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A Birdwatchers Guide to: Morocco

Specialities of Morocco

A map showing the distribution of the Houbara Bustard (aka African Bustard)
A map showing the world distribution of the Houbara Bustard (aka African Bustard). This species has a wide distribution across North Africa.

There are no true endemic species of bird in Morocco, but included in the 'Endemics and near-endemics' list are species with a distribution mainly restricted to Northwest Africa and the Iberian peninsula. Several of these are not generally seen as 'near-endemics' and hence 'restricted-range species' would probably have been a more appropriate term.
Birds listed under 'Birds of regional interest' are mainly species that are not easily seen in Europe, but are restricted to North Africa and the Middle East. Many of these birds are thus sought by the Western Palaearctic (WP) lister and European birder in general. They are listed here as 'regional specialities' although several are widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara, or even in Asia. I apologize for being a little bit Europe centric here, but considering that the vast majority of birders visiting Morocco are Europeans this does make sense.
In the final list, 'Birds of national interest', I have included species that are generally more widely distributed but that could still be considered to be of interest to the visiting birder.

Endemics and near-endemics

Species Scientific Name Comment
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita Outside Morocco only one (tiny) colony in Syria known, but unknown colonies in the Middle East probably still exist.
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio This species is a recent split from Purple Swamphen and its global range is Spain and S France and NW Africa (east to Tunisia).
Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis Endemic to Northwest Africa and the Iberian peninsula
Plain Swift Apus unicolor Breeds on Madeira and the Canary Islands, at least part of the population winter along the Moroccan coast.
Levaillant's Woodpecker Picus vaillantii Northwest African endemic
Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti Endemic to Northwest Africa and Spain
Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri Endemic to Northwest Africa
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura Endemic to Northwest Africa and Spain
African Desert Warbler Sylvia deserti Northwest African endemic
Tristram's Warbler Sylvia deserticola Northwest African endemic
Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca Endemic to Northwest Africa and the Iberian peninsula.
Atlas Pied Flycatcher Ficedula speculigera Endemic to Northwest Africa.
African Blue Tit Cyanistes teneriffae Largely endemic to the Canary Isles and Northwest Africa
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor Endemic to the Iberian peninsula and NW Africa east to Tunisia. In Morocco a rather common bird.

Birds of regional interest

Species Scientific Name Comment
Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris The west Mediterranean population estimated at 3000 - 5000 birds with a small population in Morocco. More common in the winter months.
White-headed Duck Oxyura lecocephala A small population of about 2500 birds remains in Spain and Morocco. The species is more numerous in Central Asia, but these populations are currently undergoing serious decline.
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus There are estimated to be 5 - 10 pairs left in Morocco, but the sightings are few and far between.
Tawny Eagle Aquila rapaxThe area south of Goulimine used to be a reliable site for Tawny Eagle, but there are no records in the last years and it is presumed to be extinct in Morocco.
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleusA relatively common bird of prey in Morocco. The stronghold is in the Souss valley.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus The North African form of the Long-legged Buzzard (ssp. cirtensis) is fairly common in Morocco.
Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates The Moroccan subspecies theresae is thought to have gone extinct as recently as in the 1990s, but there are a couple of records in the early 2000s.
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae
Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
Double-spurred Francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus
Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara Range restricted to northwest Africa east to central Libya. In Morocco fairly common in varied habitats.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagrisSubspecies sabyi formerly in NW Morocco between Oum Er-Rbia river and Sebou river, but not recorded since the 1970s and presumably extinct in the wild.
Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgoUntil recently there was a small population in the Middle Atlas (up to 20 pairs), but last attempted breeding in 1984. This population is now extinct.
Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata
Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs The sedentary population recorded from Morocco (ssp. A.a. lynesi ), has not been definitely recorded since 1962 and is likely to be extinct.
Great Bustard Otis tarda
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax
Cream-colored Courser Cursorius cursor
Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
Audouin's Gull Larus audounii
Royal Tern Sterna maxima
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii
Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus
Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Pharaoh Eagle-Owl Bubo ascalaphus
Marsh Owl Asio capensis Widespread in Africa south of the Sahara. The only population north of the Sahara is in NW Morocco (endemic ssp. tingitanus). The stronghold for the species in Morocco is Merja Zerga.
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
Little Swift Apus affinis
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix nigriceps
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti
Thick-billed Lark Ramphocoris clotbey
Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha
Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens
Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
Pale Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes
Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti
Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens
White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga
Red-rumped Wheatear Oenanthe moesta
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon
Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus
Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
Fulvous Babbler Turdoides fulva
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis
Desert Sparrow Passer simplex
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus
African Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguineus
House Bunting Emberiza sahari

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