A long-eared owl chick rescued by Al-Weibdah inhabitants and Jordan BirdWatch
Jordan BirdWatch is frequently contacted during the breeding season of birds, to collect and deal with chicks, often fully grown but still not able to fly properly. In one case, a Jackdaw chick was being kept on the roof of a house by people who took the chick from children playing near their home. The chick probably fell from its nest while attempting its first flight. JBW advised to immediately return the chick to the nesting site and place it on a higher place, safe from ground-dwelling predators.
In another case the chick of a Long-eared Owl was found grounded in a garden in Al-Weibdah in Amman, probably after attempting to leave the nest. The habitants contacted JBW and kept it in a safe place for a day or two. JBW personnel then placed the seemingly healthy bird on the branch of a tall tree. It was evident that the nest was located nearby and the parents were present and still feeding the chick after it left the nest. The young owl was spotted in the days following its rescue, perching on the branches of the trees in the same garden.
“Unfortunately, most “grounded” Owls, Birds of Prey and other birds are mistakenly deemed orphaned – they’re actually just in the process of testing their wings. Many young birds disperse from their nests long before they can fly – this prevents overcrowding in the nest as the chicks grow. This is nature’s way of helping to minimise any threat to the entire clutch from predators. Many young birds lose their footing during these first explorations and fall to the ground”. A grounded chick may look lost and vulnerable, but the parents are likely to know where it is and will continue to feed it. Owl chicks can climb up bushes and trees to stay safe https://www.owlpages.com/owls/articles.php?a=81.
The risks and advices
What JBW observed and the measures to take in a rescue situation
Healthy owl chicks that would still have a chance to survive in the wild are often taken to local conservation or animal welfare societies or facilities in Jordan with the good intension of “saving its life”. In some cases people take things into their own hand and attempt to feed and care for the bird themselves, then give up after the bird becomes a “nuisance”, or so weakened it would be difficult to save. It is usually impossible for non-specialists to determine the age and physical condition of a chick, and thus its chances to survive in the wild; in many cases the chicks are deemed “orphaned” or even injured because they still are not able to fly well. That is why we advise calling JBW to get appropriate advice and assistance and before taking the birds into what often turns out to be a life-long captivity. Evidently, some of the birds brought to these facilities are kept in captivity indefinitely and are sometimes used as additional attraction for visitors.
Some of the owl species are still threatened or rare in Jordan (see our Bird list), due to habitat destruction, disturbances at nesting sites, persecution and deliberate collection of owls from the wild and offering them for sale on social media platforms. Eleven species of owls have been recorded in Jordan including nine that breed in the country, one of which became extinct a few decades ago. Although considered by some Jordanians as “bad luck”, these magnificent birds provide humans with a lot of “services” when in the wild and thus deserve more appreciation and protection in Jordan.
The authors have combined their expertise in ornithology, ecology, archaeology and cultural heritage to produce this guide of the birds of Faynan, SW Jordan, and some of the ways they have inspired artists, poets and story-tellers throughout the history of Jordan.
The book also presents the results of archaeological excavations at a 12,000–10,000 year old Neolithic settlement in Wadi Faynan, which have shown that there were once even more species of birds in Faynan than today. The climate was apparently more humid and much more trees were growing on the mountain slopes 10,000 years ago.
Mithen, S., Khoury, F., Greet, B., White, J. and Masalamani, N. 2019. The Birds of Faynan: Past & Present. Reading, UK: The University of Reading.
Solid waste is one of the main and ever-growing environmental issues in the Jordan Valley, others being depletion of water sources, overgrazing of native vegetation, invasion of alien shrub species and unregulated hunting.
JBW is carrying out projects in one site to tackle the root causes for such local problems and present a model of best practices and for integrated management of ecosystems and natural resources in the Jordan Valley area.
