Libya has made great strides in bird conservation and identification. The wildlife conservation authorities of Libya have released a guide titled “Birds of Libya”, which contains a checklist of the 350 birds’ species which have been recorded in the country. The distributions of birds in the country are influenced by the climate, geography, migration system, and the breeding pattern. Many of the birds’ species are relatively common since they form part of the country’s ecosystem. However, there are rare vagrants which are not part of the country’s ecosystem. These birds might have migrated or displaced into the country. Some of the native birds of Libya are looked at below.
The Native Birds of Libya
The Horned Grebe, scientifically named the Podiceps auritus, also known as the Slavonian grebe, belongs to the grebe family of water birds. The bird is an excellent swimmer and diver capable of pursuing its prey under water. Horned grebe is a small bird which measures between 31 and 38 centimeters in length and has a 45- to 55-centimeter wingspan. The plumage includes a dark head and puffy brown tufts on the side of its face. Its neck is red, scarlet eyes, and black bill tipped with white. Its legs are placed towards the rear of its body. The bird breeds in freshwater vegetation and lays two eggs. The young ones are sometimes carried on the back of the adult grebe. In some culture, the horned grebe is called the devil-diver or water witch.
The desert sparrow, Passer simplex, belongs to the sparrow family. It is native to the Sahara Desert, Iran, and Central Asia. A mature desert sparrow measures 14 to 15 centimeters long and weighs 18 to 21 grams. its legs are long and pale in color which assumes an upright posture when it stands. It has a short tail and a stubby, strong beak. The tongue has an extra bone which stiffens the tongue when holding seeds. The desert sparrow is not afraid of human and can build their nests in muddy walls. It feeds on ground vegetation and seeds including cereals. The desert sparrow breeds alone or in colonies of three to five nests on a tree.
The Yelkouan shearwater, Puffinus yelkouan, belongs to the seabird family Procellariidae. The bird is 30 to 38 centimeters long with a wingspan of 75 to 90 centimeters. It has a shearing flight, just as the name suggests, dipping from one side to the other on its stiff wing. When flying, it looks similar to a flying cross with its wings held at a right angle relative to the body. The bird has a dark upper part and pale undersides, medium beak, and A short tail. The Yelkouan shearwater is silent at sea but the breeding colonies make high pitched cackling calls at night. It breeds on islands and coastal cliffs and nests in barrows which are only visited late at night to avoid predation. The Yelkouan shearwater is undergoing rapid decline due to low breeding incidental fishing by-catch and predation by the invasive predators.
Challenges to Bird Conservation in Libya
Despite the progress made by the Libyan authorities in the conservation of native birds, these birds are still facing threats from hunting and habitat loss. Most of the hunters use sophisticated weapons which also destroy the habitats for other birds. Migratory birds are the most affected by the hunting activities. Destruction of habitats for agriculture and human settlement also remains a threat to many of the bird species in Libya.