The birds of Cyprus

Grifffon Vulture

Cyprus is used by millions of birds as a stepping-stone during their migration from Europe to Africa and back, something that has been observed since Homeric times.
The birds of Cyprus number 373 recorded species, about 200 of which are passing migrants. Some 46 residents and 27 migratory species breed regularly on the island while the endemic species (unique to Cyprus) are around 10.

1/From the numerous wild birds of Cyprus, birds of prey are the most fascinating and amongst them the Griffon Vulture which is the largest with a wingspan of 260cm. It is very distinctive in flight with its almost white body under parts contrasting with the dark flight feathers. The picture was taken while on a day up in the hills with visitors. The sight of a pair of these birds soaring on the thermals looking for prey is quite spectacular.

2/Other raptors include Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae), the Marsh Harrier, the Hen Harrier, the Sparrow Hawk, the buzzard, Bonellis eagle and the most numerous of all, the Kestrel.

3/The Cyprus Wheatear or Cyprus Pied Wheatear is a small, 14-15 cm long bird that used to be classed as a member of the thrush family but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher.This migratory insectivorous species breeds only in Cyprus.
It is a summer visitor nesting in crevices, under rocks, roofs etc.
It can be seen on the island from March to October and is often seen perching on telegraph wires and fences.

4 and 5/The Cyprus Warbler, Sylvia melanothorax, is an Old World warbler which breeds on Cyprus and winters in Israel, Jordan and Egypt..
This is a bird of dry open country, often on hill slopes, with bushes for nesting. The nest is built in low shrub or gorse, and 3-5 eggs are laid.
The adult male is a small warbler with a grey back, black head, white moustaches, and, uniquely, underparts heavily streaked with black. The female is mainly grey above, with a greyer head, and whitish with only light spotting. Like most warblers, it is insectivorous, but will also take berries.
The Cyprus Warbler's song is fast and rattling, and is similar to that of the Sardinian Warbler

6/7/8The European Bee Eater. This beautiful, colourful bird is always a welcome sight as it flies over our house on it arrival from its wintering grounds. It announces its presence with its distinctive song as it flies overhead.
As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. Before eating its meal the Bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. It eats some 250 bees daily. Lizards and frogs are also taken.
These bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks, preferably near river shores, usually at the beginning of May. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 5 to 8, spherical white eggs are laid around the beginning of June. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, which are brooded for about 3 weeks. These birds also feed and roost communally.
The pictures of the Bee Eaters were taken on the 8th September 2012 while walking in the hills with our dog.

9/ This little stone chat posed for me while we were out walking our dog in the sea caves area of Paphos on 1/10/2011
The stonechat is one of the commonest winter visitors to Cyprus arriving from Ocotber onwards

10/  This beautiful roller was spotted while we driving through Minthis Hills golf course on 18/6/2016.
Rollers are summer visitors to Cyprus and are most commonly seen sitting on telegraph wires. It is very distinctive with its blue colouring. It eats insects, mainly bettles. It breeds April to May in holes in hilsides and old buildings.



I will add more birds over the next few weeks

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