Moreover, JBW organizes birding trips to spread awareness and to monitor birds and their habitats.
this context, Jordan BirdWatch
together with Ahl El-Balad
initiative carried out a clean-up event in Wadi Gharaba Special
Conservation Area, which is located in Ghor Rama north of the Dead
Sea on Saturday 7th
December 2019. Large amounts of waste were collected, including
mainly plastic water bottles and cans.
JBW members also
enjoyed watching a variety of birds in and around Wadi Gharaba in the
early morning including Herons and Egrets, two Black-winged Kites
Kingfishers (three species), Little Green Be-eaters, Bluethroat,
Robin, Stonechat, Indian Silverbills and Spanish Sparrows.
Jordan BirdWatch participated in the annual Environmental Day hosted on 2 April 2019 byThe Ahliyyah School for Girls and Bishop’s School for Boys.
This year’s theme was “Zero Waste in 2022”. The main objective was to involve students in taking actions towards achieving a better and greener world.
Jordan BirdWatch presented books and bird-watching tools, and had lively discussions with students about bird diversity in Jordan, and the negative impacts of solid waste pollution on birds and the eco-tourism sector in Jordan.
Wadi Gharaba, Jordan Valley, was announced as a “Special Conservation Area” by the Ministry of Environment upon the request of JORDAN BIRDWATCH and after obtaining the approval of various stakeholders.
An SCA includes management of important habitats and ecosystems to conserve biodiversity while allowing limited or traditional use by local communities.
The nearly 5 Km² area is adjacent to the River Jordan and 7 km north of the Dead Sea. It is around 35 km (half an hour drive) from Amman. It includes a narrow, shallow wadi with marsh-like conditions and Tamarisk thickets, suitable breeding habitat for Little Bittern, Blue-cheeked and Little Green Bee-eater, White-throated and Pied Kingfishers, Clamorous Reed and Cetti’s Warblers and Dead Sea Sparrow.
The management plan was prepared by JBW during 2018, and includes activities for preparing the site for visitors and minimizing threats, namely overgrazing, encroachment by an invasive shrub, hunting of birds and waste management.
Soon after the management plan was prepared, however, new plans to invest within and around the SCA have been announced. Nonetheless, JBW along with supporters is determined to protect the natural bird habitats along the wadi which flows into River Jordan. GIZ and SGF/UNDP are supporting JBW in carrying out two projects at the site in 2019-2020 (see projects for more information).
For information on how to reach the site and for organized birding trips please contact JBW.
National breeding surveys of rare, poorly known and geographically restricted species in Jordan are shedding light on current distribution and threats to bird habitats, such as windfarms in the southern highlands and unsustainable farming and overgrazing in Wadi Araba and the Jordan Valley.
Birding trips are also constantly adding information about various bird species.
JBW updates the national bird list and its members publish significant records, such as the colonization of Black-winged Kite in Sandgrouse (vol. 39, 2017).
JBRC form is available for all bird-watchers in Jordan on this web site, see our page “Bird records form” in the JBRC category under Birds in Jordan. This form serves to keep track of your observations and help in gathering information especialy concerning rare birds.
SOON JOBird, a free application for iPhone and Android, for recording birds in the field. Jordan BirdWatch.
Field Guide to the Birds of the Middle East – free application available in Arabic language for iPhone and Android (دليل الطيور في الشرق الاوسط). NatureGuides Ltd.
Published papers about natural history and ecology of birds in Jordan
Abu-Baker, M., Al-Hassani, I., Amr, Z. (2018). Diet of the long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Jordan. Sandgrouse, 40, 133-137.
Al-Hassani, I., Azar J., Nishimura, K., Amr, Z., Katzner, T. (2012). Distribution, diet and winter ecology of the Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca in Jordan. Vertebrate Zoology, 62, 273-280.
Al-Hmoud, A, Janaydeh, M., Damhuriyeh, S., Khoury, F. (2007). Inter-locality variation in the reproductive ecology of the linnet (Carduelis cannabina) in Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East, 42, 47-58.
