

  • Asian-East African flyway: Major stopover for shorebirds, wheatears, and pipits

  • Central Asian flyway: Sociable Lapwing and Steppe Eagle

  • Over 500 species recorded

  • New records still being added

The endemics and near-endemics of the Arabian Peninsula

  • Nearly two dozen endemic or near-endemic species

  • Asir Magpie, a critically endangered species found only in Saudi Arabia

  • Arabian Dunn's Lark, split from African Dunn's Lark by the IOC

  • Southwest highlands, endemism hotspot

  • Easiest place for near-endemics and regional specialties

  • Rufous-capped Lark and Hypocolius

  • Regionally endemic seabirds

  • White-eyed Gull and Socotra Cormorant

Birding Hotspots

Why I love Saudi birding

1. Saudi birds are cool!

2. Saudi's one of the most under-birded countries on the planet!

  • 4115 completed eBird checklists to Bexar County's 81000

  • 254 eBirders to Bexar's 6164

3. Contributing to knowledge about Saudi birdlife

4. Sharing my love with others

5. Learning Saudi Arabic