Khuzestan, Iran’s unique haven for birds

January 10, 2021 - 17:27

TEHRAN – The southwestern province of Khuzestan is the most diverse region in terms of different bird species, its unique and pleasant climate, as well as rich natural habitats have turned this province into a paradise for rare and endangered species of birds.

Khuzestan is home to some 379 recognized species of birds supporting a variety of breeding and wintering waterfowl and seabirds. Every year, with the onset of the cold season, flocks of migratory birds come to winter in the province from the cold regions of Central Asia.

Due to the existence of numerous rivers, wetlands, and special bird habitats, at least 6 species of rare birds of Iran that live in the margins of wetlands and rivers have been recorded in Khuzestan province, two species of which have been seen only in this region.

From terns and ibises to house sparrows, various subspecies of birds will surely be recorded in Khuzestan province by researching and expanding the science of bird watching in the country.

While today, poachers and hunters travel to Khuzestan from neighboring cities and in addition to hunting birds, endanger the species by pushing them toward extinction.

In this regard, Mohammad Javad Ashrafi, chief of Khuzestan’s department of environment, stated that about 20 percent of the country's wetlands are located in Khuzestan, this is why the province is home to most migratory birds, along with the favorable weather conditions.

Bird-watching in Iran

Iran is home to more than 527 bird species. In fact, although large portions of the country are arid to semi-arid, Iran possesses a very rich and diverse bird fauna.

Two main factors are responsible for this; the great range of habitats—from permanent snows to deep deserts and from lush deciduous forests in the north to palm groves and mangroves in the south—and Iran’s position at a crossroads between three major faunal regions, according to the Iran Paradise website.

The bulk of the country lies within the Palearctic faunal region, which stretches from Europe and North Africa across north and central Asia to the Soviet Far East and Japan. Lying along the southern edge of this region, Iran’s bird fauna includes a large Western Palearctic faunal element, reaching its eastern extremity in the central Alborz and Zagros mountains, and a smaller, but still marked, Eastern Palearctic element, which extends into northeastern Iran in the highlands of Khorasan.

On Iran’s south coast, the tidal mudflats, mangrove, sand beaches, rocky shores, and sea-cliffs support a variety of breeding and wintering habitats for seabirds. Breeding species include Crab Plover Dromas ardeola, Great Thick-knee Burhinus recurvirostris (only in the sea); several species of herons and egrets such as Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii, Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis and Goliath Heron Ardea goliath (in mangrove); and several species of terns.

Wintering species include Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, and also many shorebirds notably African Black Oystercatcher Heamatopus ostralegus, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Curlew Numenius arquata and Plovers Charadrius spp., Scuas Stercorarius spp., Gulls Larus spp., and Terns Sterna spp.