Our Feathered Friends In The UAE
With many of us not having grown up in the region, we are sometimes not familiar with the visitors to our gardens. Here is a look at the most common garden birds in the UAE.
The UAE’s geographical position halfway between Europe and Asia coupled with its fine weather means that the UAE is on a major migration route for birds travelling from Asia to Africa and vice versa, as well as having many species that live here year round. Around 400 species have been spotted in the UAE and many on the list are unusual, rare or just plain spectacular.
The UAE is blessed with a range of different habitats; mountains, off shore islands and rocky outcrops, mangrove swamps, tidal wetlands, mud flats, lagoons and desert scrub. This variation attracts a wide range of species: Seabirds, Sand Grouse, Bee-eaters, Flamingos, Kingfishers, Eagles, Vultures, Owls, Gulls, Larks and the list goes on!
You will see this pretty little bird everywhere! They will nest in your garden or on your balcony on top of bushy plants, in trees or anything that could hold a nest! They build a stick nest and lay two white eggs. It is a common and widespread species in scrub and desert landscapes and can often become very tame. Laughing Doves eat grass, seeds, grains, other vegetation and small insects. They are fairly terrestrial, foraging on the ground in grasslands and cultivation. They are not particularly gregarious, and are usually alone, or in pairs.
The Hoopoe/ HudHud
The Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a colourful bird that is found across the UAE, notable for its distinctive crown of feathers. Like its’ Latin name upupa, the English name is an onomatopoetic form which imitates the cry of the bird.
The Hoopoe has two basic requirements in its habitat; bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage and surfaces with cavities such as trees, walls, nestboxes etc. to nest in. Hoopoes sunbathe by spreading out their wings and tail low against the ground and tilting their head up; they often fold their wings and preen halfway through. The Hoopoe also enjoys taking dust and sand baths.
The European Roller, is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco.
This species is even more striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blue contrasting with black flight feathers. Rollers often perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, whilst watching for the large insects, lizards and frogs that they eat.
The Common Mynah
The Common Mynah or Indian Mynah, is a member of the starling family. It is a species of bird native to Asia with its initial home range spanning from Iran, India and Kazakhstan to Malaysia and China. An omnivorous open woodland bird with a strong territorial instinct, the Mynah has adapted extremely well to urban environments. The Common Mynah is readily identified by the brown body, black hooded head and the bare yellow patch behind the eye. The bill and legs are bright yellow. It feeds on insects, fruit and discarded waste from human habitation. It forages on the ground among grass for insects, and especially for grasshoppers. They can be an environmental threat. They multiply rapidly and eat food that otherwise would have been consumed by local birds.
The Purple Sunbird
The Purple Sunbird is an abundant resident breeder across tropical southern Asia from the Arabian Gulf to Southeast Asia. The sunbirds are a group of very small birds which feed largely on nectar, and sometimes insects, when feeding their young. Their flight is very fast and direct on their short wings. They can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time.
Purple Sunbirds are tiny and are only 10cm long. They have medium-length thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues which are both adaptations to their nectar feeding.
The Rose Ringed Parakeet
This non-migrating species is one of few parrot species that have successfully adapted to living in disturbed habitats, and have withstood the onslaught of urbanisation. In the wild, this is a noisy species with an unmistakable squawking call. Rose-ringed Parakeets usually feed on buds, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and seeds. Rose-ringed Parakeets measure on average 40 cm long including the tail feathers. There is an established colony of these parrots in Jumeirah.
Create a bird friendly garden…
Things to think about are the types of plants you grow in your garden, providing food, water and shelter for birds and a place where they can nest and raise their young, and keeping predators out.
If you have children, getting them involved with planning and making your garden bird friendly is a great way of introducing them to nature and teaching them to take care of the environment.
By turning your garden into a small-scale, bird friendly "nature reserve" you can really make a difference to local bird populations. You will get the enjoyment of seeing more birds and different species in your garden.
Birds need plants for a variety of reasons. They will provide food in the form of seeds, berries, fruits and nectar. They will also attract insects which many birds love to eat. Plants can also provide shelter during bad weather or at night and they will also be natural nesting sites.
Even if you don't want to devote your whole garden to attracting wildlife you could set aside one part to create a bird friendly area and fill it with a couple of shrubs or a fruit or berry bearing tree, or just let one flower bed go to seed.
If you see a bird and don't know what it is have a look at this great website that has pictures of possibly all of the birds common and uncommon that you will see in Dubai and across the UAE region Take Me there >>
Or if you fancy some serious "twitching" join the UAE Birding website www.uaebirding.com