A NOTE ON THE STATUS, DISTRIBUTION AND POPULATION OF BREEDING BIRDS OF PREY AND OWLS IN ARABIA

by M C Jennings

 Coordinator, Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia project and Editor The Phoenix (ISSN 0268-487X) Warners Farm House, Warners Drove, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, PE28 3WD, UK. Email: ArabianBirds@dsl.pipex.com Website: http//dspace.dial.pipex.com/arabian.birds

February 2006

This paper has been prepared to aid discussion of these taxa at the Conservation Workshop for the Fauna of Arabia to be held at Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, 19-22 February 2006. It does not include information and population estimates in the ‘Eagles and Vultures’ report of the Conservation Workshop for the Fauna of Arabia, Sharjah 20-23 February 2005.

The document is compiled from the paragraph on status and distribution contained in drafts species accounts of the forthcoming Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia (ABBA), Jennings, in prep. The notes on Osprey Pandion haliaetus and Striated Scops Owl Otus brucei are taken from drafts provided by Paul Fisher and Simon Aspinall respectively. This review does not include species restricted solely to Socotra (these are Socotra Buzzard Buteo socotrae and Socotra Scops Owl Otus socotranus) but the status and distribution comments, population estimates and maps do include reference to Socotra.

On the distribution maps Appendix A , large dots are ‘confirmed breeding’, medium sized dots are ‘probable breeding’ and small dots ‘other records of occurrence’. Red dots represent records prior to 1984 and blue dots are records from 1984 or later. The maps are compiled from records reported by observers to the ABBA Project, extracted from the literature and unpublished sources, museum specimen records and observations during ABBA Surveys to Arabia. Those species highlighted are the primary species for consideration at the workshop.

A summary of possible species populations appears as a table at Appendix B.

Unfortunately it has not been possible to reference all the sources of species information in this work but readers may, if they wish see more detailed information on individual species by consulting sources included in A Rough Draft Bibliography of Arabian Ornithology (Jennings 2005). The series of numbers shown after each species statement below are the reference numbers to papers relevant to each species included in that bibliography. (A soft copy of the bibliography, which will make searching easier, is available on request).

Comments on status and population estimates should be regarded as provisional. Generally species are not identified to subspecies in this paper except where more than one subspecies is represented in Arabia. Taxonomic and nomenclature issues are covered in other parts of the Atlas. The Author would very much value any comments concerning the information shown here and to hear of records extending or complimenting the range etc of species shown on the maps.

(0235) Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus The status of the Black-shouldered Kite in southwest Arabia is unclear, in that it appears to be a scarce resident on the Tihama and foothills. However it may only be an erratic breeding visitor from Africa. It has occurred in all months, as far north as Jeddah and in the south to just east of Aden. Most records come from the region east of Hodeidah, especially Wadi Surdud and also between Lahej and Aden in the south of Yemen, where it has bred. However occurrence is not stable and it cannot always be found and may be absent some years. Occurrence suggests irregular movements and temporary residence which seems to characterise the species in some parts of Africa and India and this might be expected in Arabia which is at the edge of its range. In Africa it is regarded as nomadic to areas where there is plenty of prey, such as local rodent plagues. In eastern Arabia the species has been increasingly recorded since the early 1980 s. In the UAE, where at the beginning of the 21st Century it occurred almost annually, records are mainly from November to March with one in September. In northern Oman occurrence is more erratic with records in January, July, August and November. In Dhofar it has been recorded twice in November and February. The two Dhofar records are probably representatives of the nominate subspecies from the southwest, extending further east than usual. However the records from UAE and northern Oman seem more likely to be individuals from the Indian region wandering in winter. The two Kuwait records, in February and June, are not easily explained but were no doubt wanderers and could equally have originated from the Nile Delta population or the Indian region. Although there is one record of a bird coming on board a ship in the Gulf of Aden (in July) there are no other reports of movements. For example it is not recorded from the well watched islands of Das in the Arabian Gulf, or Masirah1. It is not known from Socotra, northern, central and eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or Qatar. The map shows all records. The paucity of records of this species make it difficult to suggest whether there has been any change in the ‘resident’ population of the southwest in the last 50 years. Probably not. In view of its erratic status the likely breeding population can only be guessed at, it may be that 10 - 20 pairs breed each year, but it is likely that in some years none breed at all. Most breeding birds are likely to be in Yemen.
003003, 033005, 033012, 033111, 043033, 043039, 053047, 053121, 053122, 883086, 923002, 923009, 923017, 923023, 933001, 933027, 963075, 973326, 973327, 983012, 983022

0238) Black Kite Milvus migrans The subspecies aegyptius is resident on the Tihama and highlands of the south-west from about the latitude of Jeddah to Aden. There are a few scattered breeding records through eastern Yemen to Salalah. It is a rare migrant on Socotra. The resident population is commensal relying on human rubbish for scavenged food. Consequently the Black Kite is often common around towns and villages but it can be quite scarce or even absent altogether in adjacent deserts and uninhabited areas. The sub species migrans is a migrant throughout Arabia, occurring in all states, often as singletons or in small numbers with more in the south-west. One count of 1500 at a Jeddah rubbish dump in February is indicative of migration concentration but unfortunately many observations like this have not identified the subspecies. The number s migrating through Arabia and the periods and routes are still poorly known. Incomplete migration counts in the Hejaz, Yemen and autumn counts in Djibouti of birds coming across the Bab al Mandab, have recorded only a few hundred birds. Which may be only a small part of the actual numbers moving. The what extent to which birds winter in the south-west is also poorly understood because of the confusion with the local resident population. Certainly larger numbers occur on the Tihama in winter suggesting an influx and a few winter in outlying urban areas such as the vicinity of Tabuk, Hail and the Eastern Province. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the breeding population is falling in parts of its range, probably as a result of improved sanitation but there are likely to be many other local factors. The Black Kite is still a common urban bird in Yemen. In Saudi Arabia by 2000 it seemed to have become scarce in some towns compared with the situation in 1970 s and 1980 s but the towns are also much larger than before. So it is quite possible that the kite population has increased with a less concentrated population spread over a much larger urban area. The map shows probable and confirmed breeding only. There are no indications that the
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1 It should be mentioned here that Green (1949) described this species as a breeding resident on Masirah island and gave details of its breeding and ecology there. However it was later shown that the author has clearly misidentified the local Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus!
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absolute range has either contracted or expanded in recent years. The overall breeding population is difficult to estimate as there are no good studies of the species and there is the confusion with migrants and visitors. There may well be 500 pairs resident in each suitable ABBA square on the Tihama and in the southwest highlands. This would give a total of about 30,000 breeding pairs, with probably two thirds in Yemen. The breeding population east of Aden and in Dhofar may only be a few dozen pairs. In the southern part of Yemen between Lahej and Aden the breeding population appears to have been much affected by continual harrying by large numbers of House Crows Corvus splendens. The House Crow is a direct competitor for scavenged food and Black Kites being outnumbered are driven from food by the crows. The crows also disturb nests and incubating birds and attack Black Kites in the air at every opportunity. In the 1950 s the Black Kite population in Aden was regarded as many thousands, but by 2005 it had become scarce in the area. There are also reports of House Crows possibly being responsible for a decrease in Black Kite breeding population at Hodeidah and Jeddah. However at these latter sites the House Crow population is not large.
013001, 013016, 023001, 023045, 023056, 033061, 033110, 043059, 053004, 053015, 053047, 053060, 883015, 883022, 883032, 883078, 883093, 883114, 883128, 883133, 923002, 923003, 923006, 923009, 923010, 923012, 923013, 923014, 923017, 923020, 923023, 923037, 933000, 933001, 933002, 933011, 933021, 933035, 933052, 963067, 963072, 973001, 973062, 973065, 973085, 973086, 973088, 973089, 973093, 973094, 973095, 973096, 973098, 973108, 973317, 983012, 983041, 983043, 993025, 993029

(0246) Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus The Bearded Vulture occurs in small numbers in the western highlands, from the sandstones near the Jordan border to the mountains of southern Yemen, east to Mukayras. It is probably resident where it occurs. There is poor observer coverage over the northern regions where it is known, which are mainly sandstone areas and that population is very hardly known. The northern breeding range may be populated by just a few scattered breeding pairs. Possibly some records from there are of wandering individuals, especially those seen on the eastern flanks, but there is no firm evidence of any local or seasonal movements anywhere in Arabia. There is also no evidence of birds wintering in Arabia from further north although this might be expected. In the southwest it occurs from 850 m in the western ramparts of Yemen to the tops of the highest mountains (3,000 m). The species is clearly decreasing in Saudi Arabia. For example in the mid 1970 s the Bearded Vulture could be seen each day at the escarpment near Taif and at Jebal Sawdah, near Abha but there have been only one or two records at these particular sites since 1990. The Yemen population still appears to be flourishing. but it is not known from the Tihama or Socotra. It is also unknown from the Arabian Gulf and Oman. The map shows all records. The Arabian population at the beginning of the 21st Century must be small, probably much less than 100 pairs, with possibly 50 pairs in Yemen and only 10 to 20 pairs in Saudi Arabia.
023001, 023049, 023056, 023057, 033062, 033067, 053015, 053100, 053109, 053116, 883015, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883082, 923034, 923035, 923037, 923051, 933001, 933002, 933027, 973062, 973085, 973089, 973093, 973096, 993019, 993029

