The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to a diverse range of bird species, with over 500 different types recorded. Among these birds are many small species, which are often overlooked despite their unique beauty and interesting behaviors.
These birds can be found in a variety of habitats across the UAE, from the desert plains to the coastal wetlands.
Despite their small size, these birds play an important role in the ecosystem, contributing to pollination, pest control, and seed dispersal.
In this article, we will explore some of the small bird species that can be found in the UAE and learn more about their characteristics and habits.
Bulbuls are a medium-sized passerine songbird family native to Africa, the Middle East and tropical Asia up until Japan. They can also be found on some of the Indian Ocean islands.
There are 160 species within 32 genera in this family which includes greenbuls, brownbuls, leafloves and bristlebills.
Bulbul birds have been known for their beautiful singing voices as well as for being very active during mating season when they gather together to create large flocks where potential mates can show off their skills.
The coloration of bulbuls range from dull greys or browns to vibrant yellows with black markings around the head region making them quite attractive creatures indeed.Scientific classification:
|Family||Pycnonotidae Gray, GR, 1840|
2. Black-Crowned Sparrow-Lark
The black-crowned sparrow-lark is a species of lark found in northern Africa, the Middle East and north-western India. It resides in dry savanna habitats where it can be seen foraging for food on the ground.
The bird has an impressive white crest with distinctive black crown feathers that are only visible when viewed from above or behind.
Its brown upper parts mingle with its whitish underparts to provide excellent camouflage against predators, while its long legs allow it to run quickly across open fields if necessary.
Overall, this interesting little bird provides a fascinating sight as it hops around looking for food and flying through the air with grace and agility.Scientific classification:
Shorebirds, a diverse group of birds in the Charadriiformes order, are found near water on every continent except Antarctica.
These small to medium-sized birds feed mainly on invertebrates and other small animals but can also be pelagic seabirds or inhabit deserts.
Shorebirds use their long bills to probe mudflats for food like worms and mollusks while some species plunge into the ocean’s depths in search of crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp.
They have strong legs equipped with webbed feet which allow them to move quickly when searching for prey across wetlands, sandbars, beaches and swamps.
Their feathers make them well adapted to life by land or sea due to its hydrophobic nature which helps reduce drag during swimming or flying through windy conditions making it easier for shorebirds survive tough environments around the world.Scientific classification:
|Order||Charadriiformes Huxley, 1867|
4. Old World Flycatchers
The Old World Flycatcher is a family of small passerine birds, native to Europe, Africa and Asia. They are mainly insectivorous arboreal birds that feed on insects they catch in the air or trees.
Their wingspan ranges from 5-11 inches long with males usually being slightly larger than females.
The coloration of these birds can range greatly depending on species but typically have dull greyish brown upperparts and pale undersides which help them blend into their environment for hunting purposes.
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) and Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) are two exceptions as they can be found in North America too.
These charming little creatures make fun additions to birdwatching lists all over the world because of their vibrant colors and interesting behaviors.Scientific classification:
|Family||Muscicapidae Fleming J., 1822|
Hoopoes are a fascinating species of bird, found across Africa, Asia and Europe. They have beautiful plumage with unique ‘crowns’ of feathers on their heads.
Three living and one extinct species exist – although for some time they were all classed as the same species: Upupa epops. Some taxonomists still believe this to be true.
These birds are often associated with royalty due to the impressive crown-like crest atop their head, adding an extra element of mystery and exoticism to these creatures.
Hoopoes can also produce loud calls which sound like “hoo-poo” hence why they’ve been given such an apt name.Scientific classification:
|Family||Upupidae Leach, 1820|
|Genus||Upupa Linnaeus, 1758|
6. Old World Orioles
Old World orioles are a family of passerine birds found in the Old World. It comprises four genera: piopios, figbirds, pitohuis and the original genus Oriolus.
The African black-headed species have sometimes been removed from this latter group due to their distinct characteristics as well as other proposed splits for Oriolus.
