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Bird diversity and conservation in Kurdistan region of Iraq.

posted Jun 2, 2016, 1:49 PM by Mohammed Ahmed Hassan Qadir

A total of 405 species of birds have been recorded in Iraq, about 300 of which have been observed in Kurdistan; of these nearly 160 species breed or probably breed there. Behind these figures are some important conservation statistics: one species, the Egyptian Vulture, is Globally Endangered, three are Globally Vulnerable and seven Globally Near-threatened. The two most important biomes for breeding birds in Kurdistan are the Irano-Turanian and Mediterranean biomes and Kurdistan has several species restricted to these that are important because of their high population densities. Notable for the Irano-Turanian biome-restricted species are See-see Partridge, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Kurdistan Wheatear, White-throated Robin and Eastern Cinereous Bunting; for the Mediterranean biome, the most notable biome-restricted species are Masked Shrike, Sombre Tit and Western Rock Nuthatch. Kurdistan is also important for its bird of prey populations, with 14 species breeding, several with regionally high concentrations.

 Since 2004, when Nature Iraq was founded, ornithological studies in Iraq have blossomed. In addition to the data collected for the Inventory of Key Biodiversity Areas in Iraq, much information has been gathered and published on new records and the Sandgrouse paper, Breeding birds in Iraq: important new discoveries by Korsh Ararat et al. in 2011 stands testament to this. (This paper covers 50 new breeding species discovered or confirmed in Iraq from 2005 – 2010).

 Since then bird surveys as collaboration between University of Sulaimani and Kurdistan Botanical Foundation have continued in Kurdistan and the latest paper by Korsh Ararat in Sandgrouse  on new species bears witness to this. Kurdistan is such an exciting and globally important region for wildlife and I have much enjoyed my visits with Korsh and colleagues who have become good friends.  I now suggest the time has come to prepare a checklist of the birds of Kurdistan.

 Richard Porter.

 Note: Richard Porter is the Author of "Birds of The Middle East" book, he is BirdlIfe International advisor for the Middle East and he has been working on the wildlife study and protection since late 1960s.