House Bunting finally colonised Tétouan, northern Morocco

An incubating House Bunting (note the brood patch), near the Faculty of Sciences, Tétouan, 29 March 2013 (Rachid El Khamlichi)

The House Bunting (Emberiza sahari) colonised Tangier in mid-2000. However, despite searching the species has never been recorded at Tétouan or at any other locality in northernmost Morocco outside of Tangier. The House Bunting at Tétouan was recorded thanks to Yousef El Ouahabi who had been observing them visiting his house to feed with the …

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Little Grebe catching a newt (Pleurodeles waltl)

This Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) photographed while catching a sharp-ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl) at a small pond near Sidi Bettache, western Morocco (Saad Rih). The prey, also known as Iberian ribbed newt, is a near threatened Ibero-Moroccan endemic. The Little Grebe is mainly piscivorous (fish-eater), although it’s known to take bigger prey such as newts (Wilkinson …

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Maghreb endemic birds

The Maghreb is the equivalent term of Northwest Africa. Historically and in the narrow sense of the term, the Maghreb means the three countries linked by the Atlas Mountains (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) which also share a long history (this is also shared with neighbouring Libya and Mauritania depending on the historical era). The climate …

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Why Marsh Owl in Morocco is endangered and how to save it?

Marsh Owl is a critically endangered species is Morocco. This piece tries to address one of the main problems causing its decline, and your help is much appreciated. Marsh Owl (Asio capensis) is a typical owl restricted to Africa and its biggest island. Three subspecies are recognised: 1) the nominate subspecies which has the largest …

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African Crimson-winged Finch: a new endemic species

The Crimson-winged Finch sensu lato consists of two distinct taxa, alienus in Northwest Africa and sanguineus in the Middle East, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia and north-west China. The split of this taxon into two separate species, African Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys alienus) and Asian Crimson-winged Finch (R. sanguineus), was first proposed by Kirwan et al. (2006). …

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Barbary Falcon plumage variation in the Canary Islands

An article about variation of plumage coloration of Barbary Falcons in the Canary Islands has been published recently in the Bulletin of British Ornithologists’ Club. This paper has implications for Moroccan and North African falcons as well, e.g. hybrids – both natural and those related to escaped falconry birds, the ‘atlantis’ form of the Peregrine …

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Expansion of House Bunting in Tangier, north Morocco

Up until the publication of ‘The Birds of Morocco’ (Thévenot et al. 2003), the House Bunting (Emberiza sahari) was only recorded as a vagrant in Tangier. By mid-2000s, it started to breed in the Medina of Tangier (Amezian et al. 2006). How the original nucleus population started to breed in Tangier, however, is still a …

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Probable breeding of Western Reef Heron at Essaouira, Morocco

Probable hybridization between Western Reef Heron and Little Egret at Essaouira islands on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The long-staying dark morph Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis) at Essaouira and Oued Ksob estuary (photo 1) has probably hybridised with a Little Egret (E. garzetta) at the Mogador archipelago. This probable case of hybridisation was observed …

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