15 COMMON Birds in the United Arab Emirates! (2024)

Are you trying to identify a bird found in the United Arab Emirates?

birds in the United Arab Emirates

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Due to the sheer number of species, there was no way to include EVERY bird in the United Arab Emirates in this article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.

15 COMMON birds found in the United Arab Emirates!


#1. Arabian Babbler

  • Argya squamiceps

birds in the United Arab Emirates

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 26-29 cm (10-11 in) long with a wingspan of 31-33.5 cm (12.2-13.2 in).
  • Their coloring is a dusty gray with brown speckles on the head and shoulders.
  • They have powerful legs, long tails, and curved beaks.

 

Arabian Babblers are communal, gregarious birds that do nearly everything in a group. Look for these birds in the United Arab Emirates along dry riverbeds with plenty of clear areas. They’ll eat almost anything, including insects, lizards, snakes, plants, and nectar.

One of the most interesting traits of the Arabian Babbler is its affinity for helping other babblers. They’ll even squabble amongst themselves for the chance to help another bird build its nest or feed its babies.

 

Studies show it may be a status symbol amongst flock members to feed lots of babies, giving that individual social prestige. The more helpful and generous the bird, the higher the status within the flock!


#2. Laughing Dove

  • Spilopelia senegalensis

birds in the United Arab Emirates

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 25 cm (10 in) long.
  • Their coloring is pinkish on the bottom with a lilac-colored head and neck, black eyes, and gray bills.
  • Some rufous dots over a largely dark brown chest give it the appearance of wearing a fancy necklace.

 

Native to the United Arab Emirates, the Laughing Dove is a small pigeon with a long tail. It spends most of its time walking along the ground, looking for food.

Laughing Doves are highly territorial and mate for life; otherwise, they are solitary. Look for them in dry areas, savannahs with trees, acacia thickets, and similar environments. Their range is also spreading to more urban areas as they adapt to the presence of humans.

 

The nest of the Laughing Dove is a rough pile of sticks, stems, and roots. Typically, the male dove gathers the materials, and then the female arranges them. However, sometimes they reuse another bird’s nest, even one of a different species.

 

Their distinctive sounds make Laughing Doves easy to differentiate from other doves and pigeons.


#3. Crested Lark

  • Galerida cristata

birds in the United Arab Emirates

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 17 cm (7 in) tall with a wingspan of 29-38 cm (11-15 in).
  • Their coloring is pale tan overall, with dark brown streaks on the head, back, and wings.
  • This species has a crest on the head that sets it apart from other larks.

 

The Crested Lark has 33 subspecies, the most of any bird in the United Arab Emirates.

Their names are as varied as their locations, including the North-west Moroccan crested lark, the West Moroccan crested lark, the North Algerian crested lark, the North-east Algerian crested lark, the Northern Nile Valley crested lark, and the Southern Nile Valley crested lark. It seems as if everyone wants to have their own local Crested Lark version! 🙂

Most of their diet is plant material, but they will occasionally eat beetles and insects, and they certainly don’t mind stealing some farmed grains or seeds. In fact, Crested Larks prefer dry, open land areas, such as fields of cereal grains or roadsides. But, oddly enough, it’s also found near human structures and commercial industry locations such as docks, railways, and airports, favoring sandy patches of ground.

 

The songs of a Crested Lark are varied and complex, from gargling and warbling trills to mimicry of other birds.


#4. Eurasian Collared Dove

  • Streptopelia decaocto

birds in the United Arab Emirates

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The coloring of this species is gray throughout and slightly darker at the back.
  • They have a small black horizontal stripe on the back of the neck, outlined in white.
  • Their beaks and eyes are black, and their legs are pink to red.

 

Despite its drab color, the Eurasian Collared Dove is a very interesting bird in the United Arab Emirates!

 

One truly strange feature of the Eurasian Collared Dove is the way it drinks. Unlike most birds that gather water in their beak and tip their head back to drink, this species uses its beak as a straw! It seems unlikely that this large gray bird could have anything in common with a tiny, flashy hummingbird, but they look similar when drinking water.

 

One of the easiest ways to recognize this species is to listen for its three-note song, which sounds like “coo-coo-coooo.They also give a warning screech if they land near another bird as if they’re honking a car horn on arrival.

This species is native to Europe but has spread across the world through a series of unlikely events. First, in the mid-1970s, a pet shop in the Bahamas was robbed, and a few Eurasian Collared Doves were released. Then, not long after, more were set free on the island of Guadaloupe during a volcanic eruption. Then, the birds traveled across the globe quickly!

 


#5. White-Eared Bulbul

  • Pycnonotus leucotis

birds in the United Arab Emirates

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 17.5-19 cm (6.9-8 in) long.
  • Their coloring is gray on the body with a black head, black eyes, gray beak, and a brilliant white pair patch on each side of the head.
  • The tail is black with white tips, visible from above and below. There is a distinctive yellow patch of feathers under the tail.

 

White-eared Bulbuls are rather rotund in appearance, but their round body shape gives them an evolutionary advantage. Despite living in some colder regions, this species doesn’t migrate, so instead, they store energy in the form of fat for the colder seasons.

