virtually a microcosm of the whole world. This tiny country of 10452 Km2 has
a temperate Mediterranean climate dominated by two mountain ranges with a
rift valley in between, running parallel to a 225 km sandy and rocky
enriched by Alpine mountains and deep valleys with swamps, forests more than
3000 years old, over 18 rivers and thousands of natural springs, all of
which add to its diverse flora and fauna. Such richness of natural heritage
must not be taken for granted. Without good management and implementation of
environmental and conservation laws, resources that are so abundant
today may cease to exist.
Organizations like Ministry of Environment, National Center for Scientific
Research and the SPNL/NGO are making certain that this does not happen.
total of 369 bird species were recorded in Lebanon.
present, the 369 species mentioned above belong to 60 families and 18
orders. About 78% are members of the following orders: Passeriformes - 160
species (about 43% of the total); Charadriiformes - 68 (18%);
Accipitriformes and Falconiformes - 39 (11%); and Anseriformes - 20 (5%).
far, 134 species have been recorded breeding in Lebanon. Only 110 breed
regularly, the rest being either occasional or former breeders. Of the 110
regular breeders, 56 are exclusively residents (i.e. their populations
remain within Lebanon) such as Sparrow, Palm Dove, Yellow-legged Gull,
Graceful Warbler, Bulbul, Chukar, Long-legged Buzzard. 54 are exclusively
summer breeders (i.e. winter elsewhere but breed in Lebanon) such as Turtle
Dove, Pallid Swift, Swallow, Red-backed Shrike, White Wagtail.
breeding season for 74% of the species is from March to mid-July, while the
rest may start as early as the beginning of February (i.e. raptors) or end
as late as September (i.e. Palm Dove, Sparrow, Graceful Warbler).
the species that have bred in the past (former breeders) two are today
extinct in Lebanon (Lesser Crested Tern and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater). The
reason for their extirpation as breeders are various. The following
circumstances provide a plausible explanation for this:
1. Four species (Audouin's Gull, Lesser Crested Tern, Common Tern and Little
Tern) were published by Stenhouse (1904) breeding on palm Islands but
stopped to do so, at least from 1956 onward. Furthermore, one of these
species (Lesser Crested Tern) apparently ceased to appear in Lebanon. The
extirpation of these four species from the islands is not surprising knowing
that insular communities are very susceptible to persecution, disturbance
and development. All these factors (hunting, egging, feeding on nestling,
recreational, commercial and agricultural activities, military occupation,
fishing with dynamite near the islands, etc.) prevailed in the area prior to
its declaration a protected area. Only the Yellow-legged Gull obtaining,
throughout the year (especially in winter), ample food from waste resisted.
This was not the case of the extirpated species which mostly rely on natural
2. Five species of raptors (Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Levant Sparrowhawk, Golden Eagle and Lesser Kestrel were also published as breeders
but stopped to do so not only because of the pressure of hunting but also
due to the destruction and the fragmentation of their natural habitat
(degraded woodlands for most species) and to human interference in the
list of migrants and/ or winterers includes 246 species. Huge numbers of
birds are recorded each year on migration such as Garganey, Honey Buzzard,
Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Whinchat, Marsh Warbler,
Willow Warbler and Collared Flycatcher. Many species occur on migration and
in winter like Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Common Buzzard, Woodcock,
Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-headed Gull, Skylark, Dunnock, Stonechat and
Chiffchaff. While the list of birds that are exclusively winter visitors in
Lebanon is limited to 8 species: Gannet, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Blue Tit,
Wallcreeper, Jackdaw, Desert Finch and Yellowhammer.
migrating or wintering species may have smaller populations that breed in
Lebanon as residents or summer visitors such as Little Bittern, Booted
Eagle, Kestrel, Hobby, Quail, Water Rail, Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Barn
Swallow, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, etc.
Moreover, the list encompasses 80 vagrant or occasional species (wanderers
outside the migration range of the species) of which 36 are unrecorded since
1972. That is about a quarter of all bird species ever recorded in Lebanon.
Among the vagrants that have been recently recorded: Slovenian Grebe,
European Storm Petrel, Mute Swan, Red-crested Pochard, White-tailed Eagle,
Rough-legged Buzzard, Verreaux's Eagle, Oyster catcher, Red-necked
Phalarope, Armenian Gull, Alpine Accentor, Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Green
Warbler, Plain Leaf Warbler and Yellow-throated Sparrow.
presence of some endangered species, at global level, in Lebanon (Pygmy
Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Ferriginous Duck, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Corn
crake, Great Snipe, Audouin's Gull) make it clear that this country is of
great value at international scale.
Finally, one should stress that despite the ban on hunting in Lebanon, the
situation for many birds is getting worse. This is not only because of the
gunning down of birds for fun or the irresponsible and lawbreaking actions
of some people but also because of the continuous use of thousands of tons of
poisonous chemicals in agriculture which directly and indirectly kill birds,
the fire and the intensified grazing which destroy the remaining habitats,
the superstitious beliefs which consider all owls as bringers of bad luck,
things will continue in the same way, many birds will cease to breed or will
no longer occur in Lebanon. This is why there is an urgent need to use
legislation to protect birds, face threats, identify important sites and
getting them protected, to run public awareness and education campaigns, and
to act now.
Ras Al Chaqaa
Nahr Al Kabeer
Kanater Set Zbeideh /
Beirut River Valley
Ebel es Saqi
Rashaya Al Wadi – Mount Hermon Area
Qaa El Rim / Sannine
Tannourine Nature Reserve
Kfar Zabad /AnjarTyre Coast Nature Reserve
Damour River Valley
Awali River Valley
Hasbaya River valley
Yammouneh Nature Reserve
Orontis River Valley
Al Mjar/Ras Baalbeck
Jisr El Kadi
Deir El Aachayer
Bentael Nature Reserve
Litani River Valley
Deir Al Harf
Ibrahim (Adonis) River
Information From the Ministry of