List of birds of Western Sahara
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This is a list of the bird species recorded in Western Sahara. The avifauna of Western Sahara includes a total of 207 species, of which 3 are rare or accidental.
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. Accidental species are included in the total species counts for Western Sahara.
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 Western Sahara.
The Ostrich is a flightless bird native to Africa. It is the largest living species of bird. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at high speeds.
- Ostrich Struthio camelus
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Western Sahara.
The storm-petrels are relatives of the petrels, and are the smallest of sea-birds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 21 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
Boobies and gannets
The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups comprise medium-to-large coastal sea-birds that plunge-dive for fish. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating sea-birds 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 Western Sahara.
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 7 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 3 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 3 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
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 12 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
- Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
- Gadwall Anas strepera
- Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
- Northern Pintail Anas acuta
- Garganey Anas querquedula
- Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
- Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
- Common Pochard Aythya ferina
- Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca
- Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
- Black Scoter Melanitta nigra
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 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 15 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus
- Black Kite Milvus migrans
- Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus
- Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
- Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
- Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus
- Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
- Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus
- Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
- Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
- Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
- Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo
- Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
- Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
- Booted Eagle Aquila 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 feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- 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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata
- 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 Western Sahara.
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 Western Sahara.
- 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 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 5 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 19 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus (A)
- Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
- Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
- Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
- Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
- Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
- Common Redshank Tringa totanus
- Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
- Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
- Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
- Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
- Red Knot Calidris canutus
- Sanderling Calidris alba
- Little Stint Calidris minuta
- Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii
- Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
- Dunlin Calidris alpina
- Ruff Philomachus pugnax
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 Western Sahara.
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 Western Sahara.
Terns are a group of generally general medium to large sea-birds 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 12 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
- Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
- Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis
- Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
- Royal Tern Sterna maxima
- Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
- Common Tern Sterna hirundo
- Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
- Little Tern Sterna albifrons
- Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus
- Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
- Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Auks, murres, and puffins
Alcids are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits, however they are not related to the penguins bnd differ in being able to fly. Auks live on the open sea, only deliberately coming ashore to nest. There are 24 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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. Their legs are feathered down to the toes. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Travelling as far as fifty miles daily to get to water and bathe. The adult male will carry water back to its young in its thickly feathered breast. At the nest, the young take the water from the parent's feathers with their beaks. There are 16 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Western Sahara.
Pigeons and doves
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. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Barn owls are medium to large sized 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 Western Sahara.
- Barn Owl Tyto alba
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 3 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 3 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- 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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- European Roller Coracias garrulus
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 Western Sahara.
- 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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
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 10 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix nigriceps
- Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cincturus
- Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti
- Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes
- Thick-billed Lark Ramphocoris clotbey
- Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
- Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens
- Crested Lark Galerida cristata
- Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
- 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 6 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 6 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Streaked Scrub-Warbler Scotocerca inquieta
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 17 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia
- Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola
- Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
- Eurasian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
- Great Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
- Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida
- Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
- Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
- Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
- Western Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli
- Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
- Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
- African Desert Warbler Sylvia deserti
- Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis
- Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
- Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
- Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
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 15 species which occur in Western Sahara.
- Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
- European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
- Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
- Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
- Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes
- Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
- Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
- European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
- White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga
- Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura
- Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
- Red-rumped Wheatear Oenanthe moesta
- Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
- Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna
- Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti
The babblers or timaliids are somewhat diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. There are 270 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Fulvous Chatterer Turdoides fulvus
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 Western Sahara.
- 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. There are 31 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Crows, jays, ravens, and magpies
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 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
Buntings, sparrows, seedeaters, and allies
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 species 275 worldwide and 2 species which occur in Western Sahara.
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 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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githaginea
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 1 species which occurs in Western Sahara.
- Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
- Birds of Western Sahara Birdlist, multi-lingual website by country with standardized codes for abundance and seasonal presence.
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