Cyprus, an important place for birds

Cyprus is a very important place for birds at a national, European and global level.

The position of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean with Turkey to the north, Syria to the east and Egypt to the south, places it on one of the major migration routes across the Mediterranean and makes it a key stop off point for many species which travel between breeding grounds in Europe/Asia and wintering areas in Africa/Middle East in spring and autumn.

The birds that occur regularly on passage form a large percentage of the Cyprus ‘list’ that totals around 400 species. Of these, only around 60 species are resident and around 30 are migrant breeders who regularly or occasionally breed.

The number of birds passing over during the spring and autumn migration is impressive as literally millions pour through the island. Spring migration gets underway in earnest in the middle of March, depending how settled the weather is, and carries on until at least mid-May. Autumn passage starts in early August – even earlier for some wader species – and continues until early to mid-October.

Some years there is a noticeable raptor passage. Cyprus has over one hundred species which overwinter, the most famous being the Greater Flamingo. Others include many common north European passerines.

Several birds occur in Cyprus on the edge of their European range, such as the breeding Black Francolin and Spur-winged Lapwing and the overwintering Finsch’s Wheatear. Some new additions to the breeding list rely on wetland habitats, such as Glossy Ibis, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck.

Considering how near Cyprus is to the mainland it has a high degree of endemism of both flora and fauna, especially reptiles and birds.

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