Endemic Bird Area

BirdLife International has identified Cyprus as a unique Endemic Bird Area (EBA) in Europe.

Endemic Bird Areas are the most important places for habitat-based conservation of birds. Most species are quite widespread and have large ranges. However, over 2,500 are restricted to an area smaller than 50,000 km2 and they are said to be endemic to it.

Cyprus Endemic Species

Cyprus hosts two endemic species that breed nowhere else, the Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca and the Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax.
 


This small greyish warbler was featured on the old ten-pound note. Most Cyprus Warblers stay in Cyprus all year round, although some may leave Cyprus for the winter and have been recorded in nearby Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

They are more likely to be found on the west and south west of the island, where the male can often be seen sitting on the tip of the branch of a low bush, singing his scratchy song. Cyprus Warblers like dense vegetation and can be difficult to see as they flit from branch to branch. 
 

© M. Gore


The Cyprus Wheatear comes to Cyprus to breed, having spent the winter in countries like Ethiopia and Sudan. From March - October it is common all over the island from the mountains of Troodos down to the coast. Cyprus Wheatear is very easy to spot, as its black and white plumage makes it very distinctive, as does the male’s habit of singing from a high post for hours on end, especially between April - June.

It can nest in holes in almost anything – in walls, by road edges, in trees, in a crack between two stones. It usually nests between April - June. 
 

© S. Christodoulides


Cyprus Endemic Sub-species

In addition to the two species, there are four endemic subspecies mostly confined to the forests of the Troodos range: Cyprus Scops Owl Otus scops cyprius, Coal Tit Parus ater cypriotes, Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla dorotheae and Cyprus Jay Garrulus glandarius glaszneri.

Although you can find these birds in other countries, those that are in Cyprus are slightly different from those on mainland Europe.
 


Throughout Europe there are different variations in the feather colours of the Jay, which is a reddish-brown member of the crow family. In Cyprus, the Jay has a reddish forehead striped with black, a black moustache-like stripe and bright blue feathers (also striped with black) on its wings that you cannot miss when it flies. The Jay is very common in the forested mountains of Troodos and Pafos. It can be noisy, giving away its presence as it shrieks harshly. However, it is generally shy and is usually only seen as it flies away.
 

© D. Nye


This tiny little bird is common in the forests of Troodos, Pafos and Machairas. It is easy to spot as it flits from branch to branch of the pine trees searching for insects. Coal Tits nest in holes in trees, walls and crevices in rocks. They breed between April and June, making a nest of moss and feathers.

© D. Nye


This little brown bird is difficult to spot as it creeps like a tiny mouse around tree trunks and branches to find insects and spiders, which it then extracts from the tree bark with its thin curved beak. It works its way up and around the trunk and large branches in a spiral. Before it reaches the top it flies to the bottom of another tree and begins again. Like the Coal Tit, this is a common resident of the forests of Troodos and Pafos. It depends on large trees for the insects on which it feeds and for places to nest. When insects are hard to find it may also eat small pine seeds.
 

© M. Gore


This small owl is one of the four owls that can be found in Cyprus. It can be found all over the island in forests, gardens, olive groves, farms and open spaces. During the day it can occasionally be seen sitting very still on the branches of trees, but it is always easier to hear a Scops Owl than see one.

© I. Bloomer

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