Iran, 18th biggest country of the world, with a rich cultural and natural background may be known by any elite in the world. Iran possesses an extremely diverse flora and fauna. These notably richness, highly related to its great range of habitats from permanent snows to hot deserts and from deciduous forests of north to palm groves and mangroves in the south and also due to its position at a crossroad between three major faunal regions.
The avian fauna of country comprises 527 species in 80 families of birds which occurs as a summer, wintering or passage migrants in a 164 million hectare area.
8 major habitat types may be identified, each with its own characteristic bird fauna:
True desert and semidesert: The desert environment occurs throughout the central desert basin from the region of Tehran through the great Dašht-e Kavīr and Dašht-e Lūt deserts to the Jāz Mūrīān basin in central Baluchistan and locally along the southern coastal lowlands from northwestern Ḵhūzestān to Baluchistan. Some species which have become adapted to this hostile environment are: Macquenee bustard Chlamydotis macquenee, Spotted and Coronated sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus and P. coronatus, Hoopoe lark Alaemon alaudipes, , Desert wheatear Oenanthe deserti, Hooded wheatear O. monacha, and trumpeter finch Rhodopechys githaginea. And its near endemic bird, Pleske’s ground jay Podoces pleskei.
Semiarid steppe of the desert rim and foothills: Much of Iran’s land surface. Characteristic species include: Long¬-legged buzzard Buteo rufinus, Black-bellied sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis, Roller Coracias garrulus, several species of lark Alaudidae family.
High mountains: The alpine zones of the Alborz and Zagros mountains and the higher peaks of mountain ranges in Azerbaijan, Khorasan, Kermān, and Baluchistan provinces support a montane fauna mainly as in Pyrenee & Alps mountain. Characteristic species include: Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus, Crag martin Hirundo rupestris, Wall creeper Tichodroma muraria, and Caspian snowcock Tetraogallus caspius, which is con¬fined to high mountain ranges in Turkey and Iran, is still locally common on the highest peaks in the Alborz and Zagros.
Forests and woodland: Although of rather limited extent, Iran’s forested regions possess a very rich bird fauna, which is largely Western Palearctic in affinities. The luxuriant forests of northern Azerbaijan and the south Caspian region have a bird fauna scarcely different from that of central European woodland, with common species including: Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major, Tree pipit Anthus trivialis, Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio, Jay Garrulus glandarius, Dunnock Prunella modularis. The drier and more open oak woodlands of the western Zagros lack some of the true forest species and have a Mediterranean element which includes species such as Masked shrike Lanius nubicus, Somber tit Parus lugubris, and Middle Eastern specialties like White-throated robin Irania gutturalis and Plain leaf warbler Phylloscopus neglectus.
The hot southern lowlands: The arid tropical climate of the southern coastal lowlands supports a flora and fauna quite unlike that of the rest of Iran. A variety of Oriental/Afrotropical species, such as Indian roller Coracias benghalensis, Little green bee-eater Merops orientalis, Graceful prinia Prinia gracilis, Purple sunbird Nectarinia asiatica. A num¬ber of species of Oriental origin, such as Indian sand lark Calandrella raytal and Sind jungle sparrow Passer pyrrhonotus are confined to extreme southeast Persian Baluchistan and east Hormozgan such as White -eyed buzzard Butastur teesa, Gray partridge Francolinus pondicerianus, and Sind pied woodpecker Dendrocopos as¬similis. In the west, the riverine poplar thickets and marsh edge habitat of Ḵhūzestān hold several specialties, such as Gray hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus, Iraq babbler Turdoides altirostris, and Dead Sea sparrow Passer moabiticus.
The wetlands: Although much of Iran is extremely dry, there are several very extensive wetland systems of great importance for a wide variety of waterfowl species. large winter¬ing populations of Dalmatian pelicans Pelecanus cris¬pus, Greater flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber. During the spring and autumn migration seasons, large numbers of shorebirds pass through the south Caspian on their way between breeding grounds in the Arctic and wintering grounds in the Persian Gulf and East and South Africa.
Coastal habitats of the Persian Gulf and Makrān coast: The tidal mud-flats, mangrove swamps, sandy beaches, rocky shores, and sea-cliffs of Iran’s south coast support a variety of breeding and wintering waterfowl and sea-birds. Breeding species include Crab plover Dromas ardeola, Great stone plover Esacus recurvirostris (only in the east), several species of herons and egrets such as Indian pond heron Ardeola grayii, Western reef heron Egretta gularis and Goliath heron Ardea goliath (in mangroves). Wintering species include many shorebirds such as Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris and Pacific golden plover Pluvialis fulva.
Offshore islands: The many small and uninhabited islands in the Persian Gulf and straits of Hormoz provide ideal breeding grounds for large colonies of sea¬birds. The main species are Great crested tern Sterna bergii, Lesser crested tern S. bengalensis, White-checked tern S. repressa, and bridled tern S. anaethetus, but small colonies of red-billed tropic-bird Phaethon aethereus, Socotra cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, and Saunders’ little tern Sterna saundersi have been found.
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