Winter Distribution of Passerine Richness in the Maghreb (North Africa): A Conservation Assessment

Tellería, J. L., Fandos, G., López, J. F., Onrubia, A., & Refoyo, P. (2014). Winter Distribution of Passerine Richness in the Maghreb (North Africa): A Conservation Assessment. Ardeola 61: 335–350.  doi: 10.13157/arla.61.2.2014.335
PDF in


This paper studies the factors affecting passerine (Order Passeriformes) species richness in the Western Maghreb, a region at the southwestern border of the Palearctic reputed as a primary wintering ground for many common European birds. The effect of productivity, temperature, landscape structure and geographical location on bird richness was explored at 220 localities across Morocco. The models resulting from multivariate analyses supported the effects of productivity, temperature and landscape cover on bird richness, with higher numbers of species occurring in warm farmlands of the northwest. The most suitable areas for birds avoided the cold and arid expanses of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara and overlapped with the most human-impacted sectors. Within these areas, we detected an interspersed distribution of sectors of high bird richness and low human incidence. These sectors can be used as priority targets for conservation programmes of common birds during the winter.

Phénologie de la reproduction du Merle noir (Turdus merula) dans une oasis septentrionale de l’Algérie

Adamou, A.-E., Tabibe, R., Kouidri, M., Ouakid, M.-L. & Houhamdi, M. (2014). Phénologie de la reproduction du Merle noir Turdus merula dans une oasis septentrionale de l’Algérie. Alauda 82 (3): 193-202.
PDF in


L’étude est réalisée entre 2007 et 2012 dans les palmeraies septentrionales de l’Algérie, sur la reproduction du Merle noir nicheur sur le palmier dattier. Les résultats montrent une faible variation des traits de vie entres les années d’études. La date, la grandeur de ponte et le succès de la reproduction ne sont pas variables avec les saisons de la reproduction. Par contre, les traits des œufs montrent une variation significative entre les années d’études. La hauteur des nids présente aussi cette variation, elle dépasse pour quelques nids les 7m. Selon ce gradient, les couples précoces installent leurs nids au plus haut et investissent moins dans les traits des œufs, et moins dans la grandeur de ponte. Cette dernière est relativement faible par rapport aux populations européennes. Par contre, les nids installés plus haut, compensent par un succès de reproduction plus élevé. La densité des nids indique une relation entre les oasis et les forêts limitrophes et suggère une analyse complémentaire du spectre alimentaire du merle noir dans cet habitat, qui permet de mieux comprendre les modalités de colonisation et de répartition biogéographique de cette espèce.


Breeding phenology of Common Blackbird in palm groves at an oasis in Algeria.

The study was carried out between 2007 and 2012 in the northern palms of Algeria, on the reproduction of Blackbird nesting on date palm. The results show a low variation of life history traits between the years of study. Breeding date, clutch size and reproductive success are not variable with the seasons of reproduction. However, the eggs measurements show a significant variation between years. Nest height also shows this variation, it exceeds the 7m for a few nests. According to this gradient, couples settle their early nests above and invest less in features eggs. However, nests installed above, offset by a higher reproductive success. Clutch size is relatively low compared to the European populations and nest density indicates a similarity between the oasis and the surrounding forests and suggests that further analysis of the spectrum blackbird food in this habitat, to better understand the colonization and the biogeographical distribution of this species.

Nid du Merle noir (Turdus merula) dans les palmeraies de Zibans (Biskra), piémont sud de l’Atlas saharien, Algérie

Nid du Merle noir (Turdus merula) dans les palmeraies de Zibans (Biskra), piémont sud de l’Atlas saharien, Algérie

Distribution patterns of ectoparasites of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) chicks

Touati, L., Figuerola, J., Alfarhan, A. H., & Samraoui, B. (2015). Distribution patterns of ectoparasites of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) chicks. Zoology and Ecology 25(1): 46–53. doi:10.1080/21658005.2015.1005447
PDF in


The aim of this study was to identify the ectoparasite community that may be found on the body of Glossy Ibis chicks Plegadis falcinellus in two Algerian wetlands, Chatt and Lake Fetzara, during the breeding season of 2010. Birds were parasitized by the following chewing lice (Phthiraptera: Amblycera, Ischnocera) species at both study sites: Plegadiphilus plegadis and Colpocephalum leptopygos (both Menoponidae), Ardeicola rhaphidius and Ibidoecus bisignatus (both Philopteridae). In addition, one tick (larva) Ixodes ricinus was also found at Lake Fetzara. All these ectoparasites were recorded in Algeria for the first time. Results showed that chewing lice varied in their spatial distribution at the infracommunity level with some species displaying no microhabitat preferences, whereas others confined themselves to specific body parts of their hosts. The recorded frequency pattern of chewing lice followed the negative binomial distribution.

