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First White-throated Bee-eater, Village Indigobird and Cut-throat Finch for Algeria

A recent birding trip to southern Algeria produced three new bird species for the country: White-throated Bee-eater, Village Indigobird and Cut-throat Finch.

[See also the results of another group’s expedition: Blue-naped Mousebirds and Black Scrub Robins in southern Algeria].

A group of amateur and professional Algerian researchers organized a birding expedition in southern Algeria in late December 2021 and discovered three new Afrotropical species in the region. The group is almost the same one that produced the first record of the White-rumped Seedeater a year earlier in the same region. It’s composed by Mourad Harzallah, Khaled Ayyach, Djamel Hadj Aissa, Aimene Boulaouad, Mohamed Missoum, Hamza Faidi, Walid Soukkou and Karim Attouch.

All species, except those observed at In Guezzam, were inside the Western Palearctic (WP) sensu BWP. In Guezzam, a village located on the border with Niger, is outside the WP (See it’s location relative to the WP at the bottom of this post about the Sudan Golden Sparrow at Djanet, southern Algeria).

White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis)

The birding group found this bird at about 30 Km south of Tamanrasset on 25 December 2021. In the North African part of the Western Palearctic, there are two previous records in Morocco.

White-throated Bee-eater / Guêpier à gorge blanche (Merops albicollis)
White-throated Bee-eater / Guêpier à gorge blanche (Merops albicollis), Tamanrasset region, southern Algeria, 25 Dec. 2021 (Mourad Harzallah).

Village Indigobirds (Vidua chalybeata)

A male and a two female Village Indigobirds were found at Tamanrasset on 31 December. Being a brood parasite of the Red-billed Firefinch, which is widespread in southern Algeria, the Village Indigobird is long overdue in that region.

Male Village Indigobird / Combassou du Sénégal (Vidua chalybeata)
Male Village Indigobird / Combassou du Sénégal (Vidua chalybeata), Tamanrasset, southern Algeria, 31 Dec. 2021 (Mourad Harzallah).
Female Village Indigobirds / Combassou du Sénégal (Vidua chalybeata)
Female Village Indigobirds / Combassou du Sénégal (Vidua chalybeata), Tamanrasset, southern Algeria, 31 Dec. 2021 (Mourad Harzallah).

Cut-throat Finch (Amadina fasciata)

The group found this bird on 28 December at In Guezzam, a border village located some 400 km south of Tamanrasset.

Cut-throat Finch / Amadine cou-coupé (Amadina fasciata)
Cut-throat Finch / Amadine cou-coupé (Amadina fasciata), In Guezzam, southern Algeria, 28 Dec. 2021 (Mourad Harzallah).

In addition to these three new species, the birding party recorded large flocks of Sudan Golden Sparrows (Passer luteus) at In Guezam, and discovered the first record of House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) at the same village.

Afrotropical species in southern Algeria

In addition to the African Silverbill and Red-billed Firefinch, which are well established in the region, a few other Afrotropical species have been recorded there in the last few years (either as vagrants or as possible “incipient” colonizers). These include Black Scrub Robin, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Jacobin Cuckoo, and Blue-naped Mousebird.

Many thanks to Mourad Harzallah for sharing the details and the photos. A paper detailing these and other findings from the trip is in preparation.

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