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.
Jordan BirdWatch, in cooperation with the Jordan Valley Development Society and supported by sGEF/UNDP, carried out a training workshop in the Jordan Valley about nature/bird guiding.
Most participants belonged to the local communities at and around south Shuna.
The special conservation area of “Wadi Gharaba” was visited as part of this training. The wetland habitat in the wadi, managed by Jordan BirdWatch along with local stakeholders, is to be used for educational purposes and bird-watching.
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).