Socotra Birds

On Socotra we can see birds that are resident (breed on the islands and are present all year round) and those that are migratory (they use Socotra as a stop-over site for the part of the year on their annual migrations).


Over 210 species of bird have now been recorded in the Archipelago. Of these 43 are known to breed and over 160 are migrant visitors. Most of these will be stopping for a short while during their long migrations from breeding areas in Europe and Asia to their wintering grounds in Africa. Many of these migrant birds are very rare (known as vagrants) and have only been recorded on Socotra a few times.

Socotra has ten species of endemic birds – birds that are not found anywhere else in the world. For these Socotra has a special responsibility for their protection. One of them, Socotra Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus socotranus, is a species of Golden-winged Grosbeak which has been named the Yemen’s national bird. This colorful bird, with a huge beak for eating fruits and seeds, occurs in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen.

Also Socotra has an important role to play in the conservation of its breeding seabird colonies which are of international importance.

The table below gives details of Socotra’s birds, including those that are globally threatened. Birds give a lot of pleasure - enjoy them on your visit!

Checklist of the birds of the Socotra Archipelago

 

Richard Porter & Ahmed Saeed Suleiman

 

Updated April 2011

 

Key:

Vagrant: a species recorded 5 times or less.

Species in BLUE CAPITALS have internationally important populations on Socotra

Text in red gives BirdLife International/IUCN Red list status

 

 

Common Quail Coturnix coturnix

Passage migrant

 

Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei

Status uncertain; vagrant or occasional breeding visitor.

 

Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons

Vagrant

 

Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus

Vagrant

 

Gadwall Anas strepera

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope

Rare winter visitor

 

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Vagrant

 

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Northern Pintail Anas acuta

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Garganey Anas querquedula

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Eurasian Teal Anas crecca

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Common Pochard Aythya ferina

Vagrant

 

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

Vagrant Globally Near Threatened

 

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Vagrant

 

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus

 Recorded offshore; status uncertain

 

PERSIAN SHEARWATER Puffinus persicus

 Breeding visitor; offshore throughout year.

 

Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes

Recorded offshore; status uncertain

 

JOUANIN’S PETREL Bulweria fallax

ENDEMIC Breeding visitor; present offshore throughout the year.

Globally Near Threatened

 

Wilson's Storm Petrel Oceanites oceanicus

 Summer visitor to offshore waters 

 

White-bellied Storm Petrel Fregetta grallaria

Recorded offshore; but true status uncertain

 

Black-bellied Storm Petrel Fregetta tropica

Recorded offshore; but true status uncertain

 

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Vagrant; may have bred

 

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

Winter visitor

 

RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD Phaethon aethereus

Breeds; offshore throughout the year

 

Western White Stork Ciconia ciconia  

Vagrant

 

African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus  

Vagrant

 

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

 

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Vagrant

 

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus

Vagrant

 

Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis

Rare visitor; may breed.

 

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Striated Heron Butorides striata

Status uncertain; probably an uncommon resident breeder

 

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii

Winter visitor and possibly present throughout the year.

 

Malagasy Pond Heron Ardeola idae

Vagrant Globally Endangered

 

Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Winter visitor & passage migrant; may breed.

 

Grey Heron  Ardea cinerea

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala

Vagrant

 

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Western Great Egret Ardea alba

Uncommon winter visitor

 

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

Vagrant

 

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Great Frigatebird Fregata minor

Vagrant

 

Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus

Vagrant

 

MASKED BOOBY Sula dactylatra

Breeds; offshore throughout the year

 

BROWN BOOBY Sula leucogaster

Breeds; offshore throughout the year

 

Reed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus  

Vagrant

 

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Vagrant

 

SOCOTRA CORMORANT  Phalacrocorax nigrogularis

Resident and winter visitor. Globally Vulnerable

 

African Darter Anhinga rufa

Vagrant

 

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Resident breeder

 

Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius

Vagrant

(See also NOTE below)

 

EGYPTIAN VULTURE Neophron percnopterus

Resident breeder. Globally Endangered

 

Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus

Vagrant

 

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus

Vagrant Globally Near Threatened

 

Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus

Vagrant

 

SOCOTRA BUZZARD Buteo socotraensis .

ENDEMICResident breeder

Globally Vulnerable

 

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Resident breeder

 

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis

Vagrant or rare passage migrant

 

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo

Vagrant

 

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Resident breeder

 

Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus

Vagrant

 

Macqueen’s (Houbara) Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii

Vagrant. Globally Vulnerable.

 

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus  

Vagrant

 

Corncrake Crex crex

Vagrant

 

 

Little Crake Porzana parva

Vagrant

 

Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla

Vagrant

 

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana

Vagrant

 

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

Vagrant

 

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Uncommon visitor; has bred at least once.

 

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra

Vagrant

 

Common Crane Grus grus

Vagrant

 

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Vagrant

 

Crab-plover Dromas ardeola

Vagrant

 

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Resident and probably winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Vagrant

 

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Resident breeder & winter visitor

 

Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius atrifrons

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus

Vagrant

 

Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus

Vagrant

 

Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus

Vagrant

 

Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa  

Vagrant. Globally Near Threatened

 

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

Vagrant

 

Common Redshank Tringa totanus

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

Vagrant

 

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus

Vagrant

 

Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos

Winter visitor & passage migrant

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Red Knot Calidris canutus

Vagrant

 

Sanderling Calidris alba

Uncommon winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Little Stint Calidris minuta

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta

Vagrant

 

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Uncommon winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus

Vagrant

 

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant

 

Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus

Passage migrant in offshore waters

 

Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor

Resident breeder

 

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

Vagrant

 

BROWN NODDY Anous stolidus

Breeding summer visitor; present offshore throughout year

 

Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris

Vagrant

 

Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei  

Vagrant

 

Common Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Great Black-headed Gull Larus ichthyaetus

Vagrant

 

White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus

Rare visitor. Globally Near Threatened

 

SOOTY GULL Larus hemprichii

Resident & winter visitor

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans

Rare winter visitor

 

Baltic Gull Larus fuscus fuscus

Uncommon winter visitor

 

Heuglin's Gull Larus heuglini

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Steppe Gull Larus barabensis

Uncommon winter visitor

 

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica

Rare winter visitor & passage migrant.