Al-Melhim, W., Amr, Z., Disi, A., Katbeh-Bader, A. (1997). On the diet of the Little Owl Athene noctua, in the Safawi area, eastern Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East 15, 19-28.
Alomia, M. (1978). Notes on the present avifauna of Hesban. In: Boraaas R., Geraty L.: Heshbon 1976: The Fifth Campaign at Tell Hesban, A Preliminary Report. Andrews University Monographs, Studies in Religion 10, 289-303.
Amr, Z., Al-Melhim, W., Yousef, M. (1997). Mammal remains from pellets of the Eagle Owl, Bubo bubo, from Azraq Nature Reserve, Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East, 14, 5-10.
Al-Shamlih, M., Nassar, K., Khoury, F. (2005). Distribution and habitat use of selected bird species in Wadi Araba, Jordan. Sandgrouse, 27(1), 24-29.
Andrews, I. (1991a). Blue tits in Jordan. OSME Bulletin, 27, 6-7.
Andrews, I. (1991b). Is Azraq still an Oasis? OSME Bulletin, 27, 13-19.
Andrews, I. (1994). Description of the black morph Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 16, 32-35.
Andrews, I. (1996). Preliminary data on raptor passage in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 18, 36-45.
Andrews, I. (1997). Birding in Jordan. Dutch Birding, 19(2), 49-60.
Andrews, I., Khoury, F., Shirhai, H. (1998). Jordan Bird Report 1995-1997. Sandgrouse, 21(1), 10-35.
Azar, J., Hassani, I., Nishimura, K. (2007). The Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo (Linnaeus, 1758) (Aves: Gruidae), new to Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East, 41, 109-110.
Barrientos, R., Kvist, L., Barbosa, A., Valera, F., Khoury, F., Varela, S., Moreno, E. (2014). Refugia, colonization and diversification of an arid-adapted bird: coincident patterns between genetic data and ecological niche modeling. Molecular Ecology, 23, 390-407.
Bashford, R. (1997). The first Cotton Teal Nettapus coromandelianus in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 19(2), 142-143.
Boye, P., Holzapfel, C., Wittenberg, J. (1986). Biogeographische Betrachtung einer Region in Südjordanien. Natur and Meseum, 116 (12), 385-402.
Bruun B (1981). The Lappet-faced Vulture in the Middle East. Sandgrouse, 2, 91-95.
Cameron, R., Cornwallis, L. (1966). Autumn notes from Azraq, Jordan. Ibis, 108, 284-287.
Carruthers, D. (1910). On a collection of birds from the Dead Sea and north-western Arabia, with contributions to the ornithology of Syria and Palestine. Ibis, 4, 475-491.
Clarke, J. (1980). The Avifauna of Shaumari Wildlife Reserve. Sandgrouse, 1, 50-70.
Clarke, J. (1981). the occurrence of Strickland’s Wheatear in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 2, 98-99.
Clarke, J. (1983). The Houbara Bustard in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 4, 111-113.
Condor, P. (1981a). Birds of the Azraq Wetland Reserve, Jordan: January and February 1979. Sandgrouse 2, 22-32.
Conder, P. (1981b). Water extraction at Azraq. OSME Bulletin 6, 8.
Condor, P. (1982). Azraq Wetland Reserve. OSME Bulletin 8, 4-5.
Dufourny, H. (2006). First record of Long-tailed Shrike Lanius Schach for Jordan. Sandgrouse, 28(1), 73-76.
Erik-Hansson, E., Magnusson, A., Eriksson, P. ( 1998). The first Mute Swan Cygnus olor and Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis in Jordan. Sandgrouse 20(1), 46-47.
Ellis, P.M., Shaw, K. (2001). The first painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 23, 145.
Ellis, P. M., Omari, K., Halah, A. (2001). The first European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 23, 146.
Evans, M. (1996). the first Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 18, 65.
Evans, M., Al-Mashaqba, S. (1997). Did Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos formerly breed in Jordan? Sandgrouse, 18(2), 61.