(0247) Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus The Egyptian Vulture is a widespread resident as well as a migrant and winter visitor. It occurs as a breeding bird in the northern UAE and Oman, possibly southern Oman, eastern Yemen, the western highlands, and much of central Arabia, with a few pairs in the Eastern Province. It is absent from the Empty Quarter and Great Nafud sand seas, the Arabian Gulf littoral area from Kuwait to Dubai and most of northern Arabia. Numbers appear to be reducing everywhere but still relatively dense populations occur on the islands of Masirah, Socotra (one report suggested there may be 500 pairs on that island) and Farasan. Trans-Arabian migration would be expected to involve birds moving south in autumn across a wide front in northern Arabia. There perhaps ought to be a concentrations around the head of the Arabian Gulf and across the Straits of Hormuz but it is scarce in Kuwait and there are only small movements noted across the southern Gulf. A study of raptors entering Africa at Djibouti across the Bab al Mandab between 3 October and 9 November 1987 recorded 554 Egyptian Vultures. Other movements recorded in the southwest and Oman fit a picture of late autumn migration in October and November. The movement north in Spring seems from the little information available to more concentrated, with more than 700 recorded in two three/four day periods crossing the Bab al Mandab. Numbers increase locally in winter in central Arabia, Yemen and Oman at which times it congregates at rubbish tips, for example 250 at Ghayyan in northern Oman in December, 100 Jebal Hafit UAE in winter, 170 at Sunub near Muscat in October and 26 in February in southern Oman. There is high proportion of brown immatures noted in some winter groups suggesting the adults may return north earlier or winter elsewhere2. All old accounts suggest that earlier in the 20th Century the Egyptian Vulture was much more numerous than it is at the beginning of the 21st Century, both as a resident and a wintering bird. During the ABBA period it has been noticed as becoming more scarce in a number of regions and by the early 21st Century is was sometimes difficult to find in areas where it could at one time be counted on being seen every day. In Aden where it occurs mostly in Autumn, Winter and Spring a count on 24 October 1960 found some 1343 at five sites near he city. This compares very unfavourably with observations during the period 23-27 October 1989 when only a single bird was seen in the Aden area. By 1989 the numbers around Aden had been much reduced by the activities of the very numerous and aggressive House Crow Corvus splendens. Even so the two records paint a picture of very significant decline. Most old records point to it being a common scavenger around towns and villages and large numbers were reported 50 years or more ago from Jeddah, Riyadh, Abqaiq, Sanaa, and Dubai/Sharjah, where by 2006 it had become scarce or not recorded at all. Overall by this time the mainland breeding population was possibly only one tenth of what it was 50 years previously. Agricultural pesticides have been implicated for its decline in other parts of its range. Although the effect of agricultural pesticides is unknown in Arabia the decline was noted long before the farming revolution started in Arabia. A study into the reasons for the decline of this and other species of vultures in Arabia is much needed not least to try and stabilise the breeding population. By 2006 there were small numbers spread over a huge range and the population might be of the order of a few more than 3000 pairs. Of the total possibly up to 10% are in the UAE and Oman and the rest are spread equally between Yemen (including Socotra) and Saudi Arabia. The map shows all records.
013032, 013034, 023012, 023013, 023019, 023045, 023083, 033009, 033031, 033039, 033052, 033061, 033062, 033077, 033106, 033108, 043032, 043033, 043039, 043045, 053004, 053005, 053018, 053040, 053047, 053056, 053060, 053095, 053118, 053124, 883009, 883022, 883049, 883055, 883078, 883082, 883104, 883124, 883128, 883133, 883134, 883141, 923002, 923006, 923008, 923010, 923012, 923017, 923020, 923023, 923035, 923036, 923043, 923044, 933000, 933001, 933002, 933004, 933006, 933008, 933011, 933020, 933032, 933035, 933037, 933038, 963002, 963052, 963069, 963075, 963206, 963210, 973001, 973002, 973007, 973048, 973051, 973056, 973062, 973065, 973085, 973101, 973110, 973111, 973112, 973312, 973320, 973321, 983014, 983031, 983039, 983041, 983043, 993016, 993019, 993021, 993029, 993046

(0251) Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus The Griffon Vulture is resident in western and central Arabia and a migrant and winter visitor to most regions. As a breeding bird it is widespread in the southwest highlands of Yemen and Saudi Arabia and north central Saudi Arabia. It has disappeared from a small colony near Riyadh between the 1970 s and the early 1990 s. In the Eastern Province it is very scarce, September to February. Small numbers have been recorded in Kuwait in most recent years September to March. It is also rather scarce in eastern Yemen, southern and northern Oman and the northern Emirates where it is generally regarded as a winter visitor. There are two records from the Farasan islands (November and April) which are surprising as birds would presumably find difficulty in flying across to the islands from the mainland and those islands would not be regarded as on a migratory route for soaring species to or from Africa. Not confirmed from Bahrain and there are no records from Qatar or Socotra. The map shows all records. One migrating bird was satellite tracked from northeast Israel to between Jeddah and Medinah in August and six were once
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2 Satellite tracking of individual immature birds hatched in France has shown that some stay within a home range in the Sahel region of Africa for up to 3 years (Meyburg et al 2004), before returning north to breed. A similar habit in Arabia may account for the high number of immatures sometimes recorded.
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seen on migration south through the Hejaz during a 14 day period of observations in October. A study of raptor migration in Djibouti from the beginning of October to early November in 1985 and 1987 noted only three Griffons moving to Africa from Arabia. The authors of the study concluded that it is unlikely that the species is a regular or numerous migrant across the Bab al Mandab. There is very little information on the numbers and distribution of this species in previous decades but it seems likely that numbers have generally decreased in recent years in Arabia, both as a winter visitor and as a breeding bird3. The breeding locality which was vacated near Riyadh may have been due to human disturbance which was probably also the cause of desertion from a small colony near the village of Habala in the Asir which disappeared some time in the 1980 s when the area had become a local tourist attraction. The breeding population in Yemen may be of the order of 2000 pairs, with a similar number in the highlands of southwest Saudi Arabia and possible a further thousand pairs throughout central Arabia. The wintering population may be as great as the breeding population but the geographical origin of wintering birds is unknown.
003009, 013013, 023045, 023046, 023052, 023121, 033039, 033061, 033062, 033065, 033067, 033093, 043033, 043040, 043045, 053007, 883009, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883082, 883101, 883114, 883134, 923002, 923008, 923010, 923012, 923035, 923036, 923037, 933001, 933002, 933011, 933035, 933038, 963069, 973062, 973085, 973088, 973089, 973093, 973095, 973096, 973098, 973300, 973312, 973320, 983024, 983041, 983043, 993029, 993046