 

They’re very personable in captivity, making this species a sought-after pet. Unfortunately, the pet trade often does more harm than good. White-eared Bulbuls are taken from the wild and forced into captivity, where they often get sick or die prematurely. Additionally, some of these birds escape into unfamiliar habitats, where they can become invasive and harm natural populations. It’s best to enjoy these birds in their natural habitat.

 

In the wild, White-eared Bulbuls entertain themselves by tossing objects back and forth with their mate. They also have a pleasant, twittering call that makes them sound very friendly!

 

Unfortunately, this bird in the United Arab Emirates often escapes captivity. They form feral populations that decimate date orchards, so they’ve earned a reputation as a pest species.


#6. Eurasian Kestrel

  • Falco tinnunculus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 32–39 cm (12.515.5 in) long with a wingspan of 65–82 cm (25.532.5 in).
  • Their coloring is ruddy brown and black, often with a checkerboard pattern on the back and wings.
  • Males have a slate-blue head and white chin.
  • Both sexes have bright yellow legs and eye-rings and large black eyes.

 

This bird of prey in the United Arab Emirates is a member of the falcon family.

The Eurasian Kestrel uses three distinct hunting techniques. First is the hover approach, where they face the wind and float in the air, using their keen eyesight to spot prey. Second is the ridge flight, using updrafts to provide lift as they coast along effortlessly, which helps them cover a lot of territory with very little effort.

The third hunting technique conserves even more energy. They post themselves on an overhanging tree limb and survey the immediate vicinity. Then, they perform a steeply-pitched dive when they spot prey, grabbing it from the ground. Their diet is almost exclusively voles, mice, and shrews.

 

Eurasian Kestrels are very vocal in flight, and their call is a “chit-chit-chit” sound.

 


#7. White Spectacled Bulbul

  • Pycnonotus xanthopygos

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in) long with a wingspan of 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in).
  • Their coloring is mostly white, mottled with light brown. The head and face are black, and they have brilliant yellow feathers under the black tail.
  • This species has white eye rings, which is how it got its common name.

 

Look for the White Spectacled Bulbul in suburban gardens, populated cities, and on fruit plantations. Breeding populations of this bird in the United Arab Emirates prefer areas with plenty of trees since they use leaves and twigs to build their nests.

This agile bird feeds most often at dusk when it takes flight and snatches insects right out of the air. They supplement their insect diet with berries, fruit, and seeds.

 

Their call is a reedy “whee-too-too.”


#8. Mallard

  • Anas platyrhynchos

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black rump with a white-tipped tail.
  • Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
  • Both sexes have purple-blue secondary feathers on their wings, most visible when standing or flying.

My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These birds are one of the most common ducks in the United Arab Emirates!

Mallards are extremely comfortable around people, which is why these adaptable ducks are widespread. They are found in virtually any wetland habitat, regardless of location.

When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but make a raspy call instead.


#9. Little Egret

  • Egretta garzetta

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 55–65 cm (22–26 in) long with an 88–106 cm (35–42 in) wingspan.
  • They are white with black bills and legs and yellow eyes and feet.
  • Their necks have a strong “S” curve and a thin tuft of long feathers on the head.

 

These aquatic birds in the United Arab Emirates are almost always found near water.

Look for Little Egrets along coastlines and larger inland waterways like lakes and rivers. They catch fish, crustaceans, and insects directly from the water while standing in the shallows or flying over the surface.

 

The population of the Little Egret has been threatened by overhunting not once but twice throughout history. First, during the Middle Ages, this species was hunted for food to near extinction. Then in the late 1800s, Little Egrets were threatened once more by overhunting for their feathers.

 

Luckily, they have since been protected by conservation laws and are now considered a species of least concern. It’s got to be persistent to have survived all that!

 


#10. Barn Swallow

  • Hirundo rustica

barn swallow pic

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Small bird with a flat head, thin bill, pointed wings, thick neck, and fork-like tail.
  • Both sexes are similar – striking royal blue back, rusty brown underparts, with a rufous colored forehead and throat. White spots on the tail are typically visible during flight.

 

These birds are typically found in the United Arab Emirates in open fields, meadows, pond marshes, or coastal waters.

 

Barn Swallows prefer to eat larger insects rather than eating groups of smaller ones. They primarily feed close to water or the ground catching insects in midair. This bird doesn’t typically ever come to bird feeders. But you may get lucky if you leave out eggshells or oyster shells on a platform feeder. These foods aid in their digestion.

One interesting fact about Barn Swallows is sometimes an unmated male will kill young birds in a nest to break up the parenting Barn Swallow couple. Then the unmated male gets together with the female. Talk about a complicated love triangle! 🙂

 

Both males and females sing a song of warbling notes and mechanical sounds. Listen below.

 


#11. Common Hoopoe

  • Upupa epops

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 25–32 cm (9.8–12.6 in) long with a wingspan of 44–48 cm (17–19 in).
  • Its coloring is cinnamon-brown on the head and body, with black and white barred wings.
  • The head is adorned with a crest of brown feathers tipped in black.