These colorful birds can be identified by their bright yellow or orange plumage that often features darker markings on wings and head areas, although some species may also display a blue hue or stripes across the body feathers.
They typically feed on insects such as caterpillars and grasshoppers but will supplement with small fruits when available too – making them beneficial additions to gardens.Scientific classification:
|Family||Oriolidae Vigors, 1825|
Avocets are elegant wading birds belonging to the same avian family as stilts. These birds have long and slender legs which they use for sweeping their curved bills through shallow water in order to find food like insects, crustaceans, fish eggs etc.
The name of this species is derived from Italian’s ‘avosetta’ and Latin words: recurvus (meaning ‘curved backwards’) and rostrum (‘bill’).
Avocets inhabit wetlands all over the world with some variations in color among different populations.
They build nests using mud or grasses on islands or remote areas surrounded by water bodies where they can feed safely without any disturbance from predators.
With its striking black-and-white plumage pattern along with upturned bill, these graceful creatures make an enchanting sight when seen flying together near wetland sites.Scientific classification:
|Genus||Recurvirostra Linnaeus, 1758|
Spoonbills are large wading birds belonging to the genus Platalea. Characterized by their long legs and distinctive spoon-shaped beaks, these birds can be found all over the world except Antarctica.
The name of this genus derives from Ancient Greek meaning “broad”, referring to their bill’s shape.
There are six species of Spoonbill recognized – though they usually form a single group, sometimes it is divided into three genera.
These graceful creatures feed mainly on small aquatic organisms such as insects and fish which they catch with an open-mouth technique while sweeping through shallow waters in search for food.
They typically breed near water bodies during springtime when there’s plenty of food available around them.Scientific classification:
|Genus||Platalea Linnaeus, 1758|
9. Red-Vented Bulbul
The Red-vented Bulbul is an impressive bird native to the Indian subcontinent, and has been introduced to regions around the world.
It belongs to the bulbul family of passerines and is a resident breeder in many countries including Sri Lanka, Burma, Bhutan and Nepal.
It also thrives in New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Fiji as well as parts of Samoa, Australia USA and Cook Islands.
This species has grey heads with white cheeks that contrast sharply against their black wings with bright red vent feathers which give them their name.
They typically live near woodland areas where they can forage for fruits or small insects on trees or bushes; this makes them useful birds for controlling insect populations naturally.
The male red-vented bulbuls are renowned songsters who sing out from treetops at dawn each day – adding some beautiful melodies to any garden.Scientific classification:
Larks are small passerine birds that belong to the Alaudidae family. These birds have a cosmopolitan distribution and can be found in many different habitats, including dry regions.
The largest number of lark species is located in Africa, while only one species (horned lark) inhabits North America and another one (Horsfield’s bush lark) lives in Australia.
These beautiful creatures usually appear during dawn or dusk as they sing their melodious songs high up into the sky.
Larks possess impressive flying skills which make them capable of reaching heights far above most other bird species.
Despite this skill, they prefer living close to the ground where there are plenty of seeds and insects for them to feed on.Scientific classification:
|Family||Alaudidae Vigors, 1825|
Skuas are a group of predatory seabirds with seven species, all belonging to the genus Stercorarius.
They are also known as “Jaegers” in North America and their name originates from the Faroese word for Great Skua – skúgvur.
These birds typically inhabit coastal areas or open oceans where they feed on fish, krill and other marine creatures.
Skuas can be distinguished by their pointed wings which help them fly long distances while hunting food.
Their distinctive colouration varies depending on age and habitat but generally includes greyish brown upperparts and white underparts with black streaks along its belly area.
The overall size ranges from 24-40 cm making these one of the larger sea bird species.Scientific classification:
|Family||Stercorariidae Gray, 1871|
|Genus||Stercorarius Brisson, 1760|
12. Sylviid Warblers
The Sylviid warblers are a family of passerine birds found in Eurasia and Africa. They include the typical warblers as well as babblers that were formerly part of the Old World babbler family.