Location map showing study sites (a), with an adult of Glossy Ibis (b), and the Glossy Ibis nest containing chicks and eggs (c)

Location map showing study sites (a), with an adult of Glossy Ibis (b), and the Glossy Ibis nest containing chicks and eggs (c).

Distribution et abondance du Flamant rose Phoenicopterus roseus hivernant dans la zone centrale du golfe de Gabès (Tunisie)

Hamza F., Hammouda A., Chokri M.A., Béchet A. & Selmi S., 2014. Distribution et abondance du Flamant rose Phoenicopterus roseus hivernant dans la zone centrale du golfe de Gabès (Tunisie). Alauda 82 (2): 135-142.
PDF in

Distribution and abundance of Greater Flamingos wintering in the central part of the gulf of Gabès, Tunisia.


The Gulf of Gabès, in south-eastern Tunisia, is one of the most important Mediterranean wintering areas for the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus. However, information on the ecological factors shaping the abundance and distribution of this species in this wintering area are lacking. During the winter of 2010-2011, we conducted repeated counts of flamingos in fifteen sites in the central part of the Gulf of Gabès. The collected data were used to investigate the abundance and distribution of flamingos in this particular wintering area. We found that the total number of flamingos inhabiting the studied area ranged from 262 to 1781, and the proportion of occupied sites varied between 27 and 80%. We also found that the abundance and distribution of flamingos showed a peak between mid-November and mid-January. After this period, the flamingos became gradually rare, as a result of adults’ migration to northern breeding areas. In addition, our results showed that flamingos more frequently and more abundantly occurred in large mudflats (bays and estuaries) than in sandy beaches with small intertidal zones. The formers are likely to present more attractive feeding habitats because of their higher prey availability and accessibility. However, human presence (fishermen and shellfishers) did not appear to affect flamingos’ abundance and distribution. Fishermen and shellfishers did not seem to constitute a threat or a major disturbing factor for flamingos.

Flamant roses - Phoenicopterus roseus - Greater Flamingos

Flamant roses – Phoenicopterus roseus – Greater Flamingos (Photo: Foued Hamza)

First documented record of Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata) for Libya

Hamza, A. & Yahia, J. 2014. First documented record of Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata for Libya. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 21 (1): 83-85. PDF

An adult male Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata was photographed on 31 March 2010 at Sebkhet Hasila, on the Libyan coast about 90 km east of Sirte. Two previous observations of males were reported at two different sites between Ajdabiya and Benghazi, on 29 March and 1 April 2006. The observation presented here, however, is the first documented record for the country of this Palearctic migrant.

Première mention documentée du Gobemouche à demi-collier Ficedula semitorquata pour la Libye.

Un mâle adulte du Gobemouche à demi-collier Ficedula semitorquata a été photographié le 31 mars 2010 à Sebkhet Hasila, sur la côte libyenne à environ 90 km à l’est de Sirte. Deux observations précédentes de mâles ont été signalées à deux sites différents entre Ajdabiya et Benghazi, les 29 mars et 1 avril 2006. L’observation présentée ici est toutefois la première donnée documentée pour le pays de ce migrateur paléarctique.

Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata), Sebkhet Hasila, Libya

Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata), Sebkhet Hasila, Libya, 31 March 2010 (Jaber Yahia)

Les populations d’Ardéidés nicheurs en Tunisie

Ouni, R., Nefla, A., El Hili, A., & Nouira, S. 2011. Les populations d’Ardéidés nicheurs en Tunisie. Alauda 79 (2): 157–166.   PDF


The breeding Ardeidae species of Tunisia.

Nine Ardeidae species breed in Tunisia. About 2,500-3,000 breeding pairs breed each year and more than 12,000 individuals winter. The breeding population includes 8 regular species: Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus and Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris (for the latter species, breeding is certain but no nest has been found). The Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis is a casual breeder. The Great Egret Casmerodius albus is present all the year round but no nesting has been found.