Look for the Common Hoopoe in rural gardens, cities, plantations, savannas, and grasslands. They often spend time near piles of rotting leaves or a fallen log, where insects, grubs, and worms will use it as a habitat. It’s like a buffet for the Hoopoe!

This unusual-looking bird has a variety of defensive tactics. Its movable crest is used for advertising and intimidating potential predators and rival Hoopoes. If that doesn’t work, this species is ready for a fight! They use their strong head and neck muscles to gouge their long, pointed beaks into opponents’ eyes, which can blind them.

In addition to their fighting skill and intimidating looks, they produce a substance that smells of rotting meat. They cover themselves and their eggs with the substance to warn away predators. Nestlings even have their own scent gland that makes them unappetizing to predators.


#12. House Sparrow

house sparrow

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males have gray crowns, black bibs, white cheeks, and chestnut on the sides of their faces and neck. Their backs are predominantly brown with black streaks.
  • Females are a dull brown color with streaks of black on their backs. Their underparts are light brown. They can be distinguished by the tan line that extends behind their eye.

 

House Sparrows are native to the United Arab Emirates but are now one of the world’s most abundant and widespread birds!

 

In most urban and suburban areas, it’s INCREDIBLY COMMON to see House Sparrows. They owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Unlike most other birds, they love grains and are commonly seen eating bread and popcorn at amusement parks, sporting events, etc. At your bird feeders, they especially love eating cracked corn, millet, and milo.

 

House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. In fact, pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another the United Arab Emirates. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.

 


#13. Rock Pigeon

  • Columba livia

kinds of pigeons in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A plump bird with a small head, short legs, and a thin bill.
  • The typical pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars. But their plumage is highly variable, and it’s common to see varieties ranging from all-white to rusty brown.

 

Rock Pigeons are extremely common birds in the United Arab Emirates but are almost exclusively found in urban areas.

These birds are what everyone refers to as “pigeons.” You have probably seen them gathering in huge flocks in city parks, hoping to get some birdseed or leftover food tossed their way.

 

Love them or hate them, Rock Pigeons have been associated with humans for a long time! Some Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that people started domesticating them over 5,000 years ago. And because of these facts, scientists aren’t even sure where their original range was.

 

These birds are easy to identify by sound. My guess is that you will already recognize their soft, throaty coos. (Press PLAY below)


#14. White Wagtail

  • Motacilla alba

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 16.5-19 cm (6.4-7.4 in) long.
  • Their coloring is black, white, and dull gray. Their white face and black throat are the most noticeable features.
  • This species has long legs, a puffed chest, and a rounded head.

 

White Wagtails are common across Eurasia, but incredibly, this little guy sometimes ventures all the way to western Alaska for nesting.

 

This species falls victim to the Common Cuckoo, a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the host’s nest. Usually, a host bird is forced to care for the cuckoo chick, but not White Wagtails. Since they are too small to destroy the eggs, they often abandon an invaded nest and start over.

 

The White Wagtail got its name from the way it forages along the water’s edge, wagging its tail, looking for insects. They mostly hunt on land but will pursue prey in the air occasionally. Sometimes they wade in shallows or walk atop floating masses of vegetation while on the hunt. Likely prey includes crane flies, midges, mayflies, and aquatic larvae.

 

Its call is an extremely short and fast pair of high-pitched “chirrups.”

 


#15. Common Myna

  • Acridotheres tristis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 23 cm (9 in) long.
  • They have thick yellow legs, a yellow-tipped bill, and a yellow patch of skin underneath their eyes.
  • Their plumage is glossy black on the head with a brown body and lighter undercarriage. The undersides of their wings are pure white.

 

The Common Myna is one of only three birds worldwide to make the “100 Most Invasive Species” list! Although the reasons are complex, the IUCN Species Survival Commission stated that it poses “a threat to biodiversity, agriculture, and human interests.”

 

The main problem with the Common Myna is that it will eat basically anything, meaning it can outcompete native species and decimate their numbers. They readily devour the chicks and eggs of other birds, lizards, fruits, beetles, and their larvae, spiders, snails, flies, worms, and caterpillars.

But, as the saying (sort of) goes, one man’s invasive pest is another Farmer’s Friend. At least, that’s what this species is called in India, where it eats insects that damage crops, like grasshoppers and locusts. 🙂

This species doesn’t just eat all day either – their extreme vocal range makes for a noisy day anytime they’re around. They can growl, croak, chirp, squawk, whistle, and click. The Common Myna can even mimic human speech!


Which of these birds in the United Arab Emirates have you seen before?

 

Leave a comment below!

 


Check out these guides to other animals found in the United Arab Emirates!

 

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One Comment

  1. Thank you Scott I saw these delicate looking Laughing doves and lively Myna birds a lot on holiday in dubai without realising what they were, the Myna birds were inquisitive and seemed to occupy the same niche as starlings do in the UK, who are also excellent mimics 🙂 great to find out what they are.