These birds have slender bodies, pointed wings, long tails and strong legs adapted for ground-dwelling habits like running or hopping along branches.
The male often has bright colors while females are usually duller in coloration with more muted plumage patterns than males.
Some species also show sexual dimorphism where one sex may be larger or smaller than its counterpart; for instance some species may have longer tail feathers on the female side compared to their male counterparts.
Many members of this group feed on insects but some specialize on seeds, fruits, nectar or even frogs.Scientific classification:
|Family||Sylviidae Leach, 1820|
13. Austral Storm Petrels
Austral Storm Petrels are the smallest of seabirds, belonging to the family Oceanitidae and order Procellariiformes.
They have a cosmopolitan distribution across all oceans, with their flight being fluttering and sometimes bat-like in appearance.
These birds feed on planktonic crustaceans as well as small fish that they pick from the surface while hovering over it.
Their plumage is mostly dark grey or blackish brown above; underparts may be white or mottled gray.
The feet vary between species but usually have pale yellow webs and claws which help them move easily through water when searching for food.
Austral storm petrels often make nests on remote islands where these birds can breed safely without any disturbances from humans during their nesting season.Scientific classification:
|Family||Oceanitidae Forbes, 1881|
Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds consisting of around 70 species. They are found across Europe, Africa, Asia and even Alaska with two migratory breeding species.
The three genera they belong to include wagtails which typically have medium to long tails; longclaws that can only be spotted in the Afrotropics; and pipits which possess the most cosmopolitan distribution worldwide.
These birds feed on insects as well as seeds for their diets and are usually seen in open habitats such grasslands or wetlands where food sources like invertebrates can easily be accessed.
Most Motacillidae species also use mud nests during breeding season making them easy targets for predators so it’s important we protect these beautiful creatures.Scientific classification:
|Family||Motacillidae Horsfield, 1821|
15. Little Stint
The Little Stint is an incredibly small wader that can be found in arctic Europe and Asia. During the winter it migrates to Africa and South Asia, but on rare occasions has been known to travel as far as North America and Australia.
The genus name comes from a term used by Aristotle for grey-coloured waterside birds. It’s scientific name “minuta” reflects its minuscule size when compared with other species of bird within this family.
Its feathers are mainly brownish-grey along the neck, chest and back while its belly features white streaks made up of black markings running along them horizontally.
Aside from its size, one of the most impressive traits about these birds is their ability to migrate such long distances every year.Scientific classification:
16. White-Eared Bulbul
The white-eared bulbul is a member of the Pycnonotus genus and belongs to the Bulbul family. It inhabits south-western Asia from India to Arabia, where it can be seen in open woodlands or even gardens.
This species has long been recognized as one of six similar bulbuls that make up a superspecies, including Himalayan bulbul, White-spectacled bulbul, African Red-eyed Bulbuls and Cape Bulbuls.
The bird is brownish gray with reddish tints on its back and wings while its head is greyish with yellow eyes surrounded by a thin white eye ring which gives this species its name .
They feed mainly on fruits but also take insects like ants , grasshoppers , beetles etc . Their diet includes berries , seeds and flowers too.
In addition they are known for their loud vocalizations when alarmed making them an easily identifiable companion in any outdoor setting.Scientific classification:
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Sandpiper is a type of wading bird that belongs to the family Scolopacidae. It is a diverse family that includes various species such as curlew and snipe.
Sandpipers have different bill lengths that allow them to feed on small invertebrates and creatures found in mud or soil.
Due to this diversity, different species can coexist in the same habitat without competing for food.
Sandpipers are commonly found near the coast but are also found in other wetland environments.
They are known for their slender legs, long beak, and streamlined body that enables them to move easily in and out of water.
Sandpipers are a unique and fascinating bird species that are interesting to observe in their natural habitat.Scientific classification:
|Family||Scolopacidae Rafinesque, 1815|