Distribution, breeding and time budget of Ruddy Shelduck in the Hauts Plateaux, Algeria

Boulkhssaïm, M., Ouldjaoui, A., Alfarhan, A. H. & Samraoui, B. (2013). Distribution, breeding phenology and time budget of Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea during the annual cycle in the Hauts Plateaux, north-east Algeria. Ostrich 84 (2): 129-136.   DOI:10.2989/00306525.2013.821680
PDF in


Between September 2003 and July 2006, the reproductive biology and time budget of the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea was studied in the wetland complex of Oum el Bouaghi, north-east Algeria. Our results indicate a marked post-breeding dispersal of the Ruddy Shelduck to the eastern Hauts Plateaux where more than 1 000 birds (one-third of the estimated north-west African population) may gather in autumn. Dispersal is again conspicuous at the end of the wintering period when most birds leave the area to return to their breeding grounds. In 2004 and 2005, successful nesting was recorded at five sites. In both years, territoriality was exhibited from March to June and broods, ranging from nine to 14 chicks (mean = 11.1 ± 1.8, N = 16), were recorded between 21 May and 7 July. We also monitored the diurnal time budget of the Ruddy Shelduck over a two-year period. Feeding, most intense in late autumn and winter, occupied 50.6% of the daily activities with a distinct gradual seasonal decrease coinciding with the start of the breeding period. Ruddy Shelduck relied more upon surface feeding in shallow waters but displayed flexibility of feeding behaviour when water level fluctuated.

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (Sergey Yeliseev, license CC-by-nc-nd)

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (Sergey Yeliseev, license CC-by-nc-nd)

First breeding record of Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) for Tunisia

Olioso G., Pons, J.-M. & Touihri, M. 2013. First breeding record of Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea for Tunisia. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 20 (1): 76-77.
PDF in


Première donnée de nidification de la Bergeronnette des ruisseaux Motacilla cinerea en Tunisie. Un nid de la Bergeronnette des ruisseaux a été trouvé le 18 mai 2012 au centre de vacances d’Aïn Soltane, Jendouba, Tunisie. Il s’agit de la première preuve de reproduction de l’espèce dans le pays.


In the Maghreb, Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea is known to breed in Morocco and Algeria (Isenmann & Moali 2000, Thévenot et al. 2003). In Tunisia, proof of breeding was lacking, although the observation of a pair uttering alarm-calls near a stream in the Kroumirie Mountains, in the north-west, in April 2000, suggested the species had a nest there (Isenmann et al. 2005).

During 8–21 May 2012, while staying at the holiday centre of Aïn Soltane, Governorat of Jendouba, north-western Tunisia, we regularly observed a pair of Grey Wagtails uttering alarm-calls and carrying food. We eventually mist-netted the male (see attached photo). On 18 May, we found the pair’s rather voluminous nest under the beams supporting the roof of a house; it contained at least three downy chicks. The staff of the holiday centre subsequently indicated a second nest, placed in the same situation, but in another building, that had held a first clutch earlier in the season.


Isenmann, P., Gaultier, T., El Hili, A. Azafzaf, H., Dlensi, H. & Smart, M. 2005. Oiseaux de Tunisie / Birds of Tunisia. Paris: Société d’Études Ornithologiques de France.

Isenmann, P. & Moali, A. 2000. Oiseaux d’Algérie / Birds of Algeria. Paris: Société d’Études Ornithologiques de France.

Thévenot, M., Vernon, R. & Bergier, P. 2003. The Birds of Morocco: An Annotated Checklist. BOU Checklist No. 20. Tring: British Ornithologists’ Union & British Ornithologists’ Club.

 Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), Tunisia

Adult male Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), Aïn Soltane, Tunisia, 16 May 2012 (Georges Olioso / Internet Bird Collection)

Pied Crow (Corvus albus) at Tajura near Tripoli, western Libya

Two Pied Crows (Corvus albus) were seen roosting on palm trees at Tajura (32°53’37.39 N, 13°23’13.33 E), some 20 Km east of Tripoli (western Libya) on 7 June 2013. On 17 June they were seen again and photographed. According to the Libyan Society for Birds, the species have been recorded in eastern Libya only a few times before but this is the first record for western Libya.

The Libyan Society for Birds wishes to thank Khaled Etayeb, Essam Bourass, Ali Berbash and Wagih Bashimam for their help.