 

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia

Rare winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Swift Tern Sterna bergii

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

SAUNDERS’S TERN Sternula saundersi

Breeding summer visitor

 

BRIDLED TERN Onychoprion anaethetus

Breeding summer visitor

 

Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus

Passage migrant

 

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii

Vagrant

 

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa

Passage migrant

 

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida

Uncommon passage migrant

 

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus

Rare passage migrant

 

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus

Vagrant

Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii

Resident breeder

 

Feral Pigeon Columba livia forma domestica

Resident; introduced

 

Laughing Dove Spilopelia  senegalensis

Resident breeder

 

Namaqua Dove Oena capensis

Vagrant

 

Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia

Resident breeder

 

White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus

Resident breeder

 

Pied Cuckoo Oxylophus jacobinus

Vagrant

 

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus

Vagrant

 

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Uncommon passage migrant

 

SOCOTRA SCOPS OWL Otus socotranus

ENDEMIC Resident breeder. (Taxonomy under review).

 

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus

Vagrant

 

European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus

Vagrant

 

Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius

Vagrant.

 

Nubian Nightjar Caprimulgus nubicus

Resident breeder

 

Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris

Vagrant

 

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba

Vagrant

 

FORBES-WATSON’S SWIFT Apus berliozi

Breeding visitor; present most of year

 

Little Swift Apus affinis

Vagrant

 

Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis

Vagrant

Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus

Vagrant

 

European Roller Coracias garrulus

Passage migrant. Globally Near Threatened

 

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Vagrant

 

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus

Passage migrant

 

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops

Vagrant

 

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio

Vagrant

 

Daurian/Turkestan Shrike Lanius isabellinus/phoenicuroides

Vagrant or rare passage migrant

 

SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE Lanius meridionalis

Resident breeder

 

Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris

Vagrant

 

Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus  

Vagrant

 

House Crow Corvus splendens  

Arrived on boat in 1996; bred, then eradicated 2009

 

Pied Crow Corvus albus

Vagrant

 

Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis

Resident breeder

 

Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla

Rare passage migrant

 

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix nigriceps

Resident breeder

 

Sand Martin Riparia riparia

Rare passage migrant

 

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Passage migrant

 

Pale Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne obsoleta

Resident breeder

 

Common House Martin Delichon urbicum

Vagrant

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus

Vagrant

 

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

Vagrant

 

Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix

Vagrant

 

Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Vagrant

 

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Vagrant

 

SOCOTRA CISTICOLA Cisticola haesitatus

ENDEMIC Resident breeder. Globally Near Threatened

 

SOCOTRA WARBLER Cisticola incanus

ENDEMIC Resident breeder

 

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca

Rare winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Desert Whitethroat Sylvia minula

Vagrant

 

Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis

Vagrant

 

Ménétriés's Warbler Sylvia mystacea

Vagrant

 

Abyssinian White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus

Resident breeder

 

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Vagrant

 

Somali Starling Onychognathus blythii

Resident breeder

 

SOCOTRA STARLING Onychognathus frater

ENDEMIC Resident breeder

 

Black-throated Thrush Turdus atrogularis

Vagrant

 

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

Vagrant

 

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

Vagrant

Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus

Vagrant

 

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Vagrant

 

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis

Vagrant

 

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius

Rare winter visitor

 

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata

Vagrant

 

SOCOTRA SUNBIRD Chalcomitra balfouri

ENDEMIC Resident breeder

 

SOCOTRA SPARROW Passer insularis

ENDEMIC Resident breeder

 

ABD AL-KURI SPARROW Passer hemileucus

ENDEMIC Resident breeder. Globally Vulnerable

 

Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava spp

Passage migrant

 

Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla (flava) feldegg

Vagrant

 

Yellow-headed Wagtail Motacilla (flava) lutea

Status uncertain; probably rare passage migrant or vagrant

 

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola

Vagrant

 

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

Uncommon winter visitor & passage migrant

 

White Wagtail Motacilla alba

Winter visitor & passage migrant

 

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris

Rare passage migrant

 

LONG-BILLED PIPIT Anthus similis

Resident breeder

 

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis

Vagrant

 

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

Vagrant

 

SOCOTRA GOLDEN-WINGED GROSBEAK

Rhynchostruthus socotranus

ENDEMIC Resident breeder

 

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana

Vagrant

 

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi

Resident breeder

 

SOCOTRA BUNTING Emberiza socotrana

ENDEMIC Resident breeder. Globally Near Threatened

 

 

NOTE

Black Kite In addition to Yellow-billed Kites

which have been specifically identified, black kites

(probably Milvus migrans) have also been recorded

as vagrants.

 

Brown/South Polar Skua

Stercorarius antarcticus/maccormicki

(species not determined)

Vagrant

 

UNSUBSTANTIATED REPORTS

(Reports where no details or descriptions

have been provided; they are listed here for completeness)

 

Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas

African Spoonbill   Platalea alba

Red-footed Booby Sula sula

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae

Sooty Falcon Falco concolor

Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides

Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus

Red-knobbed  Coot Fulica cristata

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris

Hume’s Tawny Owl Strix butleri

Common Swift Apus apus

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus

Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata 

Little Rock Thrush Monticola rufocinerea

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