(0254) Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos There was previously much confusion regarding the status and distribution of large vultures in Arabia. This was because the Lappet-faced Vulture was not generally recognised as widely occurring in Arabia until the 1980 s. Up until that time it was often believed that tree nesting vultures were Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus, when in fact they were probably all Lappet-faced. Many old records of Griffons and Black Vultures Aegypius monachus also probably referred to Lappet-faced. The possible previous occurrence of Rüppell’s Griffon Gyps rueppellii has also confused the picture. This latter species may never have occurred in Arabia despite several records mentioned in Meinertzhagen (1954) and the existence of some dubious specimen records. There are several old photos and some specimen records from the 1940-50 s of Lappet-faced Vultures which were not correctly identified or went unnoticed at the time. The first confirmed recorded was one collected between Medina and Hail in 1944, it was identified at the time as Lappet-faced but appears not to have come to wide notice as the collection was published and the specimen deposited in Cairo. (The specimen could not found in Cairo in 1985). Then one was collected about 100 km north of Riyadh in 1945 but was incorrectly identified at the British Museum (Natural History) as Gyps fulvus. Eggs and specimens were also collected in central Arabia in 1947 and Sharjah 1952 and were all incorrectly identified as Gyps. Even after the species was known to occur in Arabia it has often been referred to as a winter visitor. Whereas the species actually starts to breed in midwinter. Perhaps more than any other species the ABBA project has identified the true distribution of this species. It is in 2006 known to be locally common and widely distributed on the central plains of Arabia, from Jebal Tubaiq at about 30��N, southwards to eastern Yemen and probably Dhofar. In eastern Yemen breeding is only confirmed from reports of four of the distinctive nests of this species. There is an isolated breeding population in northern Oman and UAE. The species is probably resident wherever it occurs but wandering birds are known from as far north as the Harrat al Harrah, the Tihama of southwest Saudi Arabia, Aden, and Jibla on the eastern edge of the western highlands of Yemen. Much work has been done on the biology of the species at the Mahazat as Sayd reserve, and one marked immature bird there moved 400 km north and then returned to the Mahazat. In Africa juveniles are known to disperse
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3 Until the 1980 s there was much confusion between this species and the Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos. It is only since the 1970 s that the latter species has been shown to be a numerous and widespread breeding species in Arabia. Until the 1980 s, there had been various reports of tree-nesting Griffons which were widely accepted. It is clear from the perspective of 2006 that all these records referred to the Lappet-faced Vulture. The Griffon Vulture does nest in trees in Europe but has never been recorded to do so in Arabia.
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at least 700 km from the breeding area. Movements like this suggests that birds could easily transfer between the north Oman population and the rest of Arabia. There are no records from Kuwait, Bahrain or Qatar. Counts of migrating raptors at the Bab al Mandab did not report this species and there are no confirmed records from the Farasans, Socotra or other islands to indicate it migrates to Africa. The map shows all records. This species ranges widely in search of food. In Africa adults may travel 200 km from the nest when foraging. The several reports of 20 or more birds at one carcase or feeding site in Arabia may therefore represent birds from several different atlas squares, thereby giving a false impression that local populations may be larger than they actually are. A gatherings of 45 at one site has been recorded in Oman, 35 have been counted in one square where active breeding was occurring in west central Arabia, up to 17 pairs attempted to breed each year in the Mahazat reserve during a four year study in the early 1990 s. At the same place autumn roosts have involved up to 162 birds. At least 13 pairs are known to have bred annually at the Bani Maarid reserve area on the western edge of the Rub al Khali. Breeding is confirmed in at least 60 squares. In central Saudi Arabia, a region which is still poorly covered by observers, there are 50 squares with confirmed breeding. Some records of confirmed breeding only refer to ‘used nests’ but such records at least indicate that there are active pairs in the vicinity. In two squares GB27 and IB25 in western Saudi Arabia, 7 and 8 nests respectively were seen from a helicopter to contain single eggs early spring 1983. That helicopter was engaged in geological survey work and did not systematically cover the whole square in each case and suggests that locally many pairs may nest in a relatively confined area. If in Saudi Arabia there were on average 10 pairs for every square where the species has been confirmed to breed there would be some 500 pairs. Probably not many squares away from the reserves mentioned would have this level of population but on the other hand this vulture is likely to breed in many additional squares where breeding is not yet recorded. Much of eastern Yemen is eminently suitable for this species but coverage there has been very poor. There are records from eight squares there and it is likely that at least 50 pairs inhabit that region and probably neighbouring Dhofar. There must be at least 50 pairs in northern Oman with perhaps the odd pair breeding in UAE. Making an Arabian total of about 600 breeding pairs. Unlike other Arabian vultures, such as the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus, Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus and the Griffon, which are all clearly in decline, the Lappet-faced Vulture shows indications of having increased in number in recent decades. In northern Oman there appear to be more records and larger counts by 2006 than previously. In both the Mahazat and Bani Maarid reserves there has been a marked increase in breeding pairs since protection was established. It is likely that some of this increase is that the protected nature of the reserve encourages birds to move in from outlying regions but it at least indicates that there are very healthy populations locally which can multiply easily when the opportunity is provided.
003009, 003034, 013032, 023004, 023012, 023013, 023019, 023049, 023112, 033031, 033039, 033047, 033062, 033064, 033077, 033093, 033108, 033111, 033113, 043039, 043040, 053005, 053012, 053041, 053117, 053121, 883054, 883055, 933001, 933004, 933005, 933007, 933035, 963002, 963051, 963066, 963205, 963210, 963211, 963212, 963214, 963216, 963217, 973007, 973033, 973323, 973324, 973331, 983012, 983018, 983021, 993004, 993042, 993046

(0256) Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus A scarce to frequent passage migrant and winter visitor to Arabia. Widespread in small numbers in the summer months but only a handful of breeding records. As a migrant and winter visitor it is absent or very scarce in the northwest, much of central Arabia, the Eastern Province and western UAE. It is scarce in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. It is also uncommon in the northern UAE from Autumn to Spring but it may breed . In northern Oman it is fairly common and has bred. In southern Oman and Masirah island it has been recorded almost every month. It has been recorded September to March with a peak of records in October in Yemen but it is not known from Socotra island. Similarly it is most noticeable as a Spring and Autumn migrant in the southwest of Saudi Arabia with substantial numbers in October when it passes with other raptors. There are a few present in the Asir in the summer months. The best evidence of the number that migrate through Arabia has come from a study in Djibouti where 203 birds were recorded arriving in Africa from Arabia in October 1985 (102 on 17 October) and 1202 counted at the same place in October/November 1987, with 126 on 15 October. Those authors suggested an eastern origin for the birds crossing the Bab al Mandab. Another count of the Bab al Mandab movement from the Arabian side recorded 48 on 15 October 1997. The scattering of migrant and winter visitor records in Arabia suggests that birds move across central Arabia diagonally from the head of he Arabian Gulf. Theoretically a significant number of migrants could also enter Arabia at the Straits of Hormuz but any evidence for this is lacking. The small breeding population is probably resident and separate fro the migrant population. Breeding is known from south central Arabia (two records), southwest Saudi Arabia and northern Oman/UAE (two records). With so few confirmed breeding records and no confirmation yet if populations are resident or transitory it is difficult to assess how large the breeding population is in Arabia. On the basis that the species inhabits broken and hilly country which is difficult to survey there could be 200 pairs in central and southwest Saudi Arabia, 50 pairs in Yemen (although there is no confirmed breeding from that country yet) and another 20 pairs in northern Oman/UAE. This species is very poorly recorded as a breeding bird and there is nothing to suggest that the breeding population is either changing in number or distribution. The map shows only probable and confirmed breeding records and some potential breeding records .
003009, 013001, 013016, 023012, 023013, 023045, 033024, 033061, 043039, 053005, 053066, 883032, 933001, 933002, 933004, 963069, 963205, 963214, 973111, 983031, 983041, 983043

(0257)
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus The Bateleur is a bird of the African savanna which finds a toehold in southwest Arabia. Status in Arabia is probably ‘scarce breeding resident’. Most records are September to April. Of 60 dated records there is only one between late April and early July. However there is no evidence to suggest there is any migration between Africa and Arabia or within Arabia so the apparent summer absence may be an observer bias within a relatively small number of records. Elsewhere in the Middle East it is accidental to Iraq (October), and Israel (December March to May). It is found in the extreme southwest of Saudi Arabia and western Yemen, most records are no further north than 18�� N or east of Aden. It wanders rarely as far north as Jeddah and as far east as Mukalla. It has not been recorded in the Mahra area of eastern Yemen and southern Oman or on Socotra. It is also unknown from the Arabian Gulf States. This species has not yet been confirmed to breed in Arabia but there is evidence that it does breed. The population must be thinly spread and pairs appear to have large territories, in Africa territories may be up to 200 km2. On this basis there could be little more than five pairs in a square even in the most suitable habitat which would suggest that the total Arabian breeding population, if it does indeed breed, is less than 100 pairs. Yemen probably has at least two thirds of the population. There is no evidence that the population or range has changed in recent decades. The map shows all records on the database.
023049, 023056, 023063, 033052, 053050, 883022, 883055, 923005, 923010, 923035, 933001, 933025, 933027, 963075, 973001, 973328, 983013

(0265) Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates The Dark Chanting Goshawk is resident in southwest Arabia. It is found sparingly from a little north of Taif, becoming quite numerous on the Tihama in the extreme southwest of Saudi Arabia, south through Yemen to Aden. There are only three or four records from eastern Yemen but none form Dhofar. In southwest Saudi Arabia birds are recorded as wandering northwards in the winter months. This would account for some of the isolated occurrences which have been from near Riyadh in January and from the UAE in February and April. The species has also been recorded Israel in April. There are no records from the other Arabian Gulf states ad it s unknown from Socotra. There is no evidence of regular movements within Arabia. On the basis that there may be 30-40 breeding pairs in each atlas square where there is suitable habitat, the population may be of the order of 1000 pairs, with perhaps more (60%) in Yemen. There is no information to suggest the breeding population or distribution has changed in recent years. The map shows all records.
013034, 023124, 053015, 053050, 053110, 883015, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883093, 923000, 923002, 923003, 923009, 923010, 923017, 923023, 923034, 923035, 933001, 933002, 933025, 933027, 933030, 963061, 963074, 973001, 973062, 973067, 973085, 973088, 973096, 973303, 973326, 983013, 983017,983033