Essam Bourass observed again 2 Pied Crows at the same place two weeks ago (i.e. around the end of August 2013). He was not sure if they were adults or not as he haven’t binoculars at the moment of the observation. So at least 2 individuals stayed in this area for nearly 3 months (7 June – end of August). It’s worth checking their breeding status in this area, if not possible this year it should be considered next year.

The Pied Crow is a very rare bird north of the Sahara desert, and there are only a few records in North Africa:

  • A bird collected at Jalo oasis, Al Wahat, north-east Libya, on 24 April 1931 (in Batty 2010).
  • One record in the extreme south of Algeria in 1961, and another at In Azaoua in December 1964. Plus it has been reported from the Algeria part of the Adrar Ifoghas close to Mali (Isenmann & Moali 2000).
  • Three birds discovered at Chtoukan between Boujdour and Dakhla, Western Sahara, Morocco, in December 2009. The pair had successfully bred and raised a young in spring/summer 2010 (Batty 2010).

Records from elsewhere in the Western Palearctic region are believed to relate either to escapes from captivity, or are suspected to have arrived by ship (see Batty 2010).

Since these records, the species has been observed several times in different parts of Morocco: e.g. at the Strait of Gibraltar in the north, at Mhamid in eastern Sahara, at Tarfaya and Khnifiss Lagoon on the Atlantic coast,…etc. See all Moroccan observations at MaghrebOrnitho.


Batty, C. 2010. Pied Crows in Western Sahara, Morocco. Dutch Birding 32: 329.

Isenmann, P. & Moali, A. 2000. Oiseaux d’Algérie / Birds of Algeria. SEOF, Paris.

Pied Crow (Corvus albus), Tajura, western Libya.
Pied Crow (Corvus albus) at Tajura, near Tripoli, western Libya. (Photo: Libyan Society for Birds).

Distribution et écologie de la reproduction de la Cigogne blanche en Algérie

Moali-Grine, N., Moali, L., & Moali, A. (2013). Distribution et écologie de la reproduction de la Cigogne blanche (Ciconia ciconia) en Algérie. Revue d’écologie 68 (1): 59-69.

Résumé :

La Cigogne blanche Ciconia ciconia niche communément dans la partie méditerranéenne de l’Algérie, des plaines du littoral jusque aux hauts-plateaux steppiques. Des recensements nationaux ont été effectués dans le cadre d’un projet d’étude de la dynamique des populations d’oiseaux en Algérie. En 2007, 6601 couples nicheurs ont été recensés. Dans les régions de l’Est (d’El-Tarf à Oum-El-Bouaghi), de 1855 nids occupés en 1995 l’effectif est passé à 4411 en 2007 soit 70 % du total des effectifs nicheurs pour les deux recensements. Dans les régions du centre (de Béjaïa à Blida), respectivement 701 (26 %) et 1817 (27,5 %) couples nicheurs ont été dénombrés en 1995 et 2007. Dans les régions de l’Ouest (de Tipasa à Ain-Temouchent), seulement 123 couples nicheurs (5 %) ont été observés en 1995 et 373 (5,6 %) en 2007. Les couples qui nichent en dehors des agglomérations font souvent leurs nids en colonies sur des arbres. Les types de supports choisis pour l’emplacement des nids montrent clairement les changements qui ont eu lieu dans la préférence des sites de nidification. Bien que les villes aient augmenté en taille et que beaucoup de maisons aient perdu leur aptitude à offrir des supports de nidification pour la Cigogne blanche, certains couples ont adopté les nouveaux bâtiments pour nicher, les structures artificielles (toits des maisons, poteaux et pylônes électriques) représentent toujours plus de la moitié des supports de nids. L’essor démographique de la population de Cigognes blanches algériennes est particulièrement remarquable dans les régions de l’Est à El-Tarf et Mila et dans les régions du Centre à Sétif où les effectifs des couples nicheurs ont augmenté respectivement de 263 %, 137 % et 312 % entre 1995 et 2007. Même si certains facteurs tels que la pression de l’urbanisation et la détérioration de la qualité des habitats ont toujours un impact négatif sur les populations de Cigogne blanche, nous estimons que les améliorations climatiques sur les lieux d’hivernage et de reproduction, et l’adoption des terres cultivées irriguées et des décharges d’ordures ménagères pour se nourrir dans certaines régions ont largement contribué à l’augmentation récente de la population.

Nests of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia)

Nests of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Salamanca, Spain (Wikipedia)