Birdwatching is a popular branch of ecotourism in the world which has attracted a considerable attention in Iran since some years ago. Although it is a new branch in Iran, birdwatching as a branch of tourism has a great potential to develop since Iran benefits from a huge variety of climates and habitats and hence various species of birds can be found there. Though Iran cannot be compared with countries like Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, … in terms of endemic species, the number of its bird species reaches up to 555 types which is almost equal to more than half of the birds in the whole Europe continent. The geographical situation of Iran has become a favorite region for the birdwatchers.
Climate of Iran
Based on animal geography, six types of climates have been identified in the earth with respect to animal species. Geographically, Iran is located in a special region and maybe it can be stated that it is one of the few countries whose nature benefits from three animal- geographical regions. These regions which are called Palearctic, Afrotropical or Ethiopian and Oriental have provided an opportunity through which the birdwatchers can watch different species in one border i.e. European species in the northern hemisphere, African species in southwestern regions and Indian species in southeast of the country. The variety of the climates makes birdwatchers travel to Iran from all over the world to increase their records by visiting birds of Iran. For example, the central and southern regions of Iran can be attractive to a European birdwatcher and northern hemisphere and center of Iran to an African birdwatcher. The birdwatchers who come from Australia and North America continents will face new species of birds in Iran. Hence, it can be concluded that Iran has an acceptable potential for attracting birdwatching tourists. Besides, Iran is a path for the migration of some birds that move from Africa to north of Europe and Siberia and hence they spend some time in Iran (during late summer till the beginning of autumn and late winter till the beginning of spring), and the birdwatchers can see these species as well if they are in Iran during the mentioned periods.
Variety of Habitats in Iran
Iran enjoys a high variety of habitats and the availability of different habitats like mountainous, arid and semi-arid, forests, beaches, seas and wetlands made Iran a country with high capacities in the field of birdwatching.
The central areas of Iran are arid, semi-arid and desert regions wherein some species including the only endemic species of Iran i.e. Iranian (Pleskes) Ground Jay is living. Some other species like Macqueen’s Bustard, Cream-Colored Courser, Desert Wheatear, Desert Lark and etc. belong to these habitats as well.
Mountainous regions are among the other habitats which are significant in the field of birdwatching in Iran. The mountains of Zagros and Alborz are the habitats of many animal species including birds. In Iran, there are several peaks whose heights are above 4000 meters and some species of birds like Alpine Chough and Caspian Snowcock lay their eggs in the height of more than 3000 meters. The other species of this habitat are White-winged Snowfinch, Ring Ouzel, Alpine Accentor, Horned Lark and etc.
The forest regions including northern mountains (Hyrcanian forests), west and a part of southwest of the country (oak forests) are important habitats for some of the species which are inhabiting in these forests. The species which can be found in these regions are Horned Lark, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, many kinds of Thrushes, Tits and Finches.
In deep plains of southwest of Iran there are some birds which are totally different from the birds seen in other regions of Iran. The climate is warm and humid. The unique species of these regions are Iraq Babbler, African Darter, Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Nightjar and Basra Reed Warbler.
On the other hand, in southeast of Iran some species like Sand Lark, Sind Woodpecker, Oriental white-eye warbler and Great Stone Curlew can be found.
Iran’s scope is from Caspian Sea in north to Oman Sea and Persian Gulf in south and their beaches are appropriate habitats for aquatic birds and the birds that are living near beaches. In these beaches the birds like Dalmatian pelican, cormorant, herons, egrets and gulls can be found.
Also, Avicennia forests in southern beaches of Iran are the habitat of many birds like Goliath Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Crab Plover, Western Reef Egret and … wherein they lay their eggs and spend their winters.
The wetlands are also another important region of birdwatching in Iran. There various kinds of wetlands in Iran and 24 wetlands have been registered in Ramsar Convention up to now which are known as international wetlands as well. These wetlands welcome many birds annually during winters and their egg-laying. Different kinds of birds whose habitats are the wetlands are White-Head Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Marbled Duck, different species of Swans and the species of Siberian White Crane which is in danger of extinction.
Iran can become one of the most important destinations of birdwatching for the tourists by having more than 105 main regions of birdwatching, international wetlands like Fereydunkenar Wetland and nature reserves like Miankaleh Wetland and Choghakhor Wetland.
Birdwatching in the Capital of Iran
Tehran province is considered as an appropriate region for birdwatching with having about 350 species of birds. Tehran as the capital of Iran is a foothill city and its north is full of mountains and the southern regions are ended in deserts. Such a geographical situation made Tehran a four-season habitat for different species of birds that migrate there during winter and spring. For example, during the whole year more than 70 bird species can be seen in Park e Shahr (literally the City Park) which is one of the oldest parks in the center of Tehran.
In the birdwatching house of this park, there are some experts who guide the visitors, this home has been established by the municipality of Tehran. On the other hand, Chitgar Lake in west of Tehran welcomes different species of birds like Grebe, Ducks and Gulls during winter.