Evans, M. I., Amr, Z. S., Al-Oran, R. (2005). The status of birds in the proposed Rum Wildlife Reserve, southern Jordan. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 29,17-26.
Flaxman, E. (1982). Observations of raptor migration in Jordan. OSME Bulletin, 9, 45.
Förschler, M., Khoury, F., Bairlein, F., Aliabadian, M. (2010). Phylogeny of the Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56, 758 – 767.
Giowska, E., Skorack,i M., Khoury, F (2007). A new species and new records of syringophilid mites (Acari: Prostigmata: Syringophilidae) from birds in Jordan. Zootaxa, 1635, 63-68.
Green, M., Thomas, C. (2008). Birds of the Badia region of Jordan; Sandgrouse, 30(2), 125-133.
Grieve, A., Khoury, F. , Nassar, K. (2003) The first black Bush Robins in Jordan _ a prelude to colonisation? Sandgrouse, 26(2), 151-152.
Hamidan, N. (2003). The first Siberian white cranes Grus leucogeranus in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 25, 143.
Hollom, P. (1959). Birds of Near East. Notes from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Antioch. Ibis, 101,183-200.
Kappes, E., Kappes, W. (1981). Naturkundliche Studien in Jordaniens Wüsten-Nationalpark Azraq-26 April bis 2 Mai 1980. Sonderheft Deutscher Bund für Vogelschutz LV Hamburg, 9, 139-148.
Khoury, F. (1996). Observations on the Avifauna of the Azraq Wetland, Jordan, June 1995. Sandgrouse, 18(2), 52-57.
Khoury, F. (1997). The first Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 19(1), 68.
Khoury, F. (1998). The status of breeding birds on the Sharrah Highland Plateau, Jordan. Sandgrouse, 20(1), 22-29.
Khoury, F. (1998). Habitat associations and communities of breeding birds in the highlands of south-west Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East, 16, 35-48.
Khoury, F. (1998). Habitat selection by Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus in SW Jordan. Sandgrouse, 20(2), 87-93.
Khoury, F. (2000). The impact of drought conditions on the winter distribution and population of Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus in south-west Jordan. Sandgrouse 22 (1), 64-66.
Khoury, F. (2000). The status of Vultures in Jordan. Vulture News, 43, 30-36.
Khoury, F. (2001). On the breeding bird community of Wadi Al-Kharrar, Jordan Valley. Zoology in the Middle East, 22, 37-44.
Khoury, F. (2001). The breeding ecology of Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 23(1), 68-69.
Khoury, F. (2003). Feeding ecology of Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus in SW Jordan. (in German). Ecology of Birds, 25, 5-35.
Khoury, F. (2003). Phenology of passerine migration in central Jordan. Sandgrouse, 25(2), 132-142.
Khoury, F. (2004). The Situation of the Griffon Vulture in Jordan. In The Eurasian Vulture (Gyps fulvus) in Europe and the Mediterranean: Status report and Action plan. Edited by Slotta-Bachmayr, L., Bogel, R. & Camina Cardenal, A. East European/Mediterranean Griffon Vulture Working Group. p. 62-65.
Khoury, F. (2004). Seasonal variation in body fat and weight of migratory Sylvia species in central Jordan. Vogelwarte, 42, 191-202.
Khoury, F. & Al-Shamlih, M. (2006). The impact of intensive agriculture on the bird communities of a sand dune desert. Journalof Arid Environments, 64, 448-459.
Khoury, F., Al-Omari, K., Azar, J. & Al-Hasani, I. (2006). Observations on the avifauna of the eastern Jordan Valley, during July-August 2005. Sandgrouse, 28(2), 119 – 126.
Khoury, F., Al-Shamlih, M., Sultan H., Abu-Ghalyun, Y. (2007). The effect of vegetation cover on bird communities in a hyperarid desert. Zoology in the Middle East. 40, 11-20.
Khoury, F., Azar, J., Kvist, L. (2007). On the Phylogenetics and population differentiation of the Great Tit and Blue Tit in Jordan. Journal of Ornithology, 148, 525-530.