(0266) Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar Resident on the Tihama and in the foothills from southwest Saudi Arabia (19�� N is the northernmost record), to Yemen. There are a few records in southern Yemen away from the Tihama and north and east of Aden. The only information on dispersal or migration comes from two isolated records, probably non breeding wanderers, from near Mukalla in September and at almost 25�� N in the Hejaz in March. It is not recorded on Socotra or from the other states. Although the species is likely to be overlooked in thick bush country it appears to be much scarcer than the Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates. The population may be as few as only 200 pairs with probably three quarters in Yemen. There is no information to suggest that numbers or range have changed in recent years. The maps shows all records.
013001, 023021, 023026, 053015, 053054, 053063, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883114, 923009, 923026, 933002, 963069, 963075, 973326, 973327, 973329

(0272) Shikra Accipiter badius The Shikra (subspecies sphenurus) is a scarce resident of the southwest, occurring in the foothills and highlands of the western escarpment of Yemen and adjacent parts of southwest Saudi Arabia. It has been recorded every month and there is no evidence of any movement or dispersal of this population, either within Arabia or between Africa and Arabia. Since 1996 breeding has been recorded near Dubai and an accipiter, possibly this species, has been seen displaying in Ras al Khaimah UAE. The status of the species in the UAE is unclear, perhaps in the early 21st Century only a single pair or very few pairs bred.. It could be a summer visitors from Iran or further east and there has been suggestion of a captive origin or some of the original birds. Since 1991 there have been a number of records from Oman from the Batinah coast (March), Masirah island (where three separate birds were present at different times between late June and early November), Salalah area and interior southern Oman (March and October, November). Since 1988 there hae been a number of records from Kuwait in each month from September to April and by 2006 was sufficiently well known there to be recorded as a scarce migrant and winter visitor. This is an old specimen record (October 1938) from Riyadh. There are no records from Bahrain, Qatar or the Eastern Province. The Dubai birds have been tentatively identified as belonging to the Asian subspecies cenchroides and representatives of this race are likely to occur elsewhere in eastern Arabia The species has been poorly recorded in the southwest in previous years and because of this there is no indication that it has either changed its distribution or numbers there in recent years. In the southwest probably about 30 squares have suitable habitat for this species and if there were 20 pairs in each the population would be of the order of 600 pairs, with possibly three quarters occurring in Yemen. The map shows the location of all records including migrants and winter visitors.
003003, 003035, 013001, 013033, 023017, 033031, 033039, 033058, 043022, 043031, 043039, 043041, 053119, 883015, 883022, 933002, 963069, 963071, 973300, 973307, 983006, 983008, 983012, 983017

(0288) Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus The Long-legged Buzzard is a widespread but scarce breeding resident. It also occurs widely in winter and on migration. As a resident it is scattered throughout eastern, north, central and southwestern parts of Saudi Arabia. A few pairs breed in UAE, and central and southern Oman but it appears to be rather more scarce as a breeding species in Yemen. It is not known from Socotra. Has bred at several places on the edge of the Empty Quarter and may well breed throughout that sand sea. It is known as a winter visitor in small numbers in Kuwait (occasional summer records), Bahrain and Qatar, from late September to April. Migration reports have come form the Eastern Province, at Tabuk, Yanbu, in the highlands of southwest Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The only counts indicating the size of the migration through Arabia are from a report of the study of migrants made in Djibouti where 131 were observed arriving in Africa across the Bab al Mandab from Yemen between 10 October to 9 November 1987. The majority crossed the Bab al Mandab in early November with the maximum daily count of 36 on 8 November. The authors of that report considered it likely that November is the main passage period and suggested that good numbers may move into Africa in mid to late November. The breeding population in the UAE is obscured by winter visitors and migrants but in the UAE up to 5 pairs have been estimated to breed. There may be 100 breeding pairs each in Oman, Yemen and the highlands of southwest Saudi Arabia and possibly a further 500 pairs spread over central and eastern Saudi Arabia. Making a total of the order of 800 pairs. There is no evidence to indicate whether the breeding population is stable or whether agricultural developments in recent years have assisted it or been to its detriment. The map shows all records except the more obvious migrants and visitors.
013001, 013016, 023045, 023097, 033024, 033061, 053041, 053119, 053133, 883009, 883032, 883052, 883055, 883104, 883114, 883134, 883913, 923010, 923035, 933001, 933004, 933052, 963050, 963066, 963068, 963075, 963208, 963211, 963214, 963217, 973312, 973320, 973331, 983014, 983035, 983040, 983041, 983043, 993029

(0294) Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax The nominate subspecies of the Tawny Eagle, is an uncommon resident of southwest Saudi Arabia and western Yemen. The population there is thought to be sedentary as there are no observations suggesting migration within Arabia, or to or from Africa. Non breeding birds appear to wander a few squares northwards, to 20�� N and southwards to Aden. This eagle is not known from the Farasan islands or Socotra. Records of this species from northern Oman (November to March) may have been wandering birds of the Indian race A. r. vindhiana. One seen at Taqah in Dhofar in November could have been of either race. There are no records from the other states4. The Arabia breeding population is small, probably of the order of only 250 pairs. This estimate is based on suitable habitat covering the area of 25 squares with 10 pairs in each square. Probably 30% of the breeding population is in Saudi Arabia and rest in Yemen. There is no information on whether numbers or distribution are changing in any way. The map shows all observations in the southwest and Dhofar.
033061, 053063, 883022, 883045, 883055, 883082, 883114, 923008, 923010, 923013, 923034, 933001, 933002, 933052, 963071, 973062, 973111, 973328, 983013

(0296) Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos The Golden Eagle is a widespread but local and uncommon resident. There are two main population centres, in northwest and north central Saudi Arabia and in the eastern part of the Empty Quarter and central Oman. Elsewhere it is very scarce. There is a small breeding population in the UAE part of the Empty Quarter and thee are probably also a few pairs breeding in eastern Yemen. There may also be breeding birds in the Yemen highlands where there have been a number of observations, including display. The species is not known from Qatar or Bahrain and it is a vagrant (four records) to Kuwait. There are a few records from around Riyadh and in the Eastern Province, without confirmed breeding. The Eurasian population of the Golden Eagle is not noted for strong migration tendencies and regular migration within and through Arabia is probably negligible. This is borne out by raptor migration studies in the Hejaz, the Yemen foothills and at the Bab al Mandab, which have recorded only a single Golden Eagle. This was in the Hejaz and even that bird could have been a local resident. Further evidence to support little or no migration is that it is unknown from islands of Farasan, Socotra, Masirah and Das. After breeding, birds sometimes congregate during summer at places where there is fresh water, such as Montassar in southern Oman (where up to 9 have been seen together in June) and also near Al Jawf northern Saudi Arabia in May and August. The population is small and as there is very little information on which to judge numbers thus any estimate is almost a guess. The few breeding records from Saudi Arabia are probably indicative of a thin population over a very large area. There may be 250 pairs
----------
4 Eggs collected in the middle of the Empty quarter by B Thomas (883002) were identified by Kinnear (883045) as most likely to belong to this eagle. However the record is some 1000 km from the nearest other reports of the species and the habitat was wrong. That nest most likely belonged to the Golden Eagle A chrysaetos which by the year 2000 was known to be a widespread breeding bird in the Empty Quarter. Also further measurement, analysis and opinion of the eggs also suggest the later species.
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altogether in Arabia, with the majority in Saudi Arabia, possibly 20 pairs in, mainly eastern, Yemen and 30 pairs in the eastern part of the Empty Quarter including central Oman and southern UAE. There is no information to suggest the population is changing in any way but the increased number of stock animals and the wider provision of water on the plains will be advantageous to this species. The maps shows all records as an indication of overall range.
003002, 003006, 003009, 003019, 023012, 023083, 023096, 033045, 043039, 043041, 053060, 883002, 883022, 883045, 883049, 883052, 883114, 883119, 883133, 923002, 923010, 933001, 933027, 983014, 983024, 983043

(0297) Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii This species was first recorded in Arabia in 1878 by Sir Richard Burton in ‘Midian’ (northwest Saudi Arabia), there was another record in southern Yemen in 1948, it since the 1970 s it has been found to be quite widespread. The increase in observations probably reflects better observer coverage in the highland areas where it occurs, than any real population change. Verreaux’s Eagle is a scarce resident breeding sporadically in the highlands and foothills of western Arabia, from Jebal al Lawz near the Gulf of Aqaba to just north of Aden and through eastern Yemen to Dhofar. There are no records from the other states and there is no evidence to suggest there is any migration to Africa for the winter and, apart from the dispersal of juveniles from the nesting area, there are probably no local movements within Arabia. In Arabia pairs are predictable at nesting sites all year round. Probably more widespread than records suggest but occurring at a very low level of density. There are collections of records near Jebal Rawdah near Yanbu and in the southern Hejaz. It is probably most numerous in western Yemen, both in the Tihama foothills and the highlands. Some 10-11 sites were known in Yemen in 1987. It is more spread out and scarce in eastern Yemen with records from near Habban, Tarim and Wadi Meseila. There is another cluster of records in Dhofar where breeding is recorded in at least 4 squares. The species range in Arabia, as in Africa, is closely linked to the distribution of Hyrax Procavia capensis, of which it is a specialist predator. The only locality where Hyrax occurs where this eagle has not been confirmed is the Tuwaiq Escarpment in central Arabia. The Arabian population is perhaps in the region of 60 pairs, if it is assumed that there are two pairs breeding in each the squares in southwest Saudi Arabia and western Yemen where the species is known and one in each of the occupied square in the other localities. The map shows all records.
003009, 003029, 013001, 023049, 023063, 033052, 033061, 033063, 053012, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883114, 883133, 933001, 933002, 933027, 963069, 963075, 973307, 973326, 973327, 983022, 993012

(0299) Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus Bonelli’s Eagle is an uncommon but widespread resident of rocky and mountainous regions. It is probably the most numerous breeding eagle in Arabia. It occurs throughout the mountains of west and southern Arabia to Dhofar and then again in northern Oman and the Emirates. There are isolated breeding records from near Riyadh, where it may be thinly distributed as a breeding bird along the Tuwaiq escarpment, and from Masirah island. It is absent as a breeding bird from the plains of northern Arabia and the coastal area of the Arabian Gulf but it has been recorded in those places rarely as a migrant and winter visitor. There is probably an insignificant migration through Arabia as small numbers have been noted on migration across the Bab al Mandab from Arabia to Africa and it has been seen on Das Island in the Arabian Gulf. Its secondary status, as a winter visitor and passage migrant needs further clarification. A few records from Kuwait, the Eastern Province and the UAE suggest that there is a small population that comes to Arabia across the Arabian Gulf and around the head of the Gulf for the winter. The species is not known from Bahrain, Qatar or Socotra. It has been described as the commonest breeding eagle in Yemen and the population in the UAE has been estimated to be of the
--------
5 In 1999 a UAE military transport aircraft landed at Ras al Khaimah airport having suffered a birdstrike. The remains of the bird still in the wing appeared to be the complete leg of a Verreaux’s Eagle. The birdstrike was apparently suffered near to Ras al Khaimah but enquiries could not establish where the aircraft had come from and so a birdstrike on takeoff at another location could not be ruled out.
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order of 10 - 50 pairs in the small area of UAE highlands. If the midpoint of the UAE population estimate were to be repeated in other mountainous areas of Arabia, which are for the most part much less studied than the UAE maintains, then the total Arabian population might be of the order of 700 pairs. Of the total there may be 300 pairs each in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and 70 in Oman. The UAE population is thought by some to be declining but no population change or obvious range expansion has been noted elsewhere. The map shows all records.
003009, 023017, 023019, 023045, 023112, 033039, 033061, 033064, 043023, 043041, 053001, 053005, 053066, 053133, 883015, 883022, 883032, 883045, 883055, 933004, 933030, 933038, 963066, 963069, 963202, 963203, 963205, 963207, 963211, 963212, 963216, 963217, 963220, 973007, 973085, 973096, 973326, 973331, 983013, 983014, 983041, 993020, 993047

(0301) Osprey Pandion haliaetus The Osprey is a common breeding resident species in the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It is less numerous in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. The highest concentrations in the Red Sea are on the Tiran, Al Wejh and Farasan archipelagos, and islands off Al-Hudaydah. In the Arabian Gulf important breeding populations are found on the Hawar Islands, Bahrain, the western islands of the UAE and Musandam islands (Oman). Only in Kuwait is it not known as a breeding species. In the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden small numbers of Osprey breed on the Damaniyat, Halaaniyah archipelago Oman and the outlying islands of the Socotra Archipelago. The large majority of nests are on islands with nests on the mainland being rare, possibly less than 1%. There is no evidence to support movement between the populations of the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea but within each population there may be considerable movement of individuals for example limited ringing studies have shown that a female ringed as a nestling on Tiran Island was seen in a subsequent year nesting with two yung some 70 km east near Al Muwaylih and a male nestling ringed on Farasan was later photographed breeding on the other side of the Red Sea at Green Island, near Massawa, Eritrea some 250 km away. The breeding population estimate for Arabia is of the order 850 pairs of which up to 70% are found in the Red Sea. Ospreys also migrate through Arabia, certainly overland and presumably along the coasts and small numbers probably over-winter. Eurasian migrants are larger than Arabian Ospreys, and typically with darker plumage and more prominent black upper breast band (particularly in females). Fenno -Scandinavian ringed birds have been recovered near Riyadh, Taif and Perim Island. Limited evidence from the satellite tracking of individuals has shown that at least some individuals from temperate areas pass over the Arabian Peninsula and parts of the Arabian Gulf during September and October to winter in tropical Africa (Kjelléllen et al., 1997). The map shows all potential breeding records.
003009, 003018, 003025, 013014, 013032, 013033, 023003, 023026, 023072, 023103, 023110, 023138, 023142, 033013, 033029, 033030, 033031, 033039, 033068, 033072, 033082, 033110, 043015, 043017, 043032, 043039, 043041, 053025, 053040, 053044, 053080, 053094, 053124, 053132, 883007, 883011, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883092, 883100, 883104, 883112, 883124, 923002, 923005, 923006, 923010, 923012, 923020, 923037, 923043, 933000, 933001, 933002, 933004, 933008, 933013, 933014, 933017, 933026, 933031, 933034, 933038, 943006, 943009, 963205, 963210, 963211, 963214, 963216, 963220, 973001, 973003, 973004, 973006, 973007, 973008, 973009, 973011, 973013, 973036, 973038, 973041, 973042, 973043, 973064, 973075, 973080, 973081, 973085, 973089, 973101, 973110, 973114, 973302, 973311, 973313, 973325, 983012, 983020, 983026, 983038, 983039, 983041, 993009, 993026, 993031, 993034

(0304) Kestrel Falco tinnunculus The Kestrel is the most widespread, numerous and familiar bird of prey in Arabia. It can be seen in city centres as well as open desert habitats, including the Empty Quarter. It is scarce or absent as a breeding bird from the plains of central and northern Arabia where there are no trees or rocky outcrops. The most significant area where breeding is not indicated is eastern Yemen but this may be due to poor observer coverage there. It is a widespread breeding resident in all states and the larger islands such as the Farasans, Socotra and Masirah. There is also a significant wintering population in all states. To ensure that the distribution map shows only resident birds records of migrants and winter visitors are ignored and only probably and confirmed breeding records are plotted. No information is available on the movement of marked birds including post breeding dispersal and thus the origins of the wintering population is unclear, but most likely birds arrive from further north in the Middle East and possibly from eastern Europe and western Asia. The breeding population is probably of the order of about 10-11000 prs, on the basis that there may be 300 squares of most suitable habitat holding at least between 30 - 40 pairs each and 150 more squares of secondary habitat holding 5 pairs each. This population is possibly outnumbered two to one by visitors during winter and spring. The breeding population has almost certainly increased in recent years with the advent of large scale agricultural programmes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in large areas of irrigated wheat fields in central and northern Arabia the breeding population in each square might be as high as 2-300 pairs.
003003, 013016, 013033, 013034, 023013, 023019, 023045, 023151, 033017, 033031, 033061, 043004, 043039, 043067, 053005, 053015, 053041, 053076, 053081, 053104, 053124, 883007, 883009, 883015, 883022, 883055, 883093, 883104, 883124, 883134, 923002, 923003, 923005, 923008, 923010, 923013, 923017, 923020, 923023, 923037, 923043, 923044, 933001, 933002, 933004, 933006, 933020, 933025, 933038, 963053, 963067, 963068, 963069, 963203, 963204, 963206, 963207, 963210, 963211, 963212, 963214, 973002, 973012, 973013, 973041, 973051, 973065, 973085, 973086, 973089, 973094, 973095, 973096, 973098, 973312, 973320, 973321, 983040, 983041, 983043, 993029, 993041, 993045

(0312) Sooty Falcon Falco concolor The Sooty Falcon is a breeding summer visitor to the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. In Arabia it almost exclusively inhabits islands. Breeding concentrations occur in the Arabian Gulf at the Hawar islands, Bahrain, the Abu Dhabi islands in the UAE and islands of Musandam and the Daimaniyat group in the Gulf of Oman. It breeds throughout the Red Sea from Tiran to the Bab al Mandab, with particularly concentrations found near the Wedj bank and al Lith. There are no breeding records from the Gulf of Aden, the Socotra Archipelago or the Arabian Sea. It occasionally nests on mainland sea cliffs in northern Oman, for example between Banda Jissa to Ras Khabba. The few breeding reports inland are restricted to the northwest of the peninsula and fit in well with a distribution of inland breeding from North Africa to Jordan. Other inland records could indicate an overland passage to the Arabian Gulf from and to the wintering grounds. The several records from near Abqaiq may have been breeding birds from the Gulf of Salwa. It arrives on its breeding grounds generally in April or May but odd birds are present from late March. There are two old records from Oman in January but both could be erroneous as they have not been repeated in recent years. There is no other evidence to suggest any are present during winter. The map shows the location of all observations. Although birds have been recorded on the coasts of the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden in April, October, and November (and therefore probably migrants) its absence from that coast and its islands as a breeding bird is not yet explained. It may be that the summer monsoon, which coincides with the Sooty Falcon breeding season, creates climatic conditions unsuitable for hunting or, more likely, reduces the number of prey species migrating down the coast. Studies in the Red Sea show that breeding numbers are less on islands where there is a less concentrated flow of migrants in Autumn. For example the Farasan islands were less favoured than the islands off Al Lith where the narrow coastal lowlands means a greater concentration of migrants moving along the coast. The volume of migrant flow on a broad front over the Arabian desert is probably not as concentrated as, for example in the area between northeast Egypt and Jordan and so perhaps mainland breeding birds would not be expected in the centre of the peninsula or the eastern part of Arabia. This falcon winters in Madagascar and less frequently on the African mainland at Mozambique and even eastern South Africa. The Arabian breeding population is probably no more than about 450 pairs. This is comprised of a population in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf and Oman of probably no more than 100 pairs (maxima of about 20 pairs on Hawar, 25 pairs on UAE islands, and 60 pairs in Oman) and about 350 pairs in the Red Sea. The latter are comprised of about 300 pairs in Saudi Arabia, with perhaps slightly more in the northern sector between the Wedj Bank and Tiran group than in the south from Al Lith to the Farasans and about 50 pairs on the Yemen islands. Considering that the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf/Gulf of Oman are regarded as major population centres for this species it is very difficult to balance the above population estimate with the extrapolated wintering population in Madagascar of 40,000 pairs given in del Hoyo et. al. 1994. With an estimated population of 300 pairs in Egypt, 100 in Israel and 170 pairs in the Dahlak archipelago, Sudan, and a few in Libya and Jordan, the world population might be as low as 1000 pairs. One explanation for this disparity could be that it is a more widespread breeder in the inland deserts of North Africa than is known. Another is that there are significant undiscovered breeding areas. Both alternative explanations seem unlikely and perhaps the
world population should be revised down by a factor of 40! There is no information on population changes in recent years from Arabia. This species, having a fondness to breed on islands, must be regarded as extremely vulnerable due to the increasing disturbance many islands receive in the early 21st Century. It does not breed on the main Hawar island due to the presence of feral cats and no longer breeds on Zirka, Dalma, and Sir Bani Yas islands in the Gulf due to a combination of the oil industry and sizeable human populations having been established there in recent years. The promotion of tourism to the Gulf and Red Sea, especially water sports, must inevitably have a negative effect on this rare bird.
003003, 003009, 003018, 013032, 023012, 023049, 023138, 023143, 023151, 033002, 033007, 033008, 033009, 033012, 033067, 033068, 033108, 043001, 043025, 043039, 043050, 043051, 053027, 053040, 053046, 053080, 053081, 053119, 883008, 883011, 883032, 883082, 883089, 883100, 883112, 933000, 933008, 933013, 933014, 933016, 933026, 933030, 933038, 963051, 963209, 963211, 963214, 963220, 973003, 973010, 973012, 973013, 973036, 973043, 973069, 973325, 983009, 983014, 983015, 983017, 983022, 983031, 993007, 993009, 993031, 993036
 
(0314) Lanner Falco biarmicus A century ago the Lanner was recorded by one observer in south Arabia as ‘Not uncommon’, but by the year 2006 few observers have seen and the species had become a very rare bird in Arabia, although still apparently widespread at a very low population density. In the last 30 years breeding has been confirmed from the Eastern Province, central Arabia, the southwest highlands of Saudi Arabia and Yemen but the last report of confirmed breeding was in 1989. It has been recorded in almost every month in Oman but with no indication of breeding. Immatures have been seen in the UAE but there is no good evidence of breeding there either. In the 19th Century two pairs were recorded on Socotra but there have been no subsequent records from that island. There are no breeding records from northern Arabia or from the Empty Quarter. The map shows al records. In Arabia the Lanner is thought to be resident where it breeds, however there is likely to be a small wintering or migrant population because there are a number of records of single non-breeding birds. In recent years the number and status of the species has been obscured by the presence of escaped falconers birds (some have been reported with jesses on) as well as escaped hybrids which by the end of the 20th Century had become a regular bi-product of the falconry industry. There is no information available on movements of marked individuals. The small number of records obtained during the ABBA period (only 2 confirmed breeding and six probable breeding) outlines the range known by the 21st Century but provides very little on which to draw conclusions about the population size. Bearing in mind the vast areas of potential habitat there may still be as many as 20 pairs in central and eastern Arabia and a similar number each in the Saudi Arabian and Yemeni parts of the southwest highlands and a few in eastern Yemen. The total population for the whole peninsula must be considerably less than 100 pairs. There may be a few in Oman. The Lanner is a traditional hunting falcon of the Arabian bedouins. Whilst it has been able to withstand for many centuries an annual ‘take’ by nomads for their own needs it has not been able to sustain the level of pressure in the early 21st Century, generated by the commercial demand. This the species is likely to become extinct as a breeding species in Arabia in the near future. Taking young falcons from the nest is a further blight on the prospects of the genus in Arabia and in the case of the Lanner F. bemocks a major contributor to its almost complete extinction.
003009, 013032, 023012, 023045, 033005, 033039, 033061, 053063, 883022, 883032, 883049, 883055, 883114, 883124, 883134, 923000, 923004, 923009, 923013, 923017, 923043, 933001, 933002, 933035, 963050, 963214, 963220, 973085, 973307, 983005, 983014, 983040, 983041, 993004, 993025

(0320) Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus The Peregrine Falcon is primarily a widespread, uncommon migrant and winter visitor to coastal regions of Arabia. It occurs in all states. It appears to be more common in the Arabian Gulf and southern Arabia in winter than it is in the Red Sea region, but more marked as a migrant along the Red Sea coast into Africa than elsewhere. Rather scarce in the interior. Evidence of migration has been obtained from southwest Arabia. In October 1985 16 were seen arriving over 16 days in Djibouti across the Bab al Mandab from Arabia (023045) and in 1987 seven arrived at the same place over a 38 day period from early October (983041). Seven were also noted moving through the Hejaz during 16 days in October (983043). Migrants and winter visitors, especially chalets, travel enormous distances to Arabia and beyond. One ringed as a nestling in August 1997 in the Tambar peninsula in Siberia was captured in November the same year on Qarnain island in the UAE, a distance of at least 6000 km.(033051). The Peregrine is poorly known as a breeding bird in Arabia and there is doubt as to its true breeding status. This is because there is probably some confusion of records with the smaller, but more widespread Barbary Falcon F. pelegrinoides, escaped or released falconers birds and captive reared birds, including hybrids. (Escaped falconers birds wearing jesses have been reported from all over Arabia and are possibly more common than naturally occurring birds away from the coasts). It is a scarce resident on Socotra island. There are two or three other breeding records from northern and central Oman including once of an apparent mixed pair with Barbary Falcon. In the Asir mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia a bird was once reported attending a nest site over several days in May 1988. This would normally be confirmed breeding but it was known that there had been escapes, including hybrids, in the area from a nearby falconry centre and the record is therefore only shown as a possible breeding. There are no breeding records from other states. The Arabian breeding population is probably no more than 50 pairs with possibly 30 on Socotra and 20 on the mainland. The map only shows those records where breeding is indicated. The traditional local trapping industry of migrating falcons still flourishes, especially along the mainland Red Sea coast and in the Gulf. This inevitably takes many migrants, a commerce supported by the high prices that falconers are still prepared to pay for wild caught birds. A further insidious threat to the wild population of Peregrines is the large number of hybrids that have been bred in captive conditions. Hybrids will have no idea of the species or region to which they belong when they escape and are likely to cause problems with any wild birds they encounter. Even an escaped wild caught falconers bird has the capability to produce racial hybrids if it breeds with one of the Arabian population because it could have originated from anywhere between northwest Africa and Siberia. With an increase in the number of captive bred falcons being released and escaping from falconers there may well be more incidents of casual breeding on the Arabian mainland.
013011, 013032, 023045, 033047, 033051, 053041, 053104, 883022, 923002, 923033, 923037, 923043, 923044, 973008, 973302, 983022, 983033, 983041, 983043

(0321) Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides The Barbary Falcon is a widespread but scarce breeding resident. It has not been reported from Bahrain or Qatar, is rare in eastern Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and is not known from the Empty Quarter. Reports from Socotra are likely to refer to the small race of Peregrine that is resident there. Although migration along the Red Sea coast at Yanbu has been suggested there is little evidence for this or any other significant movements within Arabia. Individual birds may turn up for short periods at non-breeding locations but are likely to be dispersing after breeding. The map shows all records. The population of this species is difficult to assess as in some places it is relatively common and at other sporadic. For example one observer found four pairs in the Jebal Sawdah summit area and another reported three pairs located within 10 km along the Tuwaiq Escarpment. On this basis there may well be at least 100 pairs along the length of the Tuwaiq escarpment, another 300 pairs in the mountains of both Yemen and south West Saudi Arabia and a further 300 pairs spread over all the other rocky/mountainous areas of Arabia. Making a total population of just about 1000 pairs. There is no information about whether the population has changed in recent years. However it might be speculated that, like the Kestrel, it has probably benefited indirectly from agricultural and dairy farm developments in recent decades which have created favourable conditions for its main prey species, the Rock Pigeon Columbia livia and doves Streptopelia spp, to expand and flourish. Although it is a robust vigorous falcon that can be trained to hunt the Barbary Falcon is traditionally not used much for falconry in view of its small size (and therefore status) compared to the Lanner, Peregrine or Saker F. cherrug. In view of this it is not directly targeted by falcon trappers. However it is likely to be caught as a by-catch by trappers after the larger falcons at the main trapping sites along the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts. The Barbary Falcon appears to require no particular conservation efforts on its behalf but, like all birds of prey, it could easily become vulnerable through pesticide use or to exploitation if falconry fashions change.
003003, 013001, 023012, 023013, 023019, 023083, 023102, 023103, 033010, 033031, 033034, 033039, 033061, 043033, 053005, 053106, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883124, 883134, 923002, 923004, 923009, 923010, 923014, 923015, 923017, 923037, 933001, 933030, 933031, 963061, 963067, 963211, 963214, 963216, 963220, 973001, 973002, 973007, 973062, 983012

(0735) Barn Owl Tyto alba The Barn Owl is a widespread but uncommon resident which occurs in every state. There appears to be no particular pattern of occurrence and it is probably thinly spread throughout Arabia especially near human habitation. There are rather more records from the Arabian Gulf region and eastern Arabia than from other parts. Not thought to make regular movements but clearly a few disperse considerable distances and a number have occurred on the Das island in the middle of the Arabian Gulf. May even be a winter visitor to Arabia as numbers are thought to increase on Bahrain in late summer and Autumn. Also irregularly on Masirah island but not recorded Socotra. Apparently absent from the sand seas such as the Empty Quarter and the northern plains. In those places the lack of nesting and roosting sites is possibly the main obstacle to its presence. In the UAE where it is scarce the population has been estimated at up to 10 pairs, and there are probably similar numbers in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. On the basis of the number of records available and poor recording rate Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia may have up to 300 pairs each. However this total of less than 1000 pairs could be only a small part of the actual population bearing in mind its secretive nocturnal habits. The Barn Owl is likely to be on the increase in the new farming areas but there is no firm evidence for this. It has the potential to breed wherever it occurs and therefore the map shows all records, including non breeding birds.
003002, 003003, 003009, 003025, 013016, 013033, 023001, 023013, 023015, 023017, 023083, 023102, 033039, 033067, 033108, 043029, 043041, 053041, 053071, 053075, 053119, 883007, 883009, 883030, 883104, 883134, 923002, 923013, 923017, 923020, 923023, 923027, 933004, 933011, 933017, 933025, 963067, 963075, 963202, 963220, 973002, 973007, 973010, 973011, 973012, 973013, 973017, 973050, 973060, 973065, 973103, 973110, 973320, 973326, 973329, 983005, 983012, 983013, 983014, 983015, 983024, 983036, 993004

(0735.1) African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis In Arabia the African Scops is resident in the southwest, occurring from about 20��N in the western highlands of Saudi Arabia, throughout Yemen, including eastern districts to about 54��E in Dhofar. It is unknown on Socotra. There is no information to suggest even local movements and it probably breeds wherever it occurs. The map shows all records. This nocturnal species is under recorded and virtually nothing is known of its habits and breeding within Arabia. It is very vocal at night and many distributional records are based on its distinctive calls. Some records indicate it is locally common, once 15 calling males at one site in southern Oman and several reports of 2-5 birds calling from a single spot. Where it occurs it is probably the most common owl in Arabia and considering the range of altitude and habitat where it is found, if there were only, on average, one pair in each 10 km2 within its range of potentially about 80 squares, then the Arabian population could be of the order of 24000 pairs (80 squares, 1 sq = 3000 km2, i. e. 300 pairs per square). There are probably about equal numbers resident in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and proportionately less in Oman. There is nothing to suggest that numbers or range have changed in recent years. There are no records from the other states. Sympatric with Striated Scops Owl in parts of South West Arabia.
003011, 013001, 023012, 033047, 883055, 933002, 933033, 933036, 963071, 963083, 993029

(0738) Striated Scops Owl Otus brucei A locally common resident in the UAE and northern Oman but elsewhere in Arabia its status is unclear. There is little information on its occurrence in southwest Saudi Arabia (it is not known from Yemen) and clarification of its status in that region is needed. The accompanying map which shows all records is only an incomplete representation of range because it includes some records which are almost certainly migrants. There is also the possibility that this species winters more widely in the Arabian peninsula than is realised. Very little is known of migratory or other movements. The wing structure (short primaries) is clearly not pre-adapted for long-distance movements, but the northern populations outside of Arabia are undoubtedly migratory. The nominate sub-species occurs in southern Kazakhstan and in certain areas of Tadjikistan and Kyrghyzia, where birds are migratory and some individuals probably reach Arabia. A single bird which was trapped in southern Oman in October 1978 was described as ‘presumably on migration’. However records of migrants are few and seldom away from known breeding areas. Significantly there are no documented records from Arabian Gulf islands such as the well watched Das island or from Masirah island in the Arabian Sea, which suggests only small numbers come to Arabia on migration or as winter visitors. Conversely there are plenty of reports for the highly migratory Scops Owl from those places. There are a few records of Striated Scops Owl from Bahrain in October and November, including one specimen of the sub-species exiguus. Occurrence in Qatar and Kuwait needs to be confirmed. Identification difficulties prevail with the genus Scops and field determinations may in places have been based on what has ‘gone before’, undoubtedly some confusion of status of both species has been caused by misidentified individuals. Winter records from areas of UAE away from known breeding areas, and in the Eastern Province coastal districts, are considered most likely to involve migrant south-west Asian birds rather than the local Arabian population. Immediate post-breeding dispersal of birds breeding in eastern Arabia may only be into local areas or just beyond To those familiar with the species, the Striated Scops Owl is easily detected on account of its distinctive, if rather soft call, which is given for long periods usually after dark. The call is likened to a distant water-well pump. Nonetheless, it is doubtless much under-recorded, largely one suspects through a lack of survey effort. One study in April based on calling birds found that in the Ghubbrah Bowl, Jebal Akhdar, northern Oman, there were an estimated 140-280 breeding pairs, or at least one pair in each square kilometre, over an area of about 140 km2. This was an region of wadies, hillsides and plains well scattered with acacia and Zizyphus at an altitude of 500-800 m. In the same study the population higher up on the Saiq Plateau and Jebal Shems (>1800 m) was estimated at a maximum of one pair in each 5 km2, or less than 50 pairs spread over both of the sites with an area of about 250 km2 each. However there could have been a bias in the latter observations as birds probably breed later in the highlands and would perhaps not be so vocal in April as lower down. Similar densities have been noted elsewhere. At one site in the east coast area of the UAE three family groups with young were found within a distance of 500 m. The habitat was a gravel plain with scattered acacias, with smaller trees and bushes. As many as 10 individuals have been recorded in Mushrif Park, Dubai in February. Such records shows that it can be locally very numerous. Given the similarity of the habitat found in the Ghubbrah site and all over northern UAE and Oman, the population for the area must be at least 3000 pairs, probably 80% in Oman. There is no information on historical changes in numbers or range.
003002, 003009, 013032, 033031, 033059, 033067, 043039, 053005, 933004, 933038, 963082, 963083, 963086, 963217, 963220, 973007, 983012, 983015, 993004, 993029

(0744) Eagle Owl Bubo bubo The Eagle Owl is a widespread resident in the northern half of Arabia, especially Saudi Arabia and eastern Arabia (UAE and northern Oman), it is scarce in Kuwait. There are a small number of records from the rocky hills of eastern Yemen in Spring and it may be more common in that large under recorded region. However some records from that country have been confused with the Spotted Eagle Owl. There are no records from western Yemen or Socotra. It is also scarce but probably breeding in southern Oman. Records suggest it is a short distance migrant occurring widely in non breeding areas in winter mainly November to January. There are a number of records, including sometimes darker birds, from Saudi Arabian, Bahrain and UAE islands but it is not known from the well watched Masirah island. Not confirmed Qatar. The map shows all records. This owl is locally common in the Arabian Gulf coastal area of the Eastern Province, at one sites two nests with eggs were found only 3 km apart. There may be 250 pairs in the Saudi Arabia Gulf coastal region and probably at least 1000 pairs elsewhere in central and northern Saudi Arabia. Up to 50 pairs have been estimated for the UAE and there are probably similar numbers in northern Oman, southern Oman and eastern Yemen Making a total Arabian population of the order of 1500 pairs. Although recognised in 2006 as a widespread and relatively common bird there is no information to conclude the species is increasing or decreasing. However an increase might be expected in suitable habitats adjacent to newly irrigated areas where more prey species must be available.
003002, 003009, 013001, 013033, 023015, 023019, 023130, 033031, 033039, 033061, 033092, 033093, 043039, 053041, 053074, 053133, 883009, 883104, 883133, 883134, 933004, 943005, 963050, 963068, 963202, 963203, 963206, 963208, 963210, 963211, 963214, 963216, 963217, 963220, 973007, 973048, 973320, 983009, 983012, 983014, 983037, 983040, 993002, 993004

(0745) Spotted Eagle Owl Bubo africanus In Arabia it is resident in the southwest from about the latitude of Jeddah southwards in western Yemen and then east at least 48��E. There is probably a gap in distribution in the eastern half of Yemen before the isolated population in the Mahra region. There is a further tiny population which is evidently resident near Muscat and possibly Dibba in northern Oman. There are no records from any of the other states and it is not known from Socotra. The map shows all records. The Arabian subspecies B. a. milesi was first described from a specimen taken from near Muscat in the 1880 s, however as a measure of its rarity in those parts it was not recorded there again for another century. It is not generally found in the same locality as the Desert Eagle Owl Bubo b. ascalaphus. In the few places that the two species have occurred at the same sites there is some evidence that the larger Desert Eagle Owl is dominant. For example in 1986-89 the Spotted Eagle Owl was present in a number of wadis near the NWRC reserve at Taif but by the end of 1991 it had been replaced at all sites by Desert Eagle Owl. Despite the above observation and the fact that the Spotted Eagle Owl has been recorded in recent years in many new localities, there is no evidence to suggest that its population or range has changed significantly in recent years. It appears to be relatively numerous where conditions are suitable. If there were, on average, 100 pairs in each square where the species has been recorded there would be of the order of 4000 pairs in Arabia with, maybe, 1600 in Saudi Arabia, 1800 in Yemen and 600 in Oman, including probably no more than 50 pairs in the Muscat enclave.
003009, 023012, 023026, 023063, 023107, 033047, 033052, 033063, 033066, 053046, 053050, 883022, 883055, 923010, 923013, 923014, 923017, 933021, 933025, 933030, 933035, 963067, 963069, 963074, 963075, 973062, 973085, 973303, 973326, 973327, 983006, 983022, 993002, 993012, 993015, 993028, 993041, 993050

(0757) Little Owl Athene noctua The Little Owl is a widespread, locally common, resident in the deserts of Arabia. It is generally thought of as sedentary, occurring in all states (except Bahrain). However there are a very few records which suggest limited seasonal or local movements e.g. occurrence on Das Island in the middle of the Arabian Gulf. There are a number of records from the periphery of the Empty Quarter but it appears to be absent from the core area. Its absence from this region and most of the plains of northern Arabia is likely to be due to lack of suitable roosting/nesting sites rather than a lack of prey or the species being unable to tolerant hyper arid environments. It is scarce in the highland areas of the southwest, except the drier eastern fringes. Resident Farasan island but generally scarce other coastal sites and not known from Socotra. Also present (resident) in very small numbers on Masirah island. It is a common bird in the UAE where one report give three nests spaced at 500 m intervals. At one pivot irrigation farm in central Arabia which was rich in rodents but poor in Little Owl roosting and nesting sites no less that 12 adults were seen at dusk sitting on a line of rock heaps over a distance of about a kilometre. In Kuwait one study showed occupied nests were not less than 1000 m apart. In the UAE the population has been estimated at 300 - 1000 pairs, which is probably higher than the likely breeding density in other states. This UAE population includes an estimated 50 pairs at Jebal Hafit on the UAE/Oman border. The total Arabian population may in of the order of 5-6000 pairs. This would be comprised of up to 100 pairs each in Kuwait and Qatar, 500 in the UAE, 1000 each in Oman and Yemen and 3000 in Saudi Arabia. There is no evidence to suggest populations are changing in any way but the huge expansion in agriculture in central and northern Arabia in recent decades must have had the effect of allowing many more to breed than did previously. The map shows all records.
003009, 003025, 013032, 013034, 023012, 023015, 023019, 023063, 033023, 033039, 033066, 033067, 043039, 053005, 053041, 053050, 883009, 883022, 883032, 883055, 883104, 883134, 923037, 933004, 933011, 933020, 933021, 933030, 933037, 963067, 963068, 963072, 963206, 963207, 963210, 963213, 963214, 963216, 963220, 973007, 973065, 973320, 973327, 973331, 983013, 983014, 993004, 993048

(0762) Hume’s Owl Strix butleri Hume’s Owl was, until the 1970's, widely thought of as very rare, with just a handful of records from diverse parts of its world range. There was only one record from Arabia, a bird collected in 1950 from the goldmines at Madh Dhahab in the Hejaz. In 1975 one was caught near Riyadh and in the next few years a number of records were gathered from several places in central and western Saudi Arabia. It was also heard at about that time in Dhofar, Oman but the species was not formally acknowledged as occurring in Oman until the 1990's. During the ABBA period this owl has been shown to be widespread and in places common in Arabia. It occurs from the Harrat al Harrah in the north, Hail and throughout the northern part of the Tuwaiq escarpment, probably the whole of the western highlands from Jebal Al Lawz southwards to Taiz, Yemen, eastern Yemen and at several sites in Dhofar. The first Yemen record was in 1985. It is also known from two sites in the Eastern Province. In 1898 an owl which sounded like S. aluco was heard at two places on Socotra and another was heard there in 1999. There are no records from the other Arabian states. It is resident wherever it occurs. Like all owls in Arabia it is probably under recorded. It is likely that it occurs in many more squares than where it has been recorded, probably at least twice as many. On this basis and assuming about 20 pairs for each atlas square where it occur (that gives each pair over 100 km2), there are probably at least 2000 pairs in Arabia; with over 1000 pairs in Saudi Arabia, 600 in Yemen and 300 in Oman. Although in 2006 it is known to be widespread and relatively common it is probably no more or less numerous than 50 years ago, the change of status from very rare to widespread and common being the result of much more intense fieldwork and greater awareness of its presence. The map shows all records.
003009, 003022, 003046, 013001, 023010, 023012, 023118, 023119, 033010, 033022, 033028, 033033, 033039, 033052, 033063, 883055, 883124, 963074, 963082, 973089, 973093, 973307, 983014, 983015, 993029

DEL HOYO, J., A. ELLIOTT & J SARGATAL eds., 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol 2. New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Ediciones, Barcelona.
GREEN, C. 1949. The Black-shouldered Kite in Masira (Oman). Ibis 91: 459-464.
KINNEAR, N. B. 1931. On some birds from central South Arabia. Ibis (Series 13) 1: 698-701.
KJELLÉN, N., HAKE, M. and ALERSTAM, T., 1997. Strategies of two Ospreys Pandion haliaetus migrating between Sweden and tropical Africa as revealed by satellite tracking. Journal of Avian Biology, 28: 15-23.
JENNINGS, M C (in prep). Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia, Fauna of Arabia
JENNINGS, M C, 2005. A Rough Draft Bibliography of Arabian Ornithology (Privately published).
MEYBURG, B-U, M GALLARDO, C MEYBURG and E DIMITROVA, 2004. Migrations and sojourn in Africa of Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) tracked by satellite; J Ornithol 145: 273-280.)
MEINERTZHAGEN, R., 1954. Birds of Arabia. Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh & London. THOMAS, B. 1932. Arabia Felix: across the Empty Quarter of Arabia. Jonathan Cape, London & New York, Toronto.

Michael C Jennings Coordinator, Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia project and Editor The Phoenix (ISSN 0268-487X) Warners Farm House, Warners Drove, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, PE28 3WD, UK. Email: ArabianBirds@dsl.pipex.com Website: http//dspace.dial.pipex.com/arabian.birds

Appendix A DISTRIBUTION MAPS OF RAPTORS AND OWLS BREEDING IN ARABIA
These maps were prepared from the records held on the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia database. All records for all species are shown unless otherwise indicated in the species accounts.