Khoury, F., Förschler, M. (2008). Habitats and foraging of Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 30, 146-149.
Khoury, F., Al-Hmoud, A., Janaydeh, M. (2009). Nest placement and nest success in two finch species colonizing recently established plantations in an arid environment. Journal of Ornithology, 150, 29-37.
Khoury, F., Al-Shamlih, M. (2009). How extensive is the effect of modern farming on bird communities in a sand dune desert? Zookeys, 31, 211- 219.
Khoury, F., Förschler, M., Janaideh, M., Aliabadian, M., Al-Hmoud, A.-R. (2010). Distribution, habitats and differentiation of the poorly-known black morph of Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens lugens in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 32, 113-119.
Khoury, F., Boulad, N. (2010). Territory size of the Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens along an aridity gradient. Journal of Arid Environments, 74, 1413-1416.
Khoury, F., Janaydeh, M. (2011). A breeding event of Pale Rock Sparrows Carpospyza brachydactyla in northeast Jordan. Sandgrouse, 33, 58-60.
Khoury, F., Azzam, L., Qaneer, T., Shishani, Y. (2012). The first record of Yellow-throated Sparrow Gymnoris xanthocollis in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 34, 63-64.
Khoury, F., Boulad, N., Janaydeh, M. (2012). Territory size variations in wintering Finsch’s Wheatears Oenanthe finschii. Zoology in the Middle East, 57, 35-43.
Khoury, F., Amr, Z., Hamidan, N., Al Hassani, I., Mir, S., Eid, E., Bolad, N. (2012). Some introduced vertebrate species to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Vertebrate Zoology, 62(3), 435-451.
Khoury, F., Haddad, M., Al-Jbour, S., Rahahleh, F. (2013). A mixed pair of pale and black morph Mourning Wheatears Oenanathe lugens lugens in the southern highlands of Jordan. Sandgrouse, 35(2), 134-137.
Khoury, F. (2013). On the Status and Ecology of Breeding Birds in Wadi Rum. Conference Proceedings (Des Desertes et des Hommes: Wadi Ramm),Étude Anciennes, 52, 217-229.
Khoury, F., Al-Shamlih, M. (2015). First evidence of colonization by Common Myna Acridotheres tristis in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 37, 22-24.
Khoury, F. (2017). Spring migration of soaring birds over the highlands of southwest Jordan: flight patterns and possible implications for wind farm developments. Sandgrouse 39: 61-67.
Khoury, F. Massis, R., Wichmann, G. (2017). Recent records and indications of breeding of Black-shouldered Kites Elanus caeruleus in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 39, 42-44.
Khoury, F., Massis, R. (2017). First record of nominate Common Buzzard Buteo b. buteo for Jordan. Sandgrouse, 39, 16-17.
Khoury, F., Korner, P. (2018). The effects of habitat variables and land use on breeding birds in remnant wetland strips in an arid, rural landscape. Journal of Arid Environments,153, 24-31.
Khoury, F. (2018). Chance and challenges in the protection of three avian wetland specialists, Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus and Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus, in the Jordan valley, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Sandgrouse (Suppl. 4), 105-112.
Khoury, F., Korner, P. (2019). Grazing in remnant wetland habitats in an arid region: direct and indirect effects on two specialist bird species. Bird Study, 56(4), 557-563.
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Rifai, L., Al-Melhim, W., Amr, Z. (1998). on the diet of the Barn Owl Tyto alba, in northern Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East, 16, 31-34.
Rifai, L., Al-Melhim, W., Gharaibeh, B., Amr, Z. (2000). The diet of the Desert Eagle Owl, Bubo bubo ascalaphus, in the Eastern Desert of Jordan. Journal of Arid Environments, 44, 369-372.
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Shirihai, H., Khoury, F., Al-Jbour, S., Yosef, R. (2000). The first Pink-backed pelican in Jordan. Sandgrouse, 22 , 